First “Street Scenes” Project—“Art Not Ads”—To Open September 15
With Mobile Billboards Displaying Art and Poetry Throughout Washington

September 6, 2006

Contact: Welmoed Laanstra
301-270-4648, 301-651-8275

WASHINGTON, DC – Art Not Ads, the premier project of an ambitious, new public arts program, will launch on September 15, 2006, as mobile billboard trucks featuring painting, video and poetry take to the streets of Washington and the surrounding areas.

Art Not Ads is the opening salvo of Street Scenes: Projects for DC, which has been established by local independent art curators to mount temporary public art interventions.

Art not Ads—which was created in collaboration with the leading art galleries of Washington--will showcase the works of prominent artists and writers on mobile billboards that will drive throughout Washington from Friday, September 15, through Sunday, September 17, 2006. The mobile billboards will also be on public display at fixed locations—including, on September 16, at Arts on Foot, the downtown arts festival (noon until 4 pm), and the 14th Street art corridor (6 pm until 8 pm).

The mobile billboards will be outfitted with banners and high-resolution video displays that will showcase painting, drawings, video art and poetry from internationally known artists and poets, as well as local artists and writers. Participating artists include Sherman Alexi, Colby Caldwell, Lucille Clifton, Kathryn Cornelius, Joy Harjo, June Jordan, Maggie Michael, E. Ethelbert Miller, Brandon Morse, Kim Schoenstadt, Jose Ruiz, Reetika Vazirani and Ian Whitmore

The three mobile billboard trucks will cruise around the Washington metropolitan area from midday until midnight, and make stops at various locations.

"By placing art on mobile billboards, where usually you’d see ads, the project will bring innovative art to thousands of people," says Welmoed Laanstra, one of the exhibit's curators. "The aim is to create a public experience. We’ll give the residents, workers and tourists of Washington at least a fleeting glimpse of art—of a painting, a video, a poem—and perhaps for a moment they will think about words or images in a different way. And perhaps it will be refreshing for them to have their day interrupted by not another ad for another sitcom but by a couple lines of poetry or an engaging image.”

In an essay for the project, Nora Halpern, co-curator of the project, observes,

Washington is rich in its cultural institutions. But given the long history and structure of these organizations, there can be an inherent inflexibility when it comes to mission and form. Curators need to work outside of these institutional systems and strip the walls away from exhibitions and collections--to consider the entire city as a gallery space. Street Scenes seeks to broaden the viewer’s sense of a museum, a library or a performance space and to reinforce the thought that “all the world’s a stage”—or, in this case, a performance, a poem, an artwork.

Art not Ads is being curated by Nora Halpern, Welmoed Laanstra and E. Ethelbert Miller. Nora Halpern is an independent curator and a Vice President for Leadership Advancement at Americans for the Arts. Welmoed Laanstra, an independent art curator, was the curator and organizer of Found Sound, a public art program that last year presented sound art in sound booths placed on sidewalks across Washington. Found Sound was the first collaboration for Nora Halpern and Welmoed Laanstra. E. Ethelbert Miller is a well-known poet and chairman of the board of the Institute for Policy Studies.

Street Scenes: Project for DC—curated by Nora Halpern and Welmoed Laanstra, and organized by Lisa Kolker and Derya Samadi—was created this year to mount temporary public art interventions within the Washington metropolitan area.

Art Not Ads has been made possible by the support of the D.C. Commission on the Arts & Humanities, Downtown BID, the Public Arts Trust of Montgomery County, Arlington Cultural Affairs, the Stewart R. Mott Charitable Trust, Chrome Digital Imaging and Photography, and others. Donations are being made through Provisions Library. Legal Counsel was provided by Derya Samadi.

For more information on Art Not Ads or Street Scenes, contact Welmoed Laanstra at 301-270-4648 or 301-651-8275 or Or go to the website at

For more information on Provisions Library, contact Don Russell at 202-299-0460 or or visit their website at