Creative Life in the Gateway Arts District
From 1991 until closing in 2002, the building 1800 Belmont Rd, NW in the Adams-Morgan community was the center of a phenomenal collaboration of art, culture, enterprise, and community. During its decade long existence, 1800 Belmont became an incubator, community gathering space, and a laboratory for innovation and imagination across disciplines and media.
The project was conceived by Rashida Mims, co-owner with husband Jamal, of Sun Gallery Goldsmiths, the long-standing ground floor tenant of the building. Each of the several rooms acted as a unique and inviting space, reflecting the artistic vision and design style of its occupant(s) and allowing visitors to flow, floor by floor and, room to room, on a journey of discovery and cultural transformation.
When we called upon each other in 1989, to consistently refer to ourselves as African American, the call was trivialized by the media into a name-change debate. It was not.
It was the new call, the next call, for a Cultural Offensive that would spark –- ignite—catalyze — group consciousness and cultural renewal as we set our collective agenda for the year 2000. Because “there is nothing so powerful as an idea whose time has come,” our own people overwhelmed the main stream media, grasped and embraced this geopolitically correct self-designation: African American! The seeds of a fresh movement toward greater self-knowledge, self-sufficiency, and self-love were planted.
In Washington, DC, Belmont Arts was a case-in-point about the power of going on the offensive – rather than always reacting defensively – with and for our culture. Already a magical and inspiring creative wellspring, a gathering place for many of the most creative souls on the planet and their admirers, the leaders of Belmont Arts launched GABA – The Golden Age of Black Art! The fusion of artistic mastery, culturally-explicit entrepreneurship, and community development was irresistible.
Congratulations and Commendations, Belmont Arts! We love you!
As we celebrate this wonderful Reunion, let’s remember from whence we have come and why – and decide together to take our African American Cultural Offensive to its next levels.
-Belmont Arts as Case-In-Point by Ramona H. Edelin, Ph.D.