The Dual Lives of D.C. Dreamers
by Liz Parker/DC on Heels
July 9. 2013
Original article with images can be found at http://dconheels.com/2013/07/09/on-passionate-living/
Often within my coffee shop explorations and meanderings around D.C., I encounter people who describe themselves as living two different lives. Upon meeting them, they often introduce themselves with the line: “Well, I do ____ by day, but my real passion is ___.” These self-described day-time marketers, pharmacists and economists are also full-time rap scene aficionados, underground bike culture connoisseurs and urban arts movement specialists by night. Continually hearing about people’s side passions led me to think about how curious and unique Washington, D.C. is as a city because of the people it attracts.
I was recently invited to attend a private viewing of D.C.-based artist Kari Kant‘s debut show, “Abstraction.” Kant is one of these curious D.C. types; an executive assistant at Goldman Sachs during the day turned abstract expressionist painter after business hours. She’s been in government relations on the Hill, worked for the chairman of a premier lobbying firm and now does finance and privately commissioned art projects on the side. After long stressful (but still rewarding) days at work, Kant would come home unable to unwind. She needed a creative outlet.
Kant previously dabbled in pastels, but never considered herself a creative type with a burning desire to paint. It was only three years ago that Kant’s boyfriend bought her a paint set and a canvas and pushed her to explore her creative side, and Kant’s inner abstract expressionist painter emerged. By this time, Kant was over pastels; she was tired of realistic characters and real-life representations. She wanted something more 3D, something that would pop out. For her, it was abstraction; using globs of paint and colors to create textured scenes.
With her new found paint set and pent up emotions, Kant taught herself how to express herself through layered paint. I overheard her speaking about her process to a guest. She starts with a blank canvas and blank mind and lets her emotions and subconscious take over from there — no plan, no agenda. The results are massive, colorful paintings; abstract expressions of the inner workings of Kant herself.
It’s easy to get caught in the grind of daily living, and it’s easy for those irreplaceable sparks of ingenuity and ambition to go out unnoticed, one by one. I think that’s why Kant’s story struck a chord with me that continues to resonate. How does one just become an abstract painter? How do you live a dually passionate life? She admitted that most of her coworkers have no idea that she paints on the side. A few do, though, and are incredibly excited and supportive.
Her former employer, the BGR Group, commissioned her works to decorate their firm. A few others have bought private paintings for their home. But in the end, Kant attributes her successful parallel artistic career to being carefree. Not aiming to be the world’s next best painter or the next Picasso gave her the freedom to simply have fun with her hobby. There was no pressure and no expectations attached. All she had to do was paint.
There was a young 11-year-old girl, Sabra Murrell Rogers, who was also selling and displaying her abstract paintings. Kant previously worked closely with Rogers’ father and is the one who introduced Rogers to abstract art. Rogers said she always liked art, but found drawing horses and flowers difficult and, most of all, boring. After Kant introduced Rogers to abstract, Rogers never looked back. She now wants to be a painter when she grows up and has already sold several of her paintings.
How do you lead your one wild and precious life?
It’s an inspiring story, a story of living passionately. How many of us are doing what we set out to do when we were Sabra Rogers’ age? Probably not many, and probably for good reason, too! But we are multi-dimensional people, we contain multitudes and many passions, and it is sad to know that many facets of ourselves are unnecessarily extinguished throughout the days of our one wild and precious life. Herein lies the beauty and treasure of D.C. New York may be the land of opportunity, but D.C. is the land of the dreamer.
As the most powerful political city in the world. D.C. attracts the idealists, the ones looking to change the status quo, those with passions that they’re unwilling to put out. Nonprofit organizers, political campaigners, policy think tank researchers — they’re all dreamers with extensions of themselves as also inner city muralists, night time bike riders and underground club dancers. And Kari Kant is just one of them, and paint is her medium of choice. We live in a city brewing with passionate people, and it emerges in many different ways. Every time I walk around D.C. or glance around a crowded coffee shop, I can’t help but wonder at the lives behind the laptop screens, the secrets that lie within their black tailored suits or beaten leather messenger bags. What passions do they have burning bright — or fading fast?
(A portion of proceeds from the event’s sales were donated to Tracy’s Kids, a non-profit organization providing art therapy to children with cancer. Special thanks to Jessica Hoy of NeuProfile branding company for the special invitation.)
About the Author
Liz Parker is a NOVA girl with a long love affair with Washington, D.C. A self-proclaimed Washingtonian, she spends her days and nights coffee shop hopping and wandering around the city. She’s fascinated with street-style fashion and has a soft spot for thrift and vintage shops.
On Thursday, June 2, 2016 the White House Historical Association (www.whitehousehistory.org) debuted "The White House" (36x48", acrylics on linen, 2015) by Kari Kant. The painting depicts the north side of the White House, or the front of the White House, and molding paste and pumice stone were used to make the building 3D and literally pop out from the canvas.
Kari Kant will have a solo show in Washington, D.C. on Friday, September 26, 2014 at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Georgetown (3100 South Street, N.W.) from 8:00 p.m. until 1:00 a.m. For more information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Kari Kant has donated a painting to tonight's silent auction benefiting Tracy's Kids, a non-profit providing art therapy to children with cancer.
The full details of the event can be found here:
Yes You Kant
Meanwhile, there’s more to life than sports, as evidenced by a couple of Capitol Hill art shows this week.
Washington-based artist Kari Kant is debuting her show “Abstraction: Acrylics on Canvas” on June 6 at the Newseum.
In a private viewing on the Newseum Residences Rooftop (565 Pennsylvania Ave. NW) from 6 to 8:30 p.m., Kant will show her work with Capitol Hill literally in the background. She’ll be donating a portion of proceeds from the event to Tracy’s Kids, a nonprofit that provides art therapy to kids with cancer.
One of Kant’s paintings recently fetched $800 at Taste of the South. The Fairhope, Ala., native knows her way around the capital, having come to D.C. in 2004 and working on Capitol Hill before picking up a paintbrush. For more information, email email@example.com.
Kari Kant "Abstraction" Art Presentation at the Newseum When Thu, June 6,6:00 pm - 8:30 pm Where Newseum Admission Open Description DC-based artist Kari Kant's debut show "Abstraction" will take place at a private viewing on the Newseum Residences Rooftop on Thursday, June 6th from 6 - 830PM. A portion of proceeds from the event's sales will be donated to Tracy's Kids (www.tracyskids.org), a non-profit organization providing art therapy to children with cancer. With a background in lobbying and international development, Kant has amassed a devout DC fan base of politicos and art world aficionados alike with attention received from Roll Call and other leading publications. She believes that her work should also serve to support her community and, as a result, has donated works to raise funds for organizations such as the Taste of the South annual DC event to combat homelessness in the US, Becky's Fund in support of victims of domestic abuse, Not Alone, Inc. in support of military members suffering from PTSD and more. Website (click here)
M E D I A A D V I S O R Y
DC-based Artist Kari Kant to Host Debut "Abstraction" Presentation
May 15, 2013 (Washington, DC) - DC-based artist Kari Kant's debut show "Abstraction" will take place at a private viewing on the Newseum Residences Rooftop on Thursday, June 6th from 6 - 830PM. A portion of proceeds from the event's sales will be donated to Tracy's Kids (www.tracyskids.org), a non-profit organization providing art therapy to children with cancer.
With a background in lobbying and international development, Kant has amassed a devout DC fan base of politicos and art world aficionados alike with attention received from Roll Call and other leading publications. She believes that her work should also serve to support her community and, as a result, has donated works to raise funds for organizations such as the Taste of the South annual DC event to combat homelessness in the US, Becky's Fund in support of victims of domestic abuse, Not Alone, Inc. in support of military members suffering from PTSD and more.
WHAT: DC-based artist Kari Kant to host debut "Abstraction" presentation
WHEN: Thursday, June 6, 20136:00PM - 8:30PM
WHERE: Newseum Residences Rooftop 565 Pennsylvania Ave, NW Washington, DC
ALL PRESS MUST RSVP TO ATTEND
About Kari Kant Art (www.KariKantArt.com)Originally from Fairhope, Alabama, Kari Kant has resided in Washington, D.C. since 2004. As a self-taught abstract expressionist artist, she draws inspiration from her life as an independent professional woman living in the nation's capital. She is known for including several layers of texture to create vibrant pieces that literally pop out from the canvas. Kari picked up a paint brush and began painting in 2009, exploring and learning new techniques on her own through trial and error. At the end of 2011 she launched Kari Kant Art where she now paints by commission for privately funded projects as well as for charitable causes.
From Left: Tracy of Tracy's Kids, Kate of Tracy's Kids, Kari Kant, and Sabra Rogers at the Lombardi Pediatric Cancer Center at Georgetown University.
On Monday, April 22 artist Kari Kant (www.karikant.com) visited theTracy's Kids art therapy program at the Lombardi Pediatric Cancer Center at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
Kant is donating a portion of her proceeds from her upcoming show to the non-profit group, and she will also display a few pieces of artwork created by kids participating in the program to help create awareness for the group.
Tracy's kids was established in 1991 and currently has five locations, including the newest location in San Antonio, TX.
For more information on Tracy's Kids visit www.tracyskids.org.
Billy Long Wields Knife at Taste of the South
By Hannah Hess
Posted at 12:01 p.m. on April 15
Rep. Billy Long, R-Mo., waved the 8-inch blade of a the handmade custom chef’s knife before his eyes on Saturday night and whistled, attempting to command the attention of Taste of the South’s VIP crowd at the gala’s inaugural live auction in the lower level of DAR Constitution Hall.
Each of Long’s feet was planted on the squishy seat of a dining chair, and beads of sweat rolled from his forehead as he hollered for bids on the stainless steel “Tyger,” one-half of a set of knives valued at $1,000.
“I thought falling off the chairs is one thing, the knives are another, but the knives and the chairs together — probably not a good idea,” Long told HOH after the auction, with a hearty chuckle.
More than 30 years of auctioneering experience helped Long keep a rowdy crowd, tipsy on Catoctin Creek Sazerac cocktails, courtesy of the Purcellville, Va., distillery, focused on the night’s charitable purpose. Proceeds from the auction would be distributed to nonprofit organizations combating poverty, homelessness and other worthwhile causes in Washington, D.C., and the 13 Southern states hosting the gala. Generous bids, combined with ticket sales and donations, helped Taste of the South raise nearly $500,000, according to Leslie Shedd, a South Carolina Committee executive member.
“Any time I can donate a piece and it’s for a great cause or something I care about, I try to do it,” said D.C.-based artist Kari Kant, who flashed a big smile when the auction of her American flag-inspired acrylic painting closed with an $800 bid.
Kant, a Fairhope, Ala., native who moved to Washington nine years ago for a job on Capitol Hill, said Long teased her for being a “struggling Hill staffer” turned “struggling artist.”
Upstairs in the general admission area, around 2,000 displaced Southerners now employed as Hill staffers, lobbyists and nonprofit advocates feasted from disposable plates on deep-fried delicacies, including hush puppies, mini corn dogs and alligator bites.
Virginia’s crab cakes, Louisiana’s gumbo and Florida’s key lime pie bested oysters, sausage rolls, ham and ice cream in an informal HOH crowd survey of attendees’ favorite foods. Barbeque also ranked high in the standings, but the vast variety of meats and sauces, and fierce state rivalry, made it tough to declare a winner.
“We used to joke that there’s too much barbeque,” said North Carolina native Jennifer Brooks, who served as chairwoman of the event in 2011 and counted Saturday as her seventh Taste of the South. “But every state is so different, so what’s considered barbeque in Texas — brisket, is what I would call it — is not the same as North Carolina barbeque. There’s a lot of competition.”
The young, party-ready crowd eschewed cans of Tennessee’s Sun Drop citrus soda, bottles of North Carolina’s Cheerwine and a tower of Coca-Cola products from Georgia in favor of plastic beverage cups from the venue’s ample array of open bars.
A steady stream of belles in ball gowns and gentlemen in bow-tied tuxedos queued up for the food-a-palooza, and eventually migrated toward the dance floor.
Although the night’s theme was a 1920s-style “Roaring Southern Nights,” the play list wasn’t exactly Jazz Age vintage. Motown hits from live act Coast2Coast brought couples to the dance floor. HOH overheard revelers comparing the female lead singer of Coast2Coast to Beyonce, and the band covered a wide range of hits from the ‘60s, ‘70s and modern day Top 40.
Black cards scattered among tabletop decor encouraged party-goers to catch a ride home (or to the Georgetown after-party) with Uber DC when the fun wrapped up around 1 a.m Sunday morning.