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Public art studio, complete with velociraptor sculpture, opens at Amazon HQ2

An art studio featuring free classes and a light-up scrapyard velociraptor opened its doors yesterday (Wednesday) in Pentagon City.

Catherine Anchin, executive director of the Museum of Contemporary Art Arlington (MoCA), cut the ribbon for the new Innovation Studio + Store alongside several local officials at Amazon’s second headquarters. The project, a collaboration between Amazon and MoCA, seeks to take a fresh approach to connecting the public with contemporary art.

“It’s really about innovation and helping people to understand contemporary art a little bit better, and get excited about being creative,” Anchin said.

The studio at 525 14th Street S. will rotate through artists-in-residence every six weeks. The first of these creatives, Arlington artist Adam Henry, plans to take an active role in the neighborhood by sketching people and partnering with local restaurants and businesses — in addition to showing off his raptor.

“Our secret is, we make things we like and try to make them, like, really ‘wow,’” Henry said.

The creator soon plans to host the studio’s first class, which will be a vision board workshop. He will also start work on cardboard sculptures with the help of his 17-year-old son and apprentice, who is also named Adam Henry.

Patrick Phillippi, head of community engagement at Amazon HQ2, said the studio is part of Amazon’s broader focus on “being a good partner to this neighborhood.”

The tech giant has already bankrolled $14 million in renovations to Metropolitan Park, adjacent to HQ2. That park hosted the debut of a new farmer’s market when the first phase of the massive office complex opened in June.

New locations of local businesses, such as Conte’s Bike Shop and Good Company Doughnuts, have also opened in ground floor retail spaces since then.

Phillippi said he wants to further the mission of MoCA — formerly known as the Arlington Arts Center — which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. He spoke warmly of his experiences at the Virginia Square museum, which rebranded in 2022, during the ribbon cutting.

“You really just get an immediate sense that art is accessible, that art is open to everybody,” Phillippi said. “And this studio is such a great expansion of that. It is a privilege for Amazon to have you guys here.”

Guests at Wednesday’s grand opening included business leaders, who praised the project from both an arts and a business perspective.

Tracy Sayegh Gabriel, who leads the National Landing Business Improvement District, said she believes the project will serve as “a true cultural anchor” that serves the area’s needs.

“We’ve had a lot of business openings in the last year or so, but our community has really been craving more arts and cultural offerings and programming,” she said. “We’re so thrilled to, with MoCA, have a museum presence in our neighborhood.”

Kate Bates, president and CEO of the Arlington Chamber of Commerce, is eager to see how the studio contributes to the area’s sense of community.

“The culture is a huge, important part of what makes Arlington a great place for our businesses to locate in, and those of us who live here as well,” she said. “Congratulations to MoCA. We look forward to 50 more wonderful years and then some.”

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