Gadsby’s Tavern Museum is offering free admission on Saturday, July 15, to give visitors an opportunity to see Centennial of the Everyday and meet the artists who created it. This public-art exhibition features layers upon layers of artistic interventions tucked in among Gadsby’s exhibits. Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., is located at 143 N. Royal St. in Historic Old Town Alexandria. Artist-led tours will be offered at 11 am, 2 pm, and 4 pm.
Centennial of the Everyday is part of the Office of the Arts’ Time & Place series, a public-art program that explores the intersection of contemporary art with Alexandria’s rich and multifaceted history. The goal of this compelling project is to foster exploration and dialogue about our region’s history and its continued reverberations within our community today.
Artists Stewart Watson and Lauren Frances Adams will talk about how they created the artworks on display throughout the museum. This informative and lively conversation will take place three times throughout the day, at 11 am, 2 pm, and 4 pm. Register for a free ticket to secure a spot for this one hour tour behind the scenes with the artists via https://shop.alexandriava.gov/Events.aspx.
Using video, furniture, stoneware, embroidery, textiles, and other domestic items, the archival becomes interactive. Baltimore-based Watson and Adams created this work based on extensive research into the 18th and 19th centuries and used that visual vocabulary to create a wholly modern body of work. The exhibition features more than two dozen interventions that highlight the women, enslaved peoples, and anonymous citizens whose stories haven’t yet been told.
Historically inspired ephemera positioned throughout the museum takes on new modern contexts. For example, a traditionally made stoneware vessel references Twitter in its cobalt blue inscription and houses a video that shows some of the artists’ research. A Chippendale chair has been converted to a bicycle to reflect the career of one of John Gadsby’s descendants, an urban planner in Philadelphia.
Even with a careful eye, it requires more than one visit to take in all the details Adams and Watson incorporated into the work. The front page of an 1817 Alexandria Gazette has been incorporated into the upholstery for one of the chairs in the public dining room. It gives a glimpse into life in Alexandria 200 years ago, 44 years before the Civil War.
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