New Public Art on the Way for Crystal City, Fresh Off Arrival of Colorful Bikes and Flowers

A bevy of new public art looks to be on the way for Crystal City, just a few weeks after the neighborhood’s largest property owner commissioned a series of art projects around the area.

The Crystal City Business Improvement District has put out a call yesterday (Wednesday) to local artists looking to bring some temporary public art to the neighborhood, as part of an effort to “activate vacant and open spaces” and “enliven and connect the public realm.” The BID is offering up to hand out up to $50,000 for each project, and is inviting professional public artists, “art consultant organizations and curators” to apply.

The BID says it’s looking for applicants who can “show a proven history of successfully managing and completing publicly-funded projects with budgets of equivalent scale.” It plans to evaluate projects on how each one:

  • Expands cultural experience
  • Promotes community dialogue
  • Promotes place-making and interaction
  • Supports visual beautification
  • Drives visitorship and media attention

The BID did not lay out how many art projects it plans to accept, or when it hopes to have the art installed. But any project will inevitably invite comparisons to JBG Smith’s efforts to add some visual flair to the area, starting with building wraps for some Crystal City structures soon after it took over ownership of the properties and continuing through its latest work to bring colorful spray-painted flowers and bikes to streets between Pentagon City and Crystal City.

The latter effort attracted quite a bit of attention in recent weeks, as JBG didn’t immediately reveal that it was behind the artwork, leaving residents a bit puzzled.

Sources around the company have even speculated to the Washington Business Journal that the whole project was an effort to impress Amazon executives visiting as part of their HQ2 deliberations. JBG, however, says it was merely an effort to tie Crystal City and Pentagon City together, and brighten up an area experiencing quite a bit of construction at the moment.

Applications for the BID’s newest public art effort are due by Friday, Nov. 2.

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