There are persistent romantic notions that the artist is a tortured soul, standing apart from social conventions and ordinary concerns. Popular media frequently depicts the artist as possessed by reckless freedom and lacking accountability. These generalizations are narrow and misguided. The contemporary artist is just as likely to be a good citizen as anyone else. Often an artist is the kind of person who asks, “how does what I do today contribute to what tomorrow might be?”
As we mark HEMPHILL’s 20th year, we are encouraged to think about the gallery’s investment in Washington—investment not only in the art community, but in the city at large. In reviewing the artists we have shown and others we admire, it is clear that more than a few reveal their good citizenship by reacting to and impacting society beyond the art world. It is from these artists’ studios that we have assembled Artist-Citizen, Washington DC.
The works included in the exhibition point to or are made for situations concerning the Washington DC community—the place in which these artists live and work. The show suits a traditional gallery setting, but its intentions are more than decorative. As the work in the show bridges the distance between the artist and the community, it encourages the creative exchange between artist and viewer. There is a common theme of shared responsibility for our environment and its social promise. Through these visually rich and provocative art experiences, we hope to demonstrate how the Artist-Citizen engages us in the conditions of our community, revealing our connectedness, and enhancing our well-being. Artist-Citizen, Washington DC features artists Colby Caldwell, Larry Cook, Max Hirshfeld, James Huckenpahler, Franz Jantzen, free[space]collective, Mingering Mike, Anne Rowland, Julie Wolfe, and Workingman Collective. Artwork in various media includes large-scale photography, intimate portraiture, works