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Michael M. Clements' ArtJamz Lets D.C. Eat, Drink & Create @ The Corcoran

By Daniel Swartz on June 27, 2010
ArtJamz founder Michael M. Clements stands surrounded by creativity in Gallery 31 of the iconic Corcoran.
ArtJamz founder Michael M. Clements stands surrounded by creativity in Gallery 31 of the iconic Corcoran.
NORTHWEST -- To say that Michael M. Clements put a lot of thought into launching ArtJamz is a dramatic understatement. Inspired by group painting nights he participated in while living in Hong Kong years ago, Michael has spent well over a year planning its launch.

Indeed, when the Corcoran Gallery of Art first volunteered the use of its popular Gallery 31 space to ArtJamz back in 2009, it came with a catch. The space wouldn't be available until the summer of 2010! And so Michael patiently waited... After all, could a more perfect setting exist than the iconic Corcoran for the launch of a new art program?

Flash forward to today and ArtJamz has just concluded its inaugural four-night run, having sold-out of tickets at every session. Spaces were purposely restricted so as to ensure a congenial atmosphere where people could get to know one another each night.

The concept behind ArtJamz is simple. A $60.00 ticket buys you access to paint brushes, acrylic paints, food, drink, and a single blank canvas. Participants then have four hours to create.

But create what exactly you might ask? Therein lies the versatility of the evening. Admitting that he's "not a big structure guy," Michael wants his guests to feel free to paint whatever they like without any predefined theme or purpose. On Saturday night, subject matter ranged from the BP oil spill to magazine topics to the desaturation of color.

And for those that didn't want to invest a full four hours in painting, there were plenty of snacks, wine, and conversation with Michael and his fiancée serving as the consummate good hosts, welcoming people, pouring drinks, fine-tuning the evening's mp3 playlist, and just ensuring that everyone was having a good time.

A fundamental premise behind ArtJamz is to let "people get their hands dirty" by doing something instead of simply observing it. "If you go out, you have the same choices: dinner, drinks at a bar or bottle service at a nightclub," said Michael. "If you want to ‘get artsy,’ you can see a play, a band, or go to an art opening; but you are always on the outside looking in. I want to get people involved."

And as Executive Editor of the upscale Washington Life Magazine, he certainly understands the desire of Washingtonians to experience the arts. ArtJamz is therefore one way through which Michael can express his own creativity while at the same time giving back something active and unique to the community that surrounds him.

We can't wait for the encore.

Tags:Corcoran Gallery of Art
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