News & Politics

Washingtonian Favorites: Adrian Loving of Dissident Display

This week’s Favorites is Adrian Loving, the man behind Dissident Display gallery and some of your favorite underground parties.

Photograph by Chris Leaman.

Adrian Loving’s routine: “Get up and grab breakfast at a local dive carryout, check e-mail and Facebook, feed the cat, crank out some design work, dance in front of the mirror for an hour to some new house tracks, harass clients for payment, then hit a local bar for a beer and to listen to a set from a DJ friend, or rock a set myself at Marvin or an art-gallery party.”

A renaissance man, Loving splits his time among Marymount University, where he teaches graphic design; Dissident Display, the art gallery and multimedia studio he cofounded with business partner Ayodamola Okunseinde in 2005; and whatever bar or venue he happens to be DJing at the time.

A self-proclaimed “social stylist,” Loving is interested in creating more outlets for music and art to be featured in Washington.

“Washington is still the best-kept secret in the country with regards to culture, price, and creative spirit,” he says.

At Dissident Display, Loving works alongside Eric Brewer and Okunseinde to showcase contemporary, experimental artwork. The gallery, once on R Street, Northwest, is now in a three-level space in the Atlas District in Northeast DC—an area known for its alternative nightlife scene.

“We were looking for space, and H Street just happened to be what was available at the time,” says Loving. “But we feel a special kinship with the development of the area as a very different type of arts corridor.”

In addition to the gallery space, Dissident Display houses a multimedia studio for graphic design and video production. Scene, the gallery’s online video magazine, features interviews with artists, designers, and curators.

“Scene is a resource for people to find out what we think is cool in the arts locally, such as art openings, artist features, and new trends,” says Loving. “It’s constantly in development and also allows us to create and develop new partnerships.”

Online components such as the video magazine, aimed at increasing public awareness of and participation in the arts, are complemented by free workshops and lectures, such as last month’s two-part discussion on political figures as icons and the role of technology in the dissemination of propaganda.

Says Loving: “As a professor, I have long believed in providing education and training of the arts to the community. Educational outreach and our variety of technical skills using video, graphic design, and Web allow the company to offer more to the community.”

Read our interview with Loving, and find out what he thinks about the local arts scene, what his favorite gallery in DC is, and why he usually stays in on weekends.

Name: Adrian Loving
Age: 38.
Occupation: DJ/professor/social stylist.
Hometown: DC.

Must-have item at all times:
“Pack of Doublemint gum.”

Signature drink:
“Vodka gimlet—up.”

Finish this sentence: “When not working, you can find me . . .”
“. . . in front of the TV watching a sci-fi film or music documentary.”

Washingtonians you admire:
“Barack Obama, Mike Loving (my dad), and event planner André Wells.”

Favorite neighborhood in Washington:
“H Street, Northeast, corridor.”

Washington insider tips:
“Make friends with bartenders, DJs, and doormen.”

Finish this sentence: “Thinking about the Metro makes me . . .”
“. . . happy to save on gas whenever possible.”

Favorite art gallery other than yours:
“The East Building of the National Gallery of Art.”

What would you change about Washington?
“Wow, what a question. Add more color to the buildings, have more parks to play in, and convince people to open their minds to better fashion, music, art, and entertainment.”

As you answer these questions, what Web sites are open in your browser?

How did the idea of Dissident Display come about? How is it different from other galleries in the city?
“Dissident Display came about as a creative partnership of music and art presentation. The gallery is a place to present work from artists we like without the pressure and scrutiny that most galleries face. We are a new, experimental space that can afford to push the boundaries of content and ideas that other spaces won’t consider.”

What are some of the challenges facing the local arts scene?
“Funding and key relationships with organizations and sponsors are some of the main challenges facing Washington’s developing arts scene. There’s a wealth of talent that has to be nurtured through grant programs and corporate support. I believe we’re growing and getting better at garnering press and exposure for the underground art scenes and networks.”

Is there something unique or different about Washington’s artistic scene?
“I haven’t quite figured out how unique or different Washington’s art scene is as compared to New York, London, or Berlin, for example. We do have a unique set of circumstances and challenges, however, such as an ‘underdog’ or ‘self-comparison mentality.’ Washington’s art scene has to always cut through the political red tape and stigma of being viewed as a conservative political town. We do have some of the brightest minds and talent anywhere in the world, though.”

Can you tell us about some upcoming exhibits and events at Dissident Display?
“We are retooling our space right now. It may morph into a unique butterfly in the near future. We’re still incorporating unique art, music, and the Dissident social magic.”

Where do you like spending a weekend night in Washington? Favorite bars and music venues?
“Weekends are kind of wack for going out, too pedestrian for me, unless it’s a cool underground event or a house party. I mostly chill and relax on Fridays or Saturdays, watch movies, have a date with a nice female, or hit a gallery opening at Irvine Contemporary or Hamiltonian. Mondays are for going to cool spots such as Marvin on 14th Street, Northwest, for good music and vibe, or a Thursday where I’m playing or if someone else is spinning at Rock & Roll Hotel. Sunday’s at Eighteenth Street Lounge are great to hear Deep House music with Sam Burns. I try to avoid the high drama of long lines, attitudes, and high prices. I have paid years’ worth of dues in this city, which should entitle me to some perks!”

Check out more Favorites 

More>> Capital Comment Blog | News & Politics | Society Photos