- A staffer at the D.C. Public Defender Service defends her right to spruce up a boring ol' office window with summertime flair.
For D.C. folks, there's a few good ways to tell when summer has really arrived in the city. A sickly hot swelling of air that somehow persists past midnight is one way. The emergence of something called the "heat index" is another. And a beach appearing in Suann Hecht's downtown office window is one more.
If you've ever walked by the D.C. Public Defender Service on Pennsylvania Avenue near the Archives metro, chances are you've noticed Hecht's colorful dioramas. She makes them for Christmas, Emancipation Day, inaugurals and, as you can see in these photos, for the arrival of summer. (And yes, she does have permission to do this.) When I interviewed Hecht about her "worker window art," as a friend of hers dubbed it, she explained it was meant for the kids who strolled by from neighboring daycare centers. But some of it is undoubtedly for Hecht's amusement, too. She said:
“I don’t see myself as an artist, but I have this creative streak in me,” says Hecht. That streak tells her to collect geegaws and arrange them throughout her immediate surroundings. “I even interior decorate when I’m in a hotel,” she says. “I get a jar of something. I always have flowers. I have shells.”
You can read more about Hecht's strange journey from drawing nudes to plotting to seize her coworkers' windows for guerrilla art here. Below you'll see what's currently on display at D.C.'s littlest museum.
It took me a while to notice the sun beaming down on Hecht's little plastic beach people. That's real sand, by the way.
A mini Screen on the Green takes place in the left window, starring the cast of Pixar's "Cars" and the world's most American tablecloth.
A panoramic view. People sometimes knock on the glass to get Hecht's attention, which she ignores.