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Hemphill's Move to K Street Signals Both an Evolution and a Consistency of Mission for One of DC's Favorite Galleries

By Michael McCarthy | March 18, 2020 | Lifestyle National


Linling Lu, “One Hundred Melodies of Solitude No. 134” (acrylic on canvas), 72 inches

Picking up and moving a renowned gallery space isn’t easy. Ask George Hemphill. The owner of eponymous Hemphill has been in the business of beautifying Washington’s walls and empty spaces for 27 years, and his recent move from 14th Street—where his gallery welcomed collectors for more than a decade—to K Street wasn’t done without considering the role a gallery plays in the community.

One of the warmest souls in the business, Hemphill says the art world is built by symbols and how people react to aesthetics. “And that reaction is not always with their minds, but with their hearts and bodies,” he says. “So, a symbol of accessibility to the public is important to us. The new gallery space doesn’t change our business, but it does offer a friendly presence on the street for people who live and work nearby—they can come in and be more engaged in art. The K Street space opens up opportunities for new types of interactions.”


George Hemphill

Hemphill’s business has always been anchored by the amount of consulting time he and colleague Mary Early afford anyone who walks through their doors. Hemphill and Early not only help guide collectors and corporate clients to invest in the 26 artists they represent (from Colby Caldwell to Tina Newberry), but they also spend considerable time helping guests discover local and national artists, even those on secondhand markets.

The gallery’s first show in the new space will be Baltimore artist Linling Lu, whose mesmerizing meditations and color exercises have found homes across the region, including CityCenterDC. The work of DC artist Lou Stovall will follow in late spring, with an emphasis on the artist’s 1970s posters that tell a story about the era’s cultural upheaval and the District’s quest for home rule.


A collection of Lu’s vibrant pieces in her Baltimore studio

Above all, Hemphill believes what he always has: Buying art is all part of our personal story. “If we look back at our collection—regardless of our age or how much we paid for a piece—each piece represents dates and times that were meaningful to us,” he says. Linling Lu, mid-March-May 15, 434 K St. NW

Photography by: George Hemphill photo by Greg Powers | Linling Lu images courtesy of Linling Lu and Hemphill