Shane Pomajambo, Executive Director of Art Whino gallery, has made a name for himself developing an internationally recognized network of over 1200 artists. Located in National Harbor, MD, Art Whino has won Best Art Gallery from the Washington City Paper five years running.
For some time, Shane has sought the right opportunity to establish a major artistic presence in Washington, DC. Shane has finally found that foothold right here in Southwest with Blind Whino: SW Arts Club, a joint non-profit venture between him and Ian Calendar, Creative Executive Owner of Suite Nation. Calendar is a DC-based and nationally recognized events and branding specialist who will lead innovative programming of Blind Whino. Calendar has built a successful career connecting high-quality international brands with organic cultural movements to create groundbreaking events with an educational and eye-opening flair.
Calendar and the Suite Nation team will embrace a wide-range of educational art programming at Blind Whino: SW Arts Club to the benefit of the entire Southwest community, young and old. According to Pomajambo and Calendar, SW Arts Club will exist as a “a functioning organic art space for all to share and learn through various art exhibits and events, live performances, and artist workshops.”
Charles Allen, Chief of Staff to Ward 6 Councilman Tommy Wells, commented: “Adding the SW Arts Club is another addition to the community that is building arts, culture, and learning into the neighborhood for both young and young-at-heart. The potential for an engaging arts district can be a catalyst for neighborhood-based development as we’ve seen in other parts of the ward and city.”
To see the Blind Whino building for the first time is not short of an awe-inspiring experience. The almost surreal exterior of Blind Whino hints at the type of art it will offer: murals, street art, skateboard art, stencil, wheat paste and 3D installations. Navy Yard Neighborhood Commissioner, David Garber commented: “I’m really excited about this space. Having a tenant like Blind Whino and the SW Arts Club is a huge win for Southwest because it adds a shock of color and new life to a forgotten property and turned it from a community blight to a community beacon.”
The Blind Whino: SW Arts Club is timing its grand opening to coincide with the G40 Art Summit and the Heineken Mural Project. The theme of this year’s G40 Art Summit is “Art of Transformation,” and runs from September 13th to October 6th, with open hours Thursday and Friday evenings and weekend days. Special weekend events are planned as well, to include for the Congressional Black Caucus and hip-hop festival Rock the Bells. Heineken USA will be announcing secret pop-up parties throughout the art summit on Twitter using #heinekenmurals.
As part of its educational mission Dreaming Out Loud, a local non-profit and operator of the Aya Community Market, operates a micro-farm for neighborhood youth on the grounds surrounding Blind Whino. Chris Bradshaw Executive Director of Dreaming Out Loud said, “I think that Blind Whino has great potential to be a part of a new, inclusive Southwest future: one that brings folks of different economic backgrounds together, bridges division, and brings much needed economic opportunity for low-income community members. I think there’s a lot of synergy in using these two mediums to make use of forgotten spaces.”
Julia Christian, co-owner of the new Anacostia Playouse, said, “I’m excited to see such a broad array of arts-based development coming to fruition in SW. I have seen first hand the positive, catalytic role that the arts can play in responsible, community driven economic development.”
The capital already has incredible art museums scattered city-wide, but Blind Whino and the nearby Mera Rubell-led Randall School modern art center redevelopment have the potential to turn this threadbare stretch of Southwest into a concentrated arts community attracting the nation’s best up-and-coming artists.
By: Sam Marrero