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UPDATE: Artist Emerges for Mysterious Street Art in Pentagon City, Crystal City

(Update at 4:25 p.m.) After this article was published, Carol Fuller, president of the Crystal City Civic Association, reached out with some clarity on the origin of the street art:

The art projects are the work of JBG Smith, the major developer in Crystal and Pentagon Cities.  They have so many projects in the works, including PenPlace where the bikes are now located on the wall, that they wanted to “beautify” the project areas. They did this as a “small mini intervention” project to link Pentagon and Crystal Cities and create some “buzz” for their development projects in an interesting and more attractive way. The work was done by Ground Swell, a company of architects, landscapers, and artists from Philadelphia.

The mysterious street art cropping up around Pentagon City and Crystal City seems to be evolving.

Readers first alerted to ARLnow to a series of spray-painted flowers popping up all along 12th Street S. and S. Eads Street earlier this month. Several colorful bikes adorned with flowers appeared on street corners soon afterward, though no one in the county government or local business community had any idea who was responsible for the art.

This week, the bikes remain, but have migrated slightly. Many are now mounted on the wall of a bike and pedestrian trail running along 12th Street S., between S. Fern Street and S. Eads Street, not far from the Pentagon City Metro station. Others are affixed to walls alongside S. Eads Street itself.

Some readers say they’ve spotted a pick-up truck full of workers dropping off the bikes, though it remains unclear who is backing the public art effort. Reader Christine Brown was able to snap a picture of the truck, which is labeled “The Property Coach.”

State records show no indication of any business with such a name, and an internet search was fruitless as well.

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Grand Opening Scheduled for Gallery Clarendon Saturday

Gallery Clarendon is celebrating its grand opening.

On Saturday (Sept. 15), the Gallery Clarendon will officially open at the corner of Clarendon Blvd. and and Fillmore St. in the former Fuego restaurant corner.

Gallery Clarendon is the newest professional art gallery created by the Arlington Artists Alliance, and first opened its doors in late June.

The grand opening will start with festivities at 11 a.m. with activities for adults and children. A more adult-oriented wine reception runs from 5-8 p.m., catered by nearby restaurants and featuring the music of local band HYFY. The reception will give visitors a chance to meet and mingle with the gallery artists.

The Gallery Clarendon will showcase art from local artists and manage professional artist studios. The professional studios on the second floor of Gallery Clarendon will be open daily to the public from 11 a.m.-7 p.m.

The gallery will also host events and offer classes for aspiring artists, operating an art academy that will offer day and night classes for adults and children.

On the second Fridays of every month, Gallery Clarendon will host a free opening reception for a new exhibit. Each month, the main gallery space will change with a fresh show from a different local artist.

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Mysterious Artwork Blooms Between Pentagon City, Crystal City

(Updated at 2 p.m.) A series of spray-painted flowers have bloomed on streets and trails around Pentagon City and Crystal City — but no one we’ve talked to is quite sure who’s responsible for them.

Eagle-eyed ARLnow reader Margot Duzak says she first spotted the flowers popping up in the area last Thursday (Aug. 30), without any explanation.

The flowers come in a whole host of colors and designs, with some running along 12th Street S., between S. Fern Street and S. Eads Street, on curbs and a trail not far from the Pentagon City Metro station.

From there, the artwork extends on curbs, sidewalks and bike lanes on S. Eads Street up until it meets 15th Street S., near the road’s intersection with Jefferson Davis Highway in Crystal City.

But the flowers aren’t the work of the county government — spokeswoman Jennifer Smith says she couldn’t find anyone responsible for the blooms, noting that staffers with the county’s Department of Environmental Services, Walk Arlington and Bike Arlington were all unaware of the flowers.

Crystal City Business Improvement District Chief Operating Officer Rob Mandle was similarly stumped.

Some colorful, flower-decorated bikes have also started popping up in the area of spray-painted flowers.

While the artist responsible may be unknown, for now, Duzak says the art is quite the welcome addition to the neighborhood.

“The bike lanes and sidewalks have never looked better,” she said.

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County Board Contenders Call for Boost in Arts Grants, Differ on Private Sector’s Role

Both contenders for the lone County Board seat on the ballot this fall say they want to see more money go toward grants for local artists, though they differ a bit on the exact logistics.

In a forum focused on the county’s arts scene, hosted by Embracing Arlington Arts and Arlington Independent Media earlier this month, both independent incumbent John Vihstadt and Democratic nominee Matt de Ferranti emphasized that the arts have such a vital role to play in the county’s cultural and economic health that the county needs to subsidize local programs.

Furthermore, both candidates want to see the county restore the $30,000 the Board slashed from the new year’s budget in funding for “Challenge Grants,” which provide some matching funds for artists who attract private donations. Vihstadt and de Ferranti both advocated for even increasing the amount offered through the program in future budget cycles, even with the county facing an uncertain financial future due to Metro funding obligations and a persistently high office vacancy rate.

Though the forum was light on stark disagreements between the two, Vihstadt painted the private sector as having an especially large role to play in supporting the arts. Though he remains confident the county will be able to eventually increase grant funding, he cautioned that Arlington’s “economic headwinds” will inevitably limit what the county can do.

“The arts are going to have to step up to the plate a bit, maybe to a greater degree than the art community has, in terms of really leveraging those private sector resources,” Vihstadt said. “The government can be a catalyst, it can help with climate change of a sort, but the government can’t do it all.”

He pointed out that the Board already took one step in the direction of encouraging artists to embrace the private sector when it restored $70,000 in funding for AIM originally set to be cut from the fiscal 2019 budget, which came with the condition that the organization pursue matching funding from donors.

“That was controversial, but I felt it was the right thing to do to encourage and really make sure that AIM would further reach out into that community and bring in those private sector dollars,” Vihstadt said.

De Ferranti says he was certainly glad to see those AIM cuts reversed, calling them “short sighted,” but he was more willing to see a role for direct county spending, connecting the success of Arlington’s arts scene to its economic prosperity.

“If we view this as a zero-sum game, then Arlington will lose in the long term,” de Ferranti said. “We have to see it as how we can grow together and have the vision to find the right investments to move us forward so the budget isn’t so tight… We have to think about, how do we create an environment where millenials don’t want to go to the Wharf and the Anthem, but want to stay in Crystal City, or at least consider it.”

Beyond direct subsidies, de Ferranti also expects the county can do more to help artists afford to live in Arlington. For instance, he pointed to the Maggie Walker Community Land Trust in Richmond as a model for the sort of program the county could experiment with to make home ownership more affordable — the nonprofit acquires single-family homes to sell to qualified buyers at affordable prices, but maintains ownership of the land itself. That helps the nonprofit reap the benefit of any increase in market value when owners decide to sell, which it uses to keep prices affordable going forward.

De Ferranti foresees the county creating a similar system matching artists, or even groups of artists in co-op communities, with affordable homes.

“Artists desperately want to live here… but in Arlington, being middle class is not easy,” de Ferranti said. “We need to make sure we’re caring for folks who need the chance to get up that economic ladder.”

Yet Vihstadt and de Ferranti both expressed confidence that space in the Four Mile Run valley in Nauck will someday be home to more affordable studio space for artists of all stripes. Though the creation of an “arts district” in the area has at times stirred controversy throughout a lengthy planning process for the valley, both candidates say they feel such a solution is the right fit for its future.

“We will have an arts district in harmony with the other uses around that park area, and we’ll have that synergy,” Vihstadt said.

Photo via YouTube

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‘Art Attack’ Planned for Lubber Run Community Center Ahead of Its Demolition

Arlington’s first purpose-built community center will receive an art-heavy send-off from 5-9 p.m. tonight (Thursday).

Lubber Run Community Center (300 N. Park Drive), built in 1956, will be demolished to pave the way for an updated facility.

But before all that, community members will have the chance to say goodbye with art activities like paint bombs, life-size silhouette painting and a group mural, paired with a live DJ and food trucks, at an event dubbed “Art Attack.”

The center closed to the public on July 6, but will reopen for this evening’s festivities. The county projects that construction on the new center begin later this year and be wrapped up by 2020.

Photo via Arlington County

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New LED Public Art Installation Coming to Rosslyn’s Central Place Plaza

A colorful, constantly changing public art installation is now on the way for Rosslyn’s Central Place.

Arlington Public Art is teaming up with the Rosslyn Business Improvement District and developer JBG Smith to host the new work of art at Central Place Plaza (1800 N. Lynn Street), just across from the Metro station.

California-based artist Cliff Garten will be working to install and program the piece from now until Thursday (July 12), according to a county press release. The 150-foot-wide, 15-foot-tall LED artwork, titled “Gravity and Grace,” will be projected onto the top two floors of the parking garage at the site.

“The ever-changing artwork incorporates real-time environmental data that organizes its spectral shifts of color,” the county arts program wrote in the release. “Both color field painting and blues guitar inspired the design of the artwork. If the work of art were played on a guitar, you might say that the programmed environmental factors are really what are strumming the chords of color you see on the wall.”

The county added that Norm Schwab of the design firm Lightswitch and artist Pablo Molina helped write algorithms for the artwork “that drives the color and motion transitions in the artwork.”

“The significant pieces of real-time environmental data tied to the artwork vary daily and show significant fluctuations over long periods of time, such as temperature and extreme weather tied to climate change,” the county wrote. “This shifting data introduces chance into the structure of the artwork pulling data from factors like local variations in Arlington’s temperature, river level, traffic patterns or water usage.”

Garten, who is also the designer behind the “Corridor of Light” art installation coming to N. Lynn Street’s intersection with Lee Highway and I-66, will host an “on-site artist talk” about the installation tonight. The event will start at 9 p.m.

Photo via Arlington Public Art

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Stunning Showcase Returns During 6th Annual Arlington Festival of the Arts

Washington Boulevard in Clarendon will transform into an art-lover’s paradise this weekend — April 21-22 — during the 6th Annual Arlington Festival of the Arts.

One hundred and fifty national and international artists are set to display their fine works from across the globe in a prestigious show encompassing fine jewelry, exquisite works of art and hand-crafted apparel and decor. Whether your passions run to sparkling jewels and one of a kind paintings, crafted glasswork or to an art deco sculpture, you are sure to find it during the free, two-day event. Ample parking is available and pets on leashes are always welcomed.

Presented by Howard Alan Events (HAE), producer of the nation’s finest juried art shows, the 6th Annual Arlington Festival of the Arts represents original, hand-crafted artwork selected by an independent panel of expert judges from hundreds of applicants. HAE’s careful vetting process also ensures a wide array of mediums and price ranges will be offered during the Festival.

When: Saturday, April 21 and Sunday, April 22 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Where: 3003 Washington Blvd., Arlington, VA 22201
Cost: Free and open to the public
Contact: [email protected] or 561-746-6615

Festival At-a-Glance:

  • Juried, first-class outdoor art gallery showcasing local and national artists
  • Original handmade artwork
  • 150 national and international artists
  • Artists hand-selected by independent panel of expert judges from hundreds of applicants
  • All artists on site for duration of festival
  • Vast array of artistic media including paintings, sculptures, photography, ceramics, glass, wood, handmade jewelry, collage, mixed media
  • Ample parking available and pets on leashes welcome

About Howard Alan Events, Inc.:                                                                           

Howard Alan Events, a Florida-based company, produces the nation’s top juried art and craft shows. Ranked among the Top 100 Art Fairs in the Country by Sunshine Artist Magazine, the 34-years established company has overseen art festivals in such noted cities as Aspen, CO; Sarasota, FL; Fort Lauderdale, FL and 40 other destination markets in the nation.

For additional information on the Annual Arlington Festival of the Arts and other Howard Alan Events art and craft shows across the country, visit www.artfestival.com or call 561-746-6615.

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Morning Notes

Beyer’s GOP Challenger Holding Arlington Event — “Republican congressional candidate Thomas Oh will host a campaign kickoff on Tuesday, April 24 from 5 to 8 p.m. at Spider Kelly’s, 3181 Wilson Blvd. Oh is the GOP challenger to U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-8th), who is seeking a third term. He was the only Republican to file for the nomination.” [InsideNova]

Local Scenes on Sale at Arts Fest — Among the artists at the upcoming Arlington Festival of the Arts in Clarendon will be Joseph Craig English, whose “silkscreens and lithographs capture local landmarks and street corners in vivid colors,” including “an architectural juxtaposition of old buildings and new construction in Courthouse; Potomac River vistas; local murals and street signs known to commuters who’ve passed by them for years.” [Arlington Magazine]

Arlington Tourism Surtax Gets Gov’s Signature — “The Arlington County government will be able to continue collecting a surtax on hotel stays to pay for tourism promotion, now that Gov. Northam has signed legislation extending the measure for three more years.” [InsideNova]

Don’t Try This at Home — Per scanner traffic, police officers responding to a call yesterday afternoon were advised that “the suspect is known for using hand sanitizer as an alcoholic drink.”

Nearby: Alexandria OKs More Funding for Metro Station — “Plans to build a new Metro station at Potomac Yard in Alexandria, Virginia, took a crucial step forward Tuesday. Alexandria City Council unanimously approved raising the budget from $268 million to $320 million. The change was made in part to reflect the rising cost of materials and labor.” [WTOP]

Photo by Dwayne Stewart

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Morning Notes

More on Art Truck — Arlington’s new art truck will bring “hands-on experiences to schools and public events.” The art truck’s offerings are curated by Cynthia Connolly, who was involved in Arlington’s punk music scene in the 80s and 90s. There is no direct cost to county taxpayers, since the art truck is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts and other contributions. [WTOP, Twitter]

Pitch, Hit, Run Event in Arlington — Boys and girls ages 7-14 can participate in the Scotts MLB Pitch Hit & Run skills challenge at Barcroft Park Friday night. There is no registration fee and the first place overall champion in each age group will advance to the next round of competition. [Eventbrite]

Renovations at Culpepper Garden — A major renovation project will soon be getting underway at Culpepper Garden, a retirement home for low and very-low income seniors age 62 years and older. Built in the 70s, Culpepper Garden is undergoing renovations of its 204 original apartments and some of the building’s amenities. [Connection Newspapers]

Photo courtesy of our local tech guru, Alex Chamandy

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Morning Notes

Arlington Population Up in Latest Estimate — The new annual U.S. Census population estimates are out and Arlington County has added nearly 5,000 people. The estimate of Arlington’s population on July 1, 2017 is is 234,965, according to the Census Bureau website. That’s considerably higher than a recent UVA estimate. The previous Census Bureau estimate was 230,050 on July 1, 2016. [U.S. Census Bureau]

Festival of the Arts to Return — The annual Arlington Festival of the Arts is returning to Clarendon from April 21-22. The outdoor event features more than 100 artists showcasing — and selling — their work. [Facebook]

Standout Athletes of YHS — A recently-completed webpage highlights more than 50 years worth of standout athletes from Yorktown High School. [Yorktown Alums]

Photo courtesy of our local tech guru, Alex Chamandy

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Gallery Clarendon Opening Delayed Over Permit

The Clarendon Art Gallery opening has been delayed to early May.

Signs went up for Gallery Clarendon on March 9, and the nonprofit gallery intended to open this Sunday (April 1). However, it has not yet received its occupancy permit from the county.

Jane Coonce, Gallery Clarendon’s executive director, told ARLnow that she had applied before the signs had gone up for the occupancy permit. She expressed disappointment that it hadn’t come through yet, but was understanding.

Noting that the time of her permit application coincided with spring break, Coonce added that she’s “sure any employees who had kids probably had to stay home with the kids, so that might have put the county behind.”

Until a permanent commercial tenant is found, the gallery, built and developed by volunteers, will call the former Fuego Cocina y Taquileria space home, rent-free other than utilities costs.

The cavernous first floor space will host the gallery, while the second floor will accommodate artist studios and art classes for both children and adults.

Though Coonce said that equipment cannot be installed until the gallery has received its occupancy permit, the build out will be finished by the end of the day on Friday, and volunteers will have the space cleaned up by Saturday.

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Artfest Week Returns to Woodmont’s Fort C.F. Smith

Arlington’s annual spring Artfest Week starts today (March 16) at Fort C.F. Smith Park.

An opening reception at the Hendry House this evening, from 6-8 p.m., will allow residents to meet local artists over light refreshments while kicking off a week of art shows, workshops, and sales. The celebrations feature 35 Arlington-based artists.

The week of events, in its fifteenth year running, will be held at Fort C.F. Smith Park, at 2411 24th Street N. All events are free admission.

Artistic workshops cover a variety of mediums, from watercolor to oil bars to canvas floor painting. A full list of workshops and kids activities can be found on the Arlington Artists Alliance website.

Organizers have advertised the following hours for the festival:

  • Friday, March 16, 6-8 p.m.
  • Saturday, March 17, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Sunday, March 18, 12-5 p.m.
  • Tuesday-Thursday, March 20-22, 12-4 p.m.
  • Friday, March 23, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
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Arlington Artist Mas Paz Teaches, Paints Murals Across the Globe

Though his art can be spotted across the globe, artist Mas Paz calls Arlington home.

Mas Paz, whose real name is Federico Frum, describes his work as indigenous contemporary art, using graffiti and standard bucket paint as his media.

“I started kind of playing with this indigenous typography kind of style, which wasn’t graffiti letters but more like line work letters,” Frum said of his early graffiti tagging days during a trip to Brazil. “[It] kind of looked like maybe Mayan hieroglyphic lines with actually letters. So that was really fun.”

His work has been featured at the Smithsonian Institution, the Corcoran Gallery Art, and New York City’s The New Museum, but his murals can be found as far away as Pakistan and Mexico and as closeby as Crystal City. Frum has traveled the world to teach mural workshops, and in February he was invited by the American embassy in El Salvador to teach children how to paint street murals.

Born in Bogota, Colombia, Frum — whose pseudonym means “more peace” in Spanish — was adopted when he was a year old and raised in Arlington. He graduated from George Mason University with a degree in art and visual technology in 2005.

Frum moved to Brooklyn a year after graduating, living there for seven years while selling t-shirts on the street in between 3D modeling and screen printing. He then traveled through South America before returning to Arlington ready to come home. He now works out of his house in the Arlington Ridge neighborhood.

“I was really hungry to do a lot of projects here in D.C.,” Frum said. “I’m so happy I’m back here and it’s so cool I can keep it rooted so that where I come from I represent, but also go to places, other countries, or go to other cities and do a lot of work.”

Mas Paz initially started as just Paz, his New York graffiti tag. That was before his friend Youth Waste approached him to create his own stickers, and Paz didn’t fit neatly on the square template that they wanted. That’s when Frum decided to send more of a message, adding the mas to paz. Frum also wanted a message so in 2012 when he added Mas Paz, which translates to more peace in English, he had found the right fit and meaning.

Indigenous art has become a way for Frum to express and explore who he is, even though there are pieces of him he will never truly know, such as where exactly he was born. Five percent of all his project earnings go toward the orphanage that he lived in as a child, La Casa de La Madre y El Nino.

There are no days off for Frum, but he says that it never feels like he’s working when he’s making art. The work makes the days fly by, and he doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon.

“I intend to be 90 years old and still creating,” he said.

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Castle Carved Out of Tree Trunk Outside East Falls Church Home

A tree set for removal outside an East Falls Church home has instead been turned into a castle.

The home, at the intersection of N. Underwood Street and 26th Street N. is near Bishop O’Connell High School and Tuckahoe Elementary School.

The homeowners did not respond to requests for comment, but a neighbor said the castle was carved by a local artist out of a tree that needed to be taken down.

It is approximately 7-8 feet tall, and the “detail involved is truly unbelievable,” the neighbor said. At first glance, it looks like the kind of castles found in Germany, where many castles sit among mountains.

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Italo Frame Store Open in Clarendon

The new Ten at Clarendon apartment building at 3110 10th Street N. has its first open retail tenant: frame store Italo Frame.

Open for about two weeks, owner Nasir Ester said it has a wide selection of frames as well as deeper shadow boxes for several photographs or other memorabilia.

Ester said he has been involved in the framing business for over 30 years. He previously owned Alna Art & Framing in Alexandria. The new store has frames from across Europe of all different colors and materials.

“You bring it, I will frame it for you,” he said.

The store is on the building’s westernmost corner, across the street from Fire Station 4.

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