ArtJamz is a great place to relieve stress and relieve creativity.
Tue, Apr 12, 2011
Smart Art in D.C.
Eat, drink and paint the next Mona Lisa—or beer cans. ArtJamz allows you to channel your inner artist.
Michael Clements, founder of ArtJamz, is bad with names. But he remembers paintings, for better or for worse.
“There was one guy, he tried to paint his dog, but it looked like a pig,” Clements says, grinning. Another participant was clueless about how to start his painting, so “he looked down at his hand and painted beer cans.”
Clements loves to chat about what he sees in ArtJamz, a four-hour session of nonstop painting in changing venues around Washington, D.C. with free-flowing wine and beer. Understandably, he’s proud of his entrepreneurial venture, which started at a friend’s home in Columbia Heights.
“It was late in the evening, and we had a couple of old canvases and there were three or four of us,” Clements, 41, says. “Next thing you know, it was four in the morning and we had created a monstrosity” that the friend hung up on his wall.
A few years later, Clements pitched his idea—setting up blank canvases with only primary acrylic paint and other limited art supplies available, with ticketed entry ($60) and a D.J.—to the Corcoran Art Gallery, where he is a member of the public education subcommittee. The idea took off last June, and more than 25 sessions later, Clements is still awestruck at the support and success his program has garnered.
“The majority of the people who come to ArtJamz are not part of ‘the scene’ in D.C., as it might be called,” Clements says of his sold-out sessions. “They’re young doctors or they’re lawyers or lobbyists. They love the fact that they can come in jeans and a T-shirt and boho chic and just be themselves.”
In the sessions—locations have included U Street, Columbia Heights and downtown D.C.—would-be artists are supplied with paintbrushes of varying shapes and sizes and an assortment of art tools, such as masking tape, tagging markers, rulers, pencils and painting knives.
But what holds it all together, Clements says, is its informality.
“The difference between meeting at ArtJamz and meeting at a bar or nightclub is you really get to talk to people, and there’s no veil of pretending to be more than who you really are,” he says.
This year, Clements hopes to expand ArtJamz, the first project from his year-old company, Genki Media, LLC. In the lineup for 2011 are more sessions and the initiation of a nationwide reach, starting with ArtJamz-branded art supplies and, possibly, a permanent space in D.C.
There’s just one thing you’ll never find in an ArtJamz session.
“I do not provide smocks,” Clements says firmly, shaking his head. “Smocks and DJs just don’t mix.”
To sign up for your own session (they fill up quickly), visit artjamzdc.com or find them on Facebook. The next ones are April 28 and 29; register here.
Want to support ArtJamz? Join budding artistas (a fashion-forward artist) at a benefit for Becky's Fund April 21 to see who will be crowned "Washington's Top Artista" (and shop for designer wardrobe essentials at Bloomingdales (5300 Western Ave., Chevy Chase, Md.), knowing that 10 percent of your buy goes to a great cause!). Free to attend; register here.
(all photos by Anchyi Wei)