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Artomatic: For the People, By the People

Emily Locke hangs a photograph at Artomatic, 2009. Photo by Muriel MacDonald

It’s easy to walk into any of the myriad free art museums here in Washington and find days’ worth of great stuff to see. But what about the possibility of you getting your artwork up in one of those museums? Fat chance!

Enter Artomatic, Washington’s annual art smorgasbord and anti-museum that overtakes a different, almost-completed new office building for about a month and invites the public to drink in all the local talent. This year, more than 2,000 artists and performers will show their work or strum some tunes. Anyone can submit work to this unjuried show, as long as they pay a small fee and volunteer during open hours. It’s a way of fostering the active artistic community in Washington and drawing attention to that community, according to George Koch, chair of Artomatic. “Washington doesn’t really have a place where you can find a large congregation of artists.”

Koch also cheers the egalitarian nature of the event, where nobody has pre-decided what artworks or artists are worthy of attention — an expected 70,000 visitors this year will make up their own minds.

Muriel MacDonald, special student reporter for Art Beat, filed this report from this year’s Artomatic, which runs through July 5.

—Muriel MacDonald is a senior at Yorktown High School in Arlington, Va. She will attend the University of Virginia starting this fall.