Michael Carr - who had lived at
Mike’s home was built in 1870 and for many years served as a stable until 1921 when F.J. Simmonds petitioned for a Certificate of Occupancy as a carpenter’s shop on the upper level. The lower level continued to be used for horses and later automobile storage. (The F.J. Simmond’s advertising sign for his business can still be seen on the side of the stable, having been restored by Mike in 1994.) In 1947 the stable began another life when permission was granted to change the Certificate of Occupancy from a carpenter’s shop to an electrical repair shop to repair washing machine motors, armatures and appliances.
Michael Carr’s home as it was when he lived in the alley
Mike’s life followed a diverse path with art always being central. He outlines some of his life through his own internet biosketch (1): -
“I resided in the
From 1966 to the present, produced fine arts and showed in
galleries in various states and the
Community involvement included helping incorporate a two block area into a historic district, now encompassing over a one mile area. I was elected in a
Community oriented performance art projects included “Death of a Dream”.
'x18' canvases. The “
Mike left his D.C. alley neighborhood in 2002 to live in
Michael Carr’s carriage house today.
In the early 1990’s, inspired by the notion of chalk outlines as an icon for crime scenes Michael undertook a project of creating a series of “body outlines” in the Naylor Court alley. He eventually painted 452 individual acrylic body outlines within alleys to “commemorate the escalating number of violent deaths in Washington … and began painting outlines of bodies in the style he had seen used at the scenes of homicides depicted in movies and on television.” (2) It’s ironic that chalk outlines have moved into the art world as the “police abandoned its use after many defense attorneys contended the chalk outline tainted evidence from a crime scene.”(2) In addition to being an artist and a well-known “character” in the alley, Mike was an urban activist. At the height of this period in his life, he and five alley compatriots wrote a declaration of independence for
“The city of
Rather than flee, however, some of the residents of
It is the beginning of a revolution. It is not an armed revolution; rather, it is conceptual, a revolution of thought and humor, taking place both in cyberspace and our neighborhood. It is a revolution against crime, dirt, debt and inept officialdom.
A Declaration of
As Marion Barry himself has declared … at this point, the city’s problems are beyond the District’s capacity to solve them (The
In a 1995 City Paper article (4), Dave Nuttycombe reported that Carr – a Naval Air Systems Command management expert would like to apply his skills to District Government problems. Carr is quoted as saying that “The government of the nation’s capital should be a model for the world; the reality is quite different … I’m very concerned about the quality of life in the District” Apparently Carr presented his declaration document to Mayor Barry on the steps of the
The last remnant of Michael Carr’s alley art.
Michael Carr’s tale is like many, whose sparks of creativity are stimulated by life within the netherworlds of
(The author gratefully acknowledges the input from Hal Davitt and Roger Thiel in writing this article)
- New York Times, “Chalk Body Outlines: Grisly, Yes, but Chic” by John Marchese,
November 13, 1994
- Press Release “Neighborhood Declares
” by Michael Carr, Independence Feb 24th 1995
- City Paper, Dave Nuttycombe,
March 24th 1995