Wet Paint at old Polly's location

Walking home from the metro after work the past few days, I’ve noticed that there’s been some activity at the old Polly’s spot. There seems to be stuff going on inside, and they’ve also painted the fence all black. Unless you didn’t know, Polly’s closed back in February. I can’t say I know what is happening – anyone know?

UPDATE: A couple of people have told me that the owners of Angelico’s Pizza, next door, are renovating the place. Not much word on what the new place might be, possibly a restaurant/bar.

Scott Brooks with his painting "Boldly Going"

Scott Brooks with his painting "Boldly Going"

I love how this blog has connected me to people I never would have met otherwise. After covering the Long View Gallery opening, one of the artists featured, Scott Brooks (warning: some nudity in the paintings on his website), got in touch with me. Turns out he lives and works on U street and actually reads my blog. Last weekend we got together to talk about life on U street, being an artist in DC, and how the arts community in DC has changed.

Scott has been living in the area for nearly 20 years after growing up in Michigan, and moved to U street in 2000. He’s seen the art scene in DC evolve from a few small galleries, to watching Long View open their 5000 square foot space. And while the DC scene has grown, we still talked about how outside artists seem to get more hype than local ones, and how serious art collectors still look down on DC as a destination to buy art (they’d rather go to more established scenes in New York or LA).

As for working as a full time artist in DC, while Scott has a lot of shows planned in the future, he says he still does more commercial art than he’d care to admit. He works in illustration, graphic design, and even does steady work with WWE’s children’s magazine (I thought that was kind of awesome). He also shows a good amount outside of the city, he’s had shows in New York, LA, and even in Italy.

While most of the shows Scott is a part of feature one or two of his works, (you can see some of his work locally at Nevin Kelly Gallery in the near future), he is having a big solo show at Long View in October 2010. That might seem a long way out for us, but it’s a lot work for Scott. Since the space is so big, he’s painting some of his largest scale pieces for the show, as well as a lot of new work on a smaller scale (understandably, artists and galleries want to show new work, not old).

I really enjoy Scott’s art, as he told me he looked to classic Renaissance art as well as MAD magazine as inspiration, I totally saw it, there is a classical, yet childlike quality to the people he paints. I enjoy his art’s playful quality, and his eye for the weird. We talked a bit about John Currin and his art, and it also didn’t surprise me that he was a fan (though neither of us much cared for the more pornographic turn his work had taken lately).

As for living on U street, Scott mentions favorites of DC Noodles and Solly’s (me too). Check out Scott’s website and go to his shows – enjoy the local art scene!

Meridian International Center

Meridian International Center

I had a day off today thanks to an awesome compressed work schedule. I had quite a list: go to yoga, bake, cook, do laundry, do dishes, and check out the Meridian International Center, finally. I’d been meaning to go, and after reading Prince of Petworth’s post on it a few days ago, I was determined to actually go.

To get there, walk up Belmont or Crescent off of 16th street. The Center encapsulates several buildings, but the White-Meyer house, at 1624 Crescent Place NW, houses the gallery. The buildings are beautiful,  great architecture, great details, I was in heaven.

The gallery currently has an exhibit on “Paintings in the Heart of Russia” featuring Nikolai Timkov’s paintings. It runs through March 8th. It’s small, but the exhibit is pretty great. Timkov was a painter during Soviet Russia, and he had to conform to the Soviet concepts of what “art” should be, though his painting style isn’t very typical of the realism that Stalin named the only acceptable form of painting. He focuses on landscapes, mostly of winter, with bright, beautiful colors, amazing textural canvasses, and impressionist touches. The paintings don’t feel like they were painted in the 20th century, but rather the 19th. There are touches of abstraction here and there, but mostly you can tell that Timkov really dug the French impressionists.

While the exhibit is open during very limited times, Wednesday through Sunday from 2-5 pm, you should go. The buildings are fabulous and the exhibit is very interesting, particularly if, like me, you know next to nothing about Soviet art.

Meridian House

Meridian House

The mission of the Meridian International Center is “advancing international understanding through public diplomacy and global engagement,” so it’s pretty cool they also host a well-curated art gallery, donated by the Caftritz Foundation.

The two buildings the Center are housed in have an interesting history: the White-Meyer house was built in 1912 and the original owner was Henry White, former Ambassador to France. The next family to live there were the Meyers, owners of the Washington Post; Katharine Graham grew up in the house. The Meridian International Center purchased the property in 1987. The Meridian House was built in 1920 by another Ambassador to Greece and Spain, Irwin Boyle Laughlin. The Center purchased the house in 1960, shortly after it was founded.

The garden also looks like it will be lovely in spring, and I hope it’s at least sort of open to the public.

Much more pictures after the jump.