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Gallery Clarendon Opens, Beginning Temporary Stay in Former Restaurant Space

(Updated at 4:25 p.m.) Gallery Clarendon opened its doors Wednesday (June 20), using two floors of gallery and studio space to showcase the work of local artists.

Located at 2800 Clarendon Boulevard, the gallery is a temporary project of the Arlington Artists Alliance. It occupies the space vacated by Mexican restaurant Fuego Cocina y Tequileria in October 2016. Admission to the gallery is free, although pieces may be purchased, and there are plans to begin offering art classes within the next few weeks.

The length of Gallery Clarendon’s stay depends on when Regency Centers, which also operates the Market Common Clarendon shopping center, can find a permanent tenant for the site. Sandi Parker, managing director of galleries at the Arlington Artists Alliance, said they anticipate being open for at least a year.

“I always liken it to staging a house — it looks better when there’s something there,” Parker said. Regency Centers was “very generous to allow us to use the space,” she added.

The gallery is planning a grand opening for sometime in September, Parker said.

For both events, “we really want to engage with the Clarendon community,” Parker said. They plan to have “some of our potential teachers on site to work with kids,” and hope to partner with local businesses to elevate receptions, she added.

The art on display will change at opening receptions held on the second Friday of every month, Parker said. Reception attendees will have the opportunity to meet and converse with artists.

The gallery had aimed to open in April, but complications in obtaining an occupancy permit from the county caused delays.

“This is kind of a unique space in that it was originally a restaurant/bar… so it’s a change of use,” Parker said. Safety updates like replacing lights were also necessary after the space’s lengthy vacancy, she said.

Now that the gallery is open, Parker said they look forward to getting to know the Clarendon community.

“We’re excited,” she said. “We’re hoping that we’re going to meet a lot of Clarendon residents and… find a whole new market.”

Regency Centers operates several properties in Northern Virginia. Although Jan Hanak, the company’s vice president of marketing and communications, said he wasn’t aware of any other arrangements like this one, the corporation is  “certainly interested in those types of uses because it creates a certain type of buzz at the property and brings new people in.”

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