Exhibition Preview: Mid City Artists at Art17: A Group Show

Painted a soft turquoise with deep blue windows and doors, an antique row house stands out for its simplistic beauty.

“There is something particular in the decay. Especially now that everything on every side of it is completely redone and gentrified,” said Regina Miele, whose oil on linen painting, Mid-City Blue, is a depiction of an actual house on P Street.

Mid-City Blue is part of “Mid City at Art17: A Group Show,” the latest exhibition featuring thirteen Mid City Artists, a diverse group of artists living and working in the Dupont and Logan Circle neighborhoods of Washington, DC.

In anticipation of the Spring Open Studios Tour on May 18 and 19, Art 17 highlights some of the group’s most interesting works in a variety of mediums.

While Mid-City Blue draws inspiration from ideas about beauty and the Mid City neighborhood, which Miele has been painting for many years, her other work in the show, a charcoal drawing on foamcore, Chesapeake Gotham, concerns issues of motion.

“I’m fascinated by the idea of trying to render something in motion still, not having the motion behind it,” explained Miele. “The majority of shows that I have are in New York and not in Washington, so I’m constantly on Amtrack, a lot of the time thinking and shooting. I leave it to chance, what the camera will come up with.”

Just as Miele’s artistic practice, self-described as autobiographical, concerns the objects, events and materials in her immediate environment, Scott G. Brooks is most inspired by his personal relationships, as well as contemporary social and political themes and events.

“She’s in this great, dark, bleak world. She’s trying to make the best for her baby with all the toys, despite what’s going on around her,” Brooks said of his painting, Mother Instincts.

Framed by an architectural structure reminiscent of Flemish portraiture, a young mother with wide-set green eyes and a Bumblebee tuna can placed on her head in the fashion of a Jackie Kennedy pillbox, looks out with a sense of eagerness. Her hopeful smile and prayer hands are incongruous to the dystopian landscape.

“I try to get some humor [in my paintings] because the themes are dark,” explained Brooks. “There always is something that makes me smile and other people smile.”

While both Miele and Brooks primarily show their work in New York, as Mid City artists, their peers play an important role in each artist’s work and practice.

Miele looks forward to seeing her fellow Mid City artists at Art17, and receiving “a hometown response” to her artwork.

“It has made me a lot more open to having my work seen kind of in a half-finished, un-finished, in-the-middle-of-thinking-it-out state,” said Miele of the impact Mid City Artists has made on her art career.

Brooks has lived in the DC-area since 1990 and has been a Mid City artist since the group’s founding in 2010. When Mid City Artists hosts its’ Open Studio Tour each fall and spring, Brooks does not have to curate his apartment-housed studio. His walls are consistently filled with his artwork, and his door is often open to friends, family, and the curious DC arts patron.

Mid City at Art 17: A Group Show opens Thursday, May 2, 6:00- 8:00 PM
Coldwell Banker, 1606 17th St. NW

Bringing the Art in DC to You,
Roxanne Goldberg