Before Jamie Smith and Leigh Conner founded their eponymous gallery and the complimentary art fair (e)merge, the last person to consider art a vital part of DC was probably Dolly Madison. But where others saw short-termers, they saw a growing community of young collectors, and an opportunity to showcase up-and-comers in venues from their own space to The National Portrait Gallery. We asked the gallerists what inspires them most about the city that never sleeps except when Congress is in recess.
The CONNERSMITH gallerists get high on DC
Not The Sticks: Miss Pixies
“We love cement gnomes.” If those aren’t your bag, the rest of MP’s “furnishings and whatnots” run from tree trunk coffee tables to this old sign from the Easton Diner, whose food was far ahead of what was chilling in the Bret Easton Ellis Diner’s refrigerators.
A Rating: B Too
Chef Bart Vandaele’s food is superior even to Art Vandelay’s latex, and his attention to detail is similarly masterful. “Flemish farm chic extends to the bathroom décor (check out the turf tiles), and Belgian artist Koen Vanmechelen’s sculptures in the rare wine room.” Note: the ladies want you to know that they represent Vanmechelen, and that you should order the lobster.
Got to Give It Up for: Marvin Restaurant
Nothing attracts a diverse crowd like chicken & waffles. The ones at this tribute to Cardozo High’s most famous graduate (sorry, J. Edgar Hoover) pull in “every facet of DC”.
State of the: Union Market
Everything from DC Empanadas to Rappahannock Oyster Co., and they’ve launched a shuttle called The Roadie that runs every 20 minutes, decimating your excuses for not hitting the Market for lunch.
Get a Multipass to: Leo Villareal's Multiverse at The National Gallery of Art
Another CONNERSMITH client, Villareal’s quirky LED cosmos has set an unmatchable standard for moving walkways everywhere. The gallerists’ advice: “Sit at the café in front of the water fountain and watch for hours.”
L’Enfant Not Terrible: The L’Enfant & McMillan Plans
The complimentary visions that gave DC its “broad, European, horizontal disposition” also gave the gallerists some of their favorite outdoor views, like the top of the fountain at Meridian Hill Park, the Bishop’s Garden at the National Cathedral, and the National Capitol Columns at the Arboretum.
“For Fellow Nerds”: The Main Reading Room at the Library of Congress
Whether you’re combing through British government documents or checking out black & whites of ramshackle Southern architecture, your primary response will be “Wow”.
App of the World: Social Machines
Peter Corbett’s iStrategy Labs is pioneering the manipulation of real-world objects through social data. If you think this project is too out-there to affect you, watch as it opens this beer cooler.
This DC mainstay is exactly what you think it is: a bistro that pays homage to Marvin Gaye and serves up Belgian and Southern cuisine. OK, maybe it's not exactly what you thought. A little history lesson: the legendary soul singer-songwriter was born in DC and later spent a period of self-imposed exile in Belgium to rehabilitate and reflect. At Marvin, you'll find dishes like Belgian moulles-frites and southern-style shrimp, plus grits and fried chicken over Belgian waffles. There's a roof deck perfect for sipping cocktails on, too.
For the crowd who forgoes the line at Ikea, Miss Pixie's is a furniture no-brainer, with curated vintage/antique furniture that ranges from retro aluminum garden chairs (something everyone should have) to mid-century stereo cabinets (something everyone needs to have).
The Union Market is a place where 40 local artisans gather to display their food for a year-round indoor bite bazaar. A few artisans may include DC Empanadas, Harvey's Market, or Oh! Pickles.
Belgian cuisine and culture are the driving forces behind B Too, a bright and comfortable space in Logan Circle. You'll want to make yourself at home as you watch the team in the open kitchen whip up some Belgian waffles for the ages. Some of their brunch waffle options include one with lobster bisque, another with a poached egg inside, and one with fried buttermilk chicken. You really can't go wrong, especially when you pair it with the Belga's Bloody Mary.
Keep yourself cultured at this entirely open to the public and entirely free of charge art museum located on the National Mall. As if you weren't sold on the Sculpture Garden, the Gallery's interior boasts a massive collection tracing the development of Western Art from the Middle Ages to the present. Da Vinci oil paintings? Check. The largest mobile ever created by Alexander Calder? Yup, that too.
Books, and books aplenty, we're talking 22,765,967 to be exact, are happy to call the Library of Congress -- the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States -- home. This de facto national library is easily the largest in the world with its Main Reading Room serving as the nucleus of scholarly knowledge.