In a bid to generate more visitors, Arlington Arts Center has renamed itself the Museum of Contemporary Art Arlington.
The non-profit arts organization at 3550 Wilson Blvd in the Virginia Square area is one of the largest non-federal venues for contemporary art in the D.C. area, per its website.
But the center’s leaders say it needed a new name to elevate its work to show contemporary art, support artists-in-residence and organize art classes.
“Our new name will help us increase our visibility and reflect our position as a premiere hub for contemporary art and artists and as the only art museum in Arlington County,” Catherine Anchin, its executive director, said in a press release. “Our mission to connect you with contemporary art and artists through exhibitions, education programs, and artist residencies remains the same.”
Over the last year, those involved in the rebranding initiative conducted research and interviews to see how the arts center could improve how it communicates its mission.
Last winter and spring, the arts center searched for and hired a new executive director likewise charged with raising its visibility.
The Museum of Contemporary Art Arlington will be one of the few museums in the D.C. area without a permanent collection on display. Anchin says this will allow “MoCA Arlington” to keep up with contemporary art as it evolves.
“It is our goal that, when you visit the Museum of Contemporary Art Arlington, you will experience some of the most cutting-edge art by local, regional, national, and international artists, explore the power of your own creativity, engage with living artists, and further embrace Arlington’s place within a global contemporary art sector,” she said.
M0CA Arlington will reopen under its new name on Saturday from 12-8 p.m. with two new exhibits to peruse. The reopening day celebration will feature curator-led tours, art-making activities and visits to the studios of its artists-in-residence.
The first exhibit, “Assembly 2022: Time and Attention,” highlights trends in concepts and materials among today’s working artists. It features 12 artists from nine states, including Virginia, who were nominated by curators at peer organizations around the nation and selected by Blair Murphy, the curator of exhibitions for MoCA Arlington.
The second, “Let Them Kids Be Kids” by resident-artist Lex Marie, uses the playground as “a framework with which to examine the joys of Black childhood and the ways in which issues of race and equity are inscribed on the site,” Anchin said.
After Saturday’s grand reopening, the museum will be open Wednesday through Sunday from 12-5 p.m. through Dec. 18. Meanwhile, registration for fall art classes has opened.
Galleries reopened in spring 2021 and have had several exhibitions since then, Anchin told ARLnow. The museum has been closed so staff could install the forthcoming exhibits.
After the show ends in December, the center will close for two to three weeks to set up for its second show, she said.
MoCA Arlington was founded in 1974, has undergone several name changes and is located in the historic former Maury School. The building is leased through a partnership with Arlington County and holds nine exhibit galleries, studio space for artists, three classrooms, offices, and event rental space.
One of the first of several Pride Month events in Arlington is happening this coming Thursday (June 9) in Crystal City.
Rock the Lot with Pride is a “Pride Month kick-off celebration” organized by The National Landing Business Improvement District, at 2611 S. Clark Street, a parking lot behind the Hyatt Regency hotel, between 4-8 p.m., according to the event’s webpage.
There will be food, drinks and merchandise giveaways at Rock the Lot with Pride, according to the website. The Kona Ice and Curbside Kitchen trucks are set to provide food for the event, while mobile cocktail bar Toastworthy is expected to bring its Tequila Truck to the event.
Rock the Lot with Pride is free and open to the public. Registration is now available online. Toastworthy plans to give the first 100 participants a free cocktail, according to the event’s webpage. DJ Chan Don, a disc jockey based in D.C., is set to play live music for the event.
Arlington is also getting its first Pride festival, which is scheduled for Saturday, June 25, at Rosslyn’s Gateway Park (1300 Langston Blvd) between noon and 7 p.m.
The event, hosted by the Polished Kreative, is free and open to all ages, with the theme “Moving Forward Together.” Attendees will be able to enjoy games, food and drinks, live music and entertainment at the festival, according to its website. There will also be a designated area for pets and kids with games, face painting and other activities, according to an Instagram post.
Deejay JL and DJ Swoosh are set to perform at the festival, according to another Instagram post. Sponsors for the event include the Kitchen Shaman 9, a private chef, a local bar Quinn’s On The Corner, D.C.-based pet care firm Puppy Luv Pet Services and others.
Other events around Arlington include:
Documentary and talk on the Lavender Scare
The Arlington Arts Center is set to hold a virtual talk between artist Alexander D’Agostino and historian David K. Johnson about the history of the Lavender Scare, a purge of government employees due to their sexuality during the Cold War, on Wednesday (June 8) at 6 p.m.
The center also plans to make the documentary “The Lavender Scare” available for virtual screening between Wednesday and Tuesday, June 14.
Family Pride Day
The Arlington Art Center organized Family Pride Day on Saturday (June 11) beginning at 10:30 a.m. It is free to the public, according to the event’s webpage. Art-making activities and readings from the Drag Queen Story Hour, where drag queens read stories to children, are set to take place.
Virtual talk with Alex Myers
The Arlington Public Library is set to host a virtual talk with transgender advocate and writer Alex Myers on Monday, June 13, between 6:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. It is open to people over 12. Those interested need to register for the event.
Pride Month for county employees
On Wednesday, June 15, OUTstanding, a LGBTQ+ employee resource group aimed at promoting diversity and inclusion in the Arlington County government, is set to host a Pride Month Proclamation and Celebration event for county employees to “celebrate living, working and thriving,” according to the event’s poster. The event is scheduled between noon and 1:30 p.m. in Courthouse Plaza at 2100 Clarendon Blvd. It is open to the public and no registration is needed.
Book club discussion
The library’s book club is also set to host a discussion session on books with LGBTQ+ themes and its June selection, “Leaving Isn’t the Hardest Thing” by Lauren Hough. The event is scheduled for Monday, June 27, between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. It is set to be held at the Campbell Room in the Shirlington branch library, at 4200 Campbell Avenue. It is only open to adults and registration is required.
Tucked away in an Arlington County storage facility is a shattered Tiffany Studios stained glass window of Jesus Christ in the act of blessing those who gaze on him.
For decades, it adorned The Abbey Mausoleum that once stood near Arlington National Cemetery. Light would have pierced the 12-paneled, 9-foot by 6-foot window, casting jewel tones on the burial site of the man to whom the window was dedicated — E. St. Clair Thompson, a wealthy Mason interred there in 1933.
Surrounding “Christ in Blessing,” fittingly, were 12 windows with a simple geometric border and a floral design in the middle.
The Abbey Mausoleum was once “a prestigious burial ground,” built by the United States Mausoleum Company in the 1920s, according to a write-up of the mausoleum and windows Arlington Arts provided to ARLnow.
“However, with the bankruptcy of the managing Abbey Mausoleum Corporation in the 1950s, the building fell victim to vandalism and neglect,” the report says.
So too did “Christ in Blessing,” which has lost many panels. When the U.S. Navy acquired the mausoleum site in 2000, it decided to tear down the Romanesque structure due to its poor condition.
“Arlington was permitted to salvage architectural features from the building, including the windows,” the document said. “At the same time, the enormous task of relocating remains and contacting the families of those interred at the mausoleum began.”
While removing the window, the county discovered a signature in the bottom right-hand corner — “Louis C. Tiffany, N.Y.” — tying the window to the famous Art Nouveau artisan, son of the founder of Tiffany & Co., and his stained glass studio.
“The inscription coincides with those used by Louis C. Tiffany at the time this window was created, confirming its authenticity to the degree possible absent written documentation regarding its commission,” the Arlington Arts document said.
The window was likely commissioned by Thompson’s family, although no records of that exist, Arlington Arts says.
Today, visitors can view some of the geometric windows at Arlington Arts Center and Westover Library. Those that were too damaged were broken into fragments to restore other windows. Visitors to the Fairlington Community Center can see a stained glass skylight that also ornamented the mausoleum.
For two decades, however, the county has held onto “Christ in Blessing,” which it has not displayed because it’s in poor condition and needs the right setting.
“Significant damage to the panel was sustained from vandalism during the four decades that the mausoleum sat abandoned, and it definitely needs restoration before it can be safely and properly displayed,” Arlington Arts spokesman Jim Byers, Jr. said.
Now, the county is on the cusp of finding a restorer and a permanent home. This Saturday, the County Board is slated to approve a loan agreement with Central United Methodist Church in Ballston, which has agreed to pay for restoration work and display the window after the church is rebuilt.
“The restoration is being overseen by Ballston Limited Partnership and the Central United Methodist Church, which can offer the liturgical setting that is ideal for the restored work,” Byers said.
The church is set to be redeveloped by the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing. The new, 8-story building on Fairfax Drive, near the Ballston Metro station, will include 144 committed affordable housing units and a childcare facility for up to 100 children. Construction is slated to start this fall and APAH expects work to finish by winter 2023-24.
All that would remain is to adorn the church with the resurrected Tiffany window.
Monday, June 21
One Across, One Down: The Most Popular “Sport” in the Country
Time: 3-4:30 p.m.
Encore Learning Presents and the Arlington Public Library is hosting crossword puzzle expert Adrienne Cadik to discuss her experience and offer tips on getting better at crossword puzzles. The event can be accessed via Zoom.
Tuesday, June 22
Drama Discoveries: Animal Adventures
Trinity Presbyterian Church (5533 16th Street N.)
Time: 9:15-10:15 a.m.
Soaring Starts is continuing its Tuesday/Thursday nature learning programs. On Tuesdays, the program focuses on “Animal Adventures” and educating children about natural habitats. On Thursdays, the “Worldly Wonders” program explores different locations around the planet. Classes are primarily held outdoors. Individual classes are $18 but with cheaper pricing on larger packages.
Wednesday, June 23
Virginia Hospital Center Diabetes Prevention Program
Time: 7-8 p.m.
The Virginia Hospital Center is hosting a year-long class focused on healthy eating, increased physical activity and weight management to lower the risk of Type 2 Diabetes. The class is $180.
Party like it’s 1991
The Plaza at Westpost (1201 S. Joyce Street)
Time: 5-8 p.m.
Grab your neon fanny pack and best 90’s attire, DC Fray is hosting a 90s-themed party with food and beverage from Aslin Beer Company, along with arcade games and interactive painting. Registration, along with some basic supplies, is $30.
Thursday, June 24
Beyond the Hashtag Book Club
Time: 7-8 p.m.
Arlington Public Library is hosting author Janet Mock to discuss her book Redefining Realness and experience growing up poor, multiracial and trans in America. The book discussion is part of a series discussing systemic racism. Attendees can register online.
Saturday, June 26
Civic Federation Election Reform Task Force Forum
Time: 10 a.m.-noon
The Arlington County Civic Federation Task Force in Governance and Election Reform is hosting its fourth in a series of forums on possible models to reform the county’s electoral system. Topics of discussion will include single and multi-member districts, implementation of nonpartisan elections, ranked choice voting and staggered terms.
Learn the Art and Science of Storytelling with Storymasters Toastmasters Club*
Time: 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
The Storymasters Toastmasters Club is hosting a class on storytelling tips and techniques, working on items like tone, timing, and engaging with your audience. The class is free with access information available on registration.
COMMUNITY PRIDE at Arlington Arts Center
Arlington Arts Center (3550 Wilson Blvd)
Time: Noon-5 p.m.
The Arlington Arts Center is hosting a family-friendly day celebrating LGBTIA+ community, artists, and contemporary art. Outdoor activities include various art-making activities and live music, and a reading by Citrine from Drag Queen Story Hour from 3-4 p.m. Inside, summer exhibitions will be on view for guests to explore eight galleries. This event is free and open to the public.
* Denotes sponsored listing
Last month, the non-profit arts organization at 3550 Wilson Blvd in the Virginia Square area announced that it is conducting a national search to hire a new leader.
The search is being headed up by D.C.-based Good Insight, which specializes in recruiting executive-level talent for non-profits.
Former executive director Holly Koons departed in October to become director of the newly-opened Christopher Newport University Fine Arts Center in Newport News. Koons was with AAC for four years.
In the meantime, the arts center’s Board of Directors has named Blair Murphy, Curator of Exhibitions since 2018, to serve as acting director.
Murphy said the organization has received more than 75 applications so far for the position, which pays in the $90,000s, according to the job announcement.
She says that many applicants are local, but they have received qualified applicants from California, Washington, Indiana, and even internationally. Many of the applicants are professional arts administrators, but she says they have also gotten some from folks “who care about the arts personally but pursued another profession.”
The quality of applicants, Murphy writes, is impressive, though she noted that there is “no one perfect profile.”
The organization is looking for someone who will deepen the Arts Center’s impact in Arlington by strengthening community partnerships, raising visibility, and broadening support.
As one of the only dedicated venues for visual arts in the county, the Arlington Arts Center and its new director will need to be able to communicate with various types of audiences.
“Our new director will be someone who can connect with all of the audiences and communities we serve,” Murphy writes. “Adults and kids who participate in our education programs, art-lovers who come to see our exhibitions, and artists who exhibit in our galleries and participate in our residency program.”
The job listing also notes that the organization is in “stable immediate financial position” due largely to a PPP loan from 2020 and a bequest received in 2019. The annual budget has been in the range of $650,000 over the last several years, the listing says, which is supported by individuals, grants, foundations, and revenue from education programs and rentals.
There are currently three full time staffers but there’s room for at least two new hires in 2021, including the executive director.
One of those hires, Murphy tells ARLnow, would be to replace a recently-departed staff member who was in a marketing and administrative role. That is in addition to part-time, contract, and volunteer support as well as 15 to 20 class instructors.
The announcement requests that those applying for the executive director position do so by February 4 for “best consideration.” However, Murphy says that they will continue to review applications through the month and expects to announce the new hire in late spring.
Arlington Arts Center was founded in 1974 and is located in the historic former Maury School. The building is leased through a partnership with Arlington County; it holds nine exhibit galleries, studio space for artists, three classrooms, offices, and event rental space.
Currently, the galleries remain closed, but a public art project that first debuted in the summer remains on display on the front lawn. The project depicts 25 wooden slave ships formed from driftwood found in the Chesapeake Bay.
Overall, the arts scene in Arlington was decimated in 2020 due to the pandemic, losing more than $10 million in revenue.
Photo courtesy of Amanda Browder and Arlington Arts Center
This column is written and sponsored by Arlington Arts / Arlington Cultural Affairs, a division of Arlington Economic Development.
The scenery audiences see on stage can be one of the most impressive aspects of a performance, virtually transporting audiences into a different time and space.
But for small and mid-sized presenters, the labor and skill intensive construction of elaborate hand built sets can be cost prohibitive. Arlington Cultural Affairs/Arlington Arts has found innovative ways to bring new advances in digital projection technology to impact performances ranging from chamber music and outdoor festivals, to student productions.
“Projections have opened up an entirely new way for smaller groups to enhance the production quality that was previously unavailable to them,” says Arlington Cultural Affairs/Arlington Arts Theater Technician Andres Luque. “A graphic designer can create either a static or a moving backdrop. We can create the sensation of flying, falling snow, a dense forest or bustling city streets.”
Arlington Arts repurposed projection equipment from larger venues such as the Rosslyn Spectrum Theatre, located in the soon-to-be redeveloped Rosslyn Plaza complex on Wilson Boulevard. Now installed in smaller venues such as Thomas Jefferson Community Theatre, and Gunston Theatre Two, it is having a profound impact on a broad range of ensembles, including Avant-Bard and Dominion Stage.
The impact of the technology isn’t limited to the confines of a theater. For the last few years, thousands of patrons and passersby have enjoyed the 3D Mapping projections on the façade of Arlington Arts Center for their annual Dia De Los Muertos Celebration (coming up on Saturday, November 2).
Last year, in partnership with the Center, Arlington Cultural Affairs/Arlington Arts commissioned artists Mas Paz and Robin Bell to design striking work (in 2017, Bell collaborated with Edgar Reyes). “Using 3-D Mapping technology, we can bend the artists image to create a striking, color-saturated image on the varied surfaces of the building,” says Luque, “all without a drop of paint on the historic brick façade.”
“It’s like being inside an MTV video,” is how a patron described the experience to Leo Sushansky, Artistic Director of the National Chamber Ensemble (NCE). Check out their video clip below from NCE’s May, 2019 world premiere performance of Alexander Goldstein’s “Introspective Piano Trio” for violin, cello, piano and computer.
The Ensemble’s 2019 season begins with a Mozart Celebration on Saturday, October 19, but the season includes an encore presentation of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons — the work for which they first began using multi-media presentations.
While hearing the familiar music, audiences see images of landscape paintings by Italian artist Marco Ricci that were the inspiration for Vivaldi’s 1725 masterwork. Each concerto also is accompanied by sonnets, believed to be written by Vivaldi himself to accompany the compositions transition between the seasons.
“After seeing the Four Seasons by NCE,” audiences tell Sushansky “they’ll never hear it the same way again.”
Arlington Cultural Affairs plans on surveying artists within a 50-mile radius of the county as part of a proposal to bring affordable artist housing to Arlington.
A feasibility study said that such a survey would “definitively reveal whether a market for artist housing exists and whether an affordable housing-funded model… would be considered affordable by prospective, income-qualifying tenants.”
The survey will ask artists to “express their interest” in the affordable housing project and detail their “current and future needs in a live/work space,” according to an event page for a presentation and question and answer session which will kick off the “Arts Market” survey.
That presentation, on Thursday (March 22) from 6-8 p.m. at the Arlington Arts Center, will precede a reception where artists can take the survey and mingle.
The survey is expected to cost between $30,000 and $42,500 and would be paid for by the nonprofit Arlington Foundation for Arts and Innovation, which also paid for the preliminary feasibility study.
Artspace, the national arts non-profit based in Minneapolis, Minn., that is collaborating with Arlington Cultural Affairs, has so far led four focus groups to discuss area artist housing needs, according to the study.
The feasibility found that “affordable housing and live/work space was expressed as a need, particularly in the context of anticipated rising rents and the increasing lack of affordable for-sale housing” and cited community feedback that there wasn’t a central artistic gathering place.
That study pointed out four potential neighborhoods for the project — Virginia Square, Columbia Pike, Crystal City, and the Four Mile Run Valley — but specifically noted that central Rosslyn didn’t make sense for the project because of the density and traffic congestion.
Artspace has already finished two projects in the area, in Washington and in Mount Rainier, Md., and is set to launch another in Silver Spring, Md., later this year.
“It is clear that area jurisdictions are finding that communities are strengthened and made vibrant by a strong arts presence,” wrote Jim Byers, the Arlington Cultural Affairs marketing director, in an email to ARLnow.com.
“The Arts Market Survey is the next step towards determining how Arlington might best leverage the creative energies that exist in our region and encourage still more artists to make their home here.”
ACPD Cameo on ‘Homeland’ — The Arlington County Police Department made a brief appearance last week on the TV show “Homeland.” [Twitter]
EFC Development Stalled — “Seven years ago, the county blessed a vision of new ‘transitown’ development of stores, greenery and new pedestrian access around the East Falls Church Metro. But that utilitarian commuter site is largely unchanged.” [Falls Church News-Press]
New Logo, Website for AAC — Thanks to a philanthropic grant, the Arlington Arts Center has new branding and a “new, mobile-friendly site reflecting our enduring commitment to excellent contemporary art, quality educational programs, and our artist residency program.” [Arlington Arts Center]
A total of 21 financial grants were distributed, totaling $215,810, with the majority of recipients also being granted the use of county facilities and technical services. Twelve other organizations were granted the use of county facilities and technical services under the so-called Space and Services Grant.
“The arts enrich our lives and enliven our community,” said County Board chair Jay Fisette in a statement. “The Arts Grants program supports a diverse arts community in Arlington.”
There was a rigorous application process to receive the grants, which total $215,810. According to a report by county staff, the Arlington Commission for the Arts Grant Recommendations used a two-step grant application process that also included a mandatory attendance at grant preparation workshops.
Of the 28 grant applications asking for financial support in FY 2018, the Commission received 21 from nonprofit art organizations and seven from individual artists. The county received 54 applications in total.
The commission allocated three different kinds of grants for artists:
- Individual Artist Grants — direct financial support for an individual artist on a proposed work that they describe in their grant application
- Project Grants — direct financial support for a specific project proposed by an organization
- Space & Service Grants — grants for performance/rehearsal space and technical services for an organization.
The biggest organizations to receive grants include Washington Shakespeare Co., UrbanArias and the Arlington Arts Center.
The full list of grant recipients after the jump.
It’s finally going to feel like May today, with the temperature nearing 90 degrees — just in time for some outdoor chocolate sampling.
The event is being held from 6-8 p.m. at the Arlington Arts Center in Virginia Square (3550 Wilson Blvd).
Andelman and Springfield will be discussing their methods and how they got their start in art and business. Chocolate samples and light refreshments will be provided. Admission is free, but registration is required.
Zoning Board Rules in Favor of Gun Store — Arlington Board of Zoning Appeals has rejected a challenge to the Certificate of Occupancy for Nova Firearms, the gun store at 2300 N. Pershing Drive in Lyon Park. A group of residents filed the appeal, claiming that the store’s owner submitted false information to the county. [Daily Caller]
Complaints About Aircraft Noise in Barcroft — Residents of Arlington’s Barcroft neighborhood are organizing a working group to address the issue of aircraft noise, particularly noise from low-flying helicopters. [Chamandy.org]
Another IRS Phone Scam — Arlington residents are reporting yet another phone scam. If someone calls you out of the blue, says they’re from the IRS and tries to get you to reveal personal information, it’s probably a scam. [WJLA]
New Leader for Arlington Arts Center — Holly Koons McCullough has been named the new executive director of the Arlington Arts Center. Previously, McCullough served as director of the Greater Reston Arts Center. [Washington City Paper]
New Director of Transportation for APS — The Arlington School Board has approved the appointment of Angel Garcia-Ablanque as the school system’s new Director of Transportation. He was previously Assistant Director of Transportation for Montgomery County Public Schools. [Arlington Public Schools]
Fundraiser at Celtic House — Celtic House (2500 Columbia Pike) is holding a fundraiser for two veterans organizations today. The Irish pub, an ARLnow.com advertiser, will be donating a portion of all sales today to Wings for Warriors and Links to Freedom.
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf