Artomatic is a multi-week, multimedia arts event held in the Washington, D.C. area. It has been held in 1999, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2012. The non-juried event provides a forum for artists of all types (visual artists, musical groups, dancers, poets, film crews, theatrical groups, fashion designers, fire play, and more) and abilities (from novice to professional).
An independently organized and licensed Artomatic event was also held in Frederick, Maryland for 2011. From Sept. 28th to Nov. 6th, 2011, the former FCPS Central Office building at 115 E. Church Street, Frederick, Maryland hosted Artomatic@Frederick featuring over 350 visual artists, plus musical groups, dancers, theatrical productions, aerialists, and a fashion show.
A steering committee comprising local artists, arts administrators, and community activists develops outreach procedures and participation guidelines to ensure the broadest possible artistic representation from the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. Each participant pays a nominal fee and commits to volunteering for 15 hours. Most participants, however, give much more of their time; volunteers execute every task, from hauling trash and building exhibit structures to maintaining the website. As a result, the show draws artists and visitors of different races, cultural backgrounds, ages and experience levels.
Artomatic provides a mechanism for emerging and established artists to have the chance to work with and learn from one another. The diversity of artwork and performances attract a broad range of people, providing a forum to build institutional connections; linking public and private schools, universities, community development organizations, human service organizations, corporations, foundations, and cultural organizations.
The first Art-O-Matic, as it was spelled then, ran from May 21 to June 19, 1999. It started as a fairly spontaneous event in the Manhattan Laundry buildings on Florida Avenue in Northwest Washington. The location, in an old laundromat, accounts for the name.
The second Art-O-Matic was held from September 29 to October 28, 2000. This time, it was held in the Tenleytown neighborhood of Northwest Washington, in a then-vacant building that had at various times been a Sears and a Hechinger (the building now houses a Container Store and a Best Buy).
October 31 to November 30, 2002 saw the third Art-O-Matic, in a former EPA building at 401 M Street, Southwest Washington, adjacent to Waterside Mall (the EPA building and the mall were both later demolished). At this Art-O-Matic, for the first time, the Figure Models Guild of the Washington, DC area sponsored open life drawing events. There would be live, often nude, models posing, and artists drawing. The art-going public – duly warned by signs as to the presence of live nude models – were welcome to come in and try their hand at drawing, or just observe.
The fourth Artomatic, as it was now spelled and has been spelled since, was held from November 12 through December 5, 2004 at the old Capital Children's Museum in Northeast Washington, a little north of Union Station. Though some of the newer sections of the complex were subsequently demolished as the building transitioned to its next phase, the older parts of the building remain intact, now divided into condominiums.
There was a short hiatus after the fourth Artomatic. When Artomatic did not happen in 2006, two years after the fourth, a group of art galleries in Bethesda, Maryland put on a coordinated show of artists who might have taken part in Artomatic. The galleries mounted the art for their monthly Bethesda Art Walk (held on the second Friday of each month) of January 12, 2007. Whereas every other Artomatic has been open basically to any artist who has art to hang or mount and the $60 fee, this is the only time an Artomatic event was in any way curated.
Soon after this small Artomatic event, the fifth Artomatic was held from April 13 to May 20, 2007. This was the first time Artomatic was held outside the District of Columbia. It occupied two floors of a vacated office building in Crystal City in Arlington, Virginia. The space had previously been occupied by the Patent and Trademark Office.
Artomatic returned to the District of Columbia with the sixth, held from May 9 through June 15, 2008. This time, they occupied 10 floors of Capitol Plaza I, a new – not yet completed – office building in the NoMa (North of Massachusetts Avenue) neighborhood of Northeast Washington, a block from the NoMa – Gallaudet University Metro Station (at the time, called New York Ave. - Florida Ave. - Gallaudet U).
In February 2009, Artomatic collaborated with the Pink Line Project for "Luck of the Draw: An Art and Music Experience". This event attracted over 1,500 people and was held at the Capitol Riverfront Neighborhood.
The seventh Artomatic was also the tenth anniversary event. It ran from May 29 to July 5, 2009 in Southeast Washington. Again, it occupied a brand new building, 55 M St. SE, in a development near the new Washington Nationals ballpark located right over an entrance of the Navy Yard – Ballpark Metro Station. Over 76,000 visitors attended.
The eighth Artomatic was held from May 18, 2012 through June 23 at the event's largest venue to date, 1851 S Bell Street, Arlington, VA.
The Artomatic concept has been licensed out to other places, including Ohio and Frederick MD (Fall 2011). Smaller events and partnerships have also happened over the years, including a small display in the oldest wing of Reagan National Airport in 2011 and select Artomatic artists were featured with poetry by BRASH at Studio Gallery on R St NW in 2010. Artomatic has also partnered with art groups from other cities and countries (specifically glass studios in England for the 2009 iteration) in order[according to whom?] to bring work from elsewhere into the DC art scene.
- A mysterious poet named BRASH has left poems for the exhibiting artists and many choose to display the poems with their artwork.
- In the 2007 Artomatic, Tim Tate’s artwork “The Rapture” disappeared under dramatic circumstances, and later a ransom demand (for Monopoly money) was sent to The Washington Post. The demands were met and parts of the artwork were returned by the thief, named "The Collector," along with his manifesto about society failing to value its art.
- Jessica Dawson (May 21, 1999). "Art-O-Matic for the People: What do you get when you try to gather 350 artists under one roof?". Washington City Paper.
- "Art-o-Matic: A Visual Feast For Roving Eyes". The Washington Post. October 6, 2000.
- Gopnik, Blake (November 11, 2004). "Artomatic 2004: Hanging Is Too Good for It". The Washington Post.
- "Artomatic Thinks Small in Bethesda". The Washington Post. January 11, 2007.
- "Speaking in Tongues: Part One of a Conversation with PostSecret’s Frank Warren".
- Argetsinger, Amy; Roberts, Roxanne (May 17, 2007). "Artsy High Jinks". The Washington Post.
- Artomatic home page
- Artomatic Discussion on ArtDC.org
- Artomatic@Frederick - Frederick, MD
- Artomatic419 - Ohio
- Fraser Gallery Artomatic Top 10 Show *"Artomatic Thinks Small in Bethesda", Washington Post, January 11, 2007; Page C13.
- "'Artomatic (2007)': Treasures Hiding in Plain Sight", Michael O'Sullivan, Washington Post, May 4, 2007; Page WE53
- "'Art in focus: Artomatic @ Frederick (2011)'", Michael O'Sullivan, Washington Post, October 20, 2011