Washington DC honors its Art Deco heritage, April 22-29

Circa 1930s Strong Men lamp, to be offered at the Washington DC Modernism Show

Circa 1930s ‘Strong Men’ lamp to be offered at the Washington DC Modernism Show

WASHINGTON – Recognizing Washington’s many contributions to Art Deco design and culture, Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser has proclaimed April 22-29 Art Deco Heritage Week. The Art Deco Society of Washington (ADSW), joined by other organizations, has planned a weeklong celebration of Washington, D.C.’s rich Art Deco heritage.

The society’s efforts are part of an international plan to mark the April 28th anniversary of the opening of the 1925 Paris Exposition, widely recognized as the beginning of the Art Deco era. The International Coalition of Art Deco Societies (ICADS), with more than 30 member societies, including ADSW, recently declared April 28, 2021 as World Art Deco Day. Events commemorating the Day are planned worldwide.

In concert with other organizations, ADSW has created a slate of virtual events and activities in and around Washington celebrating varied representations of Art Deco, including the 38th annual Washington DC Modernism Show, to be held online April 22-25; a virtual silent film with live accompaniment, cosponsored by the AFI Silver Theater and Cultural Center in Silver Spring on April 29; the launch of ADSW’s new website expanding coverage of Art Deco architecture in the Washington, D.C. area; release of iconsDC’s new poster on Art Deco architectural motifs in Washington DC buildings; and the release of the Living New Deal’s foldout map and guide to the New Deal in Washington, D.C.

Examples of Art Deco in the Washington, D.C. area include the work of architect and artisan John Joseph Earley, who developed the process for creating Art Deco concrete mosaics. He maintained his office and studio in Washington, D.C., and his major projects include Meridian Hill Park on 16th Street and the Polychrome houses in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Art Deco sculpture outside the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C.

Art Deco sculpture outside the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C.

Armenian immigrant Mirhan Mesrobian designed many prominent buildings in Washington, D.C., often in the Art Deco style. Mesrobian’s designs include Sedgwick Gardens apartments and the Hay-Adams and Carlton Hotels. Famed architect Paul Cret designed multiple projects in the Washington D.C. area, including the Folger Shakespeare Library; the Klingle Valley Bridge; the tower at Bethesda Naval Hospital, which is now Walter Reed Army Medical Center; the headquarters of the Federal Reserve; and the Central Heating Plant. Cret’s first U.S. commission was for the design of the Pan American Union Building in Washington, D.C.

Washington is also well represented by Art Deco sculptures by such artists as Paul Manship and Carl Paul Jennewin as well as the mosaics of Hildreth Meiere in the National Academy of Sciences building and the DC Municipal Building.

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