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Pitch Perfect: Del Ray Artisans in Alexandria Applies for John Oliver Show Art Award

The “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” art collection. Photo Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

By Kelly MacConomy
The coronavirus pandemic has hit public museums and art spaces hard. Closures beginning in March meant lost revenue from admission and merchandising sales as well as longtime-in-the-planning, well-executed curatorial efforts that were abandoned to ghostly galleries – silent spaces, seen only by a minimal staff and a skeletal maintenance crew.

Del Ray Artisans has been fielding COVID curves since March. Moving spring exhibits to the fall or 2021, taking exhibits online, adding virtual gallery space with shop-from-home options. HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, recognizing the daunting challenges facing the art world in the time of COVID-19, has made a $10,000 award available to five public exhibition spaces willing to display the show’s growing art collection for two weeks.

John Oliver’s art collection consists of three works: two anthropomorphized rodents in a post-seduction scene, a necktie still life, and a portrait of TV talk-show personality Wendy Williams enjoying a lamb chop which was given to Last Week Tonight by the Wendy Williams Show. Each of the three pieces has a backstory familiar to viewers of the show. The award winners will also be able to designate a local food bank to receive a $10,000 donation from the show.

Del Ray Artisans has reserved a place in the gallery to display the Last Week Tonight art collection. Photo Anna Sherlock

In their application for the award the nonprofit Del Ray Artisans wrote “ Thanks to COVID-19 we are more non-profit than ever!” Grants for arts organizations have been tapped exhaustively since the pandemic put a stranglehold on most public and private funding resources.

“Del Ray Artisans has been struggling as an unassuming but exceedingly beloved community art hub throughout COVID-19, trying to find ways to keep the visual arts alive as well as our artists and patrons!”

From the obscure to the abstract~ even in photography~ the art on display at DRA is outside-the-box. Photo Kelly MacConomy

Del Ray Artisans is known for it’s diverse offerings of fine art and artisanal craftworks. It’s eclectic. Inclusive. Thought-provoking. And provocative. Right up John Oliver’s alley of wry political observations and incisive commentary.

Draftsman extraordinaire Guy Jones displays his allegorical illustrations via a variety of organic “canvas” on exhibit at both Del Ray Artisans and his Torpedo Factory Art Center studio. Photo Kelly MacConomy

Timing is all. Next month the gallery has an exhibit celebrating the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote in the USA. “ Women’s Right to Vote: One Hundred Years Since the 19th Amendment” opens November 6 and closes November 28, 2020.

“tRUTH”~ provocative protest art is pretty popular at the Del Ray Artisans Gallery. Photo Kelly MacConomy

Currently Del Ray Artisans is hosting the H*O*P*E letters of the Covid-19 US Honor Quilt Foundation. The eight-foot high letters are covered with 10 1/2 inch square hand-painted panels depicting those loved and lost or missing due to COVID as well as honoring the sacrifices of frontline workers in all fields of service.

HOPE is on display outside the DRA gallery on Mount Vernon Avenue throughout the Art on the Avenue festival. The public is invited to add their own quilt squares to the HOPE letters or submit them virtually to the online quilt gallery.

H*O*P*E comes to Alexandria at the Del Ray Artisans gallery with the Covid-19 US Honor Quilt project on display in the garden. Photo Kurt Peterson

Tweet or post on Facebook and Instagram your support for Del Ray Artisans and help bring John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight Art Collection to Alexandria! Show them Del Ray and Port City are for art lovers!
Facebook…. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
Insta….. @lastweektonight

For more information on Del Ray Artisans go to
For information on the HOPE letters and the COVID quilt go to

Kelly MacConomy

Kelly MacConomy is the Arts Editor for The Zebra Press.

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