Q&A with DC artist Rachael Bohlander

Category: Neighborhood Spotlight

Q&A with D.C. artist Rachael Bohlander

Thank you to everyone who came out on Sunday, March 28th, 2021 for the Dupont Circle BID’s socially distant Meet-and-Greet in Q Street Park! It was great to see friends, old and new alike!  

Cherry Blossom Picnic Sculpture
Child enjoying Rachael Bohlander's 'Cherry Blossom Picnic' sculpture on March 28, 2021

The Meet-and-Greet brought DC-based artist Rachael Bohalnder to the BID to talk about the Cherry Blossom Sculpture sculpture she designed and painted, “Cherry Blossom Picnic”. Attendees were able to take pictures with Ms. Bohlander and her artwork, and learn more about the inspiration behind the design. It was a fun way to celebrate Cherry Blossom Festival season! 

For those of you who weren't able to make it, the sculpture will be in the Q Street Park until May 31st. We’re counting down the days until the Cherry Blossom Tree adjacent to the sculpture blooms! 

Check out the Q&A below to learn more about local artist Rachael Bohalnder. 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am a mixed media artist and sculptor, working primarily with paint, plaster, paper and found materials. I currently split my time between DC and NYC, but DC is home for me. When I’m not in the studio, I like to explore, whether it's DC’s side streets and alleyways, or traveling to other cities or countries. You never know what you’ll discover, who you’ll meet, or what sort of ideas you might dream up while out walking. I am definitely looking forward to traveling again when it's safe!

 

Describe your connection with the DuPont Circle neighborhood.

I was so excited when I found out my blossom was going to Dupont Circle. Dupont Circle was where I lived when I first moved to DC, so many years ago. Later, I studied art at the Washington Studio School, which is just up the street on S St. I used to just sit in the park and watch everything going on if I was early for class, or maybe stop for a drink in the neighborhood on my way back.  I teach mixed media and sculpture online for the school now. To have the chance to give something back to a neighborhood I love, have such wonderful memories of, and where I studied art, and do it in a way that includes art that everyone can enjoy, is a really special thing.

What inspired you to design/paint ‘Cherry Blossom Picnic’ ?

After a winter of largely being isolated at home and indoors, I wanted to celebrate the coming of spring (and DC has the best springs!) and the opportunity for all of us to get out and enjoy time together in a safe way. A picnic in one of DC’s parks is the perfect way to do that. The shape of the blossom sculpture made it possible to paint it just like it is a picnic, where people can sit on the bench, and feel like they are right in the middle of everything. Since the blossom is in Dupont Circle’s Q Street Park, they really are right there in a park!

What materials did you use?

The sculptures are fabricated fiberglass exterior with a metal infrastructure to provide enough strength to support everyone who wants to sit on the bench. I didn’t make that part. For the painting, I used an exterior water-based latex paint on the larger blocks of color like the sky and grass. The details, such as the picnic scene and the blossoms on the trees, are done in acrylic paints. I mostly used paint brushes for the application, with the occasional fingertips and shirt sleeves.

What’s your favorite thing about the painting?

I love watching people, especially kids, interact with it. They sit down, pretend to grab a cookie off the plate, lounge on the picnic blanket. It’s just a lot of fun.

What happens to the sculpture after May 31st?

All of the sculptures will be out in their public sites until May 31st. After that, they get all spruced up and will go to auction. Anyone who is interested in purchasing a specific blossom, or who has inquiries about the auction, should contact the National Cherry Blossom Festival, or the Dupont Circle BID at info@dupontcirclebid.org, who can put them in-touch with the right person. If someone is interested in any of my artwork or commissioning a piece, they can contact me directly through my website or via email: WorksFromRAB.com or Rachael.Bohlander@gmail.com

 

Cherry Blossom Picnic in Dupont
Dupont Circle BID executive director, Colleen Hawkinson (Top Left), Artist Rachael Bohlander (Bottom Left), National Cherry Blossom Festival project manager of the Sculpture Program, Abbe Kaufmann (Top Right), and Artist of the Tenleytown cherry blossom sculpture, Elizabeth Ashe (Bottom Right).