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Spending Twenty Minutes At Monroe Street Market

D.C. is filled with visually exciting public spaces. To get an idea of how people are using these spaces, Curbed writers are spending twenty minutes in a given location and taking note of what they see. Want to nominate a place for this series? Hit up our tipline. On Saturday, Curbed DC contributor Danielle Cralle spent 2:30 p.m.-2:50 p.m. at the Earth Day Celebration at Monroe Street Market.

2:30 p.m. — I walk up to the Monroe Street Market Earth Day Celebration. It's sunny and the air is calm. A blogger from Pich & Roor asks to take a picture of my outfit. Street style! For two seconds, I felt kind of cool.

2:32 p.m. — And I'm done. I walk past by models on pedestals, apparently they're modeling clothes from the Goodwill. That's a nice touch. The attendance for the festival is sparse. The walkway that houses the festival offers the usual food trucks and pop-up shops, but what's really cool is the amount of art studios that line the bottom of the apartment buildings. The place is littered with them.

2:33 p.m. — I walk into one of them and I'm face-to-face with abstract art and cool '80s style paintings of people like Fab 5 Freddy. I walk in and begin to talk to the artist. He mentions that the studios were built in September. Who knew? The artist, Cedric, says that his artwork was inspired by the New York club scene in the '80s. Makes sense. His whole collection, everything from the colors and the shapes, reminds me of the '80s. It looks like a Robert Palmer video, but it works.

2:37 p.m. — I stop by a letterpress studio. For some reason, I absolutely love letterpress. The postcards that the artist has on display are pretty dope. There's one that says, "Roll with the Punches" and the words seem to pop off the page, almost accentuating their meaning. It's more design than words, or maybe it's both. Did I mention that I love letterpress?

2:39 p.m. — I almost walk past a leather maker's studio, but a brightly colored photograph catches my eye. I walk in and I'm immediately greeted by a friendly woman. The soft leather covers, wallets and clutches are all handmade by her and the pictures on the wall are by her husband, who's a geographer. Bright flowers and food adorn the walls, as well as pictures of the cultures and countries they've seen throughout their travels. It's an adventurers' life.

2:42 p.m. — The conversation shifts to the actual space. She too, seems excited about the studios and like Cedric she expresses her hope that more and more people find out about them. More than anything, artists need space and it's becoming apparent just how much these artists appreciate having the space to create. The woman goes on to tell me that before she got a studio at Monroe Street Market all of her leatherwork was in her living room.

2:45 p.m. — Studio 21 might be the best yet. They have free arts and crafts every Saturday, on Friday they offer free salsa dancing and on Thursday there's free live music, mainly jazz. The inside of the studio is an open space and it could function as anything from a yoga space to a dance studio to an open mic night.

2:47 p.m. — I walk out of that studio, and wander across the way to a sculpting studio. I immediately smell wood. To my left is a wooden torso of a woman. There's no face but she seems sad all the same. The artist's husband tells me that his wife sculpts using marble, bronze and wood. The best part about the studios is being able to see artists in their workspace. It turns it into something that's less display and more collective creative working, and that energy becomes contagious.

2:49 p.m. — The last stop is The Orange Cow for some ice cream. Yay!