Artists Hit the Streets

Penn Quarter Hosts Annual Arts on Foot Festival

Posted September 15, 2004 at 3:59pm

Grab your passport and head over to the Pennsylvania Quarter and nearby neighborhoods on Saturday. While the Arts on Foot festival isn’t an international destination, its “Passport” — a listing of events, descriptions and a map — will give visitors a chance to win prizes if the booklet is stamped at 10 different festival sites.

“We ran out of the Passport last year,” said Jo-Ann Neuhaus, executive director of the Pennsylvania Quarter Neighborhood Association. She added that more will be printed for Saturday’s event.

Area museums, restaurants, galleries and theaters will come together to offer visitors a taste of the artistic area from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. for the 12th annual festival, which is free and open to the public. Aside from the food samplings that run around $1, the “food you eat and the artwork you buy,” all activities, presentations and galleries are presented at no cost.

The event does not pay for itself, as many people and area participants have donated funds. Neuhaus said obtaining the permits to close F Street Northwest between Seventh and Ninth streets and Eighth Street between E and F streets Northwest cost money, in addition to the $20,000 spent to rent tables, tents and stages for the festival.

Arts on Foot, a volunteer effort of arts venues and businesses in the area, is co-sponsored by the Pennsylvania Quarter Neighborhood Association, Smooth Jazz 105.9 and the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities.

“Lots of people have different interests,” Neuhaus said. “Those venues that are closer to the heart of Penn Quarter tend to attract a greater number of people.”

However, as an incentive to get festival-goers to wander to the “more distant” sites, two of the 10 stamps on the Passport must be from programs either west of Ninth Street, east of Sixth Street or north of H Street. Once 10 stamps have been acquired, there is a form in the booklet that must be filled out for a chance to win prizes from area restaurants, theaters, hotels and shops. The prizes will be awarded within a month or two of the conclusion of the festival.

This year, Arts on Foot features 54 artists who were chosen by a jury from the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities. Originally, 56 artists were selected, but two had to decline for health reasons. The artists, who each receive a stipend of $50 for their participation, will sell their works on F Street.

“Cooking As Art — the event has evolved,” Neuhaus said about the program that features demonstrations by area chefs. “I saw how many people came down to Taste of D.C. and I thought, ‘Wow, maybe we should incorporate food with Arts on Foot.’”

More than 20 chefs will be on site to share their cooking expertise, coming from area restaurants such as Andale, Rosa Mexicano, Charlie Palmer Steak, The Capital Grille, Butterfield 9, Ristorante Luigino, Zola and Occidental. Restaurants in the festival area also will be offering cuisine samples at a “minimal charge.”

Neuhaus said there is something for everyone at the Arts on Foot festival, no matter what art form piques one’s interest.

“Last year we had an enormous crowd,” she said. “More people know about Penn Quarter now than they did years ago. It’s grown and changed.”

With specific events for children in addition to opportunities for those of all ages to learn about different art forms, the Arts on Foot festival “gives a lot of choices to a lot of people.”

“No one person can do everything,” Neuhaus said. “There is just too much to do, which is wonderful.”

Some participating venues include the National Building Museum, the Bead Museum, Utrecht Art Supplies, Warehouse Theater, the Goethe-Institut, Ford’s Theater, Shakespeare Theater, the National Museum of Women in the Arts, the National Portrait Gallery, St. Patrick’s Church, Zenith Gallery, Olsson’s Books & Records and the Old Post Office Pavilion, among many others.

In addition to the Passport, festival-goers may want to grab an umbrella.

“Arts on Foot goes on, rain or shine,” Neuhaus said.

For more information on the festival, visit www.artsonfoot.org or call (202) 482-7271.