Georgetown’s Art All Night: A Spectacular Showcase

By Hailey Wharram

On Friday, Sept. 29, Wisconsin Avenue was bustling with music, art, and elation from N St. to R St. Between 6 p.m. and 11 p.m., the Georgetown community came together to celebrate the performing and visual arts as a part of Art All Night 2023, D.C.’s annual nocturnal arts festival spanning each of the District’s eight wards. Georgetown Main Street (GMS) again put on this much anticipated festival. 

A stroll down the street on the cool fall Friday evening allowed visitors to take in live music spanning a myriad of world music styles. Vivacious dance parties popped up on the TD Bank and the Chase Bank parking lots. Whether attendees wanted to simply appreciate the art all around them, monetarily support local artists, or participate in the creation of said art through activities, such as the Georgetown Neighborhood Library’s community painting event with Robin Davisson, Art All Night truly offered something for everyone to enjoy.

Painter Caroline Karp paints for onlookers. Photo by Jordan Tovin.

One of the many galleries on Wisconsin which remained open late into Friday evening was Gallery Article 15, the only art venue in the country which specializes in contemporary art from the Democratic Republic of Congo. After developing an appreciation for Congolese art while serving as a Foreign Service Officer for the U.S. Department of State in sub-Saharan Africa, Elizabeth Jaffee opened Gallery Article 15 in 2022 to bring her passion for Congolese art to Georgetown. During Art All Night, the gallery welcomed Francklin Mbungu, an artist from Kinshasa, DRC, who was proud to present Funky Town in his first solo exhibition in the United States. Mbungu’s brilliantly textured, brightly colored multi-media collages joyously depict Congolese life with a flare for the avant garde.

Elizabeth Jaffee and Francklin Mbungu in front of a piece from Mbungu’s Funky Town collection at Gallery Article 15. Photo by Hailey Wharram.

“I focus on sixties and seventies fashion and style. I think that era is colorful and fun,” Mbungu said, with Jaffee translating his words from French to English.

Inside the Georgetown Lutheran Church, past the passionate, purple-lit karaoke happening outside, another African artist was similarly enthusiastic to share his work with the community during Art All Night. Ghanain artist and mathematics teacher Kwasi Asare specializes in weaving Kente cloth, a special fabric originating from the Ashanti region. His father, A. E. Asare, was also a renowned weaver, and in 1962 Ghana’s first president, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, commissioned him to craft a Kente cloth for the United Nations headquarters in New York City. 

“I replaced my father’s cloth years later on the 50th anniversary of the United Nations. This is my heritage,” Asare said. In 1995, Kwasi Asare wove a new Kente cloth to replace his father’s fraying original work. This new cloth was entitled “Adwene Asa,” meaning “consensus has been reached,” and it still hangs in the United Nations General Assembly today.

At Art All Night, Asare, alongside his nieces, Janet Agyaben and Heather Asamoah, was proud to showcase a variety of vibrant, intricately woven pieces for sale, including bowties, shawls, and bookmarks. 

Performing artist Abdul Brown works on a painting inspired by Krusty the Clown from The Simpsons in front of The Gallery DC. Photo by Hailey Wharram.

Another creative who brought a number of their vibrant pieces to Art All Night in 2023 was painter Robin Sutliff. Two particular standout pieces, “Gemini Twins” and “The Angel of The Garden,” highlight Sutliff’s fondness for examining the interplay between the natural and the supernatural worlds. While “The Angel of The Garden” began with a smattering of pink florals, less than two weeks later the piece is unrecognizable; a beautiful, sunshine-winged angelic figure wrapped in roots and running water has bloomed.

From left to right: Robin Sutliff’s “The Angel of The Garden” and “Gemini Twins” paintings perch outside of L’Enfant Gallery. Photo by Hailey Wharram.

“I don’t know how it happened, but it went in a different direction. All of a sudden, the angel had to have everything that makes photosynthesis happen.” Sutliff said. 

Robin Sutliff surrounded by her paintings at Gallery L’Enfant. Photo by Jordan Tovin.

Inside L’Enfant Gallery, Art All Night attendees enjoyed viewing and purchasing a variety of art pieces and antiques from around the world. Though the third level of the gallery is typically inaccessible for public viewing, on Friday evening, guests were able to freely explore all three floors, each of which was packed from floor to ceiling with a kaleidoscope of purchasable artwork to peruse.

“We have anywhere from 50 to 100 people inside right now at a given time. For the most part, it’s not a selling night — it’s a PR night. And it’s just fun. People who’ve never been here before have come in, which is the whole point. A lot of young people have come in too, which has been wonderful,” Peter Colsante, owner of L’Enfant Gallery, said.

A local singer performs a stunning cover of “Umbrella” by Rihanna. Photo by Hailey Wharram.

A complete list of all of the evening’s activities can be found here. After the jubilation of Sept. 29’s festivities, Georgetown residents are eagerly anticipating Art All Night’s blissful return in 2024.



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