City Gallery Champions Local Art

Posted March 9, 2010 at 4:43pm

A group of more than 20 local artists united to open a new gallery on H Street Northeast.

City Gallery opened with a reception on Saturday at 804 H St. NE, kicking off its inaugural all-member show. Gallery director Phil Hutinet said 22 pieces are on display, one each from associate and full members of the art cooperative.

The business model allowed the group of established artists, most of whom live near Capitol Hill, to gain a new venue for their work. Many of them already knew each other from the Capitol Hill Art League and other area programs and events. With his two partners, Hutinet selected interested professional artists to join the cooperative and charged those who made the cut a fee. The fee is higher for full members, who get a one-month exhibition of their work exclusively during each annual cycle, than for associate members, who are included in group shows.

“This is a shared risk program where everybody kind of pools their resources together in order to meet operating costs,” Hutinet explained. Unlike other similar programs, though, artists are not required to share in business responsibilities such as accounting and gallery sitting.

The all-member show will be open through March 28. It displays works across a spectrum of media, from photography to masks made out of gourds and from ceramic sculptures to oil paintings. One of City Gallery’s goals is to make art available to people who may not have considered buying it in the past.

“One of our missions is to bring original, affordable, quality art to people,” Hutinet said. “I think a lot of people are under the impression that art is for the very rich.”

Prices are mostly in the $250 to $500 range, he said, though some larger pieces will go for up to $3,000.

Watercolorist Gina Clapp will be featured in the first member-exclusive show. “Magic Realism” will be on display April 3-30, with an opening reception scheduled for April 10.

Ellen Cornett, a Maryland native who has lived in the D.C. area her whole life, will display her unique “reimagined” fairy tales in pastels during her show in September. “I think I’m sort of in a class by myself,” she explained.

Cornett said that though she’s “very enthusiastic about everybody” who’s part of the City Gallery team, she was particularly looking forward to Tom Kenyon’s linoleum cuts, Ronnie Spiewak’s collages and Liz Lescault’s sculptures and ceramic art.

One artist who won’t be displayed is Hutinet himself. Hutinet opened Studio H, located at 408 H St. NE, last fall and displays his work in graffiti and street art there.

City Gallery takes space on the second floor of a formerly empty building owned by real estate agency John C. Formant. A T-Mobile store is on the first floor, and private residences are on the third and fourth floors, Hutinet said. The space is a single narrow room but includes a big bay window and also has a kitchen and a restroom, making it easy to cater events when it’s rented out for private events.

City Gallery is open to the public from 1 to 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and by appointment at other times.