An artist’s creation and expression are always an important part of a community’s culture. It is no wonder that Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series teamed up with New York based public arts nonprofit, Creative Time, for the 7th annual winner’s showcase. The Artisan Series is an annual competition searching for the best up-and-coming visual artist. Each year the competition receives over 25,000 submissions and carefully narrows them down and announces the winner at the Scope Miami Beach Art Show in December.
This year’s December 2016 winner is Washington, D.C. native, Darius Frank. Frank’s prize winning artwork led to his first large-scale public exhibition, sincerely named, “Things I Love/d” being showcased at Dock 5 in the Union Market July 28-30. The venue was a large industrial style event room with both outdoor and indoor space for viewers. The main room was large enough to house a small bar area, a few standing tables, and a main large grey box-style structure in the center. On the main outward facing wall of the box was the still artwork with spotlights highlighting each piece. The inside of the box was closed off by curtains and housed three large screens for the 21-minute video loop part of the installation.
With the video loop of personal stories dealing with “old D.C.” and “new D.C.”, the exhibit contrasts both still artwork and the vibrant, individual accounts of the D.C. culture. Frank was not shy about stating that this win means everything to him and the exhibit itself is considered “one of his greatest milestones.” He hopes this exhibit will connect human expression and creation as well as bridge together Washington, D.C. generations. Frank spoke passionately about his public exhibition and described it as being something of an “awakening” to the people of D.C. and hoped that by viewing it both people from “old D.C.” and “new D.C.” will come together, find a relation, and help each other make the best out of this city. Ultimately, Frank stated that he hopes viewers take away that “no matter who comes in or who chooses to live here – D.C. is D.C.”
As I walked around the exhibit, viewing the artwork and watching the film loop I was overwhelmed with how much this art installation was needed at this particular time. Frank has a perfect way of connecting with all ages, races, and genders and as I looked around the room at the guests I noticed that was reflected in the diverse crowd. I think that’s a testament to Frank’s exhibition and his ability to bridge the gap between old and new D.C. A community’s culture is something that is difficult to capture, as it is ever-changing and adapting with the times; however, Darius Frank’s “Things I Love/d” is able to take such a delicate topic and do it the justice it deserves.