Sunday, June 10, 2007

GMU prof and painter builds new art gallery, Hamiltonian at 14th and U

The gallery and its associated fellowship program are still in the early planning stage. Please visit the following websites for further information in the coming months.

"Picture it: The abandoned building at 14th and U turned into an art gallery where graduate art students can learn how to sell and market their art.

This idea brought to you by Paul So, physics professor at George Mason University." Washington Post Article by Amy Joyce Read it here.

also in the Washington Business Journal...

GMU prof and painter builds new art gallery

A physics professor at George Mason University is planning to open an art gallery and a nonprofit to help other artists at 14th and U streets NW. Paul So, an abstract acrylic painter in his free time, bought an historic building at 1353 U St. NW last November from Henry McCall for $1.3 million. He has submitted design plans created by Inscape Studio to D.C.'s Historic Preservation Office and received approval, but So says he won't start construction until August, after he gets his construction permits. The 2,791-square-foot gallery, situated between Republic Gardens and a wine store, will have 2,000 square feet to showcase artwork. So also plans to lease the second floor as office space and build two condominiums on top of the building.

So, who has been on a sabbatical for a year, starts teaching again in September. "Time is running out on me," he says. "I hope to get all of the organizational part done, so everything will be on track." He expects to open the gallery by spring 2008.
So's new gallery, called Hamiltonian, is named after West Hamilton, an African-American Army general who owned the building in the 1920s and ran Hamilton Printing, and William Rowan Hamilton, a well-known mathematician and physicist.
"Basically if you know the Hamilton of a certain system, you know everything," So says.

The gallery will open in a neighborhood with several other contemporary arts galleries, including Nevin Kelly Gallery, Hemphill Fine Arts, G Fine Art and Gallery Plan B. Artful teacher: Paul So teaches physics at George Mason University by day and paints abstracts in his free time. Now he plans to build an art gallery on U Street NW. So's model, however, is different from a traditional contemporary gallery. He will still charge the standard 40 to 50 percent commission to the commercial artists he shows for a month at a time, but he also plans to run a nonprofit in tandem with the commercial side to give opportunities to emerging artists. So says he'll take on 10 emerging artists for two years as "fellows." He'll bring in speakers including professors, local collectors and gallery owners who can tell the artists how to present their portfolios. "There are a lot of artists in the region," So says. "I talk to a lot of them, and they feel they need a safe house to transition to a more professional world."

So, who is originally from Hong Kong and went to high school in Hawaii, says he wishes he had that kind of help when he was a young painter. He got his Bachelor of Science degree from Harvey Mudd College and his Bachelor of Arts degree in studio arts from Scripps College in Claremont, Calif. in 1988. He moved to Greater Washington to get his doctorate in physics from the University of Maryland. At that time, So gave two art showings a year. But he says he didn't sell many of his paintings; he stopped altogether when he was writing his dissertation. So is still passionate about being involved in D.C.'s art world but says he needs help on the operational side. He'll hire a manager as well as a development manager for the nonprofit side of his business.

by Erin Killian


1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10:02 AM

    The gallery and its associated fellowship program are still in the early planning stage. Please visit the following website:

    for further information in the coming months.