Arlington-based PBS is celebrating the upcoming fifth season of its hit Downton Abbey with a building-sized mural on its Crystal City headquarters.
The temporary art installation, featuring the likeness of Downton character Lady Mary , is 90 feet high and 54.5 feet wide — 4,900 square feet total — and took about 140 hours to complete. It was installed at 2100 Crystal Drive in partnership with the Crystal City Business Improvement District and building owner Vornado/Charles E. Smith.
“Downton Abbey is the top PBS drama of all time and we are thrilled to showcase that in Crystal City, where PBS calls home,” said Angela Fox, president and CEO of the Crystal City BID, in a press release.
“Crystal City residents, workers, and visitors are encouraged to take photos of themselves with the project, and hashtag #DowntonPBS,” the press release said.
The fourth season of the British period drama drew an average audience of 13.2 million viewers, according to PBS, making it one of the highest-rated dramas on American television. The fifth season will premiere on Sunday, Jan. 4, 2015.
Disclosure: Crystal City BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser.
Wizards Look at Crystal City, Ballston — Washington Wizards owner Ted Leonsis is reportedly narrowing in on three sites — in Crystal City, Ballston and in D.C.’s Shaw neighborhood — as the potential location for the team’s future $40-50 million practice facility. [Washington Post]
New Cultural Affairs Director — Michelle Isabelle-Stark has been named Arlington County’s new Director of Cultural Affairs, overseeing Artisphere and the county’s art programs. Isabelle-Stark most recently held a similar position in Suffolk County, New York. [Arlington Economic Development]
Backup QB Leads Yorktown into Playoffs — Charlie Tiene, a top lacrosse prospect who skipped football for the golf team last year, will lead the Yorktown Patriots in the their first-round playoff game tonight. Tiene was named the team’s quarterback after starting QB Joe McBride went down with an ACL injury. [Washington Post]
Signature Developing Two New Musicals — Shirlington’s Signature Theatre is developing two new musicals: Midwestern Gothic and the Christmas-themed Silver Belles. [Playbill]
Snow in Arlington — Reagan National Airport reported a trace amount of snowfall overnight. [National Weather Service]
Flickr pool photo by Starbuck77
Two recently completed bridges along Route 50 — at 10th Street N. and N. Courthouse Road — now look more colorful, thanks to a public art installation. But if you want to catch a glimpse of the art in its full glory, you’ll have to wait until it’s dark.
Arlington Cultural Affairs partnered with VDOT on both the custom-designed concrete panels on the sides of the road and metal grillwork on the overpasses. Both were the work of artist Vicki Scuri, who also designed an LED light show that backlights the grillwork at night.
The light display is programmed as a 15 minute loop that fades and gradually transitions between sets of colors. The show contains intentional sequences and transitions with a “range of non-highway colors” that suggest stained glass, Scuri said. The new light programming went live Friday night.
“The lighting, the pattern elements and the landscape are site specific responses to inform place, creating a signature landmark promoting wayfinding for the Arlington entries at Courthouse Street [sic] and 10th Street,” said Scuri, adding that she designed the art installations to reflect Arlington’s “classical architecture.” She said wanted to make a clear entry to Arlington that complemented the county’s lively, refined streetscapes.
Scuri was in Arlington last week to collaborate with the VDOT contract lighting designer and Arlington’s Department of Transportation to balance the artist’s creative vision with practicality and safety for those areas. They worked on the color and intensity of the lighting, among other things.
“This is a collective effort to provide both beauty and safety. I think we’ve done it,” said Scuri. “The entire project is a response to the site, to the native landscape and to the classical ornamentation of Arlington and that of Washington, D.C.”
‘Pups and Pilsners’ Photo Contest — Want to sample some brews and make your pet famous? Head on over to Crystal City’s Pups and Pilsners event from 2:00 to 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, snap a photo of your pooch and tweet it to us and our sponsors, @CCBID and @BeckysPetCare. Pups and Pilsners is a free dog-friendly event featuring a massive beer garden and food from local restaurants. [Crystal City BID]
Planners: Bank Shortchanges Courthouse — The office building slated to replace the Wendy’s in Courthouse will have a Wells Fargo bank prominently located on the ground floor, and Arlington planners don’t like it. County staff says the bank use is “not appropriate” and should be at least moved so that a more active retail use can occupy half of the plaza area. Developer Carr Properties says the bank must stay, since Wells Fargo owns the land under the existing bank that will be torn down for the project. [Washington Business Journal]
Vihstadt Out-Raises Howze — Incumbent, independent County Board candidate John Vihstadt is out-raising his Democratic opponent, Alan Howze. Vihstadt raised $31,367 in July and August, compared to $20,607 raised by Howze. Vihstadt recently reported $58,746 cash on hand while Howze reported $16,906. [Washington Post]
Fugazi to Release ‘Lost Album’ — Fugazi is planing to release a “lost album” of 11 songs recorded in 1988. The legendary local rockers recorded the songs on the album, First Demo, at Inner Ear Studio in Arlington. [Spin]
Road Closures for Clarendon Art Fest — Parts of Washington Blvd, Clarendon Blvd, and N. Highland Street will be closed Saturday and Sunday for the 2nd Annual Arlington Festival of the Arts. “Over 100 artists will showcase their works including glass, mixed media, paintings, jewelry, and pottery; providing all sorts of opportunities to appreciate — and purchase — art,” according to the festival’s website. [Arlington County, ArtFestival]
BL_NK WORLD, a pop-up art and fashion gallery, will be open for an exhibit on Pentagon Row (1201 S. Joyce Street) tonight and tomorrow.
The 1,600 square foot “creative space” is located in a vacant storefront next to Starbucks and across from the Yogi Castle frozen yogurt kiosk. It features art and fashion created by local artists from D.C., Maryland and Virginia. The pieces on display are also offered for sale.
The gallery will be open Friday and Saturday, as a fashion gallery from noon to 6:00 p.m. and for an “art social” event from 8:00 p.m. to midnight. The art social, which requires an RSVP, will feature music from a house DJ and guest musicians, plus champagne and hors d’oeuvres.
“After much buzz amongst the community of tastemakers in the D.C. area and beyond, BL_NK WORLD is preparing to deliver another tasteful experience where individual[s] can take in the culture and connect with others who appreciate the arts,” the organization said in a press release. “Follow us as we help bring light to the journeys surrounding the leaders of tomorrow.”
Prostitution Arrests on the Rise — Arrests of prostitutes are on the rise in Arlington. Halfway through the year, ACPD has made 26 prostitution arrests, compared to 32 for all of 2013 and 18 in 2012. Police say many of the prostitutes come from the West Coast and are attracted to areas like Crystal City, Ballston and Rosslyn due to high-income clientele and easy access to highways. [Washington Post]
Artists Build Art Studio After Fire — Husband and wife artists Bryan and Julie Jernigan have built a freestanding, 16′x20′ art studio in their North Arlington backyard. The project follows a period of hardship in their lives: a fire broke out in the couple’s home in 2012. [Northern Virginia Magazine]
State Budget Woes — Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) has revealed that the state is facing a $2.4 billion budget shortfall and that additional budget cuts are necessary. McAuliffe blamed the shortfall, in part, on federal defense spending cuts. [Washington Post]
Arlington’s Best-Reviewed Apartment? — The Concord, an apartment building in 2600 Crystal Drive in Crystal City, has been named the best apartment building in Arlington by a national research firm. The firm ranked 120 properties in Arlington based on online reviews and reputation. [Multi-Housing News]
Among farmers’ market attendees, corporate commuters, and bar-goers in Ballston last Thursday night (Aug. 7), something else stood out. Two new interactive art displays debuted on Ballston’s sidewalks in the forms of beach chairs and Craigslist poetry.
The brightly painted chairs on the corners of Fairfax Drive and N. Taylor Street, Glebe Road and Wilson Blvd, and in Welburn Square encouraged passersby to sit back and consider rising sea levels. Outside of A-Town Bar and Grill, the jumble of words pulled from Craigslist and projected onto a screen piqued the interests of pedestrians.
These two art installations were part of a series of “Public Displays of Innovation” sponsored by the Ballston Business Improvement District. “Beachfront Potential” and “Missed Connections” were the first of eight projects in the series intended to “bring the character and personality of Ballston to its streets,” according to Ballston BID CEO Tina Leone.
“We wanted to see how to incorporate technology and different forms of media for people to experience on the streets,” Leone said.
With Beachfront Potential, artist Patrick McDonough wanted to pose Ballston residents with the a new, hypothetical shoreline, and suggested that climate change could bring the beach to Ballston. Those who sat down at each of the beach chairs’ three locations were educated and engaged by mobile activities accessed by scanning unique barcodes with smartphones.
“With this project, it’s really the juxtaposition of leisure and this mixing of serious and non-serious imagery and content that’s really an effective way to deal with these things,” McDonough said.
Scanning the barcode at the Fairfax Drive location outside Zoe’s Kitchen and The Nature Conservancy brought up an informative video on climate change. McDonough created the 7-minute video using footage he took along Maryland’s eastern shore and from interviews with Nature Conservancy scientists. A “Skippin’ Stones” melting ice caps game and a list of suggested “beach reads” showed up from the Glebe Road and Wellburn Square locations’ barcodes, respectively.
“If you sit in your house and think about global warming, then you might become so morose that you never leave your house,” McDonough said.
McDonough teaches art at Corcoran College of Art + Design and American University. He said he got the idea for Beachfront Potential when he was looking at a map of rising sea levels.
“It was a happy correlation that this [predicted shoreline] went straight through the Ballston corridor,” McDonough said.
Artist Peter Lee projected a slideshow of black and white imagery and word fragments pulled from Craigslist’s Missed Connections section onto a small screen outside of A-Town.
“I worked in the area and it’s IT heavy and government heavy,” Lee said. “One of the most human things you can have is romance, and living in the D.C. area that’s normally synonymous with power and stuff [made it] interesting to find a human element here.”
Lee used a prepared slideshow Thursday because of a bad wi-fi connection outside the bar, but he said he can funnel bits of text from Craigslist as they’re posted with the algorithm he and co-creator Blake Turner wrote.
“We definitely tailored the data and the aesthetic toward Ballston,” Lee said. “We wrote the algorithm so it can chop up the data more, [because] previously we were just pulling subject lines from Craigslist. Now we’re pulling the content, and it’s like stream of consciousness poetry.”
Some of the pre-prepared bits of text said, “was wearing sunglasses” and “interested noww hit me/regularly/up.”
Lee and Turner are both George Mason University graduates and members of the Floating Lab Collective art group in D.C. Although their installation only showed Thursday, Friday (Aug. 8) and Saturday (Aug. 9), McDonough’s installation will remain on Ballston’s streets through September, Leone said.
Leone said the BID plans to debut its other six projects in the next three months. “Quantum Tours Americana” and “Site: WA + FC (Ballston)” will show in September, “Cloud,” “Urban Oasis,” and “Forest of Knowledge” in October, and “Axon Xylophone Bridge” in November, Leone said.
“We really try to look for things that are unique or haven’t been seen before,” Leone said. “It’s been a long time in the works, but they’re really amazing, extremely high quality projects that people can experience together.”
The show is called “Making Their Mark: Art Brut,” and highlights pieces from artists with disabilities from ServiceSource day centers, a non-profit disability resource organization. It is put on in partnership with Purple Art, an art therapy program that works with individuals with disabilities and with military members and their families.
“Sometimes, I feel like Van Gogh,” artist Andrew Ross told ARLnow.com. “Music and art go together with me. I enjoy making both of them, they are big part of me”.
“Art Brut” translates to “raw art” and describes works created without classical art training. It’s an opportunity for the artists to overcome challenges and to express themselves in different ways. Some of the artists created pieces with little or no assistance for the first time.
“It’s good, I did a lot of work on the art,” artist Robert “Bobby” Hoffer told ARLnow.com
Volunteers donated many of the framing materials for the exhibition, in addition to volunteering to frame, mount and curate the show pieces.
“Making Their Mark: Art Brut” runs through August 23. More information can be found on the Gallery Underground website.
(Updated at 6:00 p.m) A walk-in studio art facility for veterans and active-duty service members plans to open Oct. 15 in Crystal City.
Alexandria-based The 296 Project launched a Kickstarter on July 24 with a $30,000 goal to fund the 1,100-square-foot space, which it calls “A Combat Veteran’s Healing Place.” The studio will be located in a retail space at the Shops at 2100 Crystal Drive.
Kickstarter proceeds will go toward renovation materials, art supplies and equipment for the facility, which will cater to service members with post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury (TBI), according to a press release.
“When the suffering is so strong words can barely describe it, when no one understands, when there’s no support system, this new facility allows our men and women in uniform to tell their stories with a paintbrush, clay, pen and pencil, chalk, through music, digital design, 3D design, spoken word or through poetry,” Scott Gordon, executive director of The 296 Project, told ARLnow.com in an email.
The project plans to give service members a place to explore art as well as socialize. It plans to provide art therapists with a space for seminars, art classes and group therapy sessions, although it will not be a therapy-providing entity, according to The 296 Project spokesperson Rebekah Wiseman.
The general public will be allowed in, according to the organization, so it can learn more about the community of service members with PTSD and TBI who are helped by art and expressive therapies.
“With or without a PTS/TBI diagnosis, our facility, our seminars, workshops, etc., will be therapeutic,” Wiseman wrote.
Service members will have to provide records to prove that they are or were members of the military, said Wiseman. The facility plans to be open six days of the week, from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
“We believe we can save thousands of lives in the Northern Virginia area alone,” Gordon said. “This is just too important not to support.”
The Kickstarter will accept contributions until Sept. 22. Currently, the project has six backers and has raised $710.
Images courtesy The 296 Project
Tom Sarris Dies — Tom Sarris, proprietor of former Rosslyn restaurant staples like The Covered Wagon and Tom Sarris’ Orleans House, has died. Sarris died in Arlington on Saturday at the age of 89. [Dignity Memorial]
Sparket Launches Today — Crystal City’s arts and crafts market, dubbed the “Sparket,” launches today on the sidewalk in front of 1900 Crystal Drive. It will open from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The market is run by the same management company that runs the flea markets at Eastern Market and on U Street. [Crystal City]
Metro > NYC Subway? — When complaining about Metrorail, many critics like to compare it unfavorably to New York City’s Subway system. However, Arlington County’s Mobility Lab points out that there are at least five ways that Metro beats the MTA. [Mobility Lab]
Photo via Yelp
Caucus Date Set for Treasurer, School Board — Arlington Democrats will hold a caucus the evening of Monday, Aug. 4 to determine the party’s nominees in the special elections to replace Treasurer Frank O’Leary and School Board member Noah Simon. The caucus will be held from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. [InsideNova]
Comeback for Crumbs? — The Crumbs store in Clarendon and across the country closed this week, but could a comeback for the cupcake company be imminent? A group of investors is planning to provide financing for the bankrupt Crumbs Bakeshop Inc., and that could revive some of the company’s stores. [Washington Business Journal]
Clarendon Art Festival to Return — The “Arlington Festival of the Arts” will return for a second year in Clarendon. The art festival is scheduled to take over part of N. Highland Street for two days on the weekend of Saturday, Sept. 20. [ArtFestival.com]
Last Day for Cheaper Tickets to ARLive — After today, tickets to the upcoming ARLive Startup Smackdown will increase from $15 to $20. The event — which is being held after work on Tuesday, July 22 — will pit about 20 Arlington-based startups against each other in a bid to collect the biggest “investment” from attendees, who will be given play money to dole out to their favorites. Beer, wine and food are included in the price of admission. [nVite]
(Updated at 6:35 p.m.) A former U.S. Navy SEAL is hosting an art fundraiser in Crystal City next month to raise money for veterans returning home with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other combat-induced disabilities.
Alexandria-based nonprofit The 296 Project will host a gallery show and silent auction at Gallery Underground (2100 Crystal Drive) of U.S. Navy Senior Chief Kristin Beck, a transgender, 20-year veteran of the Navy whose art “kept her from suicide on more than one occasion,” according to a press release for the event.
Beck, who took part in seven combat deployments with the SEALS and was awarded a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart, was diagnosed with PTSD and a 90 percent disability rating.
The first ever transgender Navy SEAL, Beck “will be addressing the crowd personally,” and discussing the therapeutic effect creating artwork had on her recovery, according to the press release. She will also be advocating for The 296 Project, which “promotes, funds, supports and advocates for art and expressive therapies” for veterans when they return to the States, according to Executive Director Scott Gordon.
Beck’s work will be on display at the gallery from June 2-28. The show will be on June 6 from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m. and tickets are $15.
Photo via Facebook
The mermaid carving along Lee Highway that drew national attention when it was put up for sale in 2011 has been cut down.
The statue had been up in the front yard of Leeway Overlee resident Paul Jackson since 2004. In 2011 Jackson hoped to sell the statue for $3,000, with the requirement of the buyer “slicing her off and returning her home.” He apparently didn’t find a buyer, as the statue, which was built out of a dying, 100+ year-old ash tree, remained in the yard.
Today, however, it is nowhere to be found. The only remnant is a stump beneath a sculpture of a turtle.
The statue was carved by Frederick, Md., artist Scott Dustin, and was described in the Washington Post as having “a shapely derriere and bare breasts that must be at least size DD.” The mermaid was nicknamed “Damaged Goods” or “D.G.” for short, and stirred up neighborhood controversy.
Jackson wasn’t home today to explain why the mermaid was removed, but a poster on the ARLnow.com Facebook page said it was “becoming too rotted and infested with ants.”
Hat tip to Michelle Fetig
The Arlington Artists Alliance is organizing a week of art appreciation starting this Friday.
ArtFest 2014 will be held at Fort C.F. Smith Park (2411 24th Street N.) and will run from March 28 to April 4. Festival-goers will be able to enjoy an ongoing art show and attend workshops and demos, according to the organization’s website. This marks the 12th year the Artists Alliance will hold ArtFest, which is free and open to the public.
The Hendry House, a historic 20th century mansion on the park grounds, will host the art show throughout the week. In addition, artists such as Jackie Afram and Fran Simms will conduct workshops on painting with oil bars and watercolor.
An opening reception will kick off the week on Friday, March 28th from 6-8 p.m., at which visitors can meet the artists and enjoy light refreshments.
The Rosslyn Business Improvement District today officially unveiled a gigantic photographic mural that has been temporarily installed on the side of a building near the corner of Wilson Blvd and N. Lynn Street.
The 6,000 square foot photo is “the largest photographic print on the East Coast and bigger than the scoreboard at Nationals Park,” according to the BID. It is a “tranquil depiction of crape myrtle trees that [photographer Frank Hallam] Day snapped during a month-long photographic study of Rosslyn.”
The BID would not reveal where the photo was taken — it will instead be running a social media contest for people to guess where it was taken.
The photo is expected to remain on the side of the office building at 1730 N. Lynn Street for at least a year, until the building is demolished for the planned Central Place office skyscraper.
“[This] is the third project installed by the Rosslyn Business Improvement District as part of its award-winning temporary public art program launched last spring,” the BID said in a press release. “The program aims to help resolve urban design issues and soften Rosslyn’s hard edges as many parts of the district undergo redevelopment.”
Hallam Day told ARLnow.com that in order to achieve the resolution needed for the massive photo print, the image is actually composed of several dozen individual photos stitched together. The final ultra-high-resolution image took up about 45 gigabytes of space on his hard drive, the BID said.