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Drinker Biddle & Reath occupies nearly every floor of its charming K Street Northwest locale. Built in 1928 and formerly the headquarters of the Southern Railway, the building represents a piece of the District’s history. It makes sense, then, that the firm has relied on the work of local artists in its Washington Art Series. The firm’s eclectic collection is scattered throughout its conference rooms, hallways, and multipurpose rooms. And Drinker Biddle’s recently expanded office, thanks to its merger with Gardner Carton & Douglas, has given it a new excuse to show off the art. Among the featured artists are painters Martin Kotler, Susan Abbott, and Patricia Forrester and photographer Amy Lamb. The firm’s art consultant, Jack Devine, seeks out pieces that are modern yet still suitable to the office’s traditional d�cor. Regional partner in charge Michael McManus says showcasing local art is an integral part of his office’s character. “We pride ourselves on being part of the D.C. community,” he says. McManus also emphasizes that doing pro bono work for less established D.C. artists is a priority for Drinker Biddle. “A lot of them wait tables to put food on their own tables,” says McManus. He says the firm has handled copyright matters, landlord-tenant issues, and compensation disputes for several young artists. Though it is not open for public viewing, the series gets plenty of traffic. Law students from Georgetown University and George Washington University recently attended a reception in one of the firm’s 11th-floor rooms. On one wall they could take in a colorful, busy Abbott watercolor. The painting of tables cluttered with various objects is typical of the former Takoma Park resident’s signature style. The opposite wall offers a more subdued vision: photographs of calla lilies taken by Lamb, who lives in Bethesda, Md. And when Philadelphia-based Drinker Biddle merged with Chicago-based Gardner Carton, the two firms’ staffs and practices weren’t the only things that became intermingled. The move also brought new personalities to the office artwork. The few pieces in the collection not by D.C. area artists are a result of the merger. One of the most distinctive Gardner Carton contributions is a large canvas painted by Californian Michael Chapman. It boasts bold colors and simple shapes, including its central focus, a black silhouette of a Scottish terrier. “You want to have stuff that makes people say, �Oh, this is cool,’ and literally brings a smile to their face,” says McManus. He says the “more whimsical” Gardner Carton pieces help achieve exactly that. The firm hopes to have the entire collection available to view online in the near future.
Marisa McQuilken can be contacted at [email protected]

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