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Artist seeks inspiration from residents for art project to hang inside county HQ

A cavernous space inside the recently-refurbished county headquarters in Courthouse could one day be filled with public art.

Arlington County has commissioned acclaimed artist Kipp Kobayashi, known for his art displays in hospitals, airports and government buildings, to suspend a public art project in the lobby of the Bozman Government Center at 2100 Clarendon Blvd.

Kobayashi is turning to Arlington residents for inspiration before he gets started. He is seeking public input via a survey to learn about the different routes residents take to get to some of their favorite places in Arlington.

“Please tell us your stories, memories, and experiences of Arlington County by sharing a special route that you currently take or have taken through Arlington County,” the survey says. “The route should be to a place that you find especially meaningful. Examples are a park, place of worship, restaurant, friend’s house, bike trail, bench, etc.”

Feedback received through Sept. 30 will help inform his designs, according to the county.

“With a background in urban design, Kobayashi’s public art method involves extensive field observation and personal interactions to identify the individual elements that together form the identity of a place,” a press release said.

Kobayashi and county staff will also be at the Arlington County Fair this week during indoor hours for people to share their experiences in Arlington directly with the artist.

In April, the county unveiled the interior renovations to its headquarters. The project began in September 2021 and cost approximately $4.8 million.

The artwork’s design, fabrication, and installation have a set budget of $200,000, county spokesman Ryan Hudson said.

The funding comes from the county’s Public Art Trust & Agency account, which is earmarked exclusively for the Courthouse area, Hudson added. The trust relies on contributions from developers rather than resident tax dollars.

According to his website, Kobayashi’s art stems from his experiences growing up as an Asian American, “leading to a lifelong interest in deconstructing preconceived notions of who and what we are to understand better unique patterns that present a more nuanced interpretation of identity and cultural belonging.”

Some of Kobayashi’s recent displays include hundreds of hand-folded paper planes, called “Collective Transitions,” at Meacham Airport in Fort Worth, Texas, and “hundreds of custom-made fishing flies swirling together in a central grouping,” called “Emergence,” in Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Washington.

Kobayashi was selected by a committee that met several times over the course of a year to define goals for the project, review artist submissions and select an artist.

The committee will also recommend the final artwork design.

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