Space Was the Place: An Abbreviated History of Washington, DC Arts Venues

Space Was the Place: An Abbreviated History of Washington, DC Arts Venues


Thank you for coming. I’m Harry Cooper, Senior Curator of Modern Art here at the National Gallery of Art. And I’m really thrilled to introduce this program, which means a lot to me personally and to a lot of you. We’ve got two guests. Ray Barker is archivist at the DC Public Library, where he conducts oral histories, public programs, works with donors, and supervises the processing of the Punk Archive. Today, in his work, he uses many sources– DCPL oral history collection, the Smithsonian Archives of American Art, Mary Swift papers, records of the Museum of Temporary Art, and so on. His interest in independent art and music venues began in the mid 1990s while attending indie rock shows at the defunct venue on the west side of Cleveland, Speak in Tongues, which closed in 2001. He is a freelance writer, and is published in the DC Line, CapitalBop, and elsewhere, and lives in Washington, DC. We’re going to hear from Ray shortly. And I think he’s going to focus today on d.c. space. And a lot of you are wearing your t-shirts. I couldn’t find my t-shirt, but I did find something else, which relates to our next guest, who is actually going to be first– Andrew White, an award winning saxophonist, oboist, electric bass player, music theorist, composer, author, and entrepreneur. He graduated with a degree in music from Howard University and pursued studies at the Paris Conservatory, Tanglewood, and Dartmouth College. Over the course of a long and varied career, he has played with, yes, the American Ballet Theater, Stevie Wonder, the Fifth Dimension, Weather Report, Elvin Jones, Kenny Clark, McCoy Tyner, Otis Redding, and the Julius Hemphill Saxophone Quartet, just to name a couple. His company, Andrew’s Music, now 48 years old, offers 3,000 or more titles including books, articles, recordings, and over 1,200 transcriptions of solos by Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Eric Dolphy, and Andrew White. And I just have something personal to say, which is I grew up in the area going to d.c. space in the late ’70s and got to know avant garde jazz. And people like Andrew White, Julius Hemphill, and Ricky Ford, Philip Wilson, Hamiet Bluiett, all kinds of amazing people came through there. And then I had the privilege to interview Andrew. And this is called a record. It’s vinyl. [LIGHT APPLAUSE] And this is Andrew’s music– number 35. And I was working in college at the Harvard radio station, and he kindly put my interview on this record from December 5, 1978. I’ll bet it’s still in the catalog if you want a copy. So without further ado, I’m so honored to bring up Andrew White to this stage. [APPLAUSE] [PLAYING SAXOPHONE] [APPLAUSE] [PLAYING SAXOPHONE] [APPLAUSE AND CHEERS] [PLAYING SAXOPHONE] [APPLAUSE AND CHEERS] So we’re going to start with the basics. What was district creative, d.c. space? The Wikipedia version in my head I came up with defines it as an eclectic, independent music and arts venue, and also a restaurant. It was operating at 447 7th Street at the intersection of 7th and E streets, Northwest Washington, DC. It was owned and operated by Bill Worrell, his mother, Susan Worrell, and a handful of Bill’s friends from high school and college. It opened in the late fall of 1977 and closed December 31, 1991. By my calculations, that’s 14 years. And I just want to know if I’m the only one that sees the heart in the window of the building. Programming was all over the place for this– air quotes– restaurant. It had dinner theater, film screenings, poetry readings, comedy performance, avant garde jazz, Andrew White, punk, rock, and so much more. Through this talk today and that event in October, I hope to show the different streams of specific programming that occurred there and highlight the differences between Bill Worrell’s penchant for the avant garde jazz performers and the unique artists Claudia Joseph worked with, as well as Cynthia Connelly’s booking practices. So the time has now arrived for the portion of this presentation– a show of hands– how many people have been to d.c. space? I can barely see. A little more than half– more than half– all of you. Somewhere between all of you and a little more than half. [LAUGHTER] And the joke is welcome to the reunion. So as we move through the presentation, I would ask if you could reflect on what exactly you’d see, not just in the context of my talk, but more broadly in the context of Washington, DC, then and now, as the images fit into or fall out of the current context of art spaces. I would prefer you to ask, what does d.c. space tell us about the city then? What would a d.c. space-like venue look like today, and where would it be? I’m confessing now to all of you, I was not in Washington, DC at the time of d.c. space. I wish I had been. I’ve only actually ever spent time in that building over the years to order an iced mocha, light ice, on hot days when I’m near Chinatown. Through my position as an archivist in special collections, I am fortunate to be able to be in a position to try to piece together a single narrative. That’s my narrative of the d.c. space story using materials that were left behind. So the narrative in my presentation today is limited with obvious gaps to be filled in by that subsequent event or just left open. I’m not a d.c. space expert. I know there are those in the auditorium here today whose experiences are more closely tied to the venue. And I’m not making a claim on that unique history. And if each of you had been to d.c. space and were invited up here to tell your story, and maybe we’ll do that instead of the Q&A, each would be unique and different from the other. So the beginnings of my finding out what d.c. space was– so there were a variety of circuitous routes. One of them was We’re SO Not Getting Our Security Deposit Back. That’s a chap book published in October of 2017, edited by Natalie Campbell, Blair Murphy, and Paddy Johnson. It’s 40 pages of questionnaires, like you see there, to former art venues from all over the city including Heart Art, Botswana, Past Gallery, Washington Women’s Art Center, and others. The questions that were in the survey related to the location of the venue, programming information, source of financial support, and why the space was closed. Each ends with the question, did you get your security deposit back? [LAUGHTER] The popular response was no. So the more I read of those venues, real places from the actual people who ran the spaces, the more I wanted to know. It felt like some secret history waiting to be explored. So we did a program back to the Goethe Institute that was similar to this one. From that chap book sprung Out There– The Self-Created Artist in Washington, DC in January of last year. It was a collaboration between the Goethe Institute and the public library. Blair Murphy, Cynthia Connelly, Andrew White, and Bill were there. I’d never met Bill before. We had almost 100 people there, and it was a turnout quite like this one. You may have attended that event. But afterwards, I approached Bill with a request for an oral history interview. And he agreed, saying you’ll have to come out to me, to his converted firehouse slash home– I think now it’s referred to as Outer Space– in Cottage City, Maryland. Today’s presentation features several excerpts from those interviews. And he said in passing then, Cynthia and I always felt like someone should write a book on d.c. space. And I tried. So consider this presentation my book, or just a chapter from a more comprehensive history. So during this time, I was conducting interviews with Cynthia Connelly, Ian MacKaye, Bob Boylan, Michael Barron, Dave Grohl rejected me several times, Rogelio Maxwell, and other individuals related to d.c. space and other arts venues. This exhibition at Rhizome in Tacoma, DC, featured some of that interview content. And it opened in October of last year. The rooms were dedicated to each venue, including d.c. space, Union Arts, Hole in the Sky, a still-active and fun art space in Eckington in the Northeast. So you see the theme. I’m just trying to recreate d.c. space time and time again. So we’re moving into the lingering legacy, which I’ve decided is sort of a fancier way to say nostalgia, a little bit. I don’t know what it is about the venue that draws up this kind of attention and interest these many years later. For example, look at the d.c. space face group, all five members. That’s a joke. No, that’s a photo of a sketch comedy and improv group, Fresh Victims, that performed at d.c. space. A user replied there, and I don’t know if you can read it, there hasn’t been anything like d.c. space since, well, d.c. space. And another– comedy, films, poetry nights, and oh, the music. We were so lucky. So as of this morning, the d.c. space group has 1,475 members, the so-called online community keeping the spirit of the place alive. And the t-shirts. I saw t-shirts today. You will see them wearing them randomly around the city. It’s been reproduced several times over, and it’s still highly collectible. I wonder why kids born 15 years after the venue closed wear the iconic t-shirt, even if their dad asked them to put it on. [LAUGHTER] For the picture for the presentation. She wears it on her own around town more than she rides her bike. So the same thing that drives people to wear the t-shirts around town, is that the same thing that would motivate a huge hockey fan like Neil intentionally ask for the d.c. space condo on the second floor of where d.c. space once stood, open up his own museum of and shrine for the venue? What is that about? And so the lingering legacy continues up through today. So these events that I’ve shared with you, those contexts, those places that I just mentioned, are a combination of a celebration, a memorial, a never ending farewell, the goodbye that never completely arrives. So now to the new info here. So through my research, as the next slides show, d.c. space didn’t open and operate inside a bubble. It had a few contemporaries around at that time. One of them was the Kitchen, founded as an artist collective in 1971 by Woody and Steina Vasulka in lower Manhattan. It was primarily focused on video, video arts, and performance, while remaining a multidisciplinary institution featuring events and programs related to literature, film, exhibitions, dance and music. Many avant garde artists showed and developed work there, including Vito Acconci, Laurie Anderson, Robert Mapplethorpe, Cindy Sherman, and others. While the organization has had several locations, it remains active and vibrant in the arts community today. That last flyer that just popped up there on the far left is a flyer from 1983 program at 9th Street in Northwest DC. d.c. space and the 9:30 Club collaborated with friends of Bill’s from the Kitchen, so there’s a direct connection there. And onward, Real Art Ways, or the acronym RAW– Bill mentions this place in a City Paper article from October, 1987. Real Art Ways opened in the fall of 1975, when, quoting from their website, a group of visual artists and musicians took over a rambling upstairs space on Asylum Street in downtown Hartford and created a bare bones salon in which they lived, worked, and presented the work of others. That sounds familiar to me. I called RAW asking if they had any old photos. I think they thought I was weird. They pointed me towards the RAW archival collection at the Hartford Public Library Special Collections, and they sent me that image free of charge. So Real Art Ways has had several locations, and today, it’s an independent movie theater– maybe a glimpse of the life d.c. space could have had somewhere in DC. So around this time, the Washington Project for the Arts was founded in 1975 by Alice Denney, a strong proponent of contemporary art in DC since the 1960s. Denney curated the first show, Inaugural Exhibition, a group exhibition featuring music, video, film, dance, visual art, and performances. So at the very least, a kin of sorts was right around the corner from d.c. space, minus the food. All right, things get better now. Bill starts talking. So these are excerpts, a series of excerpts from our interviews. And we’re marching through the history, and I focus a little bit on what the context looked like right before d.c. space opened up. This first clip is 24 seconds, and these contact sheets from the Mary Swift papers. So this was done early last year. And Bill shares a little bit of what he learned at the Nova Scotia School of Art and Design, and the influence it had on him before coming to DC in the summer of 1975. So I ended up meeting some really cool people from different places. And I was coming back to DC. And I knew that the one thing they taught you there was that, look, if you’re not going to be the best of the best, be somebody who makes things happen for other artists. So they kind of instilled this notion of– do a gallery. Do a space. Be a manager. Be something in the arts. Yeah, and that he did. I just wanted to briefly insert at this point here, some would say Bill should be up here telling this history, as it is essentially his story. But I would argue that he is up here as I share– as you’ll see many portions of our interviews. Anyway, so the building pictured here is from the pre-Civil-War era, belonging to the Carey family, the building did, since the early 1900s, and was home at one time to the National Capital Brewery that closed during the Prohibition. In this clip, Bill and I are discussing what the place looked like inside when they first moved in. We mention a greasy spoon burger place that was on the ground floor that wasn’t so great, I’ve been told. And we talk about the mood and the vibe upstairs as they discovered it. So d.c. space at 7th and E, and that, the burger joint, the greasy spoon was on the bottom floor. And then what was going on upstairs– Second floor was the office for the dental lab. It was upstairs. So there had been a dentist’s office, and then upstairs, they made false teeth up two more floors. But those floors had been boarded up for years and years and years. So we opened those up– Like a vault. Yeah. And we’re talking about a building that was completed before the Civil War started. It’s the oldest standing building on Georgia Avenue. It was built in 1959. So it’s got this weird, haunted, freaky oldness to it. And you guys tapped into that. WPA got the same kind of building. I think Bill speaks in quotes. Like he just is able to summarize things very succinctly, that I really appreciate. So I love the composition of this photo– the wagon wheel off to the left side, the woman in motion crossing the street, as if they knew then that we would be looking at it now, and we would be responding, yep. That’s what the old days looked like. Still covering the early ground here of Bill’s mission opening the art space in DC. In this interview, he cites many of his favorite influential jazz performers and the music he became familiar with and brought back to DC. For attentive listeners, during sections of our interviews, you’ll hear an organ and other music in the background, which was, I think, the church group rehearsing upstairs at Bill’s place during the interview. And I wondered at that time, does this stuff just follow you around, Bill? And also, in the opening of the interview, I say that the venue opened in spring of 1977. Bill confirms that, but that’s wrong. So– I was looking for a new– I came back from Halifax in ’75 and went to work with a buddy of mine from Montgomery College on a film project in the Creative Music Studio, which was just starting to thrive in Woodstock, New York. And while I was in college, I also started getting tuned into the jazz that I became really passionate about, primarily through Sun Ra and Hugh Masekela. A little bit through Miles Davis. I mean, I was like every other kid because I liked rock music and blues. I was loving fusion. But then I started hearing the real avant jazz and started understanding the humor and the politics of Lester Bowie and the Art Ensemble of Chicago and Don Cherry and his world music travels and Ornette Coleman. So I really came back with this– none of this shit ever happened in Washington that I knew of. And I had this attitude of, yep, I was 24 years old and wanted to wake up and shake my hometown, like I was some kind of– I was bringing my gang from Halifax with me. And then I brought by my musician friends from– that summer I worked on a soundtrack as the guy running the reel-to-reel for this film. And we’re in Woodstock, and I met the who’s who of the musicians I worked with for the next 30 years– Don Cherry, Sam Rivers, Dave Holland, Anthony Braxton– who all were there teaching a workshop over the three week period we were filming. So it was more than going to a concert. You ate with them. You got to know them. You watched how they worked with young people. And all of a sudden, this creative music thing was like, wow. This is another world. So when we started looking for a place, I had that in mind. So you had a mission? I had visual arts in mind. Nobody’s doing conceptual art. Nobody was doing video art. But I wasn’t capable of doing all of it. And in the moment we got there, and the moment we started talking, I met the PFW people trying to get the radio off the ground. I met a bunch of Corcoran students that had just finished. Where do we go from here? I met all the people at WPA. All of a sudden, there was a community where we were all getting to know each other. So a convergence of different people coming together right when Bill needed it too. So moving on, in this next sequence of slides, we discuss the difficult task of managing a restaurant in order to support an art space like d.c. space, and the value of the lunchtime crowd to keep things running. So I picture you in d.c. space, initially at the center, let’s say. And then over time, there’s this morphing process, where it gets bigger and bigger. And other people step in, and maybe you’re not– whatever for the analogy is, you get pushed to the margins or something like that. But is that kind of how things grew? Well we started downstairs. And the music was– that was nothing but food, and that was going to pay for our operations. Within two years, we realized not only was the world of funding starting to expand to include the kind of artists we wanted to present, but we also realized that you can’t run a edgy business that only had people eating at lunch from the FBI and the head company and be able to stay open fully late, the hours that it takes the band though– Because it would have to fund itself as a restaurant, as a traditional restaurant, and then also– And then pay for the art. And we had the art upstairs in a gallery space, and you couldn’t take drinks upstairs. We were trying to– because the loft scene in New York at that time that I was connected to, like Sam Rivers at Rigby Studio– the artists that had studios, or had [INAUDIBLE]– stuff would happen all the time there, but they weren’t legal venues. So alcohol service and drinking became– a lot of smoking going on, but people weren’t drinking. And of course, that was always– whenever I booked a jazz event at d.c. space, I got the look of like, oh Jesus, another night of tea drinkers? Because they would drink like the rock crowds. They wouldn’t eat like the dinner theater. They wouldn’t– But the various people that started finding home base there was absolutely wonderful. It’s like, it kept growing, but the space didn’t. The space was tiny. Moving on now to some clippings that I dug up. Really excited to find this one. I think it’s the first review of d.c. space, Sunday, December 11, 1977– District creative space officially opens. So Washington’s newest jazz club, DC Creative Space, had its official opening yesterday with a solo piano recital by Newhall Richard Abrams– got that wrong– one of the Chicago avant garde jazz men. Abrams’ first set last night demonstrated the 47-year-old’s pianist’s affinity for simmering impressionistic melodies. The second floor club, formerly a dentist’s office, is small. It holds about 100 persons, and inexpensively decorated. [LAUGHTER] Much like the lofts in lower Manhattan, where much of the new jazz is being played. DC Creative Space will also house an art gallery featuring prints and paintings. Its first floor restaurant opens October 3, serves natural foods, soups, and salads. The club will also serve as a forum for seldom-heard young contemporary jazz men, mostly on a weekend basis, according to Bill Worrell. It was used for several performances during last month’s ill-fated two nights of new music festival. Worrell has already scheduled two trumpet percussion duet performances– Lester Bowie, Phil Wilson, and Don Cherry, and Ed Blackwell. And those are the guys that Bill was mentioning earlier. Now we’re going to pause for the commercial break. I want to share the context with you in which this review first appeared. So it’s December, 1977. Christmas ads are appearing. So I took two clips out. So the first one is an advertisement for the Vic Daumit Studios at 3333 Connecticut Avenue promoting a disco special. Just $30 for three private lessons, as well as adult tap classes. My research tells me that the hustle and rope are two different dances merged into one, where the rope move is incorporated into the basic hustle dance– and I’m quoting from the Arthur Murray Dance Studio of Boston website. And I quote– dancers stay connected to each other and act as though they are held together with a rope, swing as one to the beat. Ad two was on the same page– an ad for Melart Jewelers with multiple locations in DC, offering a variety of gold bands, chains, bracelets, and necklaces. Men were even permitted to try on the jewelry. For your jewelry needs, men, remember Melart Jewelers– the love store. And it says that up there. So this was the cultural context to have fun with which d.c. space first inserted its avant garde, independent, stubborn, artistic self. A lot of fun with this. It doesn’t get better than this. So the review continues. Bill says, one reason we opened the club was that there wasn’t much new art in Washington. And I say, the fellows at Melart Jewelers would disagree. [LAUGHTER] So if you want to see or hear new art here, says Bill, you have to buy a record or look in a book. So primitive times for us. And the journalist asks, can you make it on the lunchtime trade? Bill says, we expect to. Other people will find out about us. They’ll start coming down this way. If people go to the Dubliner or the train station, they’ll come here. We’re not looking for the Georgetown clientele or the Capitol Hill clientele. [LAUGHTER] So right from its very first days, d.c. space had a very specific kind of identity– a personality, an attitude even– a ragtag, homegrown, artistic, new, different, said another way, a place for those with specific tastes to find one another. So there were a lot of food reviews. It was weird in these archives I was digging– our archives at the library I was digging through that was just like, restaurants, d.c. space, food review. And there’s some jazz stuff in there, but mostly food reviews, which I thought was kind of funny, because we don’t really– at least I don’t really think about the food. But so this is 1978. This begins with an indication of the shambolic nature of the venue. The tables and chairs are from everywhere– movie theaters, old houses, offices, and the walls are display place space for striving young artists. And then it goes on to critique the food, ending with the prices are so low, you hope they make it until you get back to the neighborhood for lunch again. [LAUGHTER] So the last clip– so this is 1982 now, moving in a chronological sequence. And there’s Susan Worrell in the picture next to Bill. So this article– I like it. It’s by the Washington Post pop critic, Richard Harrington, from 1978. And it’s in the arts section now. And Richard’s not focusing on the food. They’re kind of celebrating this five-year milestone. And so I love the way Richard describes this– Washington’s lower case but avant art night spot celebrates a half decade in which it has created a viable downtown home for new jazz, performance art, film, and cabaret theater. Harrington sees the short term success of d.c. space as paving the way for clubs such as the 9:30 and the Wax Museum, getting people used to the idea of going back downtown at night– a dangerous place. Bill says d.c. space broke ground in a sense, describing people’s perceptions of the area up until then as a desert, a lost region. The article ends with commentary on the evolution of Bill’s work with District curators in a series of events that were held at the Corcoran and the Pension building. So now, we’re moving into the photography section. We’re coming towards the second half of this thing here. d.c. space seemingly had a sense of its own legacy as it was creating it. One example are the photographers associated with the club, which makes up our next series. Likewise, I’m also struck by how many artists are associate with d.c. space and the venue’s constant and consistent efforts to assert itself as a place for artists and artistic endeavors. For example, we have images here from Up From Punk, New Wave Washington. My understanding was it was a Lucian Perkins photo exhibit at d.c. space. And this is samples from the catalog from 1980. It featured local artists Peter Muse, Susan Mumford, Michael Barron, Jim Duckworth, Anne Duran [INAUDIBLE] and others. And some of those folks worked at d.c. space. So the catalog features an essay observing that the DC arts community is trying to compete with New York City, saying, don’t bother, and asserts that DC has its own artistic character in the visual arts and the emerging new wave music. So with the emergence of the, in quotes, Old Atlantis Club, and name checking bands like Insect Surfers, Bad Brains, Nurses, Rhoda and the Bad Seeds, the Cancer Girls, and calling attention to, quote unquote, alternative galleries like Hard Art, Madam’s Organ, and the Museum of Temporary Art, the essay states simply, we are responsible for our own culture. Moving on. Michael Wilderman– so one of my favorite photographers who took photos of the jazz shows from 1977 through closing in 1991. Playing in the background of a series of photos is another excerpt from an interview with Bill discussing what these intimate live shows were like for the musicians and for the audience. And then I wanted to ask quickly about the actual physicality of d.c. space. And there was a low stage. What did the space actually look like? Either downstairs or upstairs or– Well, upstairs was like an antique loft– columns, wooden floor. We ended up renting that out to an art gallery through the latter years– the Olshansky Gallery, which had a lot of great events too. And at that point, we moved the stage down into what had been just the restaurant. And the stage wasn’t even as high as this bed. The stage was– A couple of feet off the ground. Maybe 18 inches, if that. And it took up almost half the room. And it was an incredibly small stage. I mean, can you imagine Sun Ra’s 18 pieces getting onto an 18-inch platform with a grand piano? All those people with all those instruments. With my grandmother’s grand piano that we had moved from Iowa. Sun Ra loved it. It Don Pullen loved it. But the best thing about it is it created the sense that you were in their laboratory. You were in their living room. And even though we– the more expensive groups as we started doing them later, we’d have absolutely have to clear the house. But half the house would be sitting out there waiting, because we never told these artists that they had 45 minutes to play. And as a result, they played until they got like stopping. It was just open ended. And the second set was the most famous thing in Washington. So-and-so’s coming to town. I’ll see you at the second set. Nobody ever came to the first. So second set starts around midnight? Or what does that look like? Well, it was supposed to 10:00. The first would be 8:00. It was supposed to be 10:00, 10:30, but a lot of times it would start at midnight. But everybody knew that the second set, they absolutely would play as long as they felt like playing. So there became this thing where if the audience made the artist feel really good, they’d keep playing. Of course, we’d all do a standing ovation to get them to come back. It wasn’t that. If they just felt, they would just stop playing. Rock bands too. It’s just, it was that kind of room. You’ve got the spit on you. You got the sweat on you. Got the spit on you, got the sweat on you. It’s just very evocative. So this is a postcard of the advertising her show, “East Wing Portraits” at d.c. space, featuring people that would come to d.c. space or worked at d.c. space. And d.c. space seemingly looks great in black and white is one takeaway from this presentation. [LAUGHTER] So my caption for this– if I had to pick one representative photo of d.c. space and select it and hand it to someone to tell them what I felt like what it was like, I’d hand them this one with no need for words. It’s a poetic image there and the isolation of that individual away from Mary’s camera. And I like that distance and that emotion that this evokes. So from the poetic to the grimy reality of Michael Horsley’s work– that’s more documentation and other things. I just thought I’d throw these up here just because I like Michael and his work a lot. So I understand this was a board inside there, that they would get more artistic. I think maybe bands were listed there. And then so this is an excerpt from one of our interviews Michael and I did in the lobby of the E Street Cinema, because it’s a quiet place there. So I’m asking him, why the pictures of the d.c. space kitchen? And he said, simple. All of my friends worked there at one point. So rare glimpse behind the scenes. And Michael’s photos, of course, are available on his Flickr account. I AM EYE, you may know, was an experimental film group of sorts that held regular screenings, I think it was every other Monday at d.c. space from 1982 through 1991. They were screened at other venues around the city. And it was founded by Paul Bishow and Pam Kray and Pierre DeVeaux. And Paul Bishow is one of the directors of that punk documentary that’s just premiered. So I AM EYE had its first screening in March of 1982. And cover charge was $1 or $3, or bring a film and you didn’t have to pay anything. Attendees were primarily local filmmakers, but they did feature some international folks that were coming through from San Francisco, Boston, Baltimore. The flyers, to me– they are in our archives at the library– were always eye catching, and I appreciate how committed they were to the program to be that consistent in how inclusive they were. And I’ll show you a little bit of that in a second. So sometimes, the flyers tell us a very specific story once you dig in. In this case, it shows the evolution of one of Kray’s films, The Million Heirs. That’s a pun. The flyer on the left advertises a benefit raised to get it produced and– processed, sorry– at 35 millimeter film costs to get it processed, and so they’re raising funds on that in that flyer. And then moving over to the flyer on the right, there was a screening of that film in 1988. So it just shows you, we’re raising funds, then we’re going to screen it. So I’m just going to point out that there was a retrospective to the I AM EYE collective in Brooklyn a few years ago, featuring the work of Jeff Krulik, Michael Horsley, in addition to Pam’s work and others. This is an excerpt of The Million Heirs, and it’s two or three minutes. Pam sells copies of her films on her website under My Naive Years. And this is a brief excerpt of the beginning of The Million Heirs from 1988. The film is described as choppy, almost glitchy, 16-millimeter cinematic collage about inheritance and legacy. I realize that considering how long ago this was, it might be akin to reading and sharing your journals from when you were a teenager. But that has a certain value too. So we’re going to click play and turn up the volume and wake up anybody who’s sleeping. [PUNK MUSIC PLAYING] [PIANO MUSIC PLAYING] You don’t know shit about inheritance. Well, I– I do. I’ve– I’ve been waiting on this inheritance pretty much all my life, ever since– ever since, uh, well, I was old enough to need a pack of cigarettes. Had to start thinking about work, and I decided that it would be best to just try to live life easy and wait on Mom and Dad to go. [INAUDIBLE] [INAUDIBLE YELLING] This is your parents. [INAUDIBLE] And as I read in the will, this inheritance position cares obligations and procedures by which to relinquish those obligations. To begin with, you have inherited the cook’s job. You are in no way entitled the seniority benefits which accrue to your aunt, except for the salary, which is in keeping with the present standards and based on the last hourly rate your aunt was earning. You must pay an inheritance tax on all earnings for the first year in advance, but not immediately. There is a 90-day grace period, so save your pennies. It’s 15.32% of the first year. You must keep the job for six years. If you decide for some reason you want to relinquish your position before the six year period is up, you will be required to pay penalties of up to 15% of annual earnings for the balance of the time not worked. And the proprietor may request an additional amount for– [INTERPOSING VOICES] I wonder if I could get out of this by murdering the guy. It could– real clean, quick. He’s got a nice Adam’s apple. So she’s contemplating splitting his throat and his Adam’s apple. So moving on, yet another I AM EYE thing related was “A Bunch of Drunks Read Their Shit.” It was an open annual poetry open mic thing that they did for three years. I don’t know if it was the same drunks and the same shit, but– [LAUGHTER] So we have a clip of that here. [APPLAUSE] This is from 1990, a year before d.c. space closed. Last year, when I first moved here, I was living in Alexandria. It seemed like pizza delivery men were getting killed left and right. And this year, in this area, it’s still happening. They’re still getting murdered. And so I tried to figure out how this could be happening. And this is what I came up with. Picture it– I could see a group of psychos sitting around drinking whiskey and playing Monopoly on a Saturday night, bored out of their skulls. Suddenly, the guy who’s losing says, I got an idea. Let’s order pizza. Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! And if it’s a guy who delivers it, let’s kill him. Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Because they never get any cute young chicks with tight mini skirts to deliver their pizzas. Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! So it’s as simple as that. It’s a subtle, social outcry for pizza restaurants to hire more women. [LAUGHTER] [APPLAUSE] So good. Yeah. I enjoyed that as much as you did. So yeah, we’re coming to the closing of d.c. Space. I just want to point out that it’s an inclusive and supportive environment, is what I see in that clip, and that d.c. space allowed people to do things like that. “No More Room at d.c. space” was one of the last articles about the closing, November 22, 1991. And they talk about maintenance issues that were going on in the building. I know everybody looks really happy in that picture, but– Bill was talking about delicate negotiations. They were trying to move somewhere along 7th Street and Chinatown or a new performing arts center. And I know that must have been a loss for people then to learn. The other article I clipped about the closing is called “Space Displaced.” So this is from the City Paper in November of that year. Alternative art stronghold d.c. space has withstood the volume of untold noise bans, the floor shaking storms of heavy-booted punks, and years worth of art student pontifications. But the space can’t resist the forces of the real estate market or the ravages of time. So it describes the activities at the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation and redevelopment in that area, and how the new building the club had its eyes on was behind in construction. So at the time, Cynthia Connolly was lamenting in a comment that was especially prescient, “if we can’t move, the performance space will go down in history.” So for me, this example speaks to d.c. space’ profound influence on people as a place. During my interview with Cynthia Connolly, I’m trying to get a sense of the details and the layout of the physical structure of d.c. space. Like what door did people come through, and how did you get upstairs? I could just do a plan for you. I turn right, and then I walk in here, and this is what I see when I walk in. There’s a stage. Really funny. Nobody would do this now. Bill said it’s eight inches off the ground or something. Yeah. Somebody could just stood out and then fall. And there’s no– so the windows here on this picture are– Those windows? These windows are these here. Oh, OK. This is not– you don’t see these windows. This is 7th Street, and we’re on E Street. I got you. it’s on the other side. OK. Cool. Yeah. And then the tables and chairs get moved away for performances? Yes, they get piled into this corner over here. And this corner just becomes all tables and chairs. And then the stairs are here? Yeah. Those are the other stairs. Not the stairs I just described. OK, so then you can go through here. This is the– And this also– “Avant Garden Party” is an article about the five-year reunion after d.c. space closed at the 9:30 Club in 1997. I pulled this because there are attendees that are saying there’s no place in DC that has filled the void since d.c. space left. It was unique. It may not ever be replicated in Washington again. And it’s still true. Another was, it wasn’t just a club, it was a community gathering space that happened to have a bar. Aw. Great. [APPLAUSE] I’m not done. I’m not done. And that notion of community was expressed by Bill Worrell regarding the early days of the venue, reflected and repeated as well in what Cynthia said in our interview regarding her approach to booking bands and performers over the years. From hearing Bill’s side of it, and we talked about this before– free jazz, New York City, this loft jazz thing, avant garde is how I’d characterize Bill’s role. And then Claudia had her own taste. And then would it be fair to say that you had your own in terms of– Yeah. And then how would you describe that? I was– my taste wasn’t– I don’t if I have a specific taste, but again, I’ve described it. I was more interested in people who– bands and people who were interested in– and I never said it, but I think in the end, it was about developing community and making connections in the community by using that space. So– As for me, I feel like I’m trying to recreate d.c. space through the programs I highlighted earlier, and again throughout this presentation today. Admittedly, I’m a little sad that I couldn’t have been a part of that community then, and to be a part of a unique venue at that particular point in DC’s arts history. To get to do things like this event today and share what I’ve learned provides some consolation and is a meaningful substitute for the real, authentic experience that never was. That’s it. Thank you. [APPLAUSE]

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