In the age of smartphones and social media, we can often find ourselves too isolated from each other. Simple pleasures such as a cup of coffee, a walk through your neighborhood, or a trip to the farmers' market seem to all be marked with the ever-present "head down in your phone" posture.
Artist Cathy Abramson decided to live life differently and "look up from her phone" to create artwork and connect through the inspiration she’s found on Kennedy Street and the surrounding neighborhood.
When the upstate New York native and her family first came to the area, they settled in the Shepherd Park neighborhood for about 10 years. Cathy is still connected to the community, and her son and his family reside and are active in the Kennedy Street area. As Cathy’s son and his wife grew their family, she found herself spending more and more time in the neighborhood.
Over the course of about two years, Cathy walked throughout the neighborhood and talked to people, learned their stories and connected to the richness and history that can be found throughout many DC neighborhoods -- especially in the Kennedy Street area.
“People in this neighborhood have been pioneers,” Cathy said. “Pioneers in opening small businesses and even pioneers in women and civil rights history. Everybody has a story. The more I talked to people, the more open they were. People were very, very welcoming in the neighborhood and amazingly open.”
Cathy was able to merge the inspiration and connection she got from the neighborhood with the admiration she has always had for artists like Edward Hopper, Leonard Baskin, Edward Sorel and Burton Silverman along with a keen eye for reflection, geometry and structure.
“It's catching little moments of interactions of light," she said. “Things that will be gone in 20 seconds while being open to what’s exactly and immediately in front of me so I can build on that in my art.”
From this she’s created 15 - 18 pieces that will be on exhibit at Culture Coffee at 709 Kennedy Street. You can see the collection of artwork at a free artist reception at Culture Coffee on Sunday, March 5th from 4pm-6pm.
Artist Reception Event Details:
709 Kennedy St NW
Sunday, March 5th from 4pm-6pm (Free)
*A portion of the proceeds from art purchased during this event will be donated to the Kennedy Street Development Association. Also, fine art, limited edition, signed prints of any of the paintings can be ordered at the event.
The cool thing about this exhibit is that some of the subjects of these works of art have been invited to view the works for the first time. Both Mary Woods of Mary Woods Florists and Mrs. V, the owner and barista of Culture Coffee, have been invited to the reception. (Cathy is still on the hunt for the gentleman featured in the piece “Know Yourself.” If you know him, bring him to the reception!)
While I was interviewing Cathy, she joked about “not being cutting edge at all.” And at first glance perhaps one might assume that about her, but that's not the case. Artists and the arts have always been at the forefront of culture, especially in times of turmoil or significant transition. They express, create and speak to as and for us with their art. “Art is the one thing we all have the freedom to do,” Cathy said. "Even with all of the transition and turmoil brewing around us “we are not being shut down."
Cathy Abramson maintains a studio at Artists & Makers Studios in Rockville. In March 2017, she completed the Master Artists Program at the Compass Atelier. Before retiring she worked as Art Director for NOVA Research Company where she designed publications and exhibits for the National Cancer Institute and other institutes at NIH. In 2005, she illustrated Wild Washington: Animal Sculptures A to Z, and in 1997, Simple Secrets of Parenting: Easy as ABC. For a number of years she co-owned Grapevine Graphics, a local graphic design firm. She began her career in graphic design and editorial illustration working as the art director for The Washington Monthly, a political magazine. She has been painting in oils for the past 25 years.
Cathy’s work can be seen at: