History of Artomatic

Artomatic began in 1999 in the historic Manhattan Laundry building in Washington, D.C. A dozen or so artists originally toured the empty building and within a month, 350 artists had cleaned, lit, painted and presented artwork in its 100,000 square feet. Over 20,000 visitors attended the first Artomatic over six weeks.

Artomatic grew organically as buildings were made available by community developers. Music and performance of all kinds were added. In 2000, 665 artists exhibited and 200 performed at the old Hechinger’s building; more than 1,000 artists and performers took part in 2002 at the Southwest Waterfront and even more in 2004 at the former Capitol Children’s Museum in Northeast. Artomatic was held in Virginia for the first time in 2007, occupying a former Patent and Trademark Office space in Crystal City, Arlington. It drew over 40,000 visitors.

In 2008, Artomatic was held in the NoMa neighborhood in Washington, D.C., attracting a record-breaking 52,500 visitors, more than any previous Artomatic event. In all, about 1,540 individual artists took part in Artomatic 2008 — also a new high. The total included 740 visual artists — such as painters, sculptors and photographers — who showed thousands of artworks. The event also included 800 individual  performing artists, such as dancers, poets, theatre groups, drummers, comedians, fire troupes and musicians. Attractions included a full line-up of educational and children's events and an on-site tattoo parlor.

In 2009, Artomatic expanded its reach beyond its single event with the Art of Change ball, held to celebrate the 2009 inauguration, and the Luck of the Draw, a Valentine's weekend art event.

Artomatic's main 2009 event, celebrating its 10th year anniversary, was held  in D.C.'s Capitol Riverfront neighborhood attracting a new record breaking 76,000 visitors. The 10th Anniversary Artomatic was bigger than ever!  Over 1,000 visual artists exhibited and 600 performances were presented on nine floors that included visual art and four stages featuring music, dance, comedy, and theater performances. A film  theater presented video and films throughout the event and street performances featured fire dancing and drum troupes. Workshops and seminars were held all month long as well as special events including the Washington Post's Peeps diorama finalists, the Zombie Prom, Box Racing, body paint shows, and a no-holds-barred Art in Fashion Show.