Arlington, VA

Last night, an art shop along Lee Highway debuted a brand new mural from a Spanish artist.

“I think it’s going to be a nice ‘talk of the town,'” said Jimmy Hakimi, who owns the business, KH Art & Framing. “It’s a nice art for the area. We are an art gallery so it makes sense.”

The shop is located at the busy intersection of Lee Highway and N. Glebe Road, which made the building ideal for local officials looking to find a home for the public art that the Spanish Embassy was hoping to commission locally. The painter behind the new mural is Spanish artist David de la Mano.

“Hopefully it will bring some customers, but that wasn’t the main use,” said Hakimi, who has run the businesses for 33 years.

De la Mano is known for his monochromatic murals depicting groups of people fighting forces and fears, often intertwined with elements of nature like branches or animals.

His Arlington mural depicts ragtag groups of people marching forward with spindly flags upwards in an overgrown forest — inside of a person’s skull.

“He was a really fun artist to work with,” said Ginger Brown, vice president of the Lee Highway Alliance, which helped coordinate the project.

The Spanish embassy in D.C. had originally commissioned de la Mano for its own annual, mural project inside the embassy before looking for public art opportunities the artist could take advantage while in the area.

“It seems like it was a wonderful opportunity to have David’s work in Arlington,” said Ernesto Coro, a cultural affairs officer with the embassy who added the country liked to see “have the imprint of Spain” on the street.

The county has long sought to redevelop the area along Lee Highway, a mostly car-oriented stretch of parking lots and businesses between the East Falls Church Metro station and the Lyon Village neighborhood near Rosslyn. In 2016, the county-appointed Lee Highway Alliance released plans to study ways of transforming the region an “attractive, prosperous, safe, healthy, and livable main street community.”

“We’ve always wanted to incorporate public art into the corridor,” said Brown. “That includes temporary and permanent public art.”

Altogether she said the project cost around $7,000 — $6,000 of that went to de la Mano and another $1,000 went to buy the paint. Arlington developer BCN Homes covered the cost of the paint while the Spanish embassy and developer JBG Smith split the artist fees. Real estate firm Long & Foster sponsored Monday night’s ribbon-cutting ceremony.

 The mural itself is titled “Changes Begins Within,” a title Brown said fits the corridor.

“It goes along with Lee Highway. It’s changing,” she said. “Our organization is a grassroots organization so we’re within. Change from within.”

Hakimi said the wall of his business at 4745 Lee Highway is usually repainted every five years, which means de la Mano’s mural may be only temporary.

“It’s possible that we keep it going,” he said. “As long as people like, we keep it.”

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The pop-up plaza next to the county’s surface parking lot in Courthouse has been adorned with a new piece of public art.

The mural is the creation of local graphic designer and artist Marc Pekala. Set to debut tomorrow (Friday) at Courthouse’s PARK(ing) Day celebration, at the corner of 15th Street N. and N. Uhle Street, the abstract art combines eight of Pekala’s paintings of signs from iconic Arlington businesses such as Weenie Beenie and the former Bob Peck Chevrolet.

The design was chosen through the “Arlington Abstracted” contest, in which people were invited to visit the Arlington Art Truck and scramble Pekala’s artwork. The winning design, by Arlington resident Brandon Bailey, was chosen by Arlington Arts to be brought to life by Pekala as the new Courthouse mural.

“The whole process with the Arlington Art Truck was wonderful,” said Pekala. “Listening to people share their memories of Arlington brought back by the older signs may have been my favorite part. So often I work in solitude, and the feeling of community and the pleasure of sharing was a real treat.”

PARK(ing) Day is a national event that asks the public to reconsider the use of parking spaces as public land. Pekala’s mural will span across three former parking spaces, the “last remaining vestige of the original Arlington County Courthouse site from 1898,” according to a release from Arlington Arts.

The public is “invited to celebrate the mural” and meet the artist Friday from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. The event will include an opportunity for attendees to create their own miniature, take-home versions of the mural, according to Arlington Arts.

Photo (3) courtesy of Arlington Arts 

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“Virginia is for lovers. No KKK.”

The owner of the shed on 19th Road N. had no intention of being at the center of a civil rights message, but the back of his property expresses a message of tolerance to anyone riding the Metro through the East Falls Church station or taking the Washington and Old Dominion Trail.

The sign says Virginia is for Lovers — a slogan for the state — with “KKK” surrounded by a big red “no” sign.

The sign has been noted a number of times on Twitter since 2018, with tweets mainly expressing support for the message. But the owner of the shed said he didn’t put the sign up and has no idea who did or when.

“The first I heard about it was when one of my neighbors said ‘have you seen the back of your shed?'” said the man, who was wearing a National Rife Association t-shirt when a reporter stopped by to ask about the message on Monday.

The back wall of the shed is accessible from the trail but difficult to reach from the ground.

“I’ll say this, whoever put it up was talented,” the man said. “It’s up in the air, so they needed a ladder to get up there. And the spacing between the letters… it’s nicely done.”

But while the man (who did not want to give his name) was not opposed to the message, he was a little concerned about courting controversy or retaliation — particularly with white nationalist activity cropping up throughout the area. He said he was worried someone could come along and burn the building down.

Those who want to see the artwork should come sooner rather than later though, as the owner said he plans to place vinyl siding around the shed a some point in the near future, thus covering up the message in the process.

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A 26-foot-tall sculpture of a fire nozzle is coming to the new location of Fire Station 10 as a tribute to Arlington firefighters.

The artwork is the result of a partnership between Arlington Public Art and Penzance, the developer behind the upcoming massive development in western Rosslyn dubbed “The Highlands.”

Set to open in 2021, The Highlands will be the future site of the new Fire Station 10. Currently, the station is temporarily located at 1791 N. Quinn Street.

“This is our first opportunity to integrate public art into a fire station, which is a recommendation in Arlington County’s Public Art Master Plan,” said Angela Adams, Director of Arlington Public Art, in a press release. “Partnering with Penzance has allowed us to honor the history of Fire Station 10 through an enriching piece of public art for all to enjoy for years to come.”

Baltimore artists David and Eli Hess were commissioned for the artwork, which was funded by Penzance as a part of The Highlands development process.

The sculpture, described by officials as “larger-than-life,” will be fabricated from the same bronze used in actual firefighting nozzles. More from the press release:

The nozzle of the piece will act as a giant sconce or torch mounted to the side of the building. At night, a light inside the nozzle will illuminate the spray of water above. The water will be made from stainless steel pipe, twisting and bending in a quasi-spiral formation. The entire sculpture will be 26-feet-tall, attached 8 feet above the ground, extending to the top of the station’s façade. The stainless steel and bronze of the sculpture contrast the dark brick of the station, and the stainless water spray will shine at night against the rich red glow of the brick behind.

The Highlands, on the 1500 block of Wilson Blvd, will include three towers, up to 27 stories, with 104 condos, 780 apartments and 40,000 square feet of retail space.

Images courtesy of Penzance

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Commuters today may have noticed a new addition to Rosslyn — namely, 800 colorful leaves hanging in the Central Place Plaza.

The leaves are part of an art project commissioned by the Rosslyn Business Improvement District (BID) for the development at 1800 N. Lynn Street. The project was designed by D.C.-based artist Linny Giffin, co-founder of The Lemon Collective in Petworth.

Giffin told ARLnow that the BID wanted a seasonal design — and something colorful.

“I wanted to work with something new and challenge myself and threw this idea out there,” she said. “This was the one that stuck.”

The leaves themselves are plastic to withstand the weather. Giffin says she hung them all at slightly different heights from the grid supporting the plaza’s glass pergola so viewers can spot different details depending on what angle they stand at.

“I have a studio but I don’t have a studio where I could paint 800 leaves to dry,” she said, adding that luckily her parents in Baltimore were able to chip in space. “I shipped everything to their house and we had to figure out a process to lay everything out in the driveway and use a spray gun.”

The project has been in the works since October, and took about a month to complete this summer.

Previously, Giffin also designed gumball chandeliers and curtains made out of ribbons for Rosslyn’s putt putt pop-up and a 50-foot “rainbow cloud” of string for pop-up store The Alcove . But the leaves presented a new artistic challenge.

“I’m used to doing large scale projects, but inside — not having to worry about wind and rain and storms,” she said.

“Linny’s work supports our efforts to develop connections between people and public spaces,” said Rosslyn BID President Mary-Claire Burick in a statement last week.

Burick said art installations like Giffin’s are part of the BID’s mission to deepen a sense of place and community within the neighborhood.

“It starts when we enhance the experience in our public spaces where thousands of people walk every day,” said Burick.

The installation will be on display in Rosslyn for the next two months, Giffin said.

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A Ballston art project of motion-activated lights above the Metro station entrance is one step closer to becoming a reality.

The Arlington County Board voted during its Saturday meeting to chip in $245,347 for the project, which is named “Intersections.”

The total expected cost of the project is around $500,000, with the Ballston Business Improvement District (BID) on the hook for the other half. BID CEO Tina Leone said she hopes the project will brighten up the dark Metro canopy, which she nicknamed the “Darth Vader hat.”

Dutch design company Blendid is creating the art installation, which will consist of a dozens of LEDs that can be individually programmed to respond to motion sensors that detect riders coming in and out of the station. A staff report to the Board last week said it hopes the art “will serve as a bold new gateway for Ballston.”

“It’s been a long road getting the design and the technical aspects to it laid out,” said Leone. “We’ve been really waiting of the county’s work on the Metro plaza to get underway.”

The county has long discussed plans to renovate the plaza outside the Ballston Metro station entrance and redesign the bus parking area to reroute buses off N. Stuart Street. Leone told ARLnow that the BID can’t install the canopy project until the plaza is finished because dust and construction could damage the sensors and lights.

Department of Environmental Services spokesman Eric Balliet said that the county cancelled the most recent hunt for a contractor after the bids Arlington received were too high — a problem the department recently connected to contractor shortages.

“Staff and our design engineer consultant are adjusting the project scope and will issue a revised procurement this fall,” Balliet added. “Selection of a contractor and approval of the construction contract is currently anticipated for late fall 2019.”

For now, the BID will use the newly-approved funds to on the project’s design process and seeking approval from Metro. Until the county begins its construction, the timeline for completing the project remains murky.

Board members approved the funding unanimously as part of their consent agenda for the weekend meeting.

The BID will also be responsible for monitoring the progress of the installation and whether Blendid meets the benchmarks required to receive the public funds.

The Arlington Public Art Committee (PAC) gave the green light for the project four years ago, according to a staff report, which attributed delays to the project’s “size and ambitious scope.”

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Fifteen local arts organizations and three individual artists will collectively receive just over $200,000 in grants from Arlington County.

The County Board approved the $215,810 in annual arts grants at its meeting on Saturday. The grant recipients were recommended by the Arlington Commission for the Arts, which considered 27 grant applications from 19 nonprofit arts organizations and eight individuals.

Those receiving grants are:

  • Melanie Kehoss: $5,000
  • Susan Sterner: $5,000
  • Katherine Young: $5,000
  • Arlington Artists Alliance: $3,143
  • Arlington Players: $14,024
  • Bowen McCauley Dance: $13,366
  • Dominion Stage: $3,168
  • Educational Theatre Company: $12,674
  • Halau O’Aulani: $5,147
  • National Chamber Ensemble: $11,948
  • Synetic Theater: $13,970
  • Arcanists: $1,613
  • Arlington Arts Center: $27,475
  • Arlington Independent Media: $7,772
  • Arlington Philharmonic Association: $21,491
  • Encore Stage & Studio: $27,397
  • Jane Franklin Dance: $15,800
  • WSC Avant Bard: $21,822

More from an Arlington County press release, after the jump.

File photo

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This column is written and sponsored by Arlington Arts / Arlington Cultural Affairs, a division of Arlington Economic Development.

Rosslyn has many celebrated works of public art throughout the neighborhood.

Public art helps to give a community a sense of place, yet often even longtime locals may not know the story behind the artworks. Explore these works of art on the Rosslyn Public Art Walking Tour, led by one of Arlington County’s Public Artists in Residence, Graham Coreil-Allen.

Taking place on Thursday, June 6, at 6 p.m, the tour is free and open to the public, and starts and ends at Central Place Plaza: 1800 N. Lynn Street in Arlington, Virginia.

Directly following the tour, join us for a social at the Rosslyn Rocks! concert at Central Place Plaza (which features the new LED installation Gravity & Grace by internationally-acclaimed artist Cliff Garten). We will enjoy live music and share thoughts about the walking tour!

Space is limited, and registration is required (note: this popular tour often fills-up quickly).

Co-sponsored by Arlington Arts, the Rosslyn BID and WalkArlington, the event itself speaks to the pioneering combination of public and private resources which created this specific work and shaped Arlington’s internationally-acclaimed permanent collection of contemporary public art.

When the County, a citizen activist, the late artist Nancy Holt (profiled in this New York Times article), a developer and the National Endowment for the Arts collaborated to create Dark Star Park — the seminal landscape artwork in Rosslyn — the Arlington Public Art program has been characterized by its unique approach by combining public and private resources and its focus on enhancements to the public realm.

During this 90-minute tour, participants will discover the history, design and purpose of Rosslyn’s works of public art. Throughout the tour, Coreil-Allen will create opportunities for playful interaction and inclusive discussion.

Highlights include Cupid’s Garden, Dark Star Park, Liquid Pixels, the Le Meridien overlook, Anna and David, and Bennett Park Art Atrium.

Register for the tour via Eventbrite!

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Morning Notes

Post-Amazon Real Estate Boom in N. Va. — “After an anemic first quarter, Northern Virginia’s home-sales market blossomed last month, with prices on the rise and sales at their highest April mark since the pre-recession boom of more than a decade ago.” [InsideNova]

Northbound GW Parkway Partially Reopens — “One of two northbound lanes of the George Washington Memorial Parkway reopened Tuesday after a 10-foot-deep sinkhole appeared in the road Friday. But officials warned that future lane closures are planned on both sides of the parkway as long-term repairs continue.” [Washington Post]

More Endorsements for Stamos, Tafti — In the heated race for Commonwealth’s Attorney, incumbent Theo Stamos and Democratic primary challenger Parisa Dehghani-Tafti have picked up some new endorsements. Arlington Sheriff Beth Arthur and former county treasurer Frank O’Leary have endorsed Stamos. School Board member Nancy Van Doren, meanwhile, has endorsed Tafti.

New Exhibit for Arlington Art Truck — Arlington County’s art truck is debuting a new work today with planned stops in Rosslyn and Clarendon. “In What’s Your Sign?, participants can select free, humorous signs about daily life, consumption and the environment by artist Paul Shortt, or make their own signs that re-think the spaces we encounter every day,” says a description of the project. [East City Art, Facebook]

Nearby: Bikeshare in Falls Church, Fairfax Co. — Capital Bikeshare has launched in the City of Falls Church with 10 new stations. Bikeshare is also planning new stations around the Tysons area in Fairfax County. [City of Falls Church, Tysons Reporter]

Flickr pool photo by Tom Mockler

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(Updated at 10:40 a.m.) A powerful painting about immigration by a Yorktown High School student is now set to hang in the U.S. Capitol.

The art features two young children looking to the side with pinched expressions while one of them holds a sign that reads, “Bring Our Mom Back.”

The artist behind the work is 17-year-old Dominick Cocozza, who notes on his website that his passion for art began “at a very young age”.

Cocozza won the Congressional Art Competition, which seeks art from young makers each year and is judged by local art educators. The art can be any of several mediums, and the winning artwork is displayed for a year in the U.S. Capitol Building.

“For this particular piece I was inspired by “Immigrant Children” who have been separated from their families!” Cocozza told ARLnow in a social media message, referring to the painting’s name. “I want to illustrate this particular issue to inform my peers of this ongoing crucial conflict.

He added that he was adopted from Central America as a baby but that the painting doesn’t represent his experiences.

“I am honored to have my work displayed in the capitol and I hope it can spark understanding to my audience,” Cocozza said.

He says he painted the work as part of his AP Studio Art class at Yorktown. It was honored yesterday during a ceremony for competition which was held in the 8th District of Virginia this year.

Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) represents the district and told ARLnow he was proud to have Cocozza’s painting “Immigration” represent the district on Capitol Hill.

“His work expresses feelings many of my constituents share,” Beyer said. “It will make a strong impression on the members of Congress, staff, visitors, and tourists who pass it every day. I congratulate Dominick and Yorktown High School for this accomplishment, and thank the many talented young people whose collective work again made for a very competitive Congressional Art Competition.”

Continuing the immigration theme, the high-schooler posted another 24 by 30 inch painting on his Instagram called “The Letter,” which shows a woman covering her face with her hands. Behind her a letter pleads for someone to “Please stop separating families at the border.”

“I chose to paint this in response to what’s currently going on in the United States,” Cocozza wrote in the image’s description.

Last year, Cocozza was selected to attend the Virginia Summer Residential Governor’s School for Performing and Visual Arts, reported InsideNova.

Image via Twitter

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Morning Notes

Questions About Arlington Woman’s Death — “A search warrant filed in the case supports the theory it was an assisted suicide, according to a friend of [philanthropist Penny Holloway] who was there at the time. He said a doctor also was present. That doctor died three days after Holloway. Her friends said police questioned him before his death.” [NBC Washington]

Apartment Fire On S. Glebe Road — A first floor apartment caught fire Friday night at the newly-renovated Dominion Apartments on S. Glebe Road. [Twitter]

Is Arlington an Actual Amazon HQ? — “Amazon will move thousands of jobs from Seattle to nearby Bellevue, Washington over the next four years… With this move, some are now calling Bellevue the ‘Real HQ2.'” [GeekWire, Inc. Magazine]

Sawdust Art in Arlington — “Alfo-Conce — an ever-expanding group of artisans from Guatemala with a knack for creating beautiful religious iconography out of sawdust — began prep work for their Holy Week art during a meetup in Arlington March 30.” [Arlington Catholic Herald]

Pedestrian Fatality in Seven Corners — “A woman died overnight as a result of injuries from a crash that occurred just after three yesterday afternoon in the 2900 block of Peyton Randolph Drive.” [Fairfax County Police]

Flickr pool photo by Michael Coffman

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