Arlington, VA

Over the next three weeks, Ballston streets might look a little more colorful than before thanks to a new series of murals commissioned by BallstonGives, a charitable subsidiary of the Ballston Business Improvement District.

Artist Patrick Owens was commissioned to do a series of chalk images on the sidewalk over the next three weeks. The first was completed earlier this week outside Randolph Towers (4001 9th Street N.).

“We are ever-inspired by the resiliency of our Ballston community and businesses and are delighted to celebrate the workers who have continued to keep this neighborhood running during the pandemic,” said Tina Leone, CEO of the Ballston BID, in a press release. “We truly regard them as our hometown heroes, so we felt it was fitting to honor them as such across several industries while injecting color onto the streets for passersby to enjoy.”

The Ballston BID said Owens will be going around Ballston and working on other murals over the next few weeks, weather dependent. Check out the art while you can, given the rain in the forecast over the next few days.

Photo courtesy Ballston BID

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Morning Notes

Special Election Voting Starts Today — “Arlington election officials have announced plans for two Saturday dates for in-person absentee voting in advance of the July 7 County Board special election. Saturday voting will be available on June 20 and July 4, augmenting the usual Monday-to-Friday early voting that will begin May 22.” [InsideNova]

Big Food Donation to Green Valley Church — “3,300 lasagna and vegetable meals donated by chef Jose Andres’ @WCKitchen were given to those in need at Our Lady, Queen of Peace Church in Arlington [on] May 21.” [@ZoeyMaraistACH/Twitter]

Flags In at Ceremony Despite Pandemic — “The 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment has continued their tradition of placing American flags at every grave marker at Arlington National Cemetery for Memorial Day.” [NBC 4]

Arlingtonian Aims to Run Every Street — “Before the pandemic hit, I hadn’t taken a big vacation in years. Since I’m at a dramatically reduced salary from not working full-time and, like so many Arlingtonians, dealing with underlying stress and anxiety while still feeling incredibly thankful, I’ve decided to use this time to discover my own city by walking or running every street.” [Arlington Magazine]

Local Wages Were Rising at the End of 2019 — “The average weekly wage for those working in Arlington (wherever they may live) stood at $1,963 in the fourth quarter of 2019, according to data reported May 20 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s an increase of 4.7 percent from the same period a year before, well above the national growth rate of 3.5 percent (to $1,185).” [InsideNova]

Local Artist Creates Virus Sculptures — “The sculptures seem to be inspired by the latest breaking news headlines. A figure in a stark white face mask. A giant virus cell mutating into a tentacled sea creature that morphs back into a virus… The centerpiece was a spiky model of “a virus, with seven figures running away,” said [Hadrian] Mendoza, 46, a ceramic artist, sculptor and full-time art director at St. Thomas More Cathedral School in Arlington since 2017.” [Arlington Catholic Herald]

Rain and Storms Today — “Waves of showers or storms are a good bet as the slow-moving upper level low pressure system finally decides to wander by. Round one will end in the morning to midday, but skies remain mostly cloudy. If we do see enough sunshine and heating, it’s not impossible some severe storms will develop nearby.” [Capital Weather Gang]

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The Crystal City Business Improvement District (BID) is working to enliven some of the local storefronts during the pandemic.

A new art initiative called #LoveNationalLanding is adding a little color to some of the local businesses across Pentagon City, Crystal City and Potomac Yard, an area that was collectively branded as “National Landing” when Amazon announced its move into the area. The Crystal City BID was also recently approved for a name change and boundary expansion to encompass the entire area.

“The initiative kicked off with the unveiling of an array of vibrant artwork featuring sunbursts, blooming flowers, and oversized hearts emboldened with encouraging messages across several storefronts in National Landing,” the BID said in a press release. “Drawing inspiration from Andy Shallal’s #PaintTheStorefronts program, and neighborhoods across the country that have utilized art to beautify the public realm during the COVID-19 crisis, the BID worked with curator Tom Pipkin to select a lineup of local artists who were then tasked with creating facade designs that would serve as a source of community-wide inspiration.”

Chosen artists include:

The BID said local storefronts that are getting the artwork include Commonwealth Joe, Enjera, Freddie’s Beach Bar, Jaleo, and Los Tios, with more storefronts planned. A video, below, shows one of the murals being created at the Vintage Dress Company on 23rd Street S.

“We are thrilled to introduce our #LoveNationalLanding campaign and couldn’t think of a better way to launch this initiative than the painted storefront campaign, which conveys our unwavering support for our small businesses and the vital role that public art plays in our community,” said Tracy Sayegh Gabriel, Crystal City BID president and executive director, in the press release.  “As this initiative advances over the course of the month, residents, workers and visitors can expect to encounter additional bursts of color and messages of encouragement throughout the National Landing area.”

Another muralist team, Brocoloco, has also been enlisted to create vinyl wraps for welcomes boxes and 100 street decals with messages placed around Crystal City.

Photos via Crystal City BID/Facebook

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(Updated at 3:50 p.m.) Gallery Clarendon, a temporary art space at 2800 Clarendon Blvd, has announced that it will be closing to make way for a new pizza restaurant from New England.

The gallery, a project from the Arlington Artists Alliance, opened at Market Common Clarendon in June 2018 as a way to fill the space until a permanent tenant could be found. At the time, the Arlington Artists Alliance told ARLnow they expected to be open for roughly a year.

The gallery will close at the end of February, the Alliance said.

In May of 2018, with modest expectations and a solely volunteer effort, the Arlington Artists Alliance turned the empty storefront on the corner of Clarendon Blvd. and N. Fillmore into a gallery and artist studios for 50+ local Arlington artists. The positive feedback we received from the community was heartwarming and overwhelming… It was a wonderful experience for the artists and we thank each and every one of you who visited our gallery and studios or attended a class in Clarendon.

A pair of shows currently on display, called Catharsis and Kaleidoscope, will be the final exhibits at the gallery. Both shows are scheduled to have an opening reception tomorrow (Friday). Catharsis’ reception is scheduled to start at 4 p.m. while Kaleidoscope will start at 5 p.m., with both scheduled to finish around 7 p.m.

The Arlington Artists Alliance is currently hoping to find a new home in North Arlington, though its Gallery Underground location in Crystal City remains open.

Cherise Goldbach, general manager of Market Common Clarendon owner Regency Centers, said the new tenant in the space is Colony Grill, a small chain of thin-crust pizza-focused restaurants primarily based out of Connecticut.

The company’s website says it offers a one-size (12-inch) thin-crust cheese pizza, with signature spicy hot oil, and a variety of toppings. The chain also has a salad pizza — the company’s thin crust topped with salad fixings — with no cheese or sauce unless requested.

It will be the only Colony Grill location outside of Connecticut and New York, according to the company’s website. The first Colony Grill opened in an Irish immigrant neighborhood of Samford, Connecticut in 1935.

“Everyone at Colony Grill is extremely excited to open in Clarendon later in 2020,” said Ken Martin, COO of Colony Grill, said in an email forwarded to ARLnow. “During our search, we absolutely fell in love with the greater Arlington area. It is simply a remarkable part of the country. We look forward to introducing our unique pizza to the neighborhood and becoming a part of the community fabric for years to come.”

Pete’s New Haven Apizza, which offered a different pizza style of Connecticut origin, closed in August two blocks away.

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

Being received at a restaurant with a welcoming smile and a warm meal would seem the basic expectation for any customer. Sadly, well into the 1960s widespread segregation denied such everyday courtesies to African-Americans and other people of color.

In this latest Art on the ART Bus installation, The Desegregation of Arlington Lunch Counters: 60th Anniversary Tribute by Amos Paul Kennedy, Jr., the nationally-renowned printmaker has created placards that commemorate the landmark sit-in’s which took place between June 9 and 22, in 1960. Kennedy interviewed local residents, historians and participants in the sit-ins, and the placards contain poignant quotes from several of these individuals.

While the sit-ins at Maryland’s popular Glen Echo Amusement Park are better remembered today, they were in-fact precipitated by the sit-ins at Arlington earlier that same summer. A pivotal tool in the 1960’s civil rights movement, “sit-ins” were strategic, planned protests that challenged widespread segregation policies.

African-American customers would merely sit down at a segregated lunch counter (often at a major national chain such as a Woolworth’s) and wait for service which, either by custom or local law, was routinely denied. Eventually, the pressure of what we would now call ‘the optics’ brought about an end to such corporate policies nationwide.

The posters feature poignant quotes commemorating the 1960 Arlington lunch counter sit-ins

Amos Paul Kennedy Jr., creates prints, posters and postcards from handset wood and metal type, oil-based inks, and eco-friendly chipboard. Much of his work is inspired by proverbs, sayings and quotes that are significant to the place he is working.

The decade-old Art on the ART Bus program is a partnership between Arlington Arts and Arlington Transit. Instead of the ads for soap, salsa and soda that riders expect to see in the overhead frames, thousands of Arlington commuters regularly experience original artwork as they head to their jobs. Sometimes there are up to three specially outfitted Art on the ART Bus vehicles in circulation, each scheduled randomly each day, bringing art to a different route through Arlington.

The project is curated by the Arlington Art Truck and Arlington Public Art which are programs of Arlington Arts. It is in collaboration with the County’s Historic Preservation Program, Arlington Public Library, Center for Local History and Arlington Transit’s Art on the ART bus program.

This installation is the first of several commemorative activations based upon printmaker Amos Paul Kennedy, Jr’s work that will continue to unfold during the Spring of 2020. For more information about the Art on the ART Bus program, click here.

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The county’s arts advisory committee has made several recommendations on how Arlington can continue to provide services to its art community.

On October 31, the Arlington Community Arts Advisory Committee (CAAC) released a 60-page report, outlining the committee’s work and what the county can do better.

After two years of research, the advisory committee made four major recommendations:

  • Move the Scenic Studio — used for building sets for theatrical productions — to S. Four Mile Run Drive as part of an “Arts and Industry District” if and when the District is established. Keep it at Gunston for now and consider using it as a “maker space” during hours in which it is otherwise unused.
  • Merge the Signature Theatre and CostumeLab costume inventory and move it into 3700 S. Four Mile Run Drive.
  • Get rid of the county’s Mobile Stage truck and use vendors for mobile stages instead.
  • Create a joint scheduling mechanism for Arlington Public Schools and arts organizations to more easily manage bookings of collaborative spaces.

The fifteen members of the advisory committee were selected in 2017 based on their familiarity and dedication to the Arlington arts community — ranging from government staff, to APS workers, to independent artists.

Following a backlash to proposed cuts to the arts in the current county budget, the Arlington County Board requested the advisory group develop a transition plan for Arlington arts programs. The group was tasked with preparing a recommendation for the County Manager by October 31.

More on the then-proposed cuts, via a budget memo from County Manager Mark Schwartz to the Board in March:

…as we spend funds on the arts, we must determine whether the dollars spent make sense for the  services delivered and to make investments which can be delivered to a broader audience. Spending on new and innovative programs, such as the Arlington Art Truck, a platform that brings art to all people in the County, and our upcoming collaboration with WMATA as part of the Digital Engagement Initiative, are examples of efforts that increase accessibility and visibility of the arts at relatively modest costs.

As we continue to look at ways of bringing innovative, efficient and cost‐effective arts programs to more people, there are several long‐standing legacy programs including the CostumeLab, Scenic Studio and Mobile Stage which are rarely, if ever, provided directly by a local government. In Arlington, these services in some instances are used sparingly and episodically throughout the year, but still require intensive staff resources to operate under the current service delivery model. My proposal does not recommend removing the space or assets of these functions, but rather a re‐evaluation of how the functions are being supported by the County.

Earlier this week, local citizens group Embracing Arlington Arts released a statement supporting the CAAC’s recommendations. The group’s president, Janet Kopenhaver, and board member Sara Duke, both serve on the committee.

“After months of very productive discussions among the CAAC members, we believe we arrived at fair and equitable recommendations that were recently presented to the County Manager,” Kopenhaver said.

“It is key that the appropriate representatives sit on this committee from both the arts world and the public schools,” she continued. “Plus, they still have some critical things to iron out before we can declare the process fully successful.”

More on the group’s recommendations below, after the jump.

Photo via Flickr/Celeste Lindell

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Morning Notes

Home Sale Prices Near HQ2 Drop — “Home prices in the neighborhoods where Amazon.com Inc. is setting up its second headquarters dipped to below pre-HQ2 prices for the first time since the company made the announcement just over a year ago. The median sale price for [the 22202 ZIP code] was $507,500 — a 12% drop from median prices in November 2018.” [Washington Business Journal, Twitter]

HQ2 May Help Balance Local Dating Scene — “For every 100 single, college-educated individuals in the Washington area, women outnumber men 53-47. And single women with college degrees are coming here at a faster clip than men in the same demographic, census data show… could Amazon’s expansion into Arlington import enough men to give some local women a statistically better shot at love?” [WAMU]

Big Emergency Response in Pentagon City — From Arlington County Police, regarding a large emergency response outside the Pentagon City mall around 8 p.m. last night: “Police responded to the report of a fight. One victim suffered minor injuries.” [Twitter, Twitter]

New Art Installation on ART Buses — “The latest Art on the ART Bus exhibit is up! The exhibit features seven letter-pressed placards that honor Arlington’s 60th anniversary of the seven lunch counter sit-ins from June 9 to June 22, 1960. The sit-ins were peaceful protests to challenge widespread segregation policies.” [Arlington Transit]

Nearby: Alexandria Also Ends Glass Recycling — “Alexandria will no longer collect glass curbside for recycling… Starting Jan. 15, if you’re hoping to get your glass recycled rather than just tossed out with the trash, you’ll have to take it down to the purple bins at one of four facilities in southern Alexandria.” [ALXnow]

Photo courtesy Dave Statter

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Arlington’s 17th annual “Artful Weekend” art show and sale starts today and continues through this weekend.

Presented by the Arlington Artists Alliance, the fair highlights over 35 local artists and their wares across a variety of media including ceramics, jewelry, glasswork, and more.

The opening reception kicks off tonight, Friday, at the historic Hendry House at Fort C.F. Smith Park (2411 24th Street N.), from 6-8 p.m. Light refreshments will be served and the artists will be present.

The free event, described as “great for holiday shopping,” will continue Saturday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday from 12-4 p.m.

The Arlington Artists Alliance works to create and promote local art in the county, with full membership options for Arlington artists. The alliance currently has two art galleries, the Gallery Underground in Crystal City (2100 Crystal Drive), and Gallery Clarendon (2800 Clarendon Blvd).

Photo via Arlington County

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

Looking for one-of-a-kind gifts this holiday season? Arlington’s artists and creatives have the answer via two upcoming events to help you #shoplocal for unique treasures for holiday gift giving!

Lee Arts Center Fine Crafts Show and Sale
November 9-10
Saturday (10 a.m.-4 p.m.) and Sunday (12-4 p.m.)

Handmade ceramic vessels. Vibrant prints. Luminous jewelry… Undoubtedly the studio artists of Arlington’s Lee Arts Center have created something to delight those on your gift list, and it’s waiting for you to discover at their annual show and sale. Some of our regions finest artists work out of Arlington’s Lee Arts Center, a quaint 1920’s elementary school on Lee Highway that, when it was deemed too historic to demolish, but too impractical for continued school usage, was converted into a community cultural center by Arlington Arts.

Participating artists include:

Ceramics — Connie Bergere, Dana Lehrer Danze, Donna Downing, Susan Elliott, Laura Fall, Jan Filsinger, Mami Grignol, Jyotshna ‘J’ Herbert & Maddie Palmer, Helen Hensgen, Veronika Jenke, Scott Kaye, Klaudia Levin, Polina Miller, Hiromi Minemura, Catherine Satterlee, Victoria Truhn and Terry Young.

Prints — Sue Mason, Wes Muntain and Janis Sweeney

Prints and Ceramics — Janet Gohres

Ceramics and Jewelry — Marsha Lederman, Darlene Tsukamoto and Alanna Rivera

For information on the annual sale, call the Lee Arts Center at 703-228-0560 or click here.

Made In Arlington Pop Up Shops
Thursdays (11 a.m.-2 p.m.)
November 7-December 19 (excluding Thanksgiving Day)

Sponsored by Arlington Economic Development’s Creative Economy program, Made in Arlington returns just in time for the holiday season! Visit the Plaza Branch Library (in Courthouse Plaza lobby) for this pop-up retail market dedicated to unique things beautiful, wearable and edible from innovators and artisans in Arlington.

Find favorites like Livin the Pie Life and Kingsbury Chocolates and welcome new vendors like Tried and Truhn pottery and Artisan Confections. Click here for details.

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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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