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Letter from the National First Vice President Sheila M. Byrnes, Winter 2022

Pen Arts Bursting with Activity


Sheila M ByrnesNational President Wofford has asked me to share my experiences while hosting two special events at Pen Arts. Under the president’s guidance, the Pen Arts Building and the Gallery have been able to open and have hosted events under limited capacity guidelines and following all COVID-19 restrictions.

On Sept. 24, 50 young members of the Argentinian community held an educational event and reception for Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, an Argentine economist and mayor of Buenos Aires. Several attendees were architects and were very interested in hearing the history and seeing the architecture of our beautiful Pen Arts Building.

The following night, Art All Night — DC, an annual festival that celebrates visual and performing arts, showcased 16 different corridors in D.C. The festival, which took place in both indoor and outdoor public and private spaces, included painting, photography, sculpture, crafts, fashion, music, dance, theater, film, and poetry.

Pen Arts Gallery was one of 14 venues that took part in Art All Night in Dupont Circle from 6 p.m. to midnight. Local galleries, embassies, and Dupont Circle Park celebrated with visual and performing arts.

Gallery scene
Visitors to Pen Arts Gallery during Art All Night in September.

COVID protocols were strictly enforced as 333 people visited the Pen Arts Gallery. The exhibit showcased “Feelin’ His Music” watercolor by Susan Lynn Cotton, the first-place Vinnie Ream art competition award winner. Ten other finalist paintings entered into the Vinnie Ream contest were also on display.

Featured as well were the gold and silver medal winning works of art and prose from the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers, a nonprofit agency cooperating with Scholastic in New York City. Pen Arts Gallery was one of four national venues selected by the organization to exhibit these winning works from the 2021 Scholastic Art & Writing competition. Now in its 98th year, the awards are the nation’s longest-running and most prestigious scholarship and recognition program for young artists and writers in grades 7–12.

Rounding out the three-pronged exhibition was art from Olga O’Hagan, a local portrait artist, presenting her work for the first time. Attendees who lingered and studied the diverse exhibit stated that it was one of the best in Dupont Circle.

President Evelyn B. Wofford’s Postscript

Since First Vice President Byrnes was here in September, the League has hosted two other important events in its outstanding Pen Arts building.

In October, the Washington Opera Society presented a masquerade party and performance with Rachel Blaustein, soprano with the New York City Opera; and Michael Butler, tenor from Washington, D.C. The concert was well attended and the costumes and masks were extraordinary. The WOS required that all attendees present proof of vaccination so that COVID masks could be worn at the discretion of the individual and food and beverages could be easily consumed.

audience seated in parlor for event
“Aging with Edge” invitation-only event in the Pen Arts parlor in November.

In November, the parlor (I still call it the living room) of Pen Arts was the setting for an invitation-only, salon-style presentation by some of the participants in “Aging with Edge,” a project highlighting a paradigm shift from looking young to being timeless. Four of the original 12 participants of the project, all between the ages of 63 and 76 and from different ethnic backgrounds, spoke to their choice of aging on their own terms and engaged in conversation with audience members. It was a lively Sunday afternoon.

How wonderful it is to finally be able to have again such wonderful events!


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