Gaia mural brings controversy to Barracks Row

The proposed location for the mural is on the side of Tash, a restaurant in the 500 block of 8th St., SE. Photo: YouTube

An acclaimed artist from Baltimore is set to bring his unique style to Capitol Hill, painting a giant mural on the side of a building on Barracks Row. He’s done the same in other D.C. neighborhoods, but a few nearby residents are unhappy with this new artwork.

Gaia, a 25-year-old street artist, has turned bricks and mortar into works of art across the United States and around the world.

“Yes, it’s beautiful,” says Donna McLean.

He’s also brought his provocative style to Washington, most recently outside the restaurant Smith Commons on H Street.

“Oh it’s nice. I like it. I don’t even know what it is,” says Tyrone Chase.

“It’s different. I mean, it definitely adds some color to the street,” says Allison Korotkin.

Gaia will soon turn his attention to a new painting – Barracks Row.

“I think it would be a cool feature for the neighborhood,” says Conor Harrington.

The proposed location for the mural is on the side of Tash, a restaurant in the 500 block of 8th St., SE.

“He’s done very good. He’s very good and the art so far he has done has been excellent. He has done an excellent job,” says restaurant owner Nari Modanlou.

Modanlou’s wife is opening a second restaurant, Nooshi Sushi, on the second level of the building.

“The woman represented is an Asian woman and the fish because it’s a sushi place so that kind of represents Nooshi,” says Modanlou.

But as mock-ups of the mural were released, some residents criticized it.

“I don’t particularly like it,” says one woman. “In my bathroom I can see everything, you know, the whole bit.”

One woman who declined to speak on camera expressed frustration that such modern artwork is OK but the neighborhood’s historic designation limits the type of windows or paneling she can install on her house.

Another anonymous woman called the mural “atrocious.”

Others are indifferent.

“People who are looking at it every day don’t like it, then that’s a legitimate complaint,” says Alan Dynerman.

But the local ANC commissioner says most residents love the concept and there are no restrictions are exterior paint colors, so the artist can begin his work.