Adventures of Hoogrrl!

A person who appears to be ambling aimlessly, but is secretly in search of adventure.

Browsing Posts published in January, 2007

Good news about Jiha Moon! The Hirshhorn Museum acquired two of her works. Her dreamy landscapes are gorgeous. I’m so glad that a great DC-based artist is getting well-deserved attention in the contemporary art world.
ink & acrylic on silk
30″ x 20″

ink & acrylic on hanji
15″ x 22.5″

Last fall, my buddy Sean, who lives in NYC, called to say that his friend Meeghan Truelove (what an excellent name!) was on her way to DC to do a story about the U Street Corridor for Travel & Leisure. She’d asked him for ideas on what was new and interesting in the neighborhood but he didn’t really know because he hadn’t lived here in a while. So he told her to talk to me. I met her over brunch the next day and shared my thoughts with her. Following is an excerpt from that story that appeared on last week.

New life comes to once-gritty capital streets
By Meeghan Truelove
Travel + Leisure
(Travel + Leisure) — As D.C.’s inner city blossoms, roughly six contiguous areas north of downtown are being grouped as MidCity. At its heart, Logan Circle (a genteel Victorian residential quarter in its day) and the U Street Corridor (a creative hub once hailed as Black Broadway, where hometown hero Duke Ellington grew up) have been among the city’s most embattled neighborhoods.

Now there’s an influx of artists, students and professionals, and businesses are opening in a collaborative spirit — with one eye toward the global village and the other very much on the local scene — showing what can happen when fashion, art and food mix with politics.

What to see
Half of the artists represented by Nevin Kelly Gallery (1517 U St. NW; 202/232-3464; live in Poland, the rest are in D.C.: a delightful hybrid of old-world skillfulness and new-world dash. Founded by a Georgetown University professor, Irvine Contemporary (1412 14th St. NW; 202/332-8767; exhibits work by well-known early- and mid-career artists — such as mixed-media dreamscapes by Robert Gutierrez. At bi-level Project 4 (903 U St. NW; 202/232-4340;, guest curators organize shows of works from D.C. (photography, sculpture, site-specific installations).
Where to eat
Busboys and Poets (2021 14th St. NW; 202/387-7638; lunch for two $27), is a café, performance space and bookstore to a diverse clientele that favors the individual pizzas and well-pulled espressos as much as the readings by the likes of Barbara Ehrenreich and Amiri Baraka. On Sundays, the brunch crowd hits Crème (1322 U St. NW; 202/234-1884; brunch for two $25) for chef Terrell Danley’s nouveau-soul cooking: think crispy fried chicken on fluffy Belgian waffles, doused with maple syrup. (Washington’s dining scene)
Since 1958, Ben’s Chili Bowl (1213 U St. NW; 202/667-0909; lunch for two $17), a survivor of historic riots and economic depression, has satisfied fans with irresistible hot dogs and chili-cheese fries. Local-farm champion Barton Seaver’s Café Saint-Ex (1847 14th St. NW; 202/265-7839; dinner for two $55) is packed night and day for such specialties as fried green tomato BLTs.
At Viridian (1515 14th St. NW; 202/234-1400; dinner for two $64), MidCity’s most sophisticated restaurant, Antonio Burrell also buys locally for his clean-flavored dishes, like tofu-and-mushroom terrine with red-pepper jam. Owned by two brothers, Etete (1942 Ninth St. NW; 202/232-7600; dinner for two $36) wins in a crowded field of Ethiopian restaurants; try the chicken with fresh ginger and hot pepper.
Where to shop
The owner of Muléh (1831 14th St. NW; 202/667-3440) scouts fine contemporary furniture from Asia and fashion from the United States and Europe (he was one of the first to carry 3.1 Phillip Lim). On the airy second floor of a row house, Nana (1528 U St. NW; 202/667-6955) delivers stylish, affordable fashion from up-and-coming designers. Look for Holly Aiken’s striking “vegan-friendly” vinyl bags. (D.C. destination guide)
Wild Women Wear Red (1512 U St. NW; 202/387-5700) sells sexy but practical shoes, such as puzzle-patterned suede boots by Camper and Lisa Nading loafers with kittenish heels. At the cavelike Carbon (1203 U St. NW; 202/986-2679), limited-edition mod Chelsea boots from Italy and deconstructed, rubber-soled wing tips by Blackstone attract professionals who don’t take themselves too seriously.
Lettie Gooch (1911 Ninth St. NW; 202/332-4242) has polished, slightly offbeat clothes and accessories, including herringbone pencil skirts with flirty back pleats from Black Halo, and delicate rolled-paper-and-silver strand necklaces by local designer Ayanna. Candida’s World of Books (1541 14th St. NW; 202/667-4811) leaves bookstore travel sections far behind, and stocks cookbooks, coffee-table tomes and fiction in 15 languages from 40-plus countries. Even the kids’ section is multilingual.
Where to go out
Hipsters and politicos with down time head to Gate 54 (1847 14th St. NW; 202/ 265-7839), a moody lounge with a speakeasy vibe. DJ’s spin nightly, and on iPod evenings, locals plug in their own collections. Named for a 1987 House resolution honoring jazz, the nonprofit HR-57 1610 14th St. NW; 202/667-3700) is dedicated to preserving the groove in an area once thick with clubs headlining such luminaries as Miles Davis and Sarah Vaughan. On Wednesdays and Fridays, HR-57 hosts the city’s hottest jam sessions. The Duke would be proud.

Iona Rozeal Brown
Untitled II (Male)
Color silkscreen

Patrick Wilson
Fall Bloom
Acrylic on canvas
30 x 32 inches

(This picture does no justice whatsoever to the actual painting. The real thing is magnificent!)

In October, Where magazine published a piece I wrote about ambling aimlessly around Logan Circle. I posted a link to the article at the time but it’s not available anymore so thought I’d reproduce the text here. Above is the picture that appeared in the table of contents. That’s me gazing at some lovely art at one of the galleries I recommended, Adamson.

Here’s a picture of me sitting in front of Viridian restaurant. I have no idea who the chick is. She happened to be sitting there talking on her cell phone so I thought it’d be fun to have sort of an action shot with her. One other picture appeared with this story–check it out in my October 9, 2006 blog entry.
Award-winning photographer Anne Pellicciotto took the photos for this story.

Low-down on Logan
A day with a denizen of the new arts zone
by Philippa Hughes
Enormous windows. Grand façades. Vast interiors that were once auto showrooms. Buildings along 14th Street between O and T streets signal the time when buying a car was an occasion to celebrate. Families in the 1950s dressed in Sunday best to stroll the wide sidewalks and window-shop for the Hudsons and DeSotos of Detroit’s golden age.

After two decades of neglect and decay following the 1968 riots, the neighborhood, often called Logan Circle (thanks to the traffic circle just west at 13th Street), has emerged to a fresh identity. It’s not only hot real estate—think trendy steel and glass condo lofts and renovated rowhouses going for over a million—but also DC’s newest art gallery-café-nightlife zone. It was this convergence of new and old, sleekness and charm that lured my husband and me to buy our apartment three years ago. Stodgy Washington ends here.

We self-styled Loganites often begin our day picking up an egg and cheese sandwich—$1.50 at the Mid City Fish Market, corner of 14th and P. The popular eatery occupies the first floor of a Victorian-era, red brick building, one of many gracing the neighborhood. Or we head a block south to Caribou Coffee at Rhode Island Avenue to enjoy a cup and a newspaper with breakfast at this sunny sidewalk café.

Starting the day off well-coifed is easy at Nimbus (1455 Church Street, NW, 202-518-0683). Owner and stylist Yusuf Baptiste accepts flexible appointment times. More importantly, Baptiste knows that his hip clientele wants uncomplicated, contemporary looks that won’t require a personal stylist to manage later on. He works in a relaxed setting that plays modern against tribal furniture and punctuates his walls with the bold abstract figures of local artist Alicia Cosnahon.

Next door, a converted auto repair shop houses Dragonfly (1457 Church Street, NW, 202-265-3359), a shop selling Asian antiques from Burmese lacquerware for $75 to wood altar tables for $2,500. Owner Kim Hessler, a former government services consultant, has traveled through Asia and befriended merchants and crafts people who helped her develop a discerning eye. Special twist: Dragonfly hosts events like tea tastings on the second Friday of each month.

It’s easy being green at eco-friendly Future Green (1469 Church St. NW, 202-234-7110) that sells organic, non-toxic products and fair-trade goods that make nice gifts. Also here: stylish clothing from Edun, a socially conscious company launched by rock star Bono to foster businesses in developing countries. Weird bit: owner Keith Ware claims that naval intelligence once occupied the building and that a secret tunnel leads straight to the White House!

When Loganistas plan a trip, we stop first at Candida’s World of Books (1541 14th Street NW, 202-667-4811). Candida Manozzi gladly suggests handy guides and maps from her large collection of cookbooks, international literature and unusual books for children. In the midst of fast-paced development, this enterprise in a former townhouse recalls the charm of a small-town, independent bookstore.

For lunch we might head to Logan Tavern (1423 P Street NW, 202-332-3710), a convivial bistro serving comfort-chic food like meatloaf topped by wasabi glaze. David Winer’s gathering spot pulls in Loganites who don’t feel like cooking but want to meet friends at a communal table set with gothic candelabra and set with atmosphere.

I might spend the afternoon perusing the contemporary art galleries, several of which moved from Georgetown and Dupont Circle into airy, light-filled spaces in Logan’s Circle. “In the last five or six years, Washington galleries have become part of the national and international art world,” declares Martin Irvine, an ambitious gallerist who recently arrived from Dupont Circle.

On the second floor of the former Hudson showroom, G Fine Art (1515 14th Street NW, 202-462-1601) displays new oil paintings by Maggie Michael, a Washington-based artist whose paintings have hung in the Corcoran and the Hirshhorn. On the same floor, Adamson Gallery (1515 14th Street NW, 202-232-0707) shows William Wegman’s large-scale photographic studies of his sleek Weimaraner Fan Ray. On the third floor, Hemphill Fine Art (1515 14th Street NW, 202-234-5601) has abstract paintings of encaustic on aluminum by Robin Rose. Across the street, Gallery plan b (1530 14th Street NW, 202-234-2711) shows landscapes of the Blue Ridge mountains by former combat artist Kevin Adams. One block south, Irvine Contemporary (1412 14th Street, NW, 202-332-8767) exhibits the surreal dreamscapes of Lori Esposito in a show called “She had to go.”

Loft-like Timothy Paul (1404 14th Street NW, 202-319-1100) stocks the more practical art of textiles: hand-loomed rugs and rare Suzani cloths from Uzbekistan, intricately embroidered fabrics that function as tablecloths or simple decorative throws. Timothy Paul also offers pillows hand-blocked in India and made from exotic fabrics by American designer John Robshaw, who manages to evoke organic, Asian traditions with universal cachet.

Hip locals often dine in the former Hudson showroom now Viridian (1515 14th Street NW, 202-234-1400). Here chef Antonio Burrell creates a seasonal menu he calls “new American green.” With organic-only meats and “sustainable” produce from local purveyors, he aims to appeal to diners from carnivore to vegan. Viridian reflects the hood’s artsy rep with displays of curated art work. Owner-artist- developer Giorgio Furioso wants us to see something new every time we enter his restaurant. “It’s like falling in love,” he says, all over again. This month, Max Hirshfeld’s photos— impromptu street portraits—gaze down on diners, and video art flickers on a monitor set high above the bar.

Next door, on the main stage at innovative Studio Theatre (1501 14th Street NW, 202-332-3300), Adam Rapp’s Red Light Winter tracks a dark love triangle from a tiny hostel in Amsterdam to the chilly streets of New York City. The theatre’s Second Stage, which features works by emerging playwrights, performs Mark O’Rowe’s Crestfall, structured as the monologues of three fierce Irish women. Former Peerless and REO salesmen haunt the renovated halls of this hip stage, a historic auto showroom. Post-curtain, Loganites have options. We can return to Viridian’s outdoor café for drinks and dessert served late into the night. (A local DJ spins loungey, lo-fi tunes on Thursdays from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m.) Or we can mellow out with live jazz at HR-57 (1610 14th Street, NW, 202-667-3700), named for the congressional resolution that designated jazz “a rare and valuable national American treasure.” This unpretentious venue—wine selection consists of a red and a white—features jam sessions open to anyone on Wednesdays and Fridays and musical acts on Thursdays and Saturdays.

Or we can head north to Busboys and Poets (2021 14th Street NW, 202-387-7638) for a little intellectual discourse and conscience-raising at this PC restaurant-bookstore-performance space named for African-American poet (and former D.C. hotel busboy) Langston Hughes. Owner-activist Andy Shallal schedules an open-mike poetry night every Tuesday at 9 p.m. and also screens independent films by D.C. filmmakers in the cavernous side hall.

No one gets bored around 14th Street and Logan Circle, a neighborhood that may just be D.C.’s coolest new place to live and play.

Massage art

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Talented DC-based performance artist Kathryn Cornelius has a show called Mind Over Manner at the Bronx River Art Center that opens on Friday. I don’t know anything about the show but if it’s anything like her past work, I highly recommend seeing it. She’ll be performing the piece at the opening party on Friday from 6 to 9 PM.

Kathryn Cornelius (Washington, DC) construes the term performance and its use in the art and business worlds to decipher the ratio between output and expression and the process by which meaning or product is siphoned from one’s individual performance. Deliverables, is a faux-vintage video that appropriates the visual language of a corporate management training seminar while referencing Erving Goffman’s text, “The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life” (1959) and a collection of performance measurements aptly titled, “Perfect Phrases for Setting Performance Goals” (Douglas Max & Robert Bacal, 2004). By juxtaposing two different studies on performance, Cornelius sets off a playful critique on performance art’s tenuous role within the contemporary art market. The video is further amplified by the sculpture and performance, Do Nothing Machine, an enlarged replica of a crafty relic commonly used in the carpentry field as a beginner’s woodworking exercise and as a toy or trinket for kids. The Do Nothing Machine does what its name suggests; nothing. During the opening reception, Cornelius will operate the Do Nothing Machine in direct quotation to mainstream society’s view on contemporary art, “It doesn’t do anything…”

I know it’s been well over a month since the Miami Basel art fair, but thought I’d mention that Kathryn did a cool piece of performance down there called The Gallery Is the Massage. Her arms were so buff after three days of massaging art lovers at the Scope fair.

The Gallery is the Massage–Kathryn Cornelius

Experience the Art of Massage at Scope Miami Beach.

Renowned for the artistry of her healing touch, Miss Kathryn Cornelius will be on hand to work your body, mind and spirit into a state of deep relaxation. Using a custom, multi-sensory approach to awakening the inner light within us all, she will guide you towards a place of balance and enlightenment. After a short self-evaluation, Miss Cornelius will select a unique blend of aromatherapy and massage techniques suited for your personal needs. During the massage you will be taken on an auditory journey by listening to a soothing collection of nature sounds, instrumental music, and special meditations instilled with uplifting messages of peace, love, and happiness. With little commitment to buy (massage services are only $1 per minute), you owe it to yourself to experience the holistic Art of Massage. Let go and indulge! Renew yourself today! Presented by curator’s office, Washington D.C. (

Ullr fest

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Each January, the town of Breckenridge celebrates Ullr Fest, which pays homage to the mythical Norse God of Snow, also known as the “Phat Man of Winter.” A week-long schedule of events range from the Ullympics to the Ullr Bonfire to the Ullr Fest Parade down Main Street to good old-fashioned beer drinking. We were lucky enough to have arrived in town just in time to catch the King and Queen of the parade float past. Viking horns highly encouraged.

Does this sound like you?

Washington is a white-marble town. The buildings are proud but staid, except when they’re shabby. It’s a working place filled with workers who talk a lot about how hard they work. They jog, and then they finish marathons. They check that off the list. They have important neighbors, but not so important as the neighbors in the next neighborhood over. At parties they say, “Nice to meet you, we should connect. Let me put you in my BlackBerry.”

Relax for crying out loud. Stop taking yourself so seriously and have some real fun. And take an improv class. Never thought of yourself as funny? Well, you are! According to my good buddy Shawn Westfall, an improv teacher and funny fellow and goofy lookin’ guy pictured above, “improv is very easy. You’re already a gifted improviser. It’s what you do from birth to death.” Improv isn’t about being a comedian and throwing down the one-liners. It’s about letting go of your inhibitions and conquering your fears to reveal your true self, which is really funny . . . in a really good way.

If you’re interested in taking an improv class, read this article in the Washington Post, which features Shawn, to find out more about improv in DC. Shawn teaches at DC Improv and you can contact him directly at to sign up for one of his classes.

Shawn’s bio:

“When a comedian is being funny about something, he’s being quite deadly serious about something, too.”

Last spring, Fox Morning News did a series of live, on-the-scene reports about various DC neighborhoods. They interviewed me for the Logan Circle piece. My tech savvy friend Jonathan tivo’d the spot and saved it on a disk for me. He recently showed me how to upload it to YouTube and then link to it from my blog. Take a look for a good laugh!

Most people I know didn’t see the interview live because most people I know wouldn’t watch Fox news. Although a few friends called to say they’d seen it, the usual Republican suspects.

Click here to go to YouTube to watch it:

Back in April, I was interviewed for a film by documentarian Jessica Tomiko Anders for a film she has been creating called Mergence. The film explores multi-racial identity through interviews with folks like me. We got to view a rough cut in August and silly me only now noticed that Jessica put up a clip from my interview on her website. Take a look: