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Like paintings? Head down to The Spot

Curated by two art-loving businessmen and a landscape artist, The Spot is a venue filled with a variety of strong work.
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Federal Square Building - The Spot Location Information

29 Pearl St. NW 
Ground Level

People view Andrew J. Woodstock's "Tuskegee Airmen"

People view Andrew J. Woodstock's "Tuskegee Airmen" /Alexandra Fluegel

Tangerine and Jealousy by Christy DeHoog Johnson

Tangerine and Jealousy by Christy DeHoog Johnson /Alexandra Fluegel

Nighttime Playground (with Skunks) by Katie Halton

Nighttime Playground (with Skunks) by Katie Halton /courtesy of Katie Halton

ArtPrize turns the city into a living swag bag. You know, the kind given out at kickoff events and fundraising evenings, filled with a bunch of beautifully impractical things that you’ll eventually throw out or forget about. Usually, the bags also contain a couple things you do want, like a corkscrew or mini-stapler, that ultimately make you happy you swiped the plastic catchall before you dipped.  

This year, Federal Square Building - The Spot was my mini-stapler. Too often, exhibits are overwhelming with too many works crammed together without regard for how that may impact a viewer’s experience. Inside The Spot, each piece was given a space to own, room to breathe, creating an environment that truly encouraged you to engage the work.

Barry Kane, one of the three curators of the space, says there was an intentional focus on 2-D works; however, he and his collaborators aimed to achieve a balance of medium and style. Kane worked along with venue artist Margo Burian and the property manager of the building, Joe Martin.

“The exhibit does reflect the idiosyncrasies of the three curators, but we wanted to try and have something for everyone,” Kane explains.

Even with the aim of pleasing the masses, the trio created an exhibit that doesn’t sell out. It’s easy picking favorites here, no matter what your aesthetic preference. “Tuskegee Airmen” by Andrew J. Woodstock is a piece I’ve been surprised hasn’t garnered more public clamoring, given its large size and historically-charged subject matter. Hanging prominently in the back of the venue, the 8’ x 16’ work is too Chris LaPorte for my taste, but may be just the corkscrew that many are looking for.

Four works in particular transfixed me, causing me to return to them a number of times before leaving the building. Though “Cycle” by Justin Kellner contained water fowl (they terrify me) and was also quite large (I like small prizes), his depiction of a fragmented environment was powerful without being too dark. His piece was subtle, and it grew on me as I stood to take it in.

“Tangerine and Jealousy” (admittedly two of my favorite things) by Christy DeHoog Johnson was the first piece to catch my eye. Displayed in a nested offset of the room, the abstract work captivated me through its use of color to illustrate depth. The autumnal hues juxtaposed with the intense black and white created a feeling of disjointedness that compelled me to continue to look at each piece until it slowly faded away.

Finally, a playful piece by Katie Halton appropriately titled “Nighttime Playground (with Skunks)" was another work that stood out. The childish undertones of the piece – the use of marker, the lines that  seem to have a child’s touch – made the work fun, but given the artist’s careful blending and layering of other elements it was clear this was no finger painting.

So while you’re out in search of your own bag o’ swag win, be sure to set aside some time to spend with the pieces inside The Spot. It’s another shining example of what can happen when careful eyes craft a vision for a space and execute it.  

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