Where Color is Important: The Hemphill

Craig Meklir Uncategorized

If only we all had enough money to create a shrine to our greatest love. Then we’d be a little bit like some of the smaller art galleries here in D.C., like the Hemphill.

American art dealer and curator George Hemphill opened the Hemphill gallery in 1993 and has since become known for his exhibits of modern American artists. Hemphill says he strives to find historically significant and socially relevant artwork to show the public.

See if you think he has achieved this by checking out the upcoming exhibit featuring paintings by Alma Thomas, Thomas Downing, Howard Mehring and Paul Reed.

Paul Reed, Hackensack, 1967, acrylic on canvas, 81” x 33”, Courtesy of HEMPHILL Fine Arts

All of these artists were part of the so-called Washington Color School movement of the 1950s and ’60s, a local artist movement typified by colorful abstract designs. The movement was loosely related to abstract expressionism, which was turning heads in New York at the same time with artists like Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and Willem de Kooning.

What set the D.C. set apart, according to experts in the field, is the local artists’ preference for such techniques as use of color fields, and staining or pouring diluted colors directly onto their canvases.


The Color School exhibit runs Feb. 1 through April 1, but the Hemphill has hundreds of works by dozens of artists on display year-round. A visit to this Logan Circle bastion of culture never disappoints — stop by anytime.

The Hemphill, 1515 14th St. NW, #300, Washington, D.C.; 202-234-5601; Hours: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Tuesday – Saturday, or by appointment.