Recently, WPA announced its new programming series Hothouse. Created as a way to provide new opportunities for WPA member artists and forge new connections within DC's creative communities, Hothouse will present member-initiated programming on a regular basis. This week, WPA presents a Q&A with Lisa Gold, Executive Director of WPA, and Blair Murphy, WPA’s Programming Director, as they discuss the new series.

WPA: What is Hothouse? What does WPA hope to accomplish with this series?

Blair Murphy: Hothouse is a two-part program that includes twice-monthly happy hour events and a series of exhibitions and installations in the Capitol Skyline Lounge. One big goal of the program is to transform the lounge into a creative meeting place, welcoming DC's arts community, along with people from all over the city (and hotel guests from all over the world) who are doing interesting, exciting things.

Lisa Gold: Hothouse was created to showcase the amazing creative things people are doing, making, andchanging in our community.

WPA: What is unique about the setting for the program, and what kind of character does it add to this series?

Murphy: The lounge is a great environment for the happy hour events because it has such a relaxed vibe. There's cushy furniture, a bar, it's by the pool - I think it will encourage people to relax and engage with one another. As far as the installations go, it's a great, high visibility spot in the hotel. We'll be holding openings for each exhibition or installation and other events throughout, so our community will be there to see them, but the hotel also gets a really diverse mix of guests, so they'll be seen by people who might not typically engage with contemporary art. On top of that, the Capitol Skyline's Summer Pool parties attract big crowds, so that's a whole other group who will experience the artwork.

Gold: While diving into the deep pool of talent that is doing impressive work here in DC right at this moment, the series also nods back at WPA's rich history of artist-generated programs. It's about experimentation and freedom and the bar setting adds both a sense of informality/collegiality to the presentations, but also allows participants to communicate ideas in a very genuine and democratic setting. And it's a hotel so people from all over the country and the world come through the hotel who might not make it to the Mall or even think about visiting a gallery or museum while they are here. Hothouse exposes these travelers to the incredible creative minds in Washington and will, hopefully, help shape their opinion of Washington not just as a city of monuments and government, but also as a cool, creative city.

WPA: Why is it important to connect WPA members with the broader creative community?

Murphy: Artists have such diverse sets of interests and so many are creating work that takes them beyond the studio and involves engaging with different communities. For the first two Hothouse Happy Hours, which WPA is organizing, we're hosting editors, writers, and creators who are involved in small, independent print magazine, on June 4, and then organizations involved in urban agriculture in and around DC on June 18. I think these are two great examples of exciting things happening in the city that are relevant to artists and arts supporters. I think there is really great potential for collaborative projects between artists and these other creative, innovative things happening around the city.

Gold: WPA members are the creative community. Everyone knows that artists, like all people, are multidimensional. Artists make art and also love to cook and collect stamps and speak multiple languages and go dancing and have interests other than art. This series helps showcase creative ideas in all of their forms and facilitates cross-pollination of ideas and conversations that can result in very interesting collaborations and outcomes.

WPA: Why should members get involved or apply to this call for entry?

Murphy: Hothouse is a great opportunity to try out new ideas on a small scale, in a relaxed environment. We want Hothouse to function as a sort of headquarters for artists in DC, to build community and give people a space to connect with one another. Submitting a project or even just attending an event is a way to become part of that community.

Gold: Hothouse is an incredible opportunity for members to showcase their work and ideas, to connect with people who can help them further their practice or offer dialogue to help shape their direction. Applying to a call like this is helpful for artists to learn how to better shape and communicate their ideas through the proposal development and presentation--we provide help and friendly feedback on artist's proposals. And it's a benefit of membership!

WPA: What is the best way for artists to get involved?

Murphy: The first is to come to the events, hang out, talk with other participants and attendees. The second is to submit a proposal for an event or an installation.

Gold: Yes, come to the Hothouse events and see what goes on! Get to know your peers, the collectors, the curators, the critics, the gallerists, the people who are shaking things up in the city. Get inspired!

WPA: What kinds of events or showcases is WPA looking for?

Murphy: We're really open to anything! I'd love to get a proposal for something I would never have thought of!

Gold: We are very open to ideas. Anything from the recital of a 10-minute aria from the Barber of Seville to a discussion of the relationship between Rainier Maire Rilke and Auguste Rodin to a drinking and drawing event to a curated video screening to a night of group art-making - bring it on! I'm looking forward to seeing what our supremely creative members propose and how they will choose to make the Skyline Lounge their own clubhouse.


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May 30, 2013