Washington Life Magazine
Washington Life Magazine

Runway to Enlightenment
The Beatles went to India; I’m trying to do it in the District – and so can you.
From art exhibits to film competitions, DJ classes to fashion shows, unleash your inner artist

My first stop on the journey to artistic bliss takes me to Phillipa Hughes and Mike Weber’s SALON CONTRA. These invite-only are-you-in-the-know get-togethers attract a cross section of the city’s creative set. After glasses of wine and small talk, the “Contrarians” circle up and tell each other about their creative paths so participants know whom to synergize with later. It was there where I met interior designer Rouzita Vahhabaghai, who, along with sister, and business partner, Bita Vahhabaghai and Yiselle Santos, organize the equally collaborative and arty PECHA KUCHA NIGHT (PKN) series.
The lovely “ita” sisters invited me to present during PKN Vol. 3 at the Czech Embassy. The series began in Japan (Pecha Kucha is Japanese slang for small talk) and involves getting six to ten creative types to discuss their craft as 20 images of their work flash by in 20-second increments on a large screen behind them. I happily indulged in speaking about my painting. So can you – find out more at www.pechakucha.org
Meditations on art bring me next to the Corcoran Gallery of Art’s ART ANONYMOUS. As a member of the Washington Project for the Arts (WPA), I’m eligible to donate three 5”x 7” custom-made art pieces to Art Anonymous, presented from May 1-10. The fundraiser supports the Corcoran College of Art + Design’s BFA scholarship by auctioning off post-cardsized art pieces at $100 a pop. Artists’ identities remain hidden. Join WPA and seek out Daliesque higher-consciousness at www.wpadc.org.
I seriously mulled over showing at the annual month-long creative smorgasbord ARTOMATIC. It’s just that artists have to commit to volunteering for three shifts and I have a commitment problem (so I’ve been told). Still, I’m planning to attend to absorb the art, musical acts, and performing artists, which will
keep the Capitol Plaza I Building (1200 First Street NE) buzzing with creative karma from May 9 through June 15.
This meandering path towards universal harmony also includes guitars, harmonicas, Tuesday night rehearsals, and two talented band mates: Franck Cordes and Michael Mateer.
Our band, The Wallows, has been bombarding MySpace and Facebook friends recently with posts about our latest releases. However, we remain chakra blocked until we muster up enough nerve to play live. Mental note: Contact Artomatic Chair George C. Koch and beg him for a performance slot in June. Of course, if the folk-alt band thing doesn’t pan out there is always the path of internationallyrenowned DJ. Ricardo Antonio Reinoso founded THE DJ LAB in conjunction with the National Music Center (801 K St. NW) to offer would-be
beat boys and girls, and Ibiza junkies the chance to perfect the real “art of spin.” For $250, I registered for five classes starting in mid-May. With any luck, I’ll be discovered by Deep Dish manager and fellow Contrarian Arash Shirazi. Mental note number two: Remember to buy headphones, pumas, a funky hat, and extra Carhartt t-shirts. May brings a crash course in celestial cinema thanks to the 48-HOUR FILM PROJECT. Founded by D.C. residents Mark Ruppert and Liz Langston, the competition has now spread globally (www.48hourfilm.com). The idea is simple: on Friday night you get a character, a prop, a line of dialogue, and a genre; 48 hours later, your seven-minute film must be complete. I put together a team along with a hundred other local filmmakers. We will all get a chance to view our completed works at the AFI SILVER from May 6-8. If viewing your film at the state-of-the-art AFI SILVER theatre doesn’t induce Ravi Shankar-like bliss, nothing will … except, perhaps, fashion. What’s not to like about the Washington Humane Society’s Tara de Nicolas? She works with cute animals (she’s even cuter) and she organizes one of the most fashion-forward charitable events of the year, FASHION FOR PAWS. While working the runway with fellow celebrity model Corinne Bensahel – in stylists Aba Kwawu and James Cornwell’s hand-picked ensemble from Saks Fifth Avenue (ok, James, I liked the white pants, whatever!) – I felt like Siddhartha staring Zen-like into the river of eternal artsy consciousness. It was surreal … or maybe it was the Surreal Vodka. Either way, sign up next year to raise money for the WHS, and you too, grasshopper, can begin your quest towards creative enlightenment – if you can find time to register. Ommm…. Runway to Enlightenment The Beatles went to India; I’m trying to do it in the District – and so can you. From art exhibits to film competitions, DJ classes to fashion shows, unleash your inner artist B Y M I C H A E L M . C L E M E N T S Readers wishing to get in touch with Michael M. Clements can email: columns@washingtonlife.com.


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