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State of the Arts

BY Alice Cisternino, Michael McCarthy and Lauren Staehle | December 1, 2016 | Feature Features National

DC's current art scene goes beyond the colossal and celebrated spaces. In fact, it's as dynamic as the city itself. Meet the innovative movers and players—and the venues that host their works—that paint a particularly beautiful picture for art lovers of all stripes.
ROOMFUL OF HUES Maggie O'Neill's Swatchroom is responsible for everything from enormous installations to restaurant designs.

The Change Artist
Maggie O’Neill’s business acumen equals her talent.

Maggie O’Neill must be one of the most entrepreneurial artists in America. While she possesses formal art school bona fides, she figured out a long time ago that art can be both a lucrative and gorgeous commodity. One of the creators of Swatchroom—a design, art and fabrication firm responsible for interior spaces like Teddy & The Bully Bar and custom art curation—O’Neill believes in the happy marriage of art and business. “I’ve worked very hard to ensure that my passion could become my profession,” she says. One glittering example of her client work is this month’s holiday installation called Dream Closet at CityCenterDC. The work—stretching 560 feet overhead for three blocks—features 250 ornaments cut from 80 sheets of metal. “I’m not sure there’s an experiential piece of art of this size, scale and sheer magnitude anywhere else in DC,” she says. “This project really personifies the creative installations that we’re producing through Swatchroom.” Lest anyone forget, O’Neill is an accomplished painter, and her work graces an increasing number of private residences and public areas around town. In other words, she hasn’t forgotten the arts community and the creative process—particularly women. Her launch of Superfierce this fall proves the point. The nonprofit helps connect and motivate female artists through mentorships. “My goal was to create a supportive and judgment-free environment for female artists to come together, learn how to run a business and give back to female-focused charities in their communities,” she says. Ten years from now, instead of one Swatchroom, DC might have hundreds. It’s the O’Neill factor at work.

Photography Courtesy Of: