This past weekend, the Fiancé and I headed out to Lumen8 Anacostia. And we were truly amazed to see vacant and underutilized store fronts and empty lots be transformed into an artist showcase with art and light installations, marketplaces and pop-up art galleries.
It was a great opportunity for the rest of the world to see what is usually overlooked by the media and overshadowed by negative reports and perceptions—the sense of community, the beautiful views of the District, and the urban artistry.
What I loved the most about the event was the platform given to several East of the River artists — Amber Robles Gordon, Tendani Mpulubusi El, and the African Heritage Dancers and Drummers, as well as businesses– We Act Radio, Anacostia Art Gallery and Boutique, and Mama’s Kitchen to name a few.
What was even more exciting was the “Party Behind the Big Chair”coordinated by Verbal Gymnastics and Southeast Trinity. For six hours, the event showcased local artists from poets to painters to musicians to singers. Several youth performed earlier in the day and the headliners performed in the evening such as Tamika Love Jones, JaySun, and Dev Duff. It was truly a celebration of the community and its artists.
The old police station on Shannon Place, renamed the Lightbox, was another hub of the event. There were artist installations, a marketplace to buy clothing, records, art, food as well as a main stage for performances and a DJ. There wa s great line-up of artists. However, the highlight of the Lightbox was the rooftop view of the city and the art installations.
I guess the burning question is what will this do for Anacostia/ East of the River? Will it drive the economic development so many people feel has been neglected in this part of time? Does it further alienate and disenfranchise a class of people? How do we include and not push out long-time East of the River residents as the community evolves? As it is said, the only thing that is constant is change. So change is coming. But how do we change in a way that honors, respects and sustains the history and community as well as bring economic opportunities and growth for everyone?
Last weekend was just the kick off for Lumen8 Anacostia. With the support of a grant from the District’s Office of Planning (OP) , the Arts and Culture Temporium will be around for at least three months. OP has partnered with Arch Development Corporation to implement the Arts and Culture Temporium project in Anacostia.
This weekend, the National Cherry Blossom Festival also heads East of the River with Cherry Blast. The Cherry Blast will offer extreme activation of space with light, visual art, dancers, music, and art performances. Come out to see what’s it all about.
Saturday, April 21
2235 Shannon Place, SE
10 bucks includes one free drink
Click here for a ticket