Art Enables celebrates 11 years
The gallery has been known to literally stop traffic on Rhode Island Avenue.
With windows full of brightly colored art from local creators, why shouldn't it? Except that Art Enables
isn't a "normal" art gallery. It's a studio and gallery solely for self-taught artists with disabilities. And it recently celebrated its 11th birthday.
Art Enables' artists range in age from 26 to 77. They have a range of disabilities, typically developmental or intellectual, director Mary Liniger says. "The one thing everyone has in common is they identify as professional artists. They really want to work here."
The artists come to the gallery/studio between one and five days a week to work on whatever art projects suit them. Art Enables frames some pieces and sells others unframed, and artists get 60 percent of the revenue (the other 40% covers framing and presentation costs). "For some [artists] it's one of their jobs. For many, it's their primary job," Liniger says.
Art Enables moved to Rhode Island Avenue NE from New York Avenue NE almost three years ago, originally attracted by the prospects of inexpensive space convenient to five bus lines. The large windows and 15-foot ceilings didn't hurt, either. Since then, the nonprofit has reinvested in the space, adding new flooring and professional gallery lights. "When you walk in, you don't think social services program, you think art gallery," Liniger says.
Plus, the location right on the avenue is great for foot traffic -- and that car traffic mentioned earlier.
"We have people [who see the space and] do U-turns all the time and say, 'What is this?' That's exactly what we want."
All the art in the above slideshow is for sale.