Over 18 Years in the Arts Scene
Artomatic started in 1999 in the historic Manhattan Laundry buildings on Florida Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C. developer Douglas Development donated the use of the buildings to a group of artists who invited their friends to exhibit. These friends, in turn, invited their friends — and so on — until every nook in the building was filled with paintings, sculpture, installations and art of every description. The artists coined the name “Art-O-Matic” to acknowledge the spontaneity of the event and its location in the old laundry building. (The Artomatic spelling was modernized in 2004).
More than 25,000 people visited the first Artomatic during its six-week lifespan and the event was widely reviewed and discussed in the regional media. The D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities was one of Artomatic’s earliest supporters. The Commission bought $25,000 in works from this first show for permanent display in public buildings in the city through its Art in Public Places program.
MadisonMarquette donated the use of the old Hechinger’s Building near Tenley Circle for a second Artomatic. Musicians and performing artists became part of Artomatic and swelled the ranks of participating artists to more than 400. About 35,000 people visited the show.
Kaempfer Development donated the use of an old EPA building on the Southwest waterfront for the 2002 Artomatic. Over 1,000 artists participated (of which 700 were visual artists), and 40,000 visited.
Abdo Development donated the use of the old Capital Children’s Museum complex for the 2004 Artomatic. The event had more than 1,000 participants and 40,000 visitors. Volunteers produced a unique CD of the best music presented at Artomatic. Artomatic 2004 also featured educational seminars on various art techniques, and an outdoor sculpture and graffiti art garden was included.
Vornado/Charles E. Smith and the Crystal City Business Improvement District facilitated the use of two floors of a former office building in Crystal City, VA. — the first time the event had been held outside the District of Columbia. The event featured thousands of works of arts and hundreds of activities, including musical, fire, theater and dance performances, About 700 artists participated in Artomatic and 31,500 people visited. For the first time, Artomatic included its own store, offering T-shirts, buttons and other goods.
Also in 2007, Artomatic collaborated with the Cultural Center of the Inter-American Development Bank, the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities and the Washington, D.C., Economic Partnership to present a December lecture by renowned arts advocate William E. Strickland Jr.
The Pollinger company and NoMa (North of Massachusetts) Business Improvement District facilitated the use of 10 floors of a new office building in northeast Washington, D.C. The event was held from May 9 to June 15 and attracted a record-breaking 52,000 visitors, more than any previous Artomatic event. In all, about 1,540 individual artists took part in Artomatic 2008. The total included 740 visual artists such as painters, sculptors, and photographers who showed thousands of artworks. The event also included 800 individual performing artists, such as dancers, poets, theatre groups, drummers, comedians, fire troupes, and musicians. Attractions included a full line-up of educational and children’s events and an onsite tattoo parlor.
Also in 2008, Artomatic was part of Glass3, its first-even international collaboration. The event, held Feb 22-Mar 9 in Georgetown, Washington, D.C., brought together glass artists from Toledo, Ohio, Sunderland, England, and the Washington, D.C. area. The event was presented by Artomatic, the Georgetown Business Improvement District, the Office of the Secretary for the District of Columbia and Sunderland City Council and was hosted by the Shops at Georgetown Park
Artomatic’s main event was held May 29-July 5 at Monument Realty’s just completed Silver Certified LEED nine story 275,000 Sq. Ft. building at 55 M Street, S.E., in D.C.’s Capitol Riverfront BID’s neighborhood. Artomatic’s main 2009 event, celebrating its 10th year anniversary, attracted a new record breaking 76,000 visitors. The 10th Anniversary Artomatic was bigger than ever! Over 1,200 visual artists exhibited along with 600 performances. All nine floors of the building were used with visual art and four stages featuring music, dance, comedy, and theatre performances. A film theater presented video and films throughout the event and street performances featured fire dancing and drum troupes. Workshops and seminars were held all month long as well as special events including the Washington Post’s Peeps diorama finalists, the Zombie Prom, Box Racing, body paint shows, and a no-holds-barred Art in Fashion Show.
Also in 2009, Artomatic again expanded its reach beyond its single event with the Art of Change ball, held to celebrate the 2009 inauguration, and the Luck of the Draw, a Valentine’s weekend art event also held in the Capital Riverfront BID neighborhood with participation by the Velocity Condominiums, the Jefferson and Axiom Apartments owned by JPI.
Artomatic had its signature main event in Crystal City, VA from May 18 – June 23 in a 380,000 square foot office building owned by Vornado/Charles E. Smith that was scheduled for demolition. This open-entry, free event featured the work of over 1000 visual artists, and over 300 performing artists scheduled in hundreds of performances throughout the event. In addition to listening to live performances and viewing painting, sculpture, photography, and the Washington Post’s Peeps diorama finalists, visitors were able to take advantage of a full calendar of events including a film series with over 100 films registered for the event, a fashion show, 60 lectures/workshops for adults, 35 programs for children, 6 Saturday marketplaces, 10 tours and a successful professional workshop series. Artomatic 2012 attracted more than 70,000 visitors.
Artomatic Takes Flight brought a taste of the historic and world-renowned Artomatic arts festival to visitors coming through Reagan National Airport from July 2014 – January 2015. Just like the festival, this show was not “curated” – instead, artists were selected on a first-come, first-served basis, this time from a pool of artists who have previously participated in an Artomatic. The result was serendipitous, unpredictable, multifaceted. The show presented a multitude of artistic personalities–both professional and recreational –from Washington DC, a city with a deep love for the arts.
In collaboration with the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission, Artomatic held its signature event adjacent to the New Carrollton Metro stop in Hyattsville, MD Oct 30 – Dec 12 in a 96,000 square foot office building. The Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission had just purchased the building, and Artomatic held its 2015 event there just prior to renovation. More than 550 visual artists revamp the office spaces at 8100 Corporate Dr. with art installed in the mail room, cubicles, and even the stairwells. Over 300 performers participated and attracted over 22,000 visitors during the 6-week event.
Foulger-Pratt, a Potomac, MD-based developer, facilitated the use of two floors of a new office building in Park Potomac, a “mixed use” community for the first Artomatic signature event held in Montgomery County. The Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission and Montgomery County’s Arts & Humanities Council were sponsors of the five week event held from Nov 3- Dec 9. Transforming 40,400 square feet of display space on the 5th and 6th floors, and featuring 375 visual and performance artists Artomatic presented more than five weeks of art, music, dance, fire dancers and children’s activities, workshops, and attracted over 13,000 visitors.
We are excited about the future. There are several great opportunities in the near future and we’re working diligently to make them a reality. Please stay tuned!