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Make an artistic statement with a four-story Adams Morgan townhouse, where two decades of projects and renovations have created both a home and a showcase for D.C. artists.
It’s been two decades since artist Gary Fisher bought his Adams Morgan home, where he lives with his partner Jeff Heebner. His paintings adorn the walls alongside the work of his friends and up-and-coming artists, creating an inviting home with an artistically dashing twist.
Gary: [In the living room] In a house this size there are constant projects. There have been three big ones. The first was when I moved in. The second renovation was about ten years later when I redid the kitchen and the baths. I took out a pantry that was between the dining room and kitchen and enlarged the kitchen significantly, and enlarged the bedrooms upstairs, put in a walk-in closet. The third was adding a deck and doing some more work upstairs about three years ago.
Most of the art here is mine, although there is a mix here of people that I work with, people that I show and every once in awhile a piece that I pick up. I like to have not only my own work, but [the work of] friends around. One of the first painting classes I took was in the early ’80’s at the Corcoran. I was an attorney at the Interior Department with Reagan and James Watt, who were driving me crazy. I walked over to the Corcoran, and on a whim signed up for a painting class. I found that I had some talent, so [the paintings in here] have some meaning.
We don’t use this room [that often]. Sometimes when we entertain, people sit in here, but we usually use the kitchen. We’ve got our television — computers and stuff that we use are upstairs. We used to have lots of big parties. It’s a great place for that. We used to do a lot more before, but recently we’ve both been really busy and mostly we use the kitchen.
[In the dining room] This [painting] is The Chefs, which was kind of a breakthrough piece for me in my painting career. The piece was inspired by a black and white photograph in the Washington Post from the movie, Eat, Drink, Man, Woman about ten years ago. I almost never paint from photographs but there was something about the shapes in it. It ended up being what I think is a wonderful painting. [Chef and restaurateur] David Hagedorn is a good friend of mine, and he asked me if I’d paint one which used the 10 chefs who were the founders of Chef’s Best. That painting is over at David Greggory [restaurant] now.
[In the bedroom] This is our master bedroom. The television is in this big armoire that I bought in Frederick about nine years ago. We had it reconstructed to fit the television and stereo system.
The walls are several different layers of red — if you get up close you can see the under coating is a lighter color. It’s very soothing. I’m a bold color person, both in my painting as well as the way I decorate.
[In the guest bedroom] This is the deck [off the bedroom]. If you strain a bit, you can actually see the Capitol and the Washington Monument. I had a huge tree that came up and literally hid this whole thing. We had it cut down in late summer. We’ve tried growing tomatoes, and herbs do all right here, but mostly we have flowering plants. We’re going to redo this bedroom. I’m not sure what exactly we’re going to do yet.
Adams Morgan was just starting to take off when I bought here. There was a Woolworth’s around the corner, and a Cuban restaurant. None of the big fancy restaurants were here. Belmont Kitchen, which used to be down here on the corner of the street, opened the following spring. It was a great place. It was probably ’86 or ’87 that the neighborhood really started to change significantly.
[In the kitchen] We expanded this about seven years ago. It’s great for parties. We put the bartenders in here and there’s still plenty of room for people to congregate and do the kitchen thing. I wanted it to kind of look like a library and it does. I had the refrigerator [doors] made to match. Most cabinetmakers are doing that now, but at the time it was really difficult finding a refrigerator that I could put wood doors on. It’s amazing how fast technology has changed in the last 10 years.
I don’t cook as much as I used to. We generally have dinner together three or four times a week. There are such great restaurants and take-out places and it’s so easy to just grab something on the way home from the gym or work that’s already prepared. I used to cook, I used to have huge Thanksgiving dinners, but when we’re by ourselves it’s stuff we throw in the microwave.
With retirement, I have a place in Rehoboth and a condo in Miami that we’re currently redoing. One construction job at a time is about all I’m able to handle at this point. When we’re done with that, we’ll probably take the shelving out and make the guest room more modern. In addition to Jeff’s current job, he just started an executive MBA program, so he’s busy on weekends for the next year and a half so he needs someplace to be locked away. I may need some place to be locked away completely.
Does your house, condo or apartment have a story to tell? Let Environs know about it. Email firstname.lastname@example.org. To see more photographs from this week’s featured home, visit www.metroweekly.com.