Don’t confuse Philippa Hughes, the creator of The Pinkline Project, with an art insider. “I’m not,” she said. “And I don’t want to be. I hope people don’t view me that way!” This may sound ironic coming from a woman whose name is recognizable to just about everyone in DC’s creative community, but it makes sense when you realize what it is Philippa does.
“Basically, Pinkline’s become a central database or resource of information about the DC art scene to show people that there’s amazing stuff and amazing people doing cool things here,” she said. As a former lawyer herself, she knows it’s not always easy to see the less bureaucratic side of DC. “I basically want to change that,” she said. “I’m kind of a cheerleader for the art scene.”
And so far, her efforts seem to be working, as more and more arts organizations seek out Pinkline to get its stamp of approval on their events. Most recently, Pinkline’s been integral in organizing the events for ZestFest, a 10-day festival currently taking over the street corners of DC’s NOMA neighborhood. Simultaneously, Pinkline has also been organizing an event called Date Night at the American Dance Institute, which not only includes excellent dance performances, but cheese and wine. (I’m sold.) So, what are the origins of Pinkline and where’s it all headed? Let’s find out:
SCOUT: When did Pinkline start?
PHILIPPA: Officially, in January 2008, but I was doing things just as me before that, like I had a blog and I was doing little events. But Pinkline didn’t incorporated until 2008, and it wasn’t really until 2009 that things started to take off. Now it’s not just a blog, but we help organize events and do other promotions.
SCOUT: Have you sensed a change in DC’s scene since Pinkline came into its own?
PHILIPPA: Totally. Over three years ago there was this art fair called Art DC. It wasn’t organized by someone in the city, but by some corporation somewhere and it was kind of a flop. I think it was because the scene wasn’t developed enough. This time, there’s (e)merge, and all this stuff happening around it, like Submerge and But Is It Art? All this stuff popped up around it as a result. In the first one, no one did anything as a satellite or alternative to it. And every awesome art fair in the worldArt Basel, the Armory Show in New Yorkthey always have satellite fairs. It’s a sign of success. That’s a sign that things are happening here.
SCOUT: So, I’m assuming your presence has been requested at all of those events. How are you not an art insider?
PHILLIPA: I don’t want to be squarely in the art world. I want to be outside of it to open the door for others. I’m at the door myself. I’m constantly learning every single day and I want people to learn with me.
SCOUT: So, I take it you’re not an artist?
PHILIPPA: No, no, no. I’m not an artist at all. I took some art history classes when I was in college. I’ve collected art since I was in high school, though. I guess I identify with that aspect of the art world the most. But I still feel like I’m constantly learning myself, so I don’t really like when people come to me and ask, ‘What should I buy?’ I mean, here’s what I like, but it doesn’t mean that’s what you should like. You should like what you like.
SCOUT: But, OK. Say someone who wants to learn about art and wants to start collecting themselves, but they don’t have a background, etc. They don’t even know where to buy art that’s not a billion dollars outside of, say, the bins at Ikea. Art can be intimidating, where do they start?
PHILIPPA: I think before you buy art, you should look at it. And look at galleries at every level, so you can get an idea about what’s out there. Like, The Fridge. It’s one of the less expensive galleries, but they’re really good. But also go to things like Conner Contemporary, which is more expensive because you want to know the range, you want to hone your eye to figure out what you like. Then you’ll figure out what’s good. But mainly you have to go look. Go to shows.
SCOUT: Which is kind of where Pinkline steps in, letting the public know what’s where and all of that. So, here’s the big question: where will Pinkline be in the future?
PHILIPPA: You know, I have no idea. When I started doing all this stuff I never imagined that we’d be here. This has gone beyond my wildest dreams. I’m excited to see where it goes.
And we’re just as excited. Pinkline’s proven an invaluable resource for this writer, as well as the Scoutmob family. Follow Philippa and Pinkline along with us via the organizations Twitter and Facebook pages. Better yet, we’ll catch you at ZestFest, Date Night at ADI or at one of DC’s many upcoming cool art shows Pinkline will keep us informed about.