Where to see the art of the late DC painter Sam Gilliam in DC

Where to see the art of the late DC painter Sam Gilliam in DC | Pro Club Bd

Sam Gilliam before “Light Depth” (1969) at the Hirshhorn. Photo by Tex Andrews.

Sam Gilliam, the renowned black abstract painter and colourist, died last weekend, just two months after his first solo exhibition at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. The visual artist may be known around the world for his colourful, draped canvases, but his work has a special meaning in the district. Gilliam moved to the city in the early 1960s, became an art teacher at McKinley High School and exhibited his art in galleries across DC. Although he was never a member of the Washington Color School, he soon became the face of the color-focused art movement.

Several pieces of Gilliam’s bold artwork can be seen across the city, from subway stations to museums. Here you can see them.

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Installation view of Sam Gilliam: Full Circle at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, 2022. Photo by Ron Blunt.

The artist’s latest solo show, Sam Gilliam: Full Circle, runs through September 11 at the Hirshhorn. The exhibition features his latest artworks, circular paintings covered in bright paint, sawdust, metal fragments and other debris from his studio. Slightly different from the blocky and draped paintings he had previously done, Gilliam told the museum that the series encompassed many of the ideas the artist had developed throughout his career.

Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library

Sam Gilliam, Ship (1967), acrylic on canvas. Photo courtesy of the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities Art Bank Collection.

As part of a new partnership between the Art Commission and the DC Public Library, Gilliam’s 1967 painting “Ship” will be installed at Penn Quarter’s Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in September 2022.

The Phillips Collection

The Phillips Collection is of particular importance to Gilliam’s artistic career. In 1967, the Kalorama Museum was the first institution to purchase one of his paintings and hosted the painter’s first solo museum exhibition. Starting Thursday, the museum will exhibit this painting, titled “Red Petals.” Gilliam’s paintings will also be featured in Lou Stovall: The Museum Workshop, a special exhibition of artworks collected by artist and printmaker Lou Stovall from the artists he mentors. The pieces will be on display from July 23rd to October 9th.

Reagan National Airport

Next time you’re traveling through National Airport, take a moment to locate Gilliam’s “Construction Aviation Potomac” mural, located on the outside of the closed pedestrian bridge leading to the Metro. The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority commissioned the piece as part of their art program when Terminal B/C (now Terminal 2) was built in 1997.

Takoma station

From Model to a Rainbow, Sam Gilliam (2011) on display at Takoma Station. Photo courtesy of the Flickr user, art around.

One of Gilliam’s mosaic paintings, From Model to Rainbow, adorns a wall in the Takoma subway station. The piece, facing Northwest Cedar Street, was commissioned by WMATA and the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities in 2011 as part of the Art in Transit program. Ayris Scales, former interim executive director of the Arts Commission, wrote in a press release that the piece demonstrates “how public art can be used to beautify borough neighborhoods.”

The Kennedy Center

Sam Gilliam’s Carousel Light Depth (1969) at the Kennedy Center. Photo courtesy Kennedy Center.

Gilliam’s draped canvas painting Carousel Light Depth hangs on the Peace Corps gallery wall at REACH. 50 years after he painted the 75-foot piece, the artist loaned it to the Kennedy Center for the venue’s 2019 opening.

The National Gallery of Art

Sam Gilliam, Shoot Six (1965), acrylic on canvas. Photo courtesy of the National Gallery of Art.

Gilliam’s “Shoot Six” was first shown in a 1985 exhibition at the Washington Project for the Arts and can be seen on the upper level of the East Building of the National Gallery of Art.

Washington E. Washington Convention Center

Gilliam’s “Many Things (2003)” and “Chevrons (1984)” are both on permanent display at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Visitors can view “Many Things” at the M Street entrance of the building and “Chevrons” in the B Concourse concourse.

The Kreeger Museum

Gilliam was the first contemporary artist to have a solo exhibition at the Kreeger Museum in Foxhall. There are now three of his paintings in his permanent collection.

Damar baker

editing assistant

Before becoming an assistant editor, Damare Baker started out as an editorial staffer for the Washingtonian. She has previously written for Voice of America and The Hill. She is a graduate of Georgetown University, where she majored in International Relations, Korean and Journalism.

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