Capitol File - - SPACE - Shaw Rhythms

Rik Free­man’s paint­ing is as close to a bi­og­ra­phy of a neigh­bor­hood as any art­work is likely to get. Shaw Rhythms (2003), a piece cre­ated for the DC Com­mis­sion on the Arts and Hu­man­i­ties, ref­er­ences the neigh­bor­hood’s name­sake, Col. Robert G. Shaw, the com­man­der of the all-black 54th Mas­sachusetts In­fantry dur­ing the Civil War; his face ap­pears in the quilted pat­tern at the cen­ter of the com­po­si­tion. The paint­ing also shows a mob of weapon-wield­ing res­i­dents from the ri­ots of the so-called “Red Sum­mer” of 1919. Cen­tral to the paint­ing is mu­sic—specif­i­cally, the city’s her­itage as a jazz des­ti­na­tion, which is harder to trace in Shaw to­day. The most prom­i­nent fig­ure is none other than DC’s fa­vorite son, Marvin Gaye. “I thought if ever the op­por­tu­nity pre­sented it­self to again put Marvin back on a piece, I would,” Free­man says. “And Shaw Rhythms did just that.” Lo­cated on Level Two, out­side of

Room 204B.

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