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How George W. Bush Helped Make a Street Art Exhibit Possible

As G-40: The Summit, Crystal City’s ambitious street art exhibit, comes to a close this weekend, it’s worthwhile to look back and see how it came about.

Much of the credit can be given to Art Whino and Shane Pomajambo, who curated the massive 75,000 square foot show, and to the Crystal City Business Improvement District, which came up with the initial concept and brought together Pomajambo, funding, and the space at 223 23rd Street South.

But there’s someone else who deserves some credit: former president George W. Bush. It was Bush who approved the recommendations of the Base Realignment and Closure Commission in 2005. BRAC required many of the military agencies that inhabit office buildings in Crystal City to move to cheaper, more secure locations.

By BRAC law, about four million square feet of office space in Crystal City must be vacated by September 2011. Along with the offices will go thousands of jobs, a serious economic blow that the federal, state and county governments are trying to cushion.

Crystal City BID, formed in 2006, was essentially an off-shoot of BRAC. A business improvement district for Crystal City had been discussed prior to BRAC, but BRAC was the catalyst for the county to take action to reverse Crystal City’s stodgy, unfashionable image and to attract new residents and businesses.

Around the time of Crystal City BID’s founding, an Arlington BRAC Transition Task Force recommended the establishment of a marketing arm for Crystal City. That role was filled by the BID.

Ever since, the BID has been organizing events intended to make Crystal City a hipper, more livable place — a “destination” rather than a place that empties out after quittin’ time.

A perfect event to show off Crystal City’s new “edgy, provocative and engaging” side, to convince prospective residents and businesses that the neighborhood is no longer a drab stretch of nondescript government offices? A street art exhibit.

So celebrate the irony of a Republican president and a multi-billion dollar Department of Defense initiative helping to facilitate a decidedly R-rated art exhibition (there are some things you definitely don’t want the kids to see) by attending the G-40 closing party Saturday night. See our events calendar for more information. If you can’t make it Saturday, the exhibit will also be open Tuesday Wednesday night.

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