November 16, 1985.
Sixth Annual Art Auction. Artists: Susan Abbott, John D. Antone, Dale Appleman, Tom Ashcraft, Catherine Batza, Tim Beard, Leon Berkowitz, Benita Berman, Barbara Bjanes, Raya Bodnarchuk, Ruth Bolduan, H. Terry Braunstein, Wilfred Robert Brunner, Emilie Brzezinski, Terry Burns, Kendall Buster, Frank Cappello, Dickson Carroll, Leonard Cave, Peter Charles, William Christenberry, Jerry Clapsaddle, Mark Clark, Suzanne Codi, Eleni Constantinopoulos, Patrick Craig, Noche Crist, Steven Cushner, Steven C. Daiber, Rebecca Davenport, Janet David, Donald Davidson, Gene Davis, Willem De Looper, Claudia Demonte, John Dickson, Tom Dineen, James Dobkin, William Dunlap, William Dutterer, Mary Beth Edelson, Charma Le Edmonds, Maria Einaudi, Janos Enyedi, Robert Epstein, Roger Essley, Stephen Estrada, Elizabeth C. Falk, Lea Feinstein, Peter Fleps, Fred Folsom, Patricia T. Forrester, Steven Carroll, Foster, Mary Annella Frank, Christopher Gardner, Carol Goldberg, Margery Eleme Goldberg, Simon Gouverneur, Tom Green, Nade Haley, Lee Haner, Greg Hannan, Jacqueline A. Hayden, George Hemphill, Andrew Hudson, Agnes Jacobs, Jeremy Jelenfy, Jacob Kainen, Rebecca Kamen, Sherry Zvares Kasten, Patrice Kehoe, Joanne Kent, Tom Kenyon, Jackie Kingon, Kitty Klaidman, Martin Kotler, Polly Kraft, Walter Kravitz, David Krueger, Steve Krumant, Edith Kuhnle, Mariann Laroche, Alice Lees, Stephen Ludlum, Anne Marchand, Kimberly Martin, Percy Martin, John McCarty, Howard McCoy, Mary McCoy, Ellen MacDonald, Kevin MacDonald, Ed McGowin, Jerome Meadows, Judy Miller, Nan Montgomery, Stephen T. Moore, Keith Morrison, Thomas Patrick Mullany, Jody Mussoff, Tom Nakashima, Gayil Nalls, Lowell Nesbitt, Martha Olson, Dennis O’Neil, Betsy Packard, Margaret Paris, Jack Bermutter, Annette Polan, Jo Rango, Mary Anne Reilly, Beverly Ress, W.C. Richardson, Marie Ringwald, Steven K. Roberts, Robin Rose, Susan Rose, John Ryan, Lynn Schmidt Jackie Schaffer, Joe Shannon, Claude Simard, Pame Skewes-Cox, Carol Sky, Charlie Sleichter, John Mark Snogren, Lila Snow, Jeff Spaulding, Lucy Norman Spencer, Ronnie Spiewak, Robert Stackhouse, Darlein Stein, A Brockie Stevenson, Alan Stone, Garrett Strang, James Sundquist, Lynn Sures, Surprise Box, Bill Suworoff, Linda Thern-Smith, Hilda Thorpe, Ella Tulin, John Van Alstine, Denise Ward-Brown, Eve Watts, Andrea Way, Rex Weil, Mindy Weisel, Nancy Werlich, William Willis, Lenore Winters, Linn Westbay Woloshin, Sharon Wolpoff, Yuriko Yamaguchi, Kenneth Young, Libby Zando.
December 13, 1985
Botswana. Private meeting place designed and run by artists to meet, discuss ideas, and share work. Short exhibitions and performance by local artists are scheduled by the organizers.
When the alternative Washington exhibition space and lounge called The Tentacle Room run by artist and WPA preparatory Mike McCall (also known as Captain Squid) moved to the west coast, other DC-area artists felt the gap. They filled it with Botswana, a gallery/meeting place/bar to which WPA dedicated space in its galleries at 400 7th Street. The name derived from a label on a scarf worn by Lynn McCary, WPA’s associate director of programs: “made in Botswana,” it read. The choice was appropriate, since, as artist Alan Stone who had just returned from Africa pointed out, the nation of Botswana was a refuge for those fleeing oppression from neighboring South Africa, much as the artists of the Botswana gallery were free from traditional curatorial limitations. Furthermore, as others noted, the nation of Botswana was landlocked, much as Botswana was enclosed within the WPA building and in a sense by the organization itself.
The original core group of artists – including Tom Ashcraft, Dave Brown, Suzanne Codi, Sal Fiorito, Evan Hughes, Charles Sleichter, and Peter Winant – transformed Botswana’s space with a few hundred dollars donated by Peter Carley, who owned a successful plumbing supply business in the area. The group repaired drywall, closed off a stairway for seating, and installed a revolving darkroom door at the entrance. Hughes and another DC artist, Mark Clark, built the soon-to-be famous central feature, the “radar bar,” from a salvaged radar dish. The opening exhibition in December of 1985 was a “trade show,” for which each participating artist – 250 in all – brought one work or found object to swap with another artist. A series of innovative exhibitions and performances quickly followed. Shows were selected by application rather than by résumé: “We didn’t want pedigrees,” Sleichter commented in 2010, “just interesting ideas.” As an artist-driven space, Botswana’s shows were loosely curated by the artists themselves. Each exhibition lasted only a week or so. The only rule, according to McCary, who managed Botswana along with DC artist Paula Schumann, was that artists leave the space as they found it.
The bar was open two nights a week to Botswana members only, who paid a $5 annual membership fee; Sleichter designed and printed membership cards using a 128K Macintosh computer. Drinks were $1. The bar was staffed by volunteers, who lugged the beer, wine, sodas, and ice up three flights of stairs to the space. Proceeds covered the cost of drinks, maintenance, a stereo system, and a cassette player. Live music was occasionally featured. Botswana’s innovative spirit and ensuing camaraderie attracted visiting artists and curators such as Howard Finster; musicians such as Meredith Monk and John Langford from the Punk band The Mekons, who performed at the 9:30 Club, occasionally stopped by.
In mid-1987, WPA and Botswana relocated temporarily from the Jenifer Building to the former Kresge five-and-dime just up 7th Street while the former space was under renovation. When WPA moved back to the galleries, there was no space for Botswana and it was dissolved. Many of its founders went on to launch a new alternative space, the District of Columbia Arts Center in the Adams Morgan neighborhood.
December 4, 1985.
Rosmarie Waldrop. Poetry reading.
November 1, 1985.
Vitaly Komar and Alexander Melamid. Lecture. 400 7th Street, NW.
October 27 – November 16, 1985.
Jane Creighton. A residency to research and write about the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial.
October 22, 1985.
Richard Kriesche. Lecture. 400 7th Street, NW
October 1-26, 1985.
Richard Kriesche. Residency by the Austrian media and installation artist.
September 27, 1985.
Peter Kubelka. Lecture on the relationship between architecture and music by the Austrian filmmaker. 400 7th Street, NW.
September 9 – October 5, 1985.
Peter Kubelka. Residency.
May 30, 1985.
Lynne Dreyer. Poetry Reading. 400 7th Street, NW.