Ninth Street. First of five panel polyptych. 1977-1980.

Ninth Street in Washington was for much of the twentieth century considered the street of sin. However, like Broadway in New York it was the street of raffish good times; burlesque nightclub life and idle good fun, but with little serious crime. Its "Mayor" was Jimmy Lake, a much-loved, Runyanesque character with a warm generous heart. Wright chose Ninth Street as the epitome of change and contradiction for his 21-foot painting of Washington street life. The FBI Building , Sunny's Surplus, Soul Train Station, Lone Star Beef House, Central Liqour, the Atlas Studio Building and porno shops all lived together harmoniously for decades until the old buildings of the street were wiped out almost overnight and a chapter of Washington street life was closed. Not only are the buildings authentic but the people in the streets were also real people whom everyone in the community knew by sight if not by name. The artist loved Ninth Street which was around the corner from his long time studio in the old LeDroit Building and this painting is his tribute to it.


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