Prince George's County

Art Festival Comes to Prince George’s County

Art enthusiasts looking to see eclectic pieces such as baby dolls wearing helmets and hanging from the ceiling can visit Artomatic’s first art festival in Prince George’s County for the next five weeks.

Paul Christopher White of Largo produced a risqué piece of art called “Hot! Boom” that features pictures of Betty Boo, a slice of cherry cheesecake and women in provocative poses on playing cards.

“It’s difficult to promote your own work because you don’t know what people like, but you just have to try to do it,” White, 34, said. “This is my second art gallery, so we’ll see what happens.”

Artomatic, a nonprofit organization that organizes art festivals throughout the Washington Metropolitan region, hosted a grand opening celebration Friday, Oct. 30, outside a 90,000-square-foot building at 8100 Corporate Drive near the New Carrollton Metro Station. The group’s event inside thefour-story structure being donated by the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission will run until Dec. 12.

M-NCPPC Chairwoman Elizabeth Hewlett enthusiastically told the crowd to bring friends, family and anyone else to the free festival that will feature exhibits from at least 500 artists.

“Gentlemen, we have tie-died ties, so you can spruce up your wardrobe,” she said. “I am advocating for everyone to come and tell all your friends. This is just one more beautiful thing happening in Prince George’s County.”

The majority of the art galas took place in the District, but the last one in 2012 was held in Crystal City, Virginia, inside a 380,000-square-foot building slated for demolition. Artomatic seeks buildings that are about to be torn down or refurbished or uses a new building scheduled for occupancy.

Micheline Kirsch, president of Artomatic, said Prince George’s officials came to the exhibit in Virginia and convinced her and the organization’s board of directors the festival will succeed in Maryland.

“They really wooed us coming here to Prince George’s County,” Kirsch said after the ceremony. “It’s near the New Carrollton Metro Station, which is good for our artists and visitors to come. We couldn’t ask for such a great host.”

Although the organization has been promoting various artists since 1999, it’s been challenging to conduct a yearly art exhibit.

George Koch, founder of Artomatic, said one of the main reasons stems from the lack of industrial spaces in the metro area as compared with other places like Baltimore, Philadelphia and Chicago. Besides creative art, Artomatic will highlight visual performers such as musicians, poets, dancers and present other special events.

Koch said the one unique aspect with Artomatic is any artwork and performance can be seen and heard because participants can register on a first-come, first-serve basis.

“Unlike a museum, or gallery, work is not selected. It is opened to all kinds of artists,” Koch, who lives in the District’s Northwest section, said Thursday, Oct. 29. “I think our mission is pretty simple. It is to build community among artists, build an audience for artists and use space to showcase their talent.”

Painters and other visual artists rent a space for a $125 fee to showcase their work and must volunteer at least 15 hours to help prepare the space and run the show. The same goes for musicians, dancers and other performing artists.

In the meantime, Kate Heneghan will showcase her collection artwork converted out of used books. Heneghan, an art teacher at Bishop McNamara High School in Forestville, participated in Artomatic’s exhibit in Crystal City in 2008.

“It has become more professional since then,” said Heneghan, who lives 10 minutes away from festival event. “Artomatic is not as edgy as other art exhibits. Being here in Prince George’s County is a big deal, especially since I live only 10 minutes away. I had to be in it this year.”

After all the artists leave the building, the M-NCPPC will refurbish it to house the park police’s new headquarters by January.

For more information on Artomatic, go to www.artomatic.com.

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William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer

I decided I wanted to become a better writer while attending Bowie State University and figured that writing for the school newspaper would help. I’m not sure how much it helped, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to keep on doing it, which I still thoroughly enjoy 20 years later. If I weren’t a journalist, I would coach youth basketball. Actually, I still play basketball, or at least try to play, once a week. My kryptonite is peanut butter. What makes me happy – seeing my son and two godchildren grow up. On the other hand, a bad call made by an official during a football or basketball game makes me throw up my hands and scream. Favorite foods include pancakes and scrambled eggs which I could eat 24-7. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, or more accurately the most painful, was when I was hit by a car on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. If I had the power or money to change the world, I’d make sure everyone had three meals a day. And while I don’t have a motto or favorite quote, I continue to laugh which keeps me from driving myself crazy. You can reach me several ways: Twitter @jabariwill, Instagram will_iam.ford2281 or e-mail, wford@washingtoninformer.com

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