Meet Ian Callendar!
Co-founder of Blind Whino
This hip young Event Designer, Entrepreneur, Philanthropist, Mover, shaker, and Doer in the D.M.V. area, turned an abandoned church into one of DC’s top venue’s. But he’s also a sneakerhead.
Tell us about Ian.
I was an average kid with a crazy imagination. I have a love for sneakers that I have been able to spawn into an economic engine in order to share my world with everyone else.
Growing up in DC, I always wanted to be different. I never bought Jordans off the rack; I bought my shoes off of clearance! My love for music afforded me the opportunity to play in symphony orchestras as a kid. I was a percussionist during my grade school years. Being exposed to classical music by day and Go-Go (Classic DC music) at night helped shaped me into the culturally rich and diverse guy that I am today.
How do you feel about being spotlighted by the city as a true sneaker head?
At the time, I felt it was necessary; for me, it was just a love for shoes. It eventually boiled over to events. I remember going to venues like Club Dream and Love Night Club, and they would always say “individuals in sneakers were thugs.” From there, I began to throw sneaker-themed parties in the early 2000s. This opened opportunities for me to be sponsored by large corporations, which later turned into free events in the city. A few of my corporate sponsors at the time included companies like Scion (who was the biggest), Under Armour, Adidas, Puma, Shoe City Retailers, Ciroc, and others.
Tell us about Blind Whino. How did it come about and what is its purpose?
Blind Whino came about in 2012. My partner, Shane Pomajamvo, has an art gallery in National Harbor called Art Whino. The owner of our current building approached Shane after an event that we hosted, asking if we would like to come in and paint an abandoned church that he purchased a few years back. In October 2012, we commissioned the internationally-known artist, HENSE, to come in from Atlanta and paint the building.
When 2013 came around, we thought it would be good to clean out the inside of the building by gutting it and making it a community-based space. Being connected corporately, I was able to pull together $80K to help renovate our venue. We had events around the renovation, and, of course, the money helped properly position us to open our doors to the public.
We currently host art and music concerts (Wale, Pusha T, and Arrested Development have all performed here, to name a few), workshops, and art exhibitions. We also serve as a private facility for weddings, cookouts, meetings, etc.. We even have an organic garden out back that has allowed us to partner with a nonprofit called Dreaming Out Loud. Dreaming Out Loud teaches youth how to grow their own food and eat healthy. They also provide fresh food to local food markets.
What has surprised you the most in regards to the project?
The response. We didn’t know what we were doing the 1st year; we just wanted to program the Art Summit. We were well-embraced. Three years later, we are being named on global lists as a must visit place around the world. We just wanted to have a nice, warm spot to have individuals showcase their work, but it has truly evolved.
What advice would you like to offer young Black males?
Don’t stop dreaming, and really learn how to love and appreciate what YOU are good at. No matter how overwhelmingly imaginatively it may be, it takes time and patience to learn it and do it. That’s the most important thing.
How can interested readers learn more about Blind Whino?
Visit www.blindwhino.org or for any of our social media pages, just search Blind Whino.