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.