It is a fact commonly acknowledged that a metro area must be in want of a cultural center. As so it was that the Artisphere came to be. Recently refurbished from its prior life as the first Newseum in Rosslyn, the building has emerged phoenix-like from the construction rubble as a real gem.
The opening party (put on by Pink Line Project and Brightest Young Things) Saturday night was the perfect introduction to what will probably be one of my new favorite places. The themes for the night were skateboards, balloons, and ostentation. And who doesn’t like those?
I’ve seen living statues before, but I have not seen a living statue wearing a balloon dress. And this wasn’t even Lady Gaga-esque, this was a pretty legit outfit. Then there was the balloon sitting area: a sofa and a love seat made entirely of balloons (by Brian Asman of Balloons Equal Fun), capable of holding anyone (providing they don’t have any sharp objects in pockets). There was a balloon creature, about fifteeen feet wide, who would wave balloon tendrils at passersby. All this is to say that by the time I sat down for the Family Hemerlein Variety Show, I was prepped for the absurd.
And I loved what I got. The variety show is great–short spurts of varied kinds of entertainment that filled close to two hours. The show was in the building’s planetarium, with sparkley lights beaming above the performers. There were a few comedians, some very attractive singer-songwriters, a revelatory cover of David Bowie’s Under Pressure (one of my personal favorites) and a balloon artist jam session with bass balloon, dental dam flute, and rap vocals by some rhyming fool. The crowd was definitely pleased.
From the planetarium, I walked through the skateboard exhibit (currently at Artisphere). There were photo stills, a short looping video about the birth of skateboarding, and an action painting demonstration. Sean Greene was making skateboard prints by rolling paint onto plastic, putting down paper, and skating all over it. The results were pretty amazing. He’s having a workshop in which you too can make your own skateboard art. Woo-hoo!
Anyway, yeah, the rest of the party was awesome as well. PBR was flowing like wine (by which I mean it was free, not that we were paying $6 a glass–that cliche has really changed meaning, huh?), the dancefloor was hoppin’, the balloons were poppin’.
Go Artisphere, I love you!