During D.C.’s state of emergency, Washingtonians can’t linger over a latte in Dolcezza or grab a beer at Nellie’s Sports Bar. While the coronavirus pandemic keeps people at home, a local artist is selling digital illustrations that let customers admire scenes from local standbys on their walls.
Christine Vineyard, an art teacher based in Capitol Hill, was looking for a way to fill extra time after her middle school closed in March. She felt inspired to help her favorite restaurants, cafes, and bars any way she could. So she picked up her tablet and stylus and started drawing in the Procreate app, posting her art on her Instagram account.
Vineyard’s creations seem wistful during the “stay-at-home” era. They depict a streetscape of Ben’s Chili Bowl on U Street, a customer in line at Takorean, and the exterior of Union Market, all rendered in bright colors contrasted against blue skies. The proceeds from each print to hunger-fighting nonprofit DC Central Kitchen.
“Once I got to 20 to 25 illustrations, people in the area were starting to notice,” Vineyard says. “I just decided to keep going, and just see how much awareness I could raise for these businesses.”
After snagging a feature in HillRag, she then rolled out 55 illustrations of D.C. businesses and restaurants last Friday. Vineyard plans to add more each week (a single illustration takes her one to three hours), and there’s even a link on her site where customers can suggest D.C. spots for her to draw.
Vineyard originally thought maybe the proceeds from her artwork could go to each individual business, but when she originally reached out to a few, owners were preoccupied with keeping things afloat, and an art project didn’t quite fit in with all the chaos. So she decided to donate the money from sales, minus overhead costs like printing and packaging, to DC Central Kitchen.
“The idea is it’s giving money to DC Central Kitchen but it’s also just throwing traffic back to these [businesses],” Vineyard says. “Maybe people will end up being like ‘Oh, let me go directly to this place and get them a gift card, or stop and get some takeout.’”
The cause is personal as well, since Vineyard teaches at a Title 1 school, which receives federal funding to support a.high percentage of children from low-income families
“My kids, a lot of them are homeless, a lot of them are in foster care, a lot of them are not getting a regular meal,” Vineyard says. “DC Central Kitchen is taking a hard hit right now. They’re used to seeing my kids in the summer, but not every single day. I’m well aware that this is not necessarily directly going to help my students, but it could.”
Vineyard’s prints are 8 inches by 10 inches, with custom sizes available, too. Shoppers from D.C. — and as far afield as Florida and New York — often buy more than one print at a time. Through April 24, she had sold 140 pieces.
She’s contacted all 55 businesses to share her illustrations, and restaurant owners are embracing her art as well, sharing images on their social media accounts or even getting prints to hang up, like the owner at Nellie’s Sports Bar did.
Vineyard’s been selling her art online for several years, but this project is especially meaningful to her as a Washingtonian.
“Midnight is when I posted all of them, even though I knew people weren’t going to be shopping for art at midnight,” she says. “I was just scrolling through them, and kind of tearing up. This really makes me love our city, seeing all of these places together.”
“I miss them,” she continued. “I’m really just hoping when this is over that we can still enjoy these places and they’re there. I’m happy to give them exposure.”