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Centennial of the Everyday

Lauren Frances Adams (Faculty, Painting) and Stewart Watson stage Site-Specific Exhibition at Gadsby's Tavern

Posted 07.05.17

Centennial of the Everyday, Adams and Watson, 2017

The City of Alexandria's Office of the Arts has partnered with Baltimore-based artists Stewart Watson and Lauren Frances Adams (Faculty, Painting) for a series of site-specific, intermedia installations inspired by the history of Gadsby's Tavern Museum. Centennial of the Everyday features artistic interventions tucked in among the museum's historic exhibits located at 134 North Royal Street in Old Town Alexandria.

This project is part of the Office of the Arts' Time & Place series, which explores the intersection of contemporary art with Alexandria's rich and multifaceted history. Using research-based practices and working in a variety of media, Watson and Adams have created thought-provoking temporary works driven by the storied past of Gadsby's Tavern. The works reflects the artists' in-depth research-documented via social media-on the history of women, enslaved people, and anonymous citizens whose stories are overshadowed by other more famous historic figures from the region, such as George Washington and Robert E. Lee.

In Centennial of the Everyday, historic ephemera takes on new contexts. With furniture, stoneware, and textiles as a starting point, Watson and Adams reflect domestic material culture of the past with modern techniques. For example, in the room of the Female Stranger-an unidentified woman who died in Gadsby's City Tavern in 1816-the pair created digitally-designed muslin bedding with a traditional cameo motif that seems to fall away as the pattern continues. In the Museum's Ballroom, the artists acknowledge the original Gadsby's Ballroom, acquired in 1917 by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The woodwork now serves as a backdrop for the Met's collection of Federalist furnishings in the American Wing.

Watson and Adams seek to turn the archival into the interactive. They identified personal stories of place and family history by interviewing people like the descendants of John Gadsby, as well as Nancy Syphax, an enslaved woman owned by Gadsby in the 19th century. Also included was a Gadsby's Tavern Restaurant employee who has worked at the restaurant for two decades. In all, they collaborated with seven subjects, focusing on women and people of color. 

Centennial of the Everyday will run May 15-September 3, 2017 at Gadsby's Tavern Museum, 134 North Royal Street  Alexandria, Virginia.

For more information about open hours and special events, visit the Gadsby's Tavern Museum website:

This page was last updated on 07/26/2017.