Sklarsky comes to DC at Vastu on 14th St

THIS THURSDAY, Vastu will open its’ doors for the work of New York based artist, Ian Sklarsky.  The 14th St NW establishment rotates the emerging artists on its’ walls monthly, curated by resident artist, Brian Petro. The show will run through December 8 and on October 17, Sklarsky will be at Vastu to meet visitors and draw original blind contour drawings for guests at the low price of just $95. The solo show will feature Sklarsky’s signature blind contour drawings, a method in which the artist draws a line and with minimal glances at the paper.

Sklarsky, a New York based artist, says that he pursues the method of blind contour “because of the ways it captures the essence of my subject.” Really focusing on the subject at hand is a huge part of his process, not being concerned about anything else around him.  Part of what makes his work so interesting is the intrigue of how he got from point A to point B with just one line and how he creates a cohesive image using that line. Visitors will get to see this first hand at the opening.

Brian Petro, curator, says that he selected Sklarsky’s work “because of his artwork, concept, uniqueness, process, vision, and drive!”  Petro has been curating the space for the last few years and strives to incorporate artists from all over the world. Vastu is committed to supporting emerging art and reserves them for that purpose. The spaces hosts approximately six shows per year.

Bringing the Art in DC to You, 


Brian Petro: Local Artist Supports His Community

It’s hard to step out in to the Logan Circle neighborhood without noticing the artistic touch of one artist that calls the area home. Brian Petro, a local artist who lives and works in Logan Circle, has been adding to his creative portfolio over the last several years through his exhibitions, open studios and curatorial work, and this summer will kick off even more. This weekend, May 18 and 19, Petro will host his bi-annual open studio tours in conjunction with his fellow artists of the Mid City Artist group. The doors to his basement studio under Vastu will be open both Saturday and Sunday, in addition to the walls of the 14th street furniture establishment being covered with his work. Petro will show his work at Vastu through June 2.

Petro, a great supporter of local art, is also involved in several curatorial projects. He currently curates for Coldwell Banker’s Art17 space, Vastu and the storefront of Avenue Settlement on 14th St. While the current Art17 show is a group show, featuring his Mid City Artist colleagues, Petro enjoys cultivating relationships with local artists and the process of selecting their work for his curation. When curating a new show he looks for “new, fresh, quality work and knowing that people enjoy their work is motivating.” Understanding the value of your work and how to market what you do as an artist is important to Petro, he enjoys giving other local artists the opportunity to show their work.

The current show at Vastu will be a retrospective of some of Petro’s latest works. His work is truly diverse, mixing mediums, narratives and materials to create images of the world around him. The inspiration and materials for his work often come from the world around him. Petro has made “dumpster diving” a large part of his artistic process, spending time searching through trash and recycling his findings in to his works. A recent trip to Brazil, one he has made many times before, was fruitful in both materials and inspirations. Petro found works at the new Museo de Arte do Brasil to be stimulating in their vibe, color and history of central Rio, something you can sense in much of his work. 

In the coming months, Petro will be busy supporting artists with shows at Vastu, Art17 and Avenue Settlement in addition to an upcoming show of his own at Fathom Gallery and a campaign for Absolut vodka. Petro is one of 4 artists in Washington DC who was asked to create a four foot bottle for Absolut that will be a nationwide, 14 city campaign for the vodka brand. The launch will take place at Mova Lounge at a to be determined date and time. Fathom Gallery will then host Petro and local artist Fabiano Amin for a joint exhibition in July, another Logan Circle community engagement. 

For more information on Brian Petro, his work and exhibitions, visit his website.

Bringing the Art in DC to You,


Jane Johnson Now Exhibiting at Vastu

(City Hussle, Jane Johnson)

Local artist, Jane Johnson, is exhibiting her work now through November 18 at Vastu (1829 14th Street NW).

Johnson’s work incorporates aspects of collage through use of layering and combining different textures.

“The end result is very physical and energetic,” said Johnson. “I use a lot of layers and love to play with the surface of a painting, building up textures and rubbing them out to reveal interesting aspects below the surface.” 

The use of color, drawing and organic shapes are also evident in Johnson’s art.

Johnson, a DC area resident for 27 years, fostered her love for art when she was very young. She started out drawing and eventually took painting classes and went on to earn a BFA in Fine Arts from Stratford College in Danville, Va.

After school, she painted off-and-on and created illustrations for the Virginia Seasons cookbook for the Junior League of Richmond. 

“I started taking painting more seriously 20 years ago when I took painting classes through The Art League in Alexandria,” said Johnson.  “Then, I started painting full-time a year ago.” 

Now, Johnson works almost exclusively in mixed media, combining her long history of oil with loose drippy acrylic paint and collage.  

“I also use oil stick, graphite and oil pastels so my work is a true mix of many mediums. The work is all very textural with a bold use of line and color,” said Johnson.

Johnson is an active member of the DC art scene, and has participated in Atromatic, shows at The Target Gallery and the RawArtists Mixology Show.

After her show at Vastu, Johnson will exhibit her work at Artspace in Herndon, Va., starting in early December.

Interested in learning more about Johnson? Check out her website or visit Vastu to view her work. Vastu is open Monday through Saturday, 11 am – 7 pm, and Sunday from noon until 5 pm.

Bringing the Art in DC to You,

Rachel Nania 

Kimberly Iles Exhibits “Multiverse” at Vastu

(Photo courtesy of Kimberly Iles)

Now through September 23, 2012, works by local artist, Kimberly Iles, are on display at the 14th Street contemporary furnishing store, Vastu.

Iles’ current exhibit, “Multiverse,” explores the concept of multiple realities and parallel universes. 

“It’s a vey exciting time to be alive,” said Iles, who is inspired by science and has a background in designing graphics for government sponsored science education projects. “And a very exciting time to blend the two unlikely worlds of art and science.”

After graduating from college with a degree in Fine Arts, Iles eventually established her own graphic design company and relocated to the DC area to work with clients like the White House, the National Science Foundation and the National Gallery of Art.

However, after working 15 years in the government, private and nonprofit sectors, Iles realized that she was missing something essential from her creative process. The artist – who in addition to painting also loves photography, calligraphy, drawing and printmaking – missed working with physical materials. Iles also missed the actual tactile experience obtained from creating fine art.

A few years ago, she decided to trade in her computer screen for her paintbrush, and currently dedicates all her time to creating fine art.

“So much of your environment goes into the work, so you surround yourself with the things you love the most,” said Iles.

Most of Iles’ work is rooted in Abstract Expressionism, and she practices similar painting styles (splash, stain, throw, drip, etc.) to the era’s artists.

The pieces in “Multiverse” are abstract, mixed media paintings that consist primarily of alkyd paint, oil sticks, paper, graphite pencil, charcoal, china markers and wax.

“Personally for me it is not about the final piece, but the process,” said Iles. “The creative process is as important as the art itself.”

Vastu is located at 1829 14th Street, NW; hours for viewing “Multiverse” are Monday through Saturday, 11 am until 7pm and Sunday, noon until 5 pm.

Bringing the Art in DC to You,

Rachel Nania

Brian Petro Exhibits Latest Work at Vastu

Among the hustle and bustle of 14th Street’s trendiest bars and restaurants lies an art studio home to one of D.C.’s most beloved artists, Brian Petro.

This small workspace, lined with brick and exposed beams, is packed with works of art Petro has created over the decades.

Working as professional artist for years, Petro spent much of his time bouncing between New York and Washington, exhibiting at galleries and working on commissions from clients like Absolut Vodka, Ritz-Carlton Hotels and the Library of Congress.

But a few years ago, Petro decided to stay-put with a permanent studio space in the District, directly below the 14th Street contemporary home furnishing store, Vastu.


(Photo credit: Brain Petro)

At Vastu, Petro works as a kind-of “resident artist and curator,” exhibiting his own art on the walls and also contracting other artists to display their work in the store.

Currently, some of Petro’s latest artwork adorns the expansive space at Vastu, including pieces from Supermarket Series and Roman Series. And while both are drastically different in look and media used, the two series have one thing in common: the artwork is influenced by different periods of time in Petro’s life.  

The colorful and vibrant pieces in Supermarket Series pay homage to Petro’s time spent working in the produce department at a grocery store in central Pennsylvania.

“I really loved the physical labor of working in this huge produce department, and I didn’t realize what was happening until years later, but I’d go in early in the morning and pack this huge department full of colors and textures and shapes and smells, and when I’d get done, I’d sit back and have such a gratifying feeling to see all of this wonderful and beautiful stuff and realize that it’s really putting up an art installation every morning.”

Supermarket Series embodies more than Petro’s time spent in Pennsylvania; the series is also inspired by old grocery and bodega signs that Petro found while dumpster diving for found-art in Manhattan – A city he loves and describes as gritty, yet bright and energetic.

(Photo credit: Brian Petro)

Similarly, the more somber pieces in Roman Series were inspired from another period of time in Petro’s life. When he was 22, Petro took his first trip to Europe and spent some time in Rome and other cities throughout Italy.

“I was just floored by Italy,” said Petro, who attempts capture the complexity of Roman society with simple, stoic gazes of ancient statues and ruins.

For the pieces in Roman Series, Petro uses a difficult and tedious process that makes each piece of work unique – a process Petro refers to as “photographic thermal transfer.”

“What I do is I shoot on real film, develop and enlarge that and then print that with a four-color press onto paper, a chemical release agent and plastic,” explained Petro. “Then when I heat that, it melts the plastic into the toners and the ink and then I can press it and it will leach it off onto another surface. And in this case, the other surface is 140-pound archival paper.” 

Petro’s work will be displayed in Vastu through July 16. Additionally, Petro will open his studio to the public this weekend for the Mid City Artists Open Studio tours. Petro will be on-hand to show his work and answer questions from visitors from 11am until 6:30pm on Saturday and noon until 4:30pm on Sunday.

Interested persons can also schedule a free personal tour of Brian’s studio until July 16 by phoning the artist directly at (202) 270-7352. For more information, visit