Arlington, VA

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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Washington Boulevard will transform into an art-lover’s paradise during the 7th Annual Arlington Festival of the Arts on Saturday, April 13 and Sunday, April 14 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

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.

Festival At-A-Glance:

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

Presented by Howard Alan Events (HAE), producer of the nation’s finest juried art shows, the 7th 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.

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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A free exhibit entitled Mister Rogers: Just the Way You Are is currently on display in Crystal City.

The exhibit is open to the public at the Crystal City Shops entrance to the PBS building (2100 Crystal Drive) through May 31. Created by Nashville-based artist Wayne Brezinka, the exhibit is described as “a unique and interactive mixed media portrait experience incorporating both two and three-dimensional elements.”

“Through the use of objects, artifacts and memorabilia assembled together, these items craft extraordinary story lines within this artistic profile of America’s most beloved neighbor, Mister Rogers,” Brezinka wrote.

The exhibit is especially relevant given “the love and affection that many have with Mister Rogers in our current social and political climate [and] the buzz around the upcoming film starring Tom Hanks who stars as Mister Rogers later this year,” he said.

The touring exhibition’s Crystal City stop was made possible by Arlington-based PBS and property owner JBG Smith. It is open weekdays from 7 a.m.-6 p.m.

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Hoffman-Boston Elementary now has a new mural thanks to a collaboration between its 5th grade students and renowned artist MasPaz.

The mural features animals from foxes to fishes and took the students several weeks to paint along one of the school’s main hallways, according to a video of the project.

MasPaz, whose name means “more peace,” has painted murals worldwide before moving back to Arlington. He told ARLnow last year he’s eager to work on more local projects.

Hoffman-Boston’s mural is part of the student’s legacy project that build “excitement” among other students who got to see the work progress over the past month, said art teacher Emily Wade.

Wade said it was an “incredible opportunity” for the students to get to learn from the Columbia-born artist who grew up in Arlington and attended Oakridge Elementary and H-B Woodlawn.

“So many of our students here can relate to that,” said Wade.

“I liked doing the mural with MasPaz,” said one student interviewed in the video. “He has a very unique style and I like the way he designed the fox and I hope he comes back again.”

The project was funded by The Humanities Project which brings artists into Arlington schools to lead workshops or teach courses.

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WHAT: Rosslyn CAFÉ — Photography exhibit & local distillery tasting
WHERE: Bennett Park Art Atrium (1601 Clarendon Blvd)
WHEN: Friday, March 29, 2019 6-8 p.m.
MORE INFORosslyn BID website

For most of the week, Birch Thomas goes to her 9-5 job as vice president of finance for a small company in Georgetown.

She loves the precision of numbers and balance sheets and is good at what she does, but her day job doesn’t define her. When Birch Thomas is really “on,” she’s out with her camera taking pictures.

Although this tenth-generation Arlingtonian grew up in a creative household — her mom is a pastel artist and photographer and her dad a sculptor — she never picked up a camera for more than the usual snapshot until about three years ago.

“I grew up with the camera around, and stopping on the side of the road on a family vacation to take a picture was a normal thing for my parents to do,” she says. “Around 2015, I found myself borrowing my mom’s camera all the time. I’d go on walks by myself taking pictures. I’d lose track of time, getting into the flow of it. I realized how much I enjoyed it.”

Over the past few years, Birch has gradually built up a small photography business on the side. She photographs food, weddings and other important moments in people’s lives. And she still goes on long walks with her camera, lending her unique perspective to D.C. landmarks, monuments and pieces of everyday life.

This Friday, March 29, Birch will have her first solo exhibition at Rosslyn CAFE, a four-week series of free community events every Friday evening hosted by the Rosslyn Business Improvement District (BID).

Taking place at the beautiful Bennett Park Art Atrium in Upper Rosslyn, Rosslyn CAFE introduces attendees to the work of new local artists each week, offering them the opportunity to purchase art while enjoying food, drinks and a festive atmosphere.

Birch will be selling unframed prints at Rosslyn CAFE in a variety of sizes, and if she doesn’t have exactly what people want on hand, they can order it at the event.

“I’m not all that concerned about selling,” she says. “Mostly, I just want people to experience my work and gain a greater appreciation for the beauty that surrounds us.”

Birch says taking pictures of people is a different process for her than capturing objects and places. Photographing people is more about developing a relationship and sense of trust so that others feel comfortable around her.

Currently, she’s in the midst of a documentary project photographing artists in their studios. It’s been an honor to be present with artists as they create, and to see how each person’s creative process is different.

When she’s out with her camera by herself, Birch shoots whatever catches her eye, aiming to depict something people see every day in a different light. For instance, one Sunday morning she stumbled upon a field of seemingly endless purple flowers with the Washington Monument and Capitol in the background. This is one of her favorite, unexpected photos.

Other times, though, she’s deliberate about what she wants to shoot, and will spend months planning and strategizing to take the photo she has in her mind.

“Photography gives me a feeling of satisfaction I’ve never felt with anything else and I’m grateful that I’ve found it as an outlet,” she says. “If I haven’t taken a good photograph in a while, I’ll feel out of balance, the way some people do when they don’t go to the gym or meditate. I never really found my thing until I started taking pictures.”

To learn more about Birch Thomas and her work, subscribe to the Rosslyn BID’s weekly email, which will feature a longer version of this piece later this week.

See Birch’s photography on her website and on Instagram. Click here to learn more about Rosslyn CAFE.

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