"King Me: Studies in the Uncivilized World" at the Fridge DC art gallery features a range of Washington-area artists from a recent college graduate to mid-career professionals.
The term "back alley" is seldom used to describe something positive. But in the case of the Fridge DC, a Barracks Row gallery and performance art space, the words are deployed simply to give people an idea of where to find it.
Once they do, though, they're unlikely to forget it, as it stands out both in its appearance and in what it offers to the culture of Capitol Hill.
The Fridge, the brainchild and home business of Alex Goldstein, is at 516 ½ Eighth St. SE. Walk down the alley separating the administrative offices of the Shakespeare Theatre Company and Senart's Oyster & Chop House, hook a quick left, and you'll see a cinder block structure adorned with colorful street art. Look for a door that has, among other things, a sticker that says "Floss DC" and stenciling that spells out "Viva La Revolución-ish," and you've arrived.
"Where I've really found my niche is working with what are traditionally called outsider artists, taggers, graffiti artists, just weirdos in general," Goldstein said.
Mail headed here is sometimes addressed to "The Fridge, Rear Alley," including a letter Goldstein received last year from Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) congratulating him on receiving the 2011 Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce Hilly Award for Best Arts Business.
Landrieu, who lives on Capitol Hill while in Washington and is chairwoman of the Senate's Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, told Goldstein that his business helped fill a vital role.
"Businesses such as yours are a key part of that community feeling I have as I run errands or go on walks during the weekend," reads her letter, displayed in Goldstein's personal space at the Fridge.
"Art spaces are really undervalued," said Emma Fisher, the Fridge's assistant gallery director. "We're really proud of our role here in Capitol Hill and of adding a little spice to the place."
Goldstein acknowledged that not all of his neighbors are thrilled with his business, which is also his residence. He said he tries to be as considerate as possible about noise at his events, although with dozens of restaurants on the block that serve alcohol, his establishment is not alone in attracting a crowd on weekends.
Some of the resistance, he said, is "the neighbors just bitching that I put spray-paint on my wall. Oh, well. Sorry about your wall. Oh, wait. It's my wall."
'A Productive Atmosphere'
There are few establishments on Capitol Hill that provide the kind of experience the Fridge does.
The two most recent art shows there give an idea of what it offers to the area.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.