Georgetown Celebrates the Arts Program Heightens Fall Colors, Moods on Book Hill


With autumn’s arrival, splashes of color have been spotted along Wisconsin Avenue — but of the artistic, not the arboreal kind.

In a pilot public arts program sponsored by the Washington Print Foundation, Georgetown Celebrates the Arts is livening up the main street corridor with 43 works of printed public art on “kakemono” pole banners and ground installations along Book Hill between Volta Place and Reservoir Road.

So, now’s the time to take a walking tour of the area and even vote on your favorite art works.

The brainchild of Washington Printmakers Gallery president and photographer Marie-B Cilia De Amicis —you may have seen her recent installation “Moments Exceptionnels” during Georgetown’s recent Art All Night events —the program is designed to lift Georgetown’s spirits as we approach our second Covid winter and to give a boost to local artists, shops and entrepreneurs.

While no theme was required for the artworks entered into the program, Amicis simply asked artists to help lift the community’s spirits by “convey[ing] their sense of joy.”

Before the pandemic, Amicis, a dual citizen of France and the United States, was inspired to bring Parisian artistic vibrancy to the Georgetown community — think Christo wraps of the Pont Neuf. In 2018, Rose Park’s giant outdoor artwork project “The Orange Step” by Kirik Jeliazkov also provided Amicis inspiration. When the pandemic struck, however, she was all the more determined to enliven Georgetown with public artworks.

So, she began to organize. “I talked to people right and left and then Covid hit. So, I said, we needed to do something, because the museums are closed and people need to see art and we need to change our mindsets and be outside.”

Wading through the bureaucratic tangle and all the various stakeholders was particularly difficult, however. Amicis needed to find financial backers while garnering support and approvals from every local agency — from DC Department of Transportation, to the Advisory Neighborhood Commission, to Georgetown Business Improvement District, to the Old Georgetown Board and to Georgetown Main Street. Shopkeepers also expressed concerns about what sort of art would be displayed near their entries.

Amicis was delighted, however, when the local non-profit Loops Foundation donated significant financial resources for the project. The group is dedicated to supporting startup artists in honor of Chris “Loops” Seikaly, a local musician and artist who tragically died in 2017 at age 24 and whose work is featured in the show. Amicis was also pleased to gain the sponsorship of Georgetown Main Street, Sotheby’s, Courtney Abram, the Fountain Inn, Klagsburn Studio, Alliance Fine Washington Properties and Day and Night Printing.

“We didn’t want to make money on this art project,” Amicis said, “We just wanted it to be beneficial for the community in the first place. We wanted to create a nice family trip to see the banners. And for the children some of the banners are very nice. The children can describe them and comment on them. And then the other goal of the project was for the stores and shops which really suffered during Covid…. to bring back customers and maybe entrepreneurs to Georgetown.”

If the pilot public arts program is a success, Amicis hopes to expand it in the coming years to reach down and along M Street. “The flower boxes are wonderful,” she said. “But how about more public art?”

What excites Amici most about Georgetown Celebrates the Arts? “To see art in the streets, people walking and discovering beautiful things and to see all the artists. You know, we have 43 artists from the DMV. If you go to the website you can see [their featured works]. This is exciting to see art outside a gallery or outside a museum and to see artists who may never have this opportunity to show their art.”

“It’s very difficult today to be an artist and be recognized and show your work,” she said. “When there’s a call for entries and you’re not chosen, it’s awful and it can destroy your self-confidence. So, you know, giving this little joy to me for the artist was very important. So, this is very exciting for us.” Voting on the artworks will run through Nov. 20.

Information about Georgetown Celebrates the Arts can be found at: https://www.washingtonprintmakers.com/georgetown-celebrates-the-arts.

Ballots to vote on your favorite artists and works are provided at stations along Wisconsin Ave. A guide to the pole and ground installations as well as an online or printable ballot can also be found at:

https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5e619bad14f1b37c53c5bea8/t/615cb6215860c611b60b1e88/1633465889928/Georgetown_Celebrates_the_Arts_Tri-Fold_rev.pdf.

A “kakemono” print from a painting by Chris “Loops” Seikaly, a local musician and artist whose memory is preserved through the foundation which bears his name. (Photo courtesy Washington Printmakers Gallery)

Artwork in the show: “Red Maple” by Clara Kim.

“On the Way to Woodley Park,” by Maureen Minard.

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