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Haute for the Holidays

EDITORIAL

CityCenterDC’s can’t-miss installation spins one holiday tradition into an outdoor art fest.

The most iconic symbol of the festive season gets a creative revamp through Haute for the Holidays, CityCenterDC’s latest must-visit art installation. As a celebration of all that is beautiful during this special time of year, we invited five local D.C.-based artists — including Maggie O’Neill, Annie Broderick, Kate Campagna, Edwin Merino and Brandon Hill — to reimagine the classic holiday tree through the lens of their individual creative perspectives.

The result? An absolutely enchanting exhibition, now on display in The Park through January 7th. From a molten gold masterpiece to a Pop Art-adjacent piece that sparks joy, these hand-crafted pieces are a snap-worthy opportunity for the whole family (holiday card photo, anyone?)

Read on as we get to know the artists behind these spectacular creations and what inspired their particular works.

THE INSTALLATION

The TREES

PICTURE 1

Aurelia
by Annie Broderick

Crafted by north Virginia-based artist Annie Broderick, “Aurelia” is based on a prestigious feminine name meaning “golden one.” True to her love of the avant garde and a hard-soft contrast, Broderick’s sculpture features fluid folds that spill and wrap around the tree base, as if liquid gold was poured out of an invisible spout, then hardened into metal.

PICTURE 2

Thank You for Being a Friend
by Maggie O’Neill

Maggie O’Neill’s over 20 years of experience lifting up the D.C. creative community came in handy while producing her latest for CityCenterDC, an exuberant take inspired by The Golden Girls. Her original pop impressionist work of art was designed to celebrate all that is good about the season (and the Fab Four): friendship, laughter, joy and silliness.

THE INSTALLATION
Big Hugs and Kisses by Brandon Hill

Big Hugs and Kisses by Brandon Hill

Brandon Hill’s multidisciplinary practice — spanning one-inch Lego sculptures to murals that wrap entire buildings — was fully explored through an homage to our communal memories around the holiday season. “It’s bringing over food, cooking in the kitchen with friends and family, clinking glasses for a toast, kids running around the house or lighting a candle each night in honor of your ancestors’ sacrifices,” Hill says.

Eucalyptus Deglupta (The Colorful Tree) by Edwin Merino

Eucalyptus Deglupta (The Colorful Tree) by Edwin Merino

After beginning his career in graffiti and street art, D.C. born and raised Edwin Merino moved to a new medium, sign painting. His unique background remains a significant influence on his work, particularly on his font-forward creation for CityCenterDC. “In a digital world, we look past letters because they have become uniform, but with sign painting, it’s good to slow down and appreciate the unique characteristics of each one,” he says.

Family Circus by Kate Campagna

Family Circus by Kate Campagna

A mixed-media artist based in D.C., Kate Campagna’s work often touches on subjects rooted in nostalgia, satire and the grotesque. Fitting then that her holiday tree is an ode to the complex layers of emotions that come with the season. “It’s important to make light in the darkest days of winter,” she says. “Perhaps this comically large party hat will keep things in perspective.”

PORTRAITS OF THE ARTISTS

MEET the ARTISTS

Christmas Trees Artists

“I hope it makes you smile. I hope you giggle and it reminds you that Christmas doesn’t have to be serious.”

— Maggie O’Neill

Get to know a little more about this quintet of accomplished makers —
you might just walk away with some holiday decorating inspiration.

Q&A
Maggie O’Neill

What kind of feelings do you hope your creation evokes?

“I hope it makes you smile. I hope you giggle and it reminds you that Christmas doesn’t have to be serious. I called it ‘Thank You for Being a Friend’ because I love the Golden Girls and what they represent and celebrate. ”

How do you approach festive decorating in your own space?

I am a maximalist in many ways in my work and my personal aesthetic. However, I don’t like to have to put up decorations and take them down, so in my personal space I am minimalist. My family has always been in the maximalist category of Christmas decor, so I get my fill when I visit them.”

Besides the obvious hues, what colors do you personally associate with the holidays?

“I love the reds and greens and the richness of the palette and tradition. But I love color and do not think it should be left out of Christmas. If you love orange, then you should have an orange tree.”

Q&A
Annie Broderick

What kind of feelings do you hope your creation evokes?

“I hope my artwork causes people to feel their own power. I pour all of my energy into my work, and the raw emotion with which I create is then held in the huge volume of folds and curves. I hope it causes people to feel their own human energy and reflect on their own internal beauty.”

Besides the obvious hues, what colors do you personally associate with the holidays? Are you a minimalist or maximalist?

“I don’t use any of the obvious hues. I combine lots of gold and rose gold with all versions of pink — hot pink, pale pink and coral! This has always been my favorite color combo, no matter the season, and when I studied art abroad in Paris, my favorite thing about the holiday season there was a massive, maximalist display of hot pink glittery hearts dangling from a department store hallway! It was so fabulous, all-encompassing, festive, happy, and unexpected.”

What celebrity’s tree would you like to design and decorate?

“I’m super interested in how fine art and fashion intersect and overlap, so working with designer fashion brands like McQueen, Gucci, Dior, and the like, designing installations for fashion celebs like Anna Wintour, and creating avant-garde anything — a tree or various other art installations — for celebs who are bright and bold like Lady Gaga, this is my dream.”

Christmas Trees Artists

Q&A
Kate Campagna

What kind of feelings do you hope your creation evokes?

“Joy and humor.”

How do you approach festive decorating in your own space? Are you a minimalist or maximalist?

“I am a maximalist in my home; any holiday flair is a bonus.”

Besides the obvious hues, what colors do you personally associate with the holidays?

“Gold, because I associate it with everything.”

What celebrity’s tree would you like to design and decorate?

“[The filmmaker] John Waters, because he is the GOAT.”

Q&A
Edwin Merino

What kind of feelings do you hope your creation evokes?

“Unity. Hopefully people think about all the things that make us similar instead of trying to focus on our differences.”

How do you approach festive decorating in your own space? Are you a minimalist or maximalist?

“Maximalist. Go big or go home.”

What celebrity’s tree would you like to design and decorate?

“Jim Carrey, a key character in most people’s childhood memories, mine included. It would be cool to work for someone so talented who doesn’t take themselves too seriously.”

Q&A
Brandon Hill

What kind of feelings do you hope your creation evokes?

“Public art is the best. People don’t normally know how these things are done so to show your process step by step is great.”

How do you approach festive decorating in your own space? Are you a minimalist or maximalist?

“More of a maximalist. Muralists, like me, change the feel of spaces. I try not to put too much art work up at my own home so there is an easy way to see what’s important.”

What celebrity’s tree would you like to design and decorate?

“Tyler the Creator. Would be cool to think through his quotes, lyrics, and style to distill out some cool color palettes and tree ornaments.”

process

Artists at work

Crafting these incredible holiday sculptures wasn’t done from the comfort of a cozy studio. No, these CityCenterDC-exclusive pieces were made right in The Park, where each artist was exposed to the elements, bringing new, unexpected challenges to the creation process. “Building [my piece] outside was both thrilling and difficult!” says Broderick who balanced on a tall ladder in wet, cold weather for a total of 68 hours of work. Forty-eight yards of upholstery fabric, 78 yards of aluminum screen, plus nearly 300 cans of liquid rubber and spray paint later, she called it “a whole body, mind, and soul experience” that was entirely fulfilling.

Others, like Merino and Hill, found the provided sculpture itself — a uniquely curved canvas — to be its own singular undertaking. “I paint unconventional things but getting a straight line to not look curved was challenging,” says Merino. Adds Hill, “curved objects like a ball don’t have a front or a back, per se. For this reason, you have to treat every view as a ‘front.’” For him, it was an opportunity to contend with each angle as the piece’s “best side”. We’d say, mission accomplished.

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