Transforming Local Artists  

Local artists are the lifeblood of a city’s cultural scene. Transformer DC knows this, and cultivates local talent, allowing fresh creative works to be shared with the city’s residents and the wider culture to be enriched.

Transformer was co-founded by Victoria Reis, who serves as executive and artistic director of the non-profit organization. Reis was a speaker at one of The Georgetowner’s Culture Power Breakfasts in September 2022. She shared how Transformer advocates for unconventional contemporary art and highlighted the importance of private donors in addition to national and district arts funders. Reis believes in paying her staff fair wages and paying artists for all that they do, calling Transformer “artist centered.”

In celebration of Transformer and local artists, we spoke with some of the artists featured in the auction and Transformer’s new book, “transformer20.” 

 Responses edited for clarity and space. For more information on TransformerDC ‘s fall events, go to TransformerDC.Org. 

Felipe Goncalves 

Felipe Goncalves. Photo by Miguel Matos.

My first D.C. solo show is coming up at the end of the month. I’m very excited and terrified at the same time. The fall to me means spending a lot of time in D.C. I’ve been a part of Transformer’s annual auction for over a decade. It’s been an honor and privilege to contribute for so long. D.C. has been my preferred venue to show work for a long time. There’s an energy that’s not comparable and rather contagious. With the wide array of diversity and demographics, it’s the perfect setting to connect with the widest audience possible.  

Naoco Wowsugi 

Naoco Wowsugi. Photo by Sarah Mattozzi.

Tranformer features a wide variety of artists in terms of their medium, location, experience, background, and age. I appreciate their effort to introduce such a diverse range of artists and celebrate their creations. I enjoy meeting new people, not only artists but also collectors, enthusiasts, art administrators, professionals, activists and sometimes ambassadors. 

As a BIPOC and first-generation immigrant, and as a community-engaged artist interested in expanding the boundaries of what art can be and how artists can engage, I feel safe and supported as an artist in D.C. Here, I can connect with allies, whether they are in art of not, who share similar values as me.  

 Mx. Noir 

Fall is always like a second pride season for queer entertainment and art. I am most excited to see the new shows from drag artists and performance artists. I’m showing my latest couture collection at the Kennedy Center, inspired by the short film I finished this past spring titled “Swann Queen,” based on the life and legacy of America’s First Queen of a drag, William Dorsey Swann. In November, I will be producing and performing a new work for the Transformer auction.  


Andrew Demirjian* 

Andrew Demirjian. Photo by Sara Stadmiller.

I’m really looking forward to the book launch, it’s an amazing accomplishment to make it 20 years as a non-profit art gallery amidst the chaos of our hyper-capitalist world. It will be great to reconnect with friends we made while working at Transformer. Most of my time in D.C. has been spent going to smaller galleries and independent spaces; it is easy to take the Smithsonian for granted. However, there’s a gem of a show at the Archives of American Artists (in the Smithsonian American Art Museum) that’s made from staff picks from the Archive. It’s a super intimate look at the everyday experience of artmaking over a century or so. Also, it’s free!   

*Note: Demirjian is based in New York City but will be living in Washington for the month of September as a Smithsonian Artist Research Fellow.  

Important Transformer Fall Dates

 Transformer20 Book Tour: Sept. 14

6:30 to 9 p.m., Eaton DC, 1201 K St. NW

Artist conversations and community gathering in collaboration with Eaton DC’s A2B Vinyl Listening and Storytelling Series.  

 Exhibition: Nov. 4 to 17 

Benefit Gala: Nov. 18, American University’s Katzen Arts Center



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