While Claassen writes and publishes a new comic strip every week, some of the paintings just taken down and replaced with new ones at the Galaxy Hut have been up for nearly eight years.
"I remember making them in the basement of a group house I lived in in Hyattsville," Claassen wrote in an email.
That house was called the Dirtfarm, which became the name for the series of comics he conceived that today runs in several alternative newsweeklies.
Claassen and Galaxy Hut owner Lary Hoffman originally agreed that his pieces, which depict stick-figure characters from his comic strips in sweetly depressing situations, would hang until sold. Whenever a painting went out the door, Hoffman required a new one be put in its place.
Over the years, though, inquiries about purchasing the paintings begin to pile up in Claassen's inbox, and he "just couldn't keep up." The old paintings maintained their spots on the bar walls for years.
"I got overwhelmed with a good many other things, and after a point didn't even know how to respond to the emails — many, many of which I still haven't responded to. Pretty bad, eh?" Claassen said.
Now that his latest pieces, which debuted at the bar on Monday, are on display, Claassen can finally work on selling the old ones.
"I'm figuring on going back to the earliest of the emails and offering them to whoever wrote to me first about each of them. If any of them are still left unsold after that, I figure I'll add them to the Web store on my site," he said.
Claassen said his plan going forward is to "get back to painting regularly."
"The combination of having enough time and finding enough space to make a mess hasn't happened in several years," he said. "After a while, it got really hard to paint because I started doing a lot of other things and also didn't really have a very ideal space to make new paintings in."
But in addition to his latest opening, Claassen has other big news. After all these years, he's finally secured a studio space, which he'll move into on March 1.
"I have several years of painting ideas piled into this large stack of notebooks. It would make me really happy to make them all," he said.
His new workspace, in combination with some set deadlines, will help Claassen create more art. Instead of replacing his displayed works as they're sold, he'll tack a closing date on the entire show. This way, he said, he'll hold two or three shows at the Galaxy Hut per year. (The prices of the new works range between $250 - $900.)
"We'll see how it goes, but I think it will be good," he said. "Deadlines, deadlines, deadlines, and it will all happen."