News & Politics

A Night Out: Transformer Gallery Throws Itself a Party

What: A silent auction and benefit party hosted by Transformer Gallery—and something of a holiday party for the Washington art scene. The auction featured more than 125 works donated by area artists, many of whom have shown at Transformer or otherwise benefited from the gallery. Proceeds from the event support Transformer’s exhibitions and programming. The 14th Street, Northwest, nonprofit serves as an incubator for young artists and curators and an exhibition space for emerging artists, with a focus on local artists working in a variety of media. For $100, attendees enjoyed food and fellowship, hip music, drinks, and the opportunity to bid on artworks.

Where: John Dreyfuss’s sculpture studio, at Halcyon House, 34th and Prospect streets, NW.

When: Saturday, November 17, 7 to 9:30 PM.

Who: A who’s who of young talents from the Washington area, including many of the artists who contributed works to the show. Auction cochairs Philippa Hughes and Allison Cohen, both collectors, were among a number of collectors prowling the auction for new work. Plenty of boosters and scenesters were on hand.

Food: A spread of hors d’oeuvres from the Bombay Club, Café Saint Ex, Hook, Jaleo, Leopold’s Kafe, Maté, Melt Catering, Rosa Mexicano, Sea Catch, Veridian, and Zaytinya. The offerings were every bit as varied as the restaurants that created them: Prosciutto-wrapped, mascarpone-stuffed dates were joined by mango-and-crab ceviche. Yellowfin tuna tartare disappeared early; sun-dried-tomato-and-mozzarella tartlets floated around the room all evening.

Drink: A traditional gallery-opening array of red and white wines and beers (Sierra Nevada was represented in abundance) and celebratory Champagne. Christiania vodka—a brand that backed gallery openings along the 14th Street corridor earlier in the fall—also donated at least one case for the event.

Scene: Like the fall’s biggest gallery opening, the scene that greeted attendees upon entering was a familiar one—art lovers milling about, drinks in hand, talking to one another and stealing glances through the throngs at the works on the wall. Dreyfuss’s studio made for a refreshing backdrop—an industrial venue situated on a hill under the historic Halcyon House, a Georgetown mansion. The space is buttressed by columns from which auction works were hung; Dreyfuss’s studio showcased his own sculpture as well. The decision to hang works in the grand stairwell rising from the studio atrium toward the house proved problematic, as a bottleneck emerged when some people clustered to talk while others considered the works for bidding. Attendees dressed fashionably—nothing atypical for the art world—though bow ties and gowns were also in circulation. DJs spinning records gave the event the sort of verve that doesn’t usually accompany silent auctions. It was a bit crowded for dancing, but revelers had plenty to occupy their attention. New works by Benjamin Jurgenson, Marissa Long, and Reuben Breslar were particularly compelling, and standbys from Maggie Michael, Chip Richardson, and Dan Steinhilber did not disappoint.


Boldface names: 2 (out of 5)
Swankiness: 3 (out of 5)
Food and drink: 3 (out of 5)
Exclusivity: 2 (out of 5)

Total score: 10 (out of 20)