Category Archives: Art & Culture

Collections Highlight: Joy McLean Bosfield Papers

A page from Scrapbook II, 1945-1985. Joy McLean Bosfield Papers, Anacostia Community Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution, gift of Joy McLean Bosfield.

Joy McLean Bosfield (1924-1991) was a singer, musical director, actress, and musical instructor who performed throughout the United States, Europe, and the Middle East from the 1940s to the 1980s.  Her papers in the Anacostia Community Museum Archives, documents Ms. McLean Bosfield’s professional career through photographs, correspondence, programs, and scrapbooks.

Joy was born on January 27, 1924 to John and Florence Mearimore.  Her mother, an immigrant from Demerara, Guiana (now part of Guyana), married McLean’s father, a prominent New York businessman, in March of 1923 in New Jersey.  Joy lived in Paramus, New Jersey until 1940, when she graduated from Ridgewood High School.  During that same year Bosfield was accepted to the prestigious Hunter College, in New York.

On February 26, 1945, McLean Bosfield performed her first recital at St. Martin’s Little Theatre. Three years later in 1948, McLean married Charles McLean, who was originally from British Guyana, and the couple moved to England.  She began performing in Europe in the early 1950s, singing soprano leads for productions for the BBC, British churches, and English musical plays. While in London, an American production of Porgy and Bess used her talents during their international tours as a rehearsal accompanist, vocal role coach, and assistant to the musical director.

After returning to the United States in the mid-1950s, Bosfield continue her career as a concert artist. In 1963 she moved to Washington, DC, where she became musical director of John Wesley AME Zion Church. She also worked for the Frederick Wilkerson Studio of Voice as a vocal coach, and managed the studio after the death of Wilkerson until the 1980s.

Retiring and moving to Chapala, Mexico in 1985, Bosfield participated in community theater productions and other community functions there, until her death on April 4, 1999.

Do you want to learn more about Joy McLean Bosfield’s long and distinguished career?  You can by helping transcribe her two fragile scrapbooks in the Smithsonian Transcription Center.

Joy McLean Bosfield Scrapbook I, 1923-1964

Joy McLean Bosfield Scrapbook II, 1945-1985


Women Photographers of Washington Presentation at the Anacostia Community Museum

The Anacostia Community Museum seeks to be a gathering place for important conversations pertaining to urban communities. We devise our public programming and community forums with this goal in mind.  This Sunday, September 18, we were pleased to present the work of two local photographers, Becky Harlan and Gabriela Bulisova, both members of the 501C3 non-profit, Women Photojournalists of Washington.  Harlan and Bulisova have both been working for many years on the projects they presented.

Women Photojournalist of Washington member Becky Harlan presents her work on the Anacostia River to a full house at the Anacostia Community Museum on Sunday September 18, 2016.
WPOW Member Becky Harlan shares work from her project on the Anacostia River.

Harlan’s project “D.C.’s Anacostia River” looks at the history of the Anacostia, from fertile native American fishing ground, to its status as a polluted river, the river keepers who take it upon themselves to maintain a better tributary, and the communities that have formed around the river. Below is a frame taken from her project, more work can be seen on her website here:

Photographer Becky Harlan's work on the Anacostia River. Here a clean-up crew at Kennilworth Aquatic Gardens.
Photographer Becky Harlan’s work on the Anacostia River. Here a clean-up crew at Kennilworth Aquatic Gardens.

Gabriela Bulisova’s work Inside Outside and Convictions examines the lives of returning citizens, the formerly incarcerated, and the families left behind.  According to the International Center for Prison Studies, the United States has the largest percentage of incarcerated people in its population in the world.  Bulisova spent time getting to know returning citizen groups and the families of the incarcerated, making still photographs and short movies to record their experiences.  She shared with us several short films which are accessible below and by going to Bulisova’s website here.

Photographer Gabriela Bulisova shares her work on returning citizens in Washington, DC at the Anacostia Community Museum Sunday September 18, 2016.

The discussion following the presentations was informed by the presence of several of the returning citizens with whom Bulisova has worked on her projects.  They spoke to the administrative limbo many incarcerated DC citizens find themselves in because they are beholden to the laws of the federal system, even as in many states, sentences for many crimes, especially non-violent ones are being commuted or cut short.  Because DC is not a state, prisoners find themselves trapped in a federal purgatory where  they are literally stateless citizens.

The opportunity to hear an artist discuss her work will always further your understanding of the project.  We are pleased at the Anacostia Community Museum to bring these conversations to you and hope you will join us in adding your voice to our community.

Urban Waterways Newsletter

Issue 1 Reclaiming the Edge

Two worlds meet on the Anacostia
Two worlds meet on the Anacostia River, Yellow Cat Productions, Inc.

Originally published in the summer of 2013, this first issue of the Urban Waterways newsletter introduces the reader to the various communities and waterways which make up our network from the perspectives of those who are playing a role in their revitalization.   Urban Waterways Newsletter Issue 1


Issue 2 Water and Faith

Student volunteers at Kawainui Marsh Photo: Ahahui Malama i ka Lokahi
Student volunteers at Kawainui Marsh
Photo: Ahahui Malama i ka Lokahi

This issue explores our obligation to the natural world through the lens of our spiritual beliefs. Do we have dominion, or are we meant to be stewards? How can faith communities who have had a role as the leading moral forces in our communities make their environmental messages blend seamlessly into their moral teachings? Are faith communities an under-tapped source of authority in the efforts to “green” our communities? FinalUW Newsletter


Issue 3 Arts Along the Waterfront

Beat the Drum. Cassandra Kapsos-Scouten
Beat the Drum. Cassandra Kapsos-Scouten

In the third issue of the Urban Waterways project newsletter, we explore the impact of the Arts on the spirit of neighborhoods along urban waterways. The Arts have long reflected artists’ visions of the communities in which they play a role. Inversely, these interpretations are informed by the world around them, and the natural world, in its various forms, can often be an important source of inspiration.  What are the practical applications of the relationships between Art, artists, and the communities in which they live?  Urban Waterways Newsletter Issue 3


Issue 4 Community Engagement Along Waterfronts

From the 11st Street Bridge Park Project; Anacostia Crossing; BOARDWALK AND DOCKS Rendering courtesy of OMA+OLIN
From the 11st Street Bridge Park Project;
Anacostia Crossing; BOARDWALK AND DOCKS
Rendering courtesy of OMA+OLIN

This issue explores the importance of community engagement in the creation of healthy, self-sustaining and equitable waterfront communities. Urban Waterways Newsletter Issue 4



The ARC hosting Anacostia River Festival Fish Bike Parade April 12

konobori children's day

The ARC, which hosts a community gallery and ArtReach workshops for youth and adults at it’s 1901 Mississippi Avenue SE location is planning something special for the annual Anacostia River Festival. The festival, on April 12, 2015 held at the Anacostia Waterfront Park will be the site of the first Anacostia River Festival Fish Bike Parade.  What is a Fish Bike Parade?  Picture hundreds of bikes riding around the DC streets with colorful handmade fish windsocks like the one’s pictured above flying over the heads of the cyclists and convening at the festival to create an above water river display.

Over the next few weeks the ARTREACH will host workshops to create your own fish flags inspired by the Japanese tradition of creating carp-shaped windsocks known as “Koinobori.” The fish windsocks will then be attached to poles on the back of bikes for a flying fish performance at the festival.  The workshops are free and open to all regardless of creative experience. :

Wednesday March 11 @ The ARC’s ArtReach studio 1901 Mississippi Ave SE 6-8 PM

Saturday March 14 @ The ARC’s ArtReach studio 1901 Mississippi Ave SE 1-3 PM

Wednesday April 1 @ The ARC’s ArtReach studio 1901 Mississippi Ave SE 6-8 PM

Saturday April 4 @ The ARC’s ArtReach studio 1901 Mississippi Ave SE 10-1 PM

Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 4.18.51 PM

For more information contact Melissa Green, Director of ArtReach at




Throwback Thursday: Whose Art Is It, Anyway?

Art is communal and the creative contributions of artists to a community are significant.  This concept was showcased and addressed by Anacostia Community Museum 1990 exhibition “Whose Art Is It, Anyway? | The Arts in Public Places” (July 15, 1990 – September 1, 1990). With record-breaking attendance and family-friendly activities; this stimulating exhibition attracted both freelance and professional artists from all walks of life.  Various forms of public art representing all four quadrants of Washington, D.C. were documented, which included murals and sculptures as well as personal artistic expressions by way of hairstyles, clothing and jewelry.


An array of workshops and programs associated with the exhibition included poetry, theatre and dance as well as classes by master musician Brother Ah (bamboo trumpet workshop), artist and educator Frank Smith (maskmaking), actor, poet and educator Douglas Johnson (children’s theatre workshop) and ceramic sculptor Attiya Melton (ceramic tile mural workshop).  Notable performances included the Kankouran West African Dance Company, local magician Myklar and storyteller Marvel Abayomi-Cole.


The exhibit concluded as it began – with a collective effort.  A finale mural project, created by the participants, reminded us that art walks, talks and lives with and around us!

De  Vida Gray

Art & Culture Along the Anacostia – Festivals & Concerts

Festivals are wonderful ways to bring people together in celebration and recreation. While great strides had been made in cleaning up the Potomac River, then-Mayor Marion Barry saw the Anacostia River as the great social divide in Washington. In 1984 he inaugurated an annual river festival to get people from all walks of life to come down to the water and see the potential of the Washington riverfronts along the Potomac and the Anacostia.

Since that time, the river fest idea has evolved into the development of a park-like venue near the baseball stadium, “The Yards Park,” and a schedule that includes river clean-up celebrations, the Kingman Island Bluegrass and Folk Festival, and the Anacostia River Jazz Festival sponsored by the National Park Service. During the course of the year the Anacostia waterfront at the “Yards” plays host to numerous ethnic festivals such as the Global Nepal Fest and art shows and contests along the riverfront. All of these activities help the District celebrate in many ways the revitalization of the Anacostia River.


LUMEN8 Festival Photo Collage Photographs Corianne Setzer, Anacostia Community Museum, 2013
LUMEN8 Festival Photo Collage
Photographs Corianne Setzer, Anacostia Community Museum, 2013
Fat de Tour Bike Tour at Yards Park Photograph Corianne Setzer, Anacostia Community Museum, 2012
Fat de Tour Bike Tour at Yards Park
Photograph Corianne Setzer, Anacostia Community Museum, 2012
Poster for The Bluegrass & Folk Festival which takes place on Kingman Island
Poster for the Kingman Island Bluegrass & Folk Festival