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Artomatic is a multi-week, multimedia arts event held in the Washington, D.C. area. It has been held since 1999 up to the present at intervals from one to three years, depending upon the availability of a site. The non-juried event provides a forum for artists of all types (visual, performance, and literary) and abilities (from novice to professional). There are also arts education and professional development workshops and discussions.


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 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.[1] 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.[2] 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.[3]

October 31 to November 30, 2002 saw the third Art-O-Matic,[4][5] 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, D.C., area sponsored open life drawing events. There would be live, often nude, models posing, and artists drawing.

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.[6] The Washington Post art critic, Blake Gopnik, wrote a review of the show labeling the majority of the work mediocre or worse, and decrying the waste of money and effort that could have gone to worthwhile, professional arts activities in DC.[7]

The fifth Artomatic was held from April 13 to May 20, 2007.[8] 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 neighborhood.[9]

In February 2009, Artomatic collaborated with the Pink Line Project for "Luck of the Draw: An Art and Music Experience"[permanent dead link]. 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[10] in Southeast Washington.[11] It occupied a brand new building, 55 M Street SE, in a development near the new Washington Nationals ballpark located right over an entrance of the Navy Yard Metro Station. Over 76,000 visitors attended.

The eighth Artomatic was held from May 18 to June 23, 2012, in Crystal City, Virginia.[12] It was held in a 320,000-square-foot (30,000 m2) vacant office building, the event's largest space ever.[13]

The ninth Artomatic was held in New Carrollton, Maryland, from October 30 to December 12, 2015.[14]

The tenth Artomatic was held at the Montgomery County, Maryland Potomac Park development in November, 2016.[15]

The eleventh Artomatic returned to Crystal City, Virginia running from March 24 to May 6, 2017.[16]

Licensed events and partnerships[edit]

The Artomatic concept has been licensed out to other places, including Frederick, Maryland, in October and November 2011,[17] and Toledo, Ohio, in April 2015.[18]

Smaller events and partnerships have also happened over the years, including a small display in the oldest wing of National Airport in 2011 and select Artomatic artists were featured with poetry by BRASH at Studio Gallery on R St NW in 2010.

In 2007, 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 of January 12, 2007.[19] 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.

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.

Notable artists[edit]

  • Frank Warren's PostSecret project began at Artomatic 2004.[20]
  • 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.[21]


  1. ^ 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. Archived from the original on September 1, 2012. 
  2. ^ "Art-o-Matic: A Visual Feast For Roving Eyes". The Washington Post. October 6, 2000. 
  3. ^ Miller, Nicole M. (September 30, 2000). "Putting It Together— That's What Counts: Art-O-Matic Creates A Collage of Local Visions". The Washington Post. p. C3. 
  4. ^ Dawson, Jessica (November 17, 2002). "Art-O-Matic: Crammed With Stuff & Shtick". The Washington Post. p. G5. 
  5. ^ Godfrey, Sarah (October 25, 2002). "Washington Art-O-Matic 2002". Washington City Paper. 
  6. ^ O'Sullivan, Michael (November 19, 2004). "Artomatic: Keep Your Eyes Open". The Washington Post. p. WW54. 
  7. ^ Gopnik, Blake (November 11, 2004). "Artomatic 2004: Hanging Is Too Good for It". The Washington Post. 
  8. ^ O'Sullivan, Michael (May 4, 2007). "'Artomatic': Treasures Hiding in Plain Sight". The Washington Post. p. WW53. 
  9. ^ "Artomatic: A Universe Unto Itself". The Washington Post. May 16, 2008. p. C11. 
  10. ^ Rand, Kelly (May 29, 2009). "Artomatic Opens Today". DCist. Archived from the original on June 11, 2009. 
  11. ^ O'Sullivan, Michael (June 5, 2009). "Artomatic '09: Survival Tips From an Expert". The Washington Post. p. T46. 
  12. ^ Jenkins, Mark (May 25, 2012). "At Artomatic, there's a little bit of everything". The Washington Post. p. C8. 
  13. ^ Jenkins, Mark (January 21, 2012). "Bigger Artomatic to grace Crystal City". The Washington Post. p. C2. 
  14. ^ Harris, Hamil R. (November 12, 2015). "An extended exhibition in Pr. George's". The Washington Post. p. T16. 
  15. ^ Mitti Hicks (November 1, 2016). "Artomatic 2016 Coming to Park Potomac for the First Time". 
  16. ^ "Artomatic Returns to Crystal City in Spring 2017". November 30, 2016. 
  17. ^ O'Sullivan, Michael (October 21, 2011). "Artomatic sets up shop in Frederick". The Washington Post. p. WW20. 
  18. ^ Lane, Tahree (April 9, 2015). "Artomatic 419! kicks off on Saturday". The Blade. Toledo, Ohio. p. W22. 
  19. ^ "Artomatic Thinks Small in Bethesda". The Washington Post. January 11, 2007. 
  20. ^ "Speaking in Tongues: Part One of a Conversation with PostSecret's Frank Warren". 
  21. ^ Argetsinger, Amy; Roberts, Roxanne (May 17, 2007). "Artsy High Jinks". The Washington Post. 

External links[edit]