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2014 Canstruction sculpture by HGA Architects and Engineers and Balfour Beatty Construction at Reagan Washington National Airport (via Arlington Food Assistance Center/Facebook)

This evening, local architecture firms will go can-to-can in a competition to build elaborate sculptures made from canned goods.

The “Canstruction” event takes place at Fashion Centre at Pentagon City. The creations built tonight will be judged on Saturday, though shoppers can also vote for their favorite canned art sculptures through Monday.

The structures will be on display through next Sunday, when the cans will be donated to the Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC).

Fashion Centre and the American Institute of Architects Northern Virginia Chapter are putting on the event, which is one of many around the world affiliated with the hunger relief charity Canstruction. Participants are responsible for buying the canned goods, designing the structures and donating what is collected to a local food bank, according to the nonprofit’s website.

For AFAC CEO Charles Meng, events like these are a fun way for people to support the nonprofit, which gets nearly half of its food through donations.

“Food donations make up 40% of the food we distribute,” Charles Meng, CEO of AFAC, told ARLnow. “The 30,000 pounds from Canstruction will go a very long way in meeting our goal of 1.5 million pounds and in helping our families.”

“Canstruction is one of the many creative ways that professional societies like the American Institute of Architects and their Northern Virginia Chapter can help address food insecurity and have great fun doing it,” he added.

Shoppers are also encouraged to donate canned goods or cash to AFAC through QR codes at the Canstruction display through Sept. 16.

The competition moved to the mall this year after being held at either Dulles or National airport in recent years.

The winning team will advance to compete on the international stage against victors from other Canstruction events across the globe.

Photo via AFAC/Facebook

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Before and after photos of concrete sculpture Compassion by Una Hanbury, which has sat between Wilson and Clarendon Blvd since 1969 (via Arlington County and courtesy anonymous)

A concrete sculpture of an adult embracing a child has been moved from its home of nearly six decades, a planted median in Courthouse, and possibly damaged in the process.

This week, the statue — missing a chunk of concrete — could be seen on a pedestal of soil and flowers on a nearby sidewalk, surrounded by construction work.

A gift to Arlington County in 1969, the sculpture was decommissioned due to its age and significant damage it sustained from the elements, according to Arlington Cultural Affairs. The 54-year-old sculpture was moved as part of the decommissioning process and is set to be destroyed and replaced with a bronze replica.

“Over its nearly 55 years in the public realm, time and weather took their toll, eroding the surface and rendering the sculpture unrecognizable,” Arlington Cultural Affairs spokesman Jim Byers told ARLnow. “Due to the condition of the original sculpture, two independent conservators agreed that the sculpture could not be repaired.”

Una Hanbury, an England native, made the work — entitled Compassion — to pay tribute to Arlington’s values. It was one of several works she completed in the Mid-Atlantic, including large-scale commissions for the Medical Examiners Building in Baltimore and St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Springfield, Virginia.

During discussions about what to do with the aging sculpture, Hanbury’s grandson, Colin Poole, recommended recreating Compassion in bronze to match its original likeness, says Byers.

Fittingly, Poole is set to take on the replica, as he is a professional artist who apprenticed under his grandmother.

When it was still in one piece, Poole had “digitally scanned the weathered concrete sculpture, milled a replica in foam, and enveloped it in clay,” Byers said.

“Using his grandmother’s sculpting tools and referencing other sculptures she had crafted during that era, Poole skillfully reproduced the surface textures, and the renewed form was cast in bronze for longevity,” he continued.

Some of the material of the original sculpture will be incorporated within the base of the new piece, but the rest will be destroyed. Byers said this is the industry standard when a work of art is decommissioned due to severe deterioration.

The recreated bronze statue is set to be installed later this fall, somewhere “close to its original location,” Byers said. He added that he expects the piece to be incorporated into the county’s Public Art collection — adding to the roughly 70 permanent public art projects in Arlington.

“A dedication event is being planned for some time after the installation of the artwork,” he said.

The recasting is being funded by Greystar, the developer overseeing two new apartment buildings and transportation upgrades to the neighborhood.


A poster poking fun at the ARLnow commentariat won an award at the Arlington County Fair last week.

In white, upper case letters on a purple background, it reads, “You’ll see me in hell before you’ll see me in the ARLnow comments.”

ARLnow caught up with the creator ribbing the denizens of the comment section — who can be helpful, amusing and pugnacious, all in the course of a Monday morning — and he said the poster is a friendly jab.

“It’s true I don’t play pickleball but I do read ARLnow (subscribe actually) and I got nothing but love for the commenters,” he said.

The creator is also behind the volley of pro-pickleball posters in Penrose earlier this year: @ARLINGTONAF, who can be found on the platform X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, as well as Threads. His posters likening pickleball to the Cold War popped up all around Columbia Pike earlier this year.

The account owner, who goes by Mac, says fair attendees who stopped by his art display got a kick out of the poster.

“Lots of people stopped and laughed and took their phones out for that one,” he told ARLnow, adding that he liked seeing it resonate with people.

The poster also made the rounds on social media.

For @ARLINGTONAF, the joke comes from a good place. It inhabits the simultaneously sarcastic and genuine Arlington subculture — also seen in the ARLnow comment section — that can rib and lionize civic leaders and find the humor in debates over pickleball, gondolas, housing and bicycle trails.

“It’s like the Jay Fisette trail: if you have to have the joke explained, then obviously you didn’t get it,” he said. “But I’m pretty sure everybody in the ARLnow comments gets ‘their’ joke.”

For the uninitiated, the words “Jay Fisette Memorial Trail” were found spray-painted onto a dirt “desire path” on the east side of N. Carlin Springs Road, north of 1st Street N. In 2015, the majority of Arlington County Board members, including avid cyclist Fisette, voted against a proposal to pave what which Fisette then called a “cow path.”

Mac, who documents his bicycle rides through Arlington on social media, says he submitted several “random” posters he made but never hung. This includes a stylized portrait of former Board member Katie Cristol, with the caption, “Here for the housing, not the convention,” a nod to her focus on increasing housing, including Missing Middle-type dwellings.

A few months ago, he was asked to frame the ARLnow poster for an interested buyer. He did — using garbage he found on the Pike — but the buyer never came through. This ended up being a stroke of luck for the poster pundit.

“I got hit by a car a few weeks ago and didn’t actually get to make any art this year, but wanted to enter something,” he said, noting he is feeling better after the crash.

While the poster received a ribbon, Mac demurred from too much recognition, saying most of his submitted work has been recognized one way or another.

“This year, I just went with my own Arlington theme,” he said.

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A cavernous space inside the recently-refurbished county headquarters in Courthouse could one day be filled with public art.

Arlington County has commissioned acclaimed artist Kipp Kobayashi, known for his art displays in hospitals, airports and government buildings, to suspend a public art project in the lobby of the Bozman Government Center at 2100 Clarendon Blvd.

Kobayashi is turning to Arlington residents for inspiration before he gets started. He is seeking public input via a survey to learn about the different routes residents take to get to some of their favorite places in Arlington.

“Please tell us your stories, memories, and experiences of Arlington County by sharing a special route that you currently take or have taken through Arlington County,” the survey says. “The route should be to a place that you find especially meaningful. Examples are a park, place of worship, restaurant, friend’s house, bike trail, bench, etc.”

Feedback received through Sept. 30 will help inform his designs, according to the county.

“With a background in urban design, Kobayashi’s public art method involves extensive field observation and personal interactions to identify the individual elements that together form the identity of a place,” a press release said.

Kobayashi and county staff will also be at the Arlington County Fair this week during indoor hours for people to share their experiences in Arlington directly with the artist.

In April, the county unveiled the interior renovations to its headquarters. The project began in September 2021 and cost approximately $4.8 million.

The artwork’s design, fabrication, and installation have a set budget of $200,000, county spokesman Ryan Hudson said.

The funding comes from the county’s Public Art Trust & Agency account, which is earmarked exclusively for the Courthouse area, Hudson added. The trust relies on contributions from developers rather than resident tax dollars.

According to his website, Kobayashi’s art stems from his experiences growing up as an Asian American, “leading to a lifelong interest in deconstructing preconceived notions of who and what we are to understand better unique patterns that present a more nuanced interpretation of identity and cultural belonging.”

Some of Kobayashi’s recent displays include hundreds of hand-folded paper planes, called “Collective Transitions,” at Meacham Airport in Fort Worth, Texas, and “hundreds of custom-made fishing flies swirling together in a central grouping,” called “Emergence,” in Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Washington.

Kobayashi was selected by a committee that met several times over the course of a year to define goals for the project, review artist submissions and select an artist.

The committee will also recommend the final artwork design.


Bright and early this morning, Lady Liberty in repose rolled into Arlington on a flatbed truck.

Then, the turquoise lady was lifted by a crane onto the front lawn of the Museum of Contemporary Art Arlington (MoCA), the county’s recently rebranded art museum at 3550 Wilson Blvd.

“Reclining Liberty,” by New York City artist Zaq Landsberg, is inspired by traditional Asian art depicting the reclining Buddha on his path to enlightenment, appearing serene at the knowledge of his imminent death.

The artwork is intended to invite passers-by to contemplate the ideals of liberty and freedom embodied by the Statue of Liberty — put in conversation with Buddhist enlightenment ideals, Arlington’s military architecture and nearby national monuments.

“Recontextualizing ‘Reclining Liberty’ in Arlington makes sense for our current moment. Placing it within a few miles of Arlington National Cemetery, the Pentagon, the National Mall, etc, adds a new layer onto the work,” Landsberg said in a statement earlier this summer.

There will be a public event on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to celebrate the sculpture’s arrival with an artist talk, food, art and other family-friendly activities.

The museum is also planning a series of accompanying talks and conversations, in partnership with Arlington Public Art, which will address issues related to the work: the role of monuments and memorials in public life, immigration and democracy. A schedule is forthcoming.

“Reclining Liberty” will lie in repose there until July 28 of next year. Prior to her immigration to Arlington, she had year-long stints in Harlem and Liberty State Park in New Jersey.


Architecture, art and the sun are all coming together Tuesday morning, August 1, for Dark Star Park Day.

Dark Star Park in Rosslyn features several concrete spheres, installed in 1984, whose shadows will perfectly align with their markings on the ground tomorrow morning only.

“Each year at 9:32 a.m., actual shadows cast by the poles and spheres align with permanent forms in the shape of the shadows on the ground beneath them,” the Arlington County website says. “The date marks the day that William Henry Ross purchased the land that later became Rosslyn.”

Located at 1655 Fort Myer Drive, the public art installation was restored in 2002. Artist Nancy Holt carefully designed the installation so that the alignment would happen at the same time every year.

“Holt worked with an astrophysicist to make the shadow alignment happen. The time it takes place was chosen simply because Holt liked the light at that hour,” the park’s webpage said.

Dark Star Park, which was formerly a gas station, became Arlington’s first public art installation.

“Encompassing landscape architecture, sculpture, and astronomy, Dark Star Park by Nancy Holt (1938-2014) is among the first major examples of integrated public art,” the county website says.

An event, held each year, marks the annual shadow alignment.

Those planning to attend tomorrow’s free event should arrive at the park around 9:15 a.m. to secure a good viewing spot, according to the Rosslyn Business Improvement District. There is limited parking available near the park.

For those who can’t attend, the Rosslyn BID Facebook page will be live-streaming the event beginning around 9:15 a.m.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of Dark Star Park Day — described by Arlington Cultural Affairs as “a deeply moving experience in-person.” The weather forecast calls for sunny skies, perfect for shadow viewing.


An American Legion post in Virginia Square has a new mural prominently displaying three young Legion representatives and encouraging more to join.

The 22-by-15-foot mural can be found at the American Legion Post 139 at 3445 Washington Blvd, which will soon re-open to members within a new affordable apartment building, Terwilliger Place, which replaced the former post building. It is also less than a mile from another muraled building, American Legion Post 85.

Arlington resident, Navy reservist and Legion member Richard Rodriguez Jr. is displayed on the far left side of the mural. He told ARLnow the piece is intended to grab the attention of younger community members and encourage those who are currently enlisted or recent veterans to join the American Legion.

“Legions are looked at as a resource for older people, so the purpose behind this mural was to target younger people and pay tribute to the sacrifices that they have also made,” he said. “Younger members are always welcomed and encouraged to be in this organization.”

The idea for the mural came about because his father, Richard Rodriguez Sr., also an Arlington resident, took an art class.

Patrick Sargent, who owns the art business Sargent-Thamm Printmakers and shares a studio at the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria, told ARLnow that he met Rodriguez Sr. while teaching an art class at George Mason University. A veteran himself, Sargent used the GI Bill to get art degrees needed to teach.

“Richard took a couple of classes of mine, including an advanced printmaking class, which is where the mural idea came from,” Sargent said. “That was about a year and a half ago. We came up with designs, we had a meeting with the [county], who approved our initial designs and then after some minor changes we began painting what ended up on the wall.”

Sargent told ARLnow that after a few finishing touches, the mural in acrylic paint should be done in about a week.

The mural also pays tribute to the military monuments in Arlington, the county’s proximity to D.C., and the influence that proximity has had on the Legion.

“Behind the three main subjects are different memorials in the area in black. The D.C. skyline is also included, as Arlington and the Legion act as a gateway to the nation’s capital,” Sargent said.

Sargent and Rodriguez began painting the mural with the help of their children and neighbors at first, but as the piece began to expand Sargent told ARLnow that community volunteers and residents of the building helped with the painting of the mural.

“It went from this blank wall to this thing the community gathered around,” Sargent said.


A 25-foot-long lounging Lady Liberty is emigrating from the New York area and taking up residence in Arlington, among its bronze Marines and steel spires.

During the first week of August, “Reclining Liberty” — inspired by traditional Asian art depicting the reclining Buddha on the path to enlightenment — will move to the front lawn of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA) Arlington. She will be transported by truck and a crane will position her.

“Reclining Liberty” hoisted by a crane (via Zaq Landsberg/Instagram)

After year-long stints in Harlem and Liberty State Park in New Jersey, she will lie in repose in front of the recently rebranded art museum in Arlington (3550 Wilson Blvd) until July 28 of next year, per a press release from MoCA Arlington.

MoCA Arlington Curator of Exhibitions Blair Murphy tells ARLnow she reached out to artist Zaq Landsberg and sold him on bringing Lady Liberty to Arlington. They agreed it would be fitting to juxtapose her and Arlington’s war memorials and defense infrastructure and D.C.’s monuments.

“Recontextualizing ‘Reclining Liberty’ in Arlington makes sense for our current moment. Placing it within a few miles of Arlington National Cemetery, the Pentagon, the National Mall, etc, adds a new layer onto the work,” Landsberg said in a statement.

“[It] allows for a new set of meaningful interactions with different communities, and adds to the local and national reevaluation of monuments — their history, how they function in public space, how they’ve changed from their inception, and their impact on society,” he continued.

Against this backdrop, MoCA curators say they hope “Reclining Liberty” encourages viewers to contemplate the ideals of the Statue of Liberty.

“I love that the work brings the Statue down to the eye level and reach of the public. Its playfulness and accessibility suggest that the ideals of liberty and freedom represented by the Statue of Liberty are active, tangible, and evolving and need to be directly engaged with, debated, and defended,” Murphy said in a statement.

“Reclining Liberty” was originally installed in Morningside Park in Manhattan in April of 2021. Last May, she moved to New Jersey to greet those taking ferries to Liberty Island, per the press release.

Her arrival will be marked with an opening celebration with an artist talk, food, art and other family friendly activities on Aug. 5 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The museum also has a series of accompanying talks and conversations, in partnership with Arlington Public Art, which will address issues related to the work: the role of monuments and memorials in public life, immigration and democracy, Murphy said. A schedule is forthcoming.

The budget for the project is $45,000, which includes the costs for the programs. Funding from Arlington Public Art is covering half and MoCA Arlington is covering the other half, Murphy said.

“Arlington Public Art is delighted to co-sponsor this ‘enlightened’ temporary public art project in the County’s Maury Park,” Director of Arlington Public Art Angela Anderson Adams said in a statement. “We look forward to the community conversations that this sculpture will inspire including those related to monuments and memorials, immigration, and our democratic ideals.”


(Updated at 10:15 a.m.) A spinning pop-up installation that can be sat in or laid or played on is set to debut in Ballston Quarter today.

Five brightly colored, life-size, woven figures named “Los Trompos,” or “the spinning tops,” will be available to play on now through Sunday, July 30, in The Outdoor Mews in front of the mall at 4238 Wilson Blvd.

The installation is named for a Mexican spinning top, or trompo, connected to a string. When released, the top is launched onto a flat surface, where it will spin. Like the top, the woven figures in the “Los Trompos Experience” spin — to the delight of children and adults, per a video of them in use on the Facebook page for Ballston Quarter.

“Whether you’re here for the shopping, dining, or entertainment, we strive to be a place where the Arlington community wants to spend their time,” Ballston Quarter’s General Manager TaVida Rice said. “For us that means finding new and exciting ways to engage with our shoppers by offering new interactive experiences like Los Trompos.”

While the tops most likely will not be re-installed after July, Rice told ARLnow that Ballston Quarter is always working to introduce new concepts and experiences to the neighborhood.

“In today’s environment, you have to continuously evolve and meet the changing needs of today’s consumer to remain a hub in the community,” Rice said. “This means not just offering a mix of great tenants, but also offering unique, interactive experiences that the community can take part in. This pop-up is an added element that we are able to offer shoppers.”

This installation was created by a Mexico-based duo, Héctor Esrawe and Ignacio Cadena. The two designers have showcased their creative talents throughout North, Central and South America.

“We are inspired by ordinary objects that surround us. We are influenced by our context and our everyday activities which allow us to visit and share different cultures and different individuals,” Esrawe and Cadena said on their website.

There is an option to get a ticket to the installation, however, admission is free and open to the public daily.

Innovation Elementary School student Sofia Kaarina Kurbat’s Doodle for Google submission (courtesy photo)

Sofia Kaarina Kurbat from Innovation Elementary is grateful for her teachers instilling in her the joy of learning.

So, it was fitting that she was in class on Tuesday when Google paid a surprise visit to the Courthouse-area school to say her submission to the 15th annual Doodle for Google competition was named the best in Virginia.

Young artists were asked to draw a picture of something they are grateful for and explain it in a statement. Kurbat was one of 55 state and territory winners and this is what she had to say about her drawing:

2023 is my first year of school and I love it — going to school, learning new things, enjoying the company of my classmates makes me happy every day because of the wonderful teachers, who work so hard to give us the joy of learning.

This is the year I learned to read and I’m thankful for my teachers being so encouraging. I am also thankful for my supportive community, where everyone is welcome and everyone’s special talents are recognized and celebrated. This [is] what I tried to express in my Doodle.

Other artists depicted their gratitude for spending time in nature, taking part in hobbies and spending time with their communities, Google said.

“We were amazed by the submissions we received. Across ages, students showcased what they appreciate most in thoughtful and intentional ways,” Google said in a statement. “Given the challenging nature of the past few years, we were really inspired to see the many ways students have been nurturing their spirits and facing the opportunities and challenges that every day brings.”

Kurbat and the 54 other children received Google hardware and swag and “held celebrations in their hometowns to showcase their artwork,” the tech company said.

Voting is expected to open today to choose which five of the 55 winning state Doodles will advance as national finalists and eventually, which student will be declared the big winner and have their design temporarily grace the top of Google.


Demolition could start on the former Inner Ear Studios building next year.

On Saturday, the Arlington County Board is set to review a contract to demolish the nearly 70-year-old warehouse and building at 2700 S. Nelson and 2701 S. Oakland streets in Green Valley, near Shirlington. The demolition will make way for a flexible open space for arts programming.

“The building is in a deteriorated condition, has exceeded its service life, and is cost prohibitive to repurpose, repair and maintain,” according to a county report. “Therefore, demolition was recommended.”

Work could take about 180 days and construction could be completed by the summer, per the report. Electrical outlets and hydrants would be installed as part of the project.

Arlington County plans to outfit the lot with a large event space, a small performance area, a temporary public arts space, a makerspace and seating. It will incorporate objects saved from the former epicenter of the D.C. punk scene.

“Several items of significance were salvaged from the Inner Ear Studio that occupied the warehouse prior to the County,” the report says. “Arlington County Cultural Affairs and Public Art are involving the community in shaping the future use of the site and incorporating the salvaged items for a flexible, open space that will be established after demolition.”

Arlington acquired the property in late 2021 in a bid to create an arts and industry district in Green Valley and make the arts more accessible in south Arlington.

The building is adjacent to the Arlington Food Assistance Center and the Arlington Cultural Affairs building, where an outpost of Arlington Independent Media is now located, and across from Jennie Dean Park.

Inner Ear Studios has remained active since moving out of its long-time home, with recording space now located in the basement of owner Don Zientara’s Arlington house.


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