Visiting Art in Washington DC: What’s The Fridge?
If your goal is to visit art in Washington DC and be able to say you’ve been somewhere most other tourist don’t even know exist, you should go to The Fridge. The Fridge is one of the best hidden secrets of DC. Literally. You can’t find it, locals can barely find it. It’s tucked into Barracks Row in the historic Eastern Market section of Capitol Hill. It’s so well hidden that first time visitors often struggle to find this unique locale. Follow the graffiti breadcrumbs that encompass the 1,000 sq ft cinder block building and you’ll find The Fridge; an exceptional art gallery that specializes in young, contemporary, edgy street art. The Fridge may be known for it’s spray paint and street art, but this art house is so much more than that; it’s also a performance space, music venue, and sometimes classroom. The site opened in 2009 and has been a home for artist whose work doesn’t quite fit in with the traditional museums, and it has been a place for art goers who appreciate a different take on the art world.
The mission of The Fridge is to not only give you one more great reason to visit art in Washington DC, but to “make art accessible to everyone”, while fostering a creative lab for artistic expression. Since its inception it has been the abode for many alluring exhibits. It’s most famous may be it’s DC Street Sticker Expo that was held in 2013. This display was apart of it’s “Elements of Hip Hop” event, that included wowing cheering crowds with a b-bop competition, and provided viewers with the opportunity to make their own art in its workshops. However, the Sticker art curated by IWILLNOT attracted nationwide attention due to its individualism, oddity, inclusiveness, beauty, and just for being flat out really cool. It was composed of over 10,000 stickers made by over 500 artists. Any artist was able to enter their submission, giving a voice to unknown art creators across the country.
Another popular and inclusive exhibit for those wishing to gain a new experience while visiting art in Washington DC was Ben Tolman’s “Fiction”, which invited local playwrights and actors to perform short stories. Thus providing entertainment to patrons and performance opportunities to those that are apart of the DC playwright and acting scene. Continuing in its theme of openness The Fridge recently had its first spoken word series called “Fire”, open to poets, emcees, storytellers, and anyone else who would like to share their vocal art form.
One of my favorite displays was held last May. It was the fifth installment of the “Decay” series, entitled Decay V. This expose, created by Deb Yarrington of the Urban Art Syndicate, is stunningly creative and unquestionably speaks to, and is f
ro m today’s generation. Its inspiration is a blend of comics, punk music, and unapologetic realness. Holding this event at The Fridge signaled to all contemporary art loves that they must visit art in Washington DC, if they want to be fully in the know of what today’s artist are creating.
No matter when you visit Washington DC, and no matter when you visit The Fridge, you will undoubtedly be greeted by something extraordinary, unexpected, and by at least one piece of art leaving you thrilled that you decided to follow the cinder block walls covered in graffiti to The Fridge. While I absolutely recommend that you visit some of the more traditional art galleries, like The National Gallery of Art or the Renwick, don’t skip this refuge of public art in all it’s funky glory.