In October 2013, local artist Dana Ellyn embarked on one of her most ambitious projects yet -- to create a series of paintings inspired by the Cultural Tourism DC Neighborhood Heritage Trails. From the Greater U St. Area, to Mount Pleasant, Adams Morgan, and Downtown, 17œ unique Heritage Trails commemorate musicians, politicians, local landmarks, and neighborhood quirks. Ellyn will create a painting for each stop on the trails -- a visual history of Washington’s most fascinating moments.
When Ellyn arrived in DC in 1989 for her first semester at George Washington University, she didn’t know what exactly had brought her here, just that it felt right. Even after putting her first marriage and conventional law-firm career to bed to pursue her dream of painting full-time, Ellyn stayed. After twenty-five years, she can’t imagine living anywhere else -- DC is home to the painter, and her husband, fellow artist Matt Sesow.
For years Ellyn had walked past the Cultural Tourism signs that pepper the city. But one day last Fall, as was heading home with some vegan goodies, she finally looked up and started reading. She immediately realized she was on to something -- in just one sign, there were ideas for three or four paintings! A natural introvert, Ellyn has always loved a good research project and sometimes fantasizes about being locked in her studio from the outside and forced to paint for days on end. Having recently wrapped up her 31 Days in July project, she was ripe for a new endeavor. And so, as she began to look into the Heritage Trails and the multitude of anecdotes they contain, she decided to assign herself the task doing a painting for each stop. She finished five paintings in the first week. “Doing this project is like the most exciting class I’ve ever taken,” Ellyn exclaims. “Or the best book I’ve ever read!”
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