“I had been catching up with a lot of artists I know,” Ryan Dattilo says. “Because of the crisis, every show and every gallery has been closed or canceled, so they’re not selling works. A lot of them also aren’t full-time artists, and those other jobs have all been put on pause, or they’ve been temporarily laid off. So I knew it was impacting a lot of them in a tough way.”
A Capitol Hill bankruptcy lawyer by day, Dattilo has become an increasingly active presence on the local art and gallery scenes in recent years, particularly through his role as a board member of the Washington Project for the Arts.
Last year, the avid art collector launched his first gallery, a pop-up that kept extending its stay across the street from Union Market, where it ultimately ran for six months.
Now, in response to COVID-19, Dattilo has revived De Novo Gallery as an online incarnation at www.denovo-gallery.com. The display includes works of art in a range of media created by a mostly local crop of 10 artists, all of whom were featured at the gallery, including Adrienne Gaither, Tom Bunnell, Alex Ebstein, Rex Delafkaran, Dean Kessmann, and Nara Park. The gallery will forego its customary cut of artwork sales.
“I just decided to give the whole thing to the artists,” Dattilo says. “My thing with the gallery, to begin with, was not about making money. It was just about having fun, supporting the artists, and getting more people into the arts. This is another opportunity to extend that.”
Dattilo expects to organize another tangible exhibit after the current circumstances end, possibly even one with artworks inspired by the pandemic.
“You can go back in history and see that big upheavals and disruptions really changed the way people relate to art,” he says. “I know that being self-quarantined for two months is going to really affect people. It’ll be interesting to see how the artists reflect that anxiety, that tension — everything that we’re all going through.”
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