In Washington, there's an easy way to see some of the coolest, visionary artists in the city up close and personal. In fact, you can have them perform in your own home.
The only catch is you have to invite about 100 total strangers along for the show. The event called Little Salon has been building community around creative arts.
On a recent night, Taylor Jordan played his new music in the corner of a dark living room Video synthesis (or visuals) created by his mathematician friend was streaming to the sound on the ceiling. It was the part-time musician's first time playing solo live.
“I was really nervous when the music started," Jordan said. " I think this is a great opportunity to get more people interested in my music. And the exposure is great. Little Salon is a great place to get exposure.”
Little Salon is a series of gatherings that invigorate the popular arts scene in the nation’s capital. The monthly house parties offer a good mix of music, art, poetry, performing arts, storytelling and anything else that is creative.
Chris Maier, whose day job is creative director at an advertising agency, started the salon a year and a half ago.
“I wanted to find an event in a way to put all these different arts in the conversation with each other, and do it in a way that is accessible and available to everybody,” said Maier, whose goal is to highlight local talent.
“Quality is the only criterion. So we look for people who are at the top of their game in their craft," Maier added, "By and large we try to celebrate creative people in the city.”
On this night, a poet, a group of two modern dancers, and a clarinetist also were featured. After 10 minutes of their performance, the featured artists have an opportunity to field questions from the packed audience, made up mostly of people between the ages of 25 and 40.
'I love it'
Eliza Peabody, who attended the recent salon, said, “I love it. I think it is a wonderful way to be exposed to artists of all types that I wouldn’t ordinarily happen upon in D.C.”
Maier says 60 people came to the first Little Salon, and the number has kept growing, now to 100. It also hasn’t been difficult to find volunteers willing to open their homes to that many strangers.
Joshua Johnson offered his home for the event. “I don’t have a lot of finances to offer but being able to share my space for the evening, I hope I support new artists," said Johnson.
When the night was winding down, people still lingered inside or on the back porch, often making new friends.
"This is really about community building, community building around creative arts," Maier said, "It is sort of opening up people's imagination."
Maier hopes his idea to share creative culture will catch on in other cities.