Schmetter is directing this year's Artomatic, a five-week, anything-goes art exhibit opening May 18 in a vacant office building in Crystal City. The last Artomatic drew 76,000 visitors. Find out more at artomatic.org.
What can people expect from Artomatic 2012?
They can expect a lot of art, probably more that 1,200 visual artists. It is the biggest arts festival in Washington. We also expect to have more than 700 performers come. We have workshops. We've got comedy and theatre and poetry. We have five different stages. We have a Busboys and Poets pop-up cafe -- they're a restaurant setting up a temporary cafe in our space.
What's the big idea behind Artomatic?
We take over a space, and it is a cooperative show of artists and performers. It's an unjuried, open exhibition of art and music and performance and film and fashion. Everyone can show whatever they want at Artomatic. You can see a lot of emerging artists, along with established artists. You can listen to a band or watch comedy acts. The event is free to the public. We are the best cheap date in Washington, I'll tell you that. It's an 11-floor building, and it was just recently vacated by the previous tenant, which was the Department of Defense.
The last Artomatic was in 2009. Why the delay?
We're opportunistic in terms of finding space. It's not easy to find spaces. A lot of it has to do with the real estate market and what becomes available and timing. We've done some parties and fundraisers and small art shows in the meantime.
Do you have a favorite exhibit?
When I first visited Artomatic, the thing that really struck me was just sort of the serendipity of being able to walk through these galleries and not know what was around the corner. I think it's really just surprise and discovery of something different.