Art Collectors Open Their Homes for Transformer 


The 2022 edition of Collector’s View — a series of receptions hosted by D.C. art collectors — began on May 5 at the Embassy Row townhouse of Carole Feld and David C. Levy. Three more Thursday-night events will be presented this month by Transformer, the nonprofit platform for emerging visual artists, which runs a gallery at 1404 P St. NW. 

“This is kind of our inauguration of entertaining,” said Feld, a former senior vice president at PBS who has her own consulting firm, BrandshopDC. Board secretary of Transformer, she and Levy, longtime head of the Corcoran art museum and college, whose firm — targeting organizations in the arts and higher education — is called Objective Focus, mingled with several dozen Transformer supporters at the event. Toward the end of the evening, basset hound Princess Ozma made an appearance. 

Apart from the dining room table, where guests chose items from a sushi and dumpling buffet to accompany glasses of white wine, the second floor was filled to the brim with paintings, sculpture and collectibles (many of the latter snagged on eBay).  

 “A little idiosyncratic, a little quirky,” was how Levy described the collection, gesturing with chopsticks from the stairs. Taking in the dense interweaving of representational paintings, African art objects and, most surprising, salesman’s and patent models of cast-iron stoves, several attendees were reminded of the startling juxtapositions on the walls of the Barnes Foundation. 

Giving what amounted to a brief art history lecture, Levy explained that he inherited the African art from his father, Cubist and Expressionist painter Edgar Levy, among the many early 20th-century artists (going back to Picasso) who drew inspiration from what was then considered “primitive” art. Paintings by both his father and his mother, Lucille Corcos, an artist who supported the family as a highly regarded illustrator, are prominently displayed. Corcos had been commissioned to design a Hudson River mural for the World Trade Center left uncompleted at her death in 1973, Levy said. Another intriguing footnote he shared: Many of his father’s paintings include scenes of autopsies; he was fascinated by gross anatomy, which he learned while working in the morgue of Harlem Hospital. 

Other works in the eclectic collection are by Levy’s godparents, famed sculptors David Smith and Dorothy Dehner, and friends such as proto-Pop artist Larry Rivers. The Calderesque mobiles hanging from the ceiling are Levy’s own creations, noted Feld. 

Transformer co-founder Victoria Reis, the organization’s executive and artistic director, was clearly thrilled to return to in-person programming. Through May 21, the P Street gallery is showing “Shared Words, Split Catfish and Sweet Tea: An Open Platform for Discussion,” a site-specific installation by New York-based artist Azikiwe Mohammed. Gallery hours are Wednesday to Saturday, from noon to 6 p.m. The next public event connected with the exhibition is “Let’s Eat: Sustainable Means of Feeding the Fam,” a communal picnic in Logan Circle Park on Saturday, May 14, from 2 to 4 p.m. 

The remaining three events in the Collector’s View series, sponsored by Long & Foster, are: May 12 at the Capitol Hill home of Tara and Steve Goldenberg; May 19 at the Wesley Heights home of Sylvia Ripley and Christopher Addison; and May 26 at the Kalorama home of Virginia Shore and Tom Hardart. Admission to each is $75. Tickets are available at transformerdc.org. 

Joking that she had started Transformer at age 10, Reis pointed out that 2022 is Transformer’s 20th anniversary. She announced that a retrospective exhibition will take place in November at George Washington University’s Corcoran School of the Arts and Design, along with the Annual Silent Auction & Benefit Party. 

 

 

 

 

 

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