Wearing beaming pearls and a flashing smile set off by a smart black suit, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser took her “fresh start” persona and proposed budget to The Economic Club of Washington, D.C. addressing several hundred business, government and philanthropic heavyweights as well as the media in the packed Atrium at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center as she approaches the 100-day mark in her nascent administration.
The crowd started building an hour before the Mayor arrived. Even hard-to-impress Akin Gump litigator and Greater Washington Board of Trade Chairman Tony Pierce noticed buzz in the air. “The Mayor really brings them out,” he said, eyeing attorneys and business leaders from across the region. The Club’s president David Rubenstein, billionaire CEO and co-founder of The Carlyle Group, hosted a 30-minute Q&A with the mayor.
Bowser said her budget is modest – only an increase of three percent – which is a lesser jump than in past years. Her proposed sales tax increase to six percent (from 5.75) is a small price to pay, she said, for the jobs and housing her plan will deliver.
Ward 8 Council candidate Eugene Kinlow, who disagrees with raising the sales tax – which will hurt low-income residents like those East of the Anacostia River hardest – worked the room, while Ward 2 Councilmember and Finance Committee Chair Jack Evans looked on, saving comments for later. D.C. Chief Financial Officer Jeffrey DeWitt, former CFO Nat Gandhi, as well as former City Administrator and GSA Administrator Dan Tangherlini and public schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson listened closely to the speech and the generally warm reception the Mayor received.
Rubenstein asked Bowser whether being Mayor was as good as she expected it to be. It's “pretty great,” she said. As Rubenstein grilled her about parking tickets, red light cameras and potholes, he speculated that she probably doesn’t have much opportunity to do ordinary things like shopping without getting grilled about … parking tickets, red light cameras and potholes.
Bowser said she still goes to “the grocery” and popped into Macy’s the other day to shop. “No one does that for me,” she said, allowing that satisfying a sudden Ben & Jerry’s fix could sometimes be more complicated now that she's mayor.
“One thing I’ve challenged my team to look at is [traffic] light synchronization,” Bowser said, drawing applause. “We need to get people through the city faster.”
“Yeah, every time I go, I’m always getting a red light,” Rubenstein said. "It would be great if you could do that."
John F. Kennedy wrote in 1963, "Malthus argued a century and a half ago that man, by using up all his available resources, would forever press on the limits of subsistence, thus condemning humanity to an indefinite future of misery and poverty. We can now begin to hope and, I believe, know that Malthus was expressing not a law of nature, but merely the limitation then of scientific and social wisdom. The truth or falsity of his prediction will depend now, with the tools we have, on our own actions, now and in the years to come." Kay Jackson has addressed this challenge in her painting for more than 25 years. It is a pleasure to welcome her, again, for her sixth exhibit at Addison/Ripley and with all the stresses of over-population, famine, aggression and climate change, what a time to showcase this work. Her eloquent description of her, ultimately, optimistic Malthusian Paintings follows:
"Malthusian" refers to the theory of over-population developed by Thomas Malthus in the early 1800's before the industrial revolution provided the means to feed a growing world population. In 1988, I had a series of vivid dreams where throngs of people replaced cars on roads and endless crowds moved as a human herd. To deal with the anxiety, I started photographing people during rush hour to use as a reference for my first "Malthusian Paintings". These canvases are crowded with moving figures, often faceless but some how connected in their shared kaleidoscopic patterns of light and shadow. Using old master's oil glazing techniques and embracing the "moving" aspect of the figures produces areas of pure abstraction with realistic passages woven into the composition. The illusion of movement is heightened when light reflects off gold and copper leaf layered between veils of paint.
The Malthusian paintings represent my first "environmental" artwork and continue to provide an outlet for my concern about pollution, food supply and how everything is interdependent and relative to the number of people on earth. As we face another Malthusian dilemma, I know the current "technological revolution" will give us the tools to not only deal with the physical challenges but also inform and include enormous numbers of people in the process---more people than Malthus ever dreamed about."
For more information about the artist and her work, images from the exhibition or to schedule an appointment to view the work, please call Ms. Romy Silverstein at 202.338.5180.
The gallery is located at 1670 Wisconsin Avenue in Upper Georgetown at the intersection of Reservoir Road.
Join Robert Brown Gallery on Saturday, February 28 from 2:00-5:00 pm for an opening and meet & greet with artist Stephen Addiss as they present Thirty Years of Discoveries Paintings, Calligraphy and Ceramics by Stephen Addiss. Learn more here.
Stephen Addiss is a painter, poet, ceramicist, musician, and Japanese art historian. Addiss was a professor for thirty-six years, retiring in 2013 from a distinguished position at the University of Richmond. He began studying calligraphy and ink painting in 1969 with Asian scholars, later studying in Japan and Taiwan. This exhibition features over thirty years of ink paintings, calligraphy and ceramics.
Robert Brown Gallery is located 1662 33rd Strret in Georgetown.