Things to Do

Art All Night 2015 Will Have Visual Concerts, a Silent Disco, and Sculptures Made of Fire

"Aire," a visual concert, is a collaboration between Laia Cabrera, Javier Moreno, Isabelle Duverger, and a team of musicians. Photo courtesy Art All Night.

On September 26, Art All Night: Nuit Blanche DC will transform the city into a crazy patchwork of art exhibitions, concerts, and video installations, with even a silent disco thrown into the mix. More than 250 artists, musicians, and performers will invade dozens of local venues, ranging from the Carnegie Library to vacant, weed-covered lots.

Ariana Austin brought the concept to Washington after attending a similar event in France. While teaching English at a high school outside Paris in 2008, she learned of the original Nuit Blanche–named after a French expression for all-nighter that translates to “white night.” The one-night arts extravaganza started in Paris in 2002 and has since spread to cities around the world, including Montreal, Rome, and Melbourne. “I had never thought about a nighttime arts and culture festival before,” Austin says. “There was a spirit of openness and egalitarianism that you could feel, and the quality of the art was really, really great.”

A fire sculpture seesaw by artist Adam Eig at Gallery O on H Street during last year’s Art All Night. Photo by Dan Ricciotti.

Austin decided to bring Nuit Blanche to DC. In 2011, she got a $15,000 grant from the DC Commission on Arts and the Humanities and launched the event. Art All Night has been growing since; last year, more than 30,000 people filled the streets. “It’s public space reimagined,” she says. “It’s great for neighborhoods, it’s great for businesses, and it’s great for artists.”

With a $300,000 budget this year, there are ample reasons to stay up late that Saturday night. (Full disclosure: I’m a mixed-media artist and will be staging an installation at the Carnegie Library as part of the event.) Here are a few of this year’s highlights:

Dupont Circle

Several art galleries will be open late with special exhibitions. The Embassy Row Hotel will host local and international short films from the Parallel Film Collective, a DJ party by One Love Massive, live painting by artist Jonn Marc, and a neon black-light rooftop party.

H Street, Northeast

Art Whino, a National Harbor, Maryland gallery known for its eclectic art events, will open a satellite location at 700 H Street for its G40: Art Summit. The gallery will fill a 20,000-square-foot vacant building with artwork, murals, and light installations by more than 70 artists. Gallery O on H will feature video installations, fire sculptures, and a bit of burlesque. A giant projection by the New York-based Laia Cabrera & Co. will cover the Bank of America façade at 722 H Street, Northeast and will be accompanied by a musical ensemble.


The neighborhood where Art All Night started, Shaw will have venues spread along Seventh and Ninth Streets, including a vacant lot where people can cast their silhouettes onto a five-story building. Downstairs at the Carnegie Library, Olivia Tripp Morrow will create a “sculptural painting” suspended from the ceiling using donated clothes from dozens of women.

North Capitol/Bloomingdale

Guests can don headphones and pick a music channel for a silent disco while watching video art projections in a vacant lot at Florida Avenue and Q Street, Northwest. In another lot across the street, artists will show their work along with performances by fire spinners, acrobats, and several bands, including Batalá Washington, an all-female Afro-Brazilian samba and reggae group.

Congress Heights

The Gateway Pavilion on the east campus of St. Elizabeth’s Hospital will feature performances by local bands, including Footwerk, which mixes go-go, hip-hop, and reggae. The JoGo Project will create a sonic stew of jazz, funk, and go-go.