There’s no shortage of blockbusters coming to DC’s museums and galleries this fall. The Air and Space Museum will reopen on October 14 after an extensive construction project. The Rubell Museum DC will have its highly anticipated opening on October 29, creating a new venue for contemporary art in the city. And selfie snappers are sure to gather for the last few months of One with eternity: Yayoi Kusama in the Hirshhorn Collection and Mexican geniusesa new immersive experience with the work of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. These outings are fun and all, but some of the most interesting and unexpected art can be found away from the crowds and tucked away in some of DC’s coziest spaces.
One of the smallest of these is Transformer, a gallery whose emphasis on emerging and experimental artists has made it one of the most exciting places in the city for artistic exhibitions and events. In June, Transformer celebrated its 20th anniversary and special events will take place until the end of the year. From September 17, the gallery will open its 19th Annual DC Artist Solo Exhibitionwhat functions Commemorative Strands by means of Artist Fletcher this season. The DC-born and resident artist has created textiles, films and photographs around the subject of black women’s hair. Many of the works have her as a material or as a tool for telling stories. In addition to the show, a series of programs invite the audience to reflect on broader cultural meanings and personal feelings around hair and beauty. Events include a panel and discussion, as well as a hands-on activity to create your own memorial cloth.
The spaces of 52 O Street Studios are not only used as studios,Amy Morton has hosted her contemporary art gallery Morton Fine Art there for the past four years. With no street-level access, the gallery is open by appointment only, which is great for gallery visitors who want to linger uninterrupted over the work, or interested buyers looking to spend some time with an artist’s work. MFA represents a wide variety of artists from around the world as well as a good group working in the DC area. This fall, MFA has two exhibits that capture the best of these worlds. Take me to the water contains mixed-media works by Kesha Bruce, an artist and activist whose lucid works explore making art as a form of slowness and self-care. Subsequently, Natalie Cheung‘s exhibition Made of light opens and shows her experiments with cameraless photography with light-sensitive paper, movement and stencil techniques.
Entertainment and dinner parties are extreme in style, and perhaps there is no dinner party more stylish than an exhibition of tablescapes at Friends Artspace in Arlington. Mise En Place continues the gallery’s habit of displaying functional art and design objects, as well as fine art in the garage curated Margaret Bakke has been converted into a miniature gallery. A large table will fill most of the space and all kinds of tableware will take up every available inch of the surface. Of course there are place settings, but also cups, candlesticks, mugs, sugar bowls, terrines, pitchers, vases, butter dishes, flower arrangements, chandeliers and more. The exhibit’s announcement proclaims, “people come and go, but glassware is really forever.” Local artists and designers including Hadiya Williams, Catherine Satterleeand Dannia Hakkic are among those who sit at this table.
Commemorative Strands runs until October 22 at Transformer, 1404 P St. NW. transformerdc.org. Free. Take me to the water runs through October 11 at Morton Fine Art, 52 O St. NW. mortonfineart.com. Free, by appointment. Made of light runs Oct. 15 to Nov. 12 at Morton Fine Art, 52 O St. NW. mortonfineart.com. Free, by appointment. Mise En Place runs through December 10 at Friends Artspace, 2400 North Edgewood St. Arlington. friendsartspace.com. Free, by appointment.