It takes a special talent to make strangers pause and smile during the rush of their busy days. Yet Adrienne Ellis does it on a weekly basis.
Ellis is the general manager at the Circa restaurant in Clarendon (3010 Clarendon Blvd), and she also provides the witty, colorful quotes that adorn the chalkboard on the sidewalk outside. In fact, Ellis’s work is so popular, she created an Instagram account to showcase it.
“Nothing is more fun than seeing someone stop out there and take a picture of [my work], or giggle and keep walking,” said Ellis.
Ellis has been drawing and painting since she was a child. She used to want to be an art teacher, until she led an art class in middle school. She began chalkboard painting at her previous job at Chef Geoff’s. She mainly did advertising on those chalkboards, but once she moved to Circa almost two years ago, she gained more creative liberties with her work.
“I free-hand everything,” Ellis said. “I just try to get an idea of what would be entertaining more than anything and catch people’s eye.”
Ellis uses the internet for inspiration and generally makes one new chalkboard painting per week.
“I’ll update funny quotes or do a new picture, a little bit of everything,” she said. “I do a lot of cartoons. If it’s Easter, [I’ll do a] Bugs Bunny, [or] something like that.”
Mainly, Ellis paints the current Clarendon trends, including brunch, kale and summer restaurant week.
“Clarendon, I think, is very particular,” Ellis said. “I mean, they love to brunch out here, they love their Champagne. Wine night is really big here so I pick those [things] to poke a little fun at and make people laugh.”
Ellis uses chalk paint for the illustrations and currently, non-waterproof chalkboard boards. The quote paintings usually take around 30 minutes to make while the more intricate paintings can take two hours.
“That’s just me being meticulous,” she explained.
Ellis said her favorite paintings so far have been a Scooby-Doo and a Bugs Bunny. However, passerby seem to have really enjoyed the food puns, like “Champangry,” a cartoon painting of Doug and the Disney figures.
“Any pop culture [reference], people respond really well to,” Ellis said. “I think, again, it’s the area. It’s a lot younger area and they appreciate that humor.”
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.
At a time when everyone is glued to their smartphones, spontaneous, in-person interactions seem to be on the decline. But a new public art installation in Courthouse is hoping to buck the trend, encouraging people to talk to strangers and make new friends.
Created by the Spanish art collective, mmmm…, and presented by the county’s public art initiative, “Meeting Bowls” opened Monday (July 17), and will be in town until November 1, when the installation will be transported to its next exhibit, in Miami. The bowls are red, blue and yellow among other colors, and made from medium-density fiberboard.
The installation is part of Courthouse 2.0: Reimagining the Civic, a public art initiative that strives to explore the interaction between civic space and life in Arlington.
“They are on display in a public space and are free and open to the public to engage with as they pass by, take a moment to rest, have lunch, or converse with friends,” Jim Byers, the marketing director at Arlington Cultural Affairs, said in an email.
There are bowls located at 14th Street N. and N. Courthouse Road, each with seating for eight people. The bowls are five feet tall and eight feet in diameter, and look to spark conversation among their users through their circular seating arrangements. The bowls also mimic swings, since they rock back and forth when occupied.
Byers said the funding for transporting Meeting Bowls to Arlington and Miami came from a grant from the Madrid-based public arts agency Acción Cultural Española. Byers said Arlington Cultural Affairs also paid around $14,000 from its own budget.
Meeting Bowls first appeared in the United States back in 2011, in New York’s Times Square. Instead of shipping the bowls from Spain, new bowls were created in the U.S. with computer-aided manufacturing. Digital files of the more than 75 parts that make up a bowl are emailed to a regional manufacturer and made locally.
Spanish artists Eva Salmerón and Emilio Alarcón will host a discussion about the creations at the bowls on September 23 at 11 a.m.
Board Approves Construction Contracts — The Arlington County Board approved three construction projects at its meeting this past Saturday, including contracts to improve safety at the intersection of Arlington Blvd and Park Drive, to improve safety along the W&OD and Custis trails, and to repair three bridges in Rosslyn. [Arlington County]
Feds to Help Fund Arlington Art Truck — Arlington County’s arts truck has received a $25,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. The truck, which received $70,000 in funding from the county last year, “aims to both expand community access to art and to diversify public engagement.” [InsideNova]
Arlington Treasurer Wins State Award — Arlington County Treasurer Carla de la Pava received the 2017 President’s Award from the Treasurers’ Association of Virginia at its annual conference in Virginia Beach. It’s the first such recognition for an Arlington County treasurer. One measure of a treasurer’s job effectiveness is the tax delinquency rate; last year Arlington’s rate was 0.24 percent, an all-time local low and the lowest in Virginia. [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
‘Love Letters’ Along the Pike — The “Virginia Is For Lovers” tourism campaign has installed the person-sized letters “LOVE” along S. Walter Reed Drive, ahead of this weekend’s Columbia Pike Blues Festival. [Facebook]
News Orgs Confuse Arlington and Alexandria — A number of news organizations mistakenly stated that yesterday’s shooting in Alexandria happened in “Arlington, Virginia.” Though somewhat inexplicable, the confusion happens frequently. [Twitter]
Regional Metro Tax Mulled — The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments has approved a series of principles that could be the basis for a region-wide tax that can provide dedicated funding for Metro. Without it, WMATA says it will face budget shortfalls by 2019. [WTOP]
With the county’s Public Art Master Plan set for a revamp in the coming months, residents are being asked for their feedback on the various installations around Arlington.
Those interested can fill out an online survey, which includes questions on which current artworks people are familiar with; which they find memorable; and goals and approaches for public art.
The survey is open until 5 p.m. on June 19.
“Adopted in 2004, the PAMP outlines a strategy for how public art will improve the quality of Arlington’s public spaces and facilities,” the survey reads. “We invite you to help inform the update by filling out this questionnaire.”
The update is the plan’s first since 2004, and will look to take into account the findings from the 2016 Arlington Arts strategic planning process and other plans expected to be completed this year, including on public spaces, the Four Mile Run Valley and Lee Highway.
In addition to the questionnaire, public artist Graham Coreil-Allen has conducted a series of “County Wandering” walking tours to explore and reimagine local areas, while the county has a social media education campaign on public art using the hashtag #ARLPublicArt.
In recent years, the County Board approved the $1 million “Corridor of Light” public art project in Rosslyn, the installation of various pieces to the fence separating the Four Mile Run trail from the county’s sewage plant and a project by artist Linda Hesh for local people to say what the word “civic” means to them.
Other upcoming public art projects — which typically take several years to develop — include an installation at Columbia Pike’s western gateway, the design of the upcoming Nauck Town Square park, and a stainless steel sculpture that will be placed next to a new apartment building in Courthouse.
There’s a new group of art enthusiasts in town. Called Embracing Arlington Arts, the new citizen group focuses on informing others about the importance of art in the Arlington community.
Some of the main goals of Embracing Arlington Arts include raising public awareness of the art events within the community, celebrating the contributions artists have made towards the county and honoring the diversity within Arlington arts.
Within Arlington County there are over 50 art groups and hundreds of independent visual artists, with specializations that range from the preforming arts to dance, symphony and children’s theater. These artists hail from dozens of different cultures, such as Bolivia, Mexico, Argentina and Vietnam. Together there are over 4,000 annual programs that attract over 600,000 people.
Several Arlington political members have joined the group, including Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), Del. Alfonso Lopez (D) and County Board vice chair Katie Cristol.
“The arts are important to Arlington in so many critical ways,” said Janet Kopenhaver, the chair of Embracing Arlington Arts, in a press release.
Kopenhaver said nearly $7.5 million of economic activity in Arlington is derived from audience expenditures associated with arts events.
The group already has an active social media presence and will host the first annual celebration of the arts in Arlington on October 5.
In what is a first for the annual event, Artomatic will combine performance art with a wedding ceremony tomorrow in Crystal City.
The ceremony is for Teddy Grant and Che Monique Young, who met at the arts showcase in 2015 when it was hosted in Hyattsville, Md., where Young was exhibiting burlesque art.
The pair have planned a ceremony that will include the traditional exchange of vows, cake cutting and bouquet tossing and a wide variety of music and dance, with a string quartet, jazz singer, African drummer and a belly dancer.
The 10 bridesmaids will also be wearing dresses made by local designers.
“There is something magical about Artomatic and all of the community around it,” said Young, the bride-to-be. “I met Teddy in 2015 at Artomatic. Many of our first dates involved him helping me with my exhibit so it feels like going back to the first time we met. To me it’s all about celebrating with the community, and we welcome everyone to join our families and partake in the celebration — I can’t wait to have the first Artomatic wedding, MY WEDDING!”
The ceremony begins at 6 p.m. on the sixth-floor stage at 1800 S. Bell Street and is open to the public.
Budget Plan Has Slightly Lower Tax Rate Hike — The 2017-2018 county budget that Arlington County Board members are set to vote on this weekend includes a 1.5 cent tax rate hike, a half cent lower than first proposed. The budget includes increased funding for schools, Metro, county employee raises, land acquisition and services for immigrants faced with deportation. It raises the tax burden on the average homeowner by about $300. [InsideNova, Washington Post]
No Easter Egg Roll Tix for APS — Arlington Public Schools received hundreds of tickets to the annual White House Easter Egg Roll under the Obama administration, but did not receive any for President Trump’s first egg roll this year. D.C. Public Schools also were not invited. Critics say minority children were under-represented at the event. [Patch]
Big County Events This Weekend — Among the events in Arlington this weekend are a trio of major annual happenings: the Arlington Homeshow and Garden Expo at the Thomas Jefferson Community Center, the Arlington Teen Summer Expo at Wakefield High School and the Arlington Festival of the Arts in Clarendon.
Blue Virginia’s County Board Endorsement — Influential local Democratic blog Blue Virginia has endorsed Erik Gutshall in the race for Arlington County Board. A party caucus will be held next month for the four-way Democratic contest. [Blue Virginia]
Washington Boulevard will transform into an art-lover’s paradise on Saturday, April 22, and Sunday, April 23, during the 5th Annual Arlington Festival of the Arts. One hundred and fifty national and international artists are set to display their fine works from across the nation 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, exquisitely crafted glasswork or an art deco sculpture, you are sure to find it during the free, two-day event.
Clarendon offers some of Arlington’s hottest restaurants, nightlife, shopping and lifestyle storefronts which lends itself to the high-quality artists’ showcase. Presented by Howard Alan Events, the 5th Annual Arlington Festival of the Arts represents original, hand-crafted artwork selected by an independent panel of expert judges. Hundreds of applicants apply for the Festival of Arts each year, vying for the chance to showcase their creations to the distinguished and discriminating community of Arlington. HAE’s careful vetting process ensures a wide array of mediums and price ranges are always offered during the Festival.
Unlike other art festivals, the Arlington Festival of the Arts are produced free of charge to the public in “pop-up gallery” fashion. Instead of gallery assistants or managers, each artist’s booth is overseen by the artist him or herself. This hallmark of HAE’s shows allow all visitors and appreciators to meet the creator behind each work of art, and to discover the inspirations and processes that go in to each creation.
The all-ages, Arlington Festival of the Arts invites everyone to enjoy a beautiful stroll amongst inspired and inspiring, handmade-in-the-USA creations. Ample parking is available and pets on leashes are always welcome. The free, outdoor event is located at 3003 Washington Boulevard. Participating artists and more information can be found by visiting www.artfestival.com.
The preceding post was written and sponsored by Howard Alan Events.
The streets of Clarendon soon will become more colorful and creative with the return of the Arlington Festival of the Arts.
The fifth annual festival will take place at the intersection of Washington Blvd and N. Highland Street on Saturday and Sunday, April 22-23, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
More than 150 exhibitors will showcase their original works, which include paintings, photography, jewelry, pottery, glass and mixed media. Attendees will be able to purchase items at a wide range of prices.
The following roads will be closed from 4 a.m. on Saturday, April 22, through 9 p.m. on Sunday, April 23, to accommodate the festival:
- Westbound Washington Blvd from N. Garfield Street to Clarendon Blvd
- N. Highland Street from Clarendon Blvd to Washington Blvd
- N. 11th Street between N. Highland Street and N. Garfield Street will be open to delivery traffic only
The national political climate and art are colliding this year at Artomatic.
The free six-week art extravaganza debuts tonight in Crystal City. Among the politically-inspired pieces: a large paper mache President Trump with a Russian flag lapel pin and a Gollum-like Vladimir Putin on his shoulder.
Meanwhile, a display that gained national attention during the 2016 campaign season encourages attendees to take photographs of their own backsides in a cut-out “Rump” poster. And dueling portraits feature two politicians holding their fingers to their lips, telling each other to be quiet.
By and large, however, the event is more eclectic than political. Other works include giant plywood street art rabbits and a painting of a nude woman wielding a sword.
Artomatic kicks off tonight for its third stint in Crystal City. The event includes the work of 600 artists across seven floors of vacant office space at 1800 S. Bell Street — 100,000 square feet of visual artwork, film, performance art, three stages of live music and free art workshops. It will also host the first Artomatic wedding on April 22.
“Artomatic has a very simple mission: to build community among artists,” Artomatic board chair emeritus George Koch said at a preview event Friday morning.
Among the collaborators this year is the Crystal City Business Improvement District, which partnered with Artomatic and developer Vornado to make the space available. Crystal City previously hosted Artomatic in 2007 and 2012.
Crystal City BID president and CEO Angela Fox said that as the neighborhood evolves, such events help “give it a soul.”
“We pave the way, then get out the way and Artomatic comes in here, all volunteers and transforms this space,” Fox said.
Artomatic begins Friday with its opening night party, starting at 7 p.m. It will be open Wednesdays and Thursdays from noon to 10 p.m., and Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from noon to midnight. The exhibits are closed Mondays and Tuesdays.
Rosslyn CAFE — Community, Arts, Food and Entertainment — is being produced by the Rosslyn BID. The free events are part of the business improvement district’s goal to create community events that take advantage of “unknown or unused spaces in the neighborhood.”
Next month’s series, known as April Arts & Beats, will take place on Fridays and feature a happy hour with new local artists each week, complimentary small plates and cocktails, wine and beer available for purchase.
The Bennett Park Art Atrium at 1601 Clarendon Blvd will host each Friday night. The space already has several pieces of public art by the likes of Virginia sculptors Foon Sham and Kendall Buster, and is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays.
Entrance is free, but space is limited. More information is available on the Rosslyn BID website.
(Updated at 10:17 a.m.) A free creative arts festival is returning to Crystal City in just over two months.
Artomatic, a six-week art show that was previously held in the neighborhood in 2007 and 2012, is scheduled to return Friday, March 24, and run until Saturday, May 6.
This year’s Artomatic will occur at 1800 S. Bell Street, the Crystal City Business Improvement District said. Tens of thousands of visitors are expected to visit the 100,000-square-foot arts space over the course of the event.
In previous iterations, the festival has brought visual art, music, film, live performance, fashion and other forms of artistic expression. Artist registration begins next month, organizers said.
“We first brought Artomatic to Crystal City in 2007 in order to demonstrate the transformation that was already in progress — a new main street, fun restaurants — as well as to underscore how easily accessible our neighborhood is from D.C. The second showing in 2012 helped us further showcase our emerging arts and innovation scene,” said Angela Fox, CEO of the Crystal City BID. “Now in our third iteration, we are excited to mark the beginning of the next generation of growth, engagement and creativity for Crystal City.”
More information on this year’s event from a press release:
Artomatic returns for its signature art event to be held this year in Crystal City, Virginia from Friday, March 24th to Saturday, May 6th. Artomatic draws hundreds of artists and performers throughout the D.C., Maryland and Virginia area to showcase their talents for a six week long free exhibition that routinely attracts thousands of visitors.
“We first brought Artomatic to Crystal City in 2007 in order to demonstrate the transformation that was already in progress – a new main street, fun restaurants – as well as to underscore how easily accessible our neighborhood is from DC. The second showing in 2012 helped us further showcase our emerging arts and innovation scene,” said Crystal City BID President/CEO Angela Fox. “Now in our third iteration, we are excited to mark the beginning of the next generation of growth, engagement and creativity for Crystal City.”
This year’s 100,000 square foot space at 1800 S. Bell Street is provided by Vornado/Charles E. Smith and is located along Crystal City’s Art Underground. Launched in 2013 to transform Crystal City’s interior concourse into a vibrant arts and cultural destination, the Art Underground includes Synetic Theater, the 1200-foot long FotoWalk Underground, ArtJamz Underground, the Gallery Underground, TechShop, and Studios Underground which provides work space for two dozen artists.
Artomatic is well-known for transforming empty spaces into vibrant arts communities that create unique and exciting events for tens of thousands of visitors – all free to visit. Anyone can show art at Artomatic – it is non-juried and art is selected on a first-come, first serve basis – so it’s a great way to discover new art.
“We are very excited to be working again with the Crystal City BID, a constant champion of the arts, to create a unique, invigorating and brand new artistic experience for all visitors to enjoy,” said Jennifer Williamson, current Artomatic Board President. “We will be conducting Artist tours starting in mid-January to allow interested participants an advance glimpse of their artistic home for six weeks where they can start imagining the endless creative possibilities they can do with the space.”
Struggling Skyline Sold — Vornado has taken its properties in Skyline off of its balance sheet after the 2.6 million-square-foot, half-vacant complex sold at a foreclosure auction last week. The cancelled Columbia Pike streetcar project would have run to Skyline, with Fairfax County set to pay 20 percent of the project’s cost. [Washington Business Journal]
More on ‘Pop-Up’ Hotel — The inauguration will be the big test for WhyHotel, the “pop-up” hotel in the new Bartlett apartment building in Pentagon City. Developer Vornado sees this as an experiment that could yield temporary revenue while a building is leased up. Arlington County planning commissioner Erik Gutshall says the county could benefit from additional tax revenue and a more lively streetscape. [Washington Post]
Arlington = NYE Destination? — Travelers coming to the D.C. area for New Year’s Eve should consider staying in Arlington due to its proximity to the District and lower hotel rates, says an article on “last minute deals for New Year’s Eve hotels.” [Travel + Leisure]
Transracial Adoption in Arlington — Arlington is “a fantastic community in which to raise a transracially blended family,” says the father of (now grown) adopted children from Vietnam, Sri Lanka and India. [Arlington Magazine]
Clarendon Post Office Murals — A local man has written a 44-page book on the artist who painted seven New Deal-era murals in the Clarendon post office. [Washington Post]
Reporting Issues to the County — Arlington County is reminding residents that they can report out-of-sync traffic signals, crosswalks with broken buttons and other non-emergency service requests via an online form. [Twitter]