9 Emerging Contemporary Artists From Washington, D.C. to Know

Mural by No Kings Collective | Courtesy of No Kings Collective
Mural by No Kings Collective | Courtesy of No Kings Collective

Washington, D.C. may be most famously associated with politics and lawyers, but there is also a huge community of artists of all sorts. They provoke thought, discussion, or are just plain fun sometimes with their inventive concepts and creations. Read on to find out what the rising stars in D.C.’s artisitic community do.


Cita Sadeli, the artist better known as Chelove is no newcomer to D.C. She is behind a number of fantastic murals around the city, and is known for combining her artistic skills with her internet savvy and knowledge, even incorporating gifs into her art. Chelove creates poster art in public spaces that are discussion-worthy, straddling the artistic with the illustrative and the interactive. Her work can also be spotted in restaurants around town – La Puerta Verde has a series of murals by Chelove.

CheLove | Courtesy of Chelove

Hernan Gigena

A native of Argentina, when Hernan Gigena moved to D.C., his innovative graphic and multimedia designs done for the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank gave him recognition. However, his work with masking tape, jewelry, and scultptures is what got the local community interested. His colorful and whimsical work has been displayed in various exhibitions in the city, and is completely eye catching.

Hernan Gigena | Courtesy of Hernan Gigena

Dan Gray

Dan Gray is a visual artist who uses geometry and precision in his sculptures, turning simple visual planes into stunning designs. He uses verticals, horizontals, and spirals along with pops of color to transform everyday objects into works of art. He is also an adept painter and does watercolor, oil, acrylic, and print as well. Additionally, he also makes custom furniture – his modern, minimalist designs are simple and precise.

Dan Gray | Courtesy of Dan Gray

Kelly Towles

Kelly Towles is the man behind a lot of the incredible street murals that make D.C. streets more vibrant. He is best known for his colorful murals across the city, but does also occasionally do other visual art, such as light projections and other interactive pieces where the viewers engage as well.

Kelly Towles | Courtesy of Kelly Towles

Lisa Marie Thalhammer

Lisa Marie Thalhammer is known for her portraits, paintings, and public murals representing female empowerment and the modern woman. Thalhammer has exhibited her feminist, large-scale works at several galleries and places in Washington D.C. Her portraits are powerful and striking, and she is known to involve the community in her art.

Lisa Marie Thalhammer | Courtesy of Lisa Marie Thalhammer

J.D. Deardourff

J.D. Deardourff’s work is based on comic book art – with exaggeration, energy, sequential images, and lots of artificial color. This results in imagery that is unexpected and unpredictable, abstract and intriguing. He designs screen prints, graphics (for items such as snowboards), and exhibits in many city locations. His work can also be seen in the Chinatown location of Honeygrow, or one of the new fleet of recycling trucks that the D.C. Department of Public Works uses.

JD's work at Honeygrow | Courtesy of JD Deardourff

Martin Swift

Martin Swift is an illustrator and painter whose work is an amalgamation of contemporary figurative realism and absurdist narrative. He uses oil paintings, pen, and ink drawings to investigate ideas of sexuality, gender, and science fiction.

Martin Swift's "Bellum Sacrum" | Courtesy of Martin Swift

No Kings Collective

Founded as an artist collective, Brandon Hill and Peter Chang are a duo of versatile creatives who run a design-build studio, creative agency, and events production company all rolled into one. They’ve curated and popped up some of the best exhibitions in the city, created multimedia performance art spanning multiple floors, and hold some of the best artistic and creative installations in D.C.

No Kings Collective's go-Go murals at The Colonel, DC | Courtesy of No Kings Collective

Jordann Wine

Jordann Wine’s drawings and paintings stem from a fascination with sacred geometry and the natural beauty of the planet. She works with elemental shapes and repetition, which is a process that is tedious but meditative and produces an end result that is intriguing. Her work combines repetitive shapes, reflective surfaces, glitter, and color, and lends itself well to large and small spaces alike.

Jordann Wine | Courtesy of Jordann Wine

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