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]
Artomatic, a free, unjuried creative arts event that invites artists to display their work — usually in large, vacant buildings — is returning to Crystal City.
The event, which was previously held in Crystal City in 2007 and 2012, will take place over the course of six weeks in the spring at 1800 S. Bell Street, the Crystal City Business Improvement District announced today. Tens of thousands of visitors are expected to visit the 100,000-square-foot arts space over the course of the event.
“The return of Artomatic to Crystal City demonstrates the area’s continued growth and development as an artistic and innovative laboratory,” said Angela Fox, CEO of the Crystal City BID. “Artomatic’s mission aligns with the BID’s efforts to transform our community into a place where people are inspired to create their own masterpieces.”
Dubbed a “playground for artistic expression,” Artomatic is known for its massive size and range of often-eclectic creative works, including visual art, music, film, live performance, fashion and more.
From a press release:
The Crystal City BID made its first massive splash onto the creative stage in 2007 by luring Artomatic across the river and helping them host their biggest art happening up to that time…
The 2007 and 2012 editions attracted over 35,000 and 75,000 visitors, respectively, and over a thousand artists for each run. Artomatic 2017 will be in approximately 100,000 square feet of space provided by Vornado/Charles E. Smith at 1800 S. Bell Street. Artomatic is anticipated to attract another large and diverse crowd given its proximity to metro, free parking after 4 p.m., and location among dozens of restaurants and watering holes.
The new location also has the benefit of an entrance along the interior concourse of Crystal City and part of the 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.
The dates for the 2017 installment of Artomatic are expected to be announced within a few weeks.
The employees at Winking Fish have a knack for thinking “outside the bowl” to make you notice a business. Other people’s businesses, that is.
If you have lived in, worked in, eaten in or passed through Arlington during the past eight years, the odds are good that you’ve spotted the creative strategy and design firm’s work at least once.
Perhaps you’ve seen their branding and design work for the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization, such as the lamppost banners and marketing materials for popular events like the farmer’s market, wine and craft beer festival, movie nights and jazz festival. Or maybe it’s the menus and promotional items they design for Vintage Restaurants Group — which owns Ragtime, Rhodeside Grill and William Jeffrey’s Tavern in Arlington and Dogwood Tavern in Falls Church. They also do pro bono work for the Arlington Free Clinic.
Director of strategy and engagement Maria Gallagher says working with local clients — in addition to national clients like LinkedIn and the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund — is important to the whole four-person Winking Fish team.
“We’ve got a pretty solid mix of some nationally-based clients… and a really nice mix of local Arlington businesses,” she says. “It’s nice when you’re supporting the businesses around you and then you’re seeing your work in action, too.”
The Winking Fish employees’ tasks vary a bit from day to day, but they all revolve around developing and maintaining businesses’ identities. Gallagher spends her time contemplating communications and messaging strategies while art director Parisa Damian sketches out ideas and digitally designs marketing materials.
Meanwhile, senior graphic designer Robyn Davis examines color swatches to determine which visual elements fit best with a particular client’s style. “I haven’t been able to do anything ‘pretty’ in a while because I came from an academic environment where it can be kind of boring,” Davis says. “It’s nice to be able to do different kinds of work.”
There is one thing, though, that remains the same each day: The team members get a lot of “together time.” A lot of together time.
Gallagher is married to Winking Fish principal Kieran Daly, and they’ve been friends with Damian and Davis for years. The four work together in a row of three adjacent offices and spend time together outside of work. Plus, they have lunch together nearly every day — sometimes on-site in the MakeOffices Clarendon lunchroom and sometimes at nearby restaurants. “It’s kind of nice to have that break and down time together,” Gallagher says.
Having an office in the coworking space has strengthened not only their connections with each other, but also with other businesses at MakeOffices Clarendon.
“Within two weeks [of moving here] we had a new website client,” Daly says. Fostering such connections was part of the whole plan, Gallagher explains. “That is one of the reasons we were thinking about a space like this, for the business networking it naturally promotes,” she says.
In addition to drumming up new clients, being in the coworking space creates an environment for learning different business strategies. “There’s a lot of natural opportunity to get different perspectives on running a small business. That’s a big plus,” Daly says.
One learning opportunity the Winking Fish employees especially appreciate is the once-a-month breakfast MakeOffices hosts, which includes various tenants as guest speakers.
“I went to one of those and realized I had no idea that kind of business was here in the building,” Gallagher says. “It’s nice to hear about those working models and how people are challenged and overcoming some challenges.”
For a creative firm like Winking Fish, image really is everything. The team finds that the coworking space portrays a positive, professional image to clients who visit. “It’s always fun to bring someone in here for the first time,” Gallagher says. “Everyone always comments on the energy. It’s vibrant.”
Daly explains that even though Winking Fish was in its previous building for five years, the space wasn’t very conducive to interacting with the other people there. “There really is a great energy change for us,” he says.
A standalone space also doesn’t offer the same flexibility, Daly says. “As a smaller business it’s nice to be able to have the option to add another office a couple of doors down if we need to and not be locked into a five-year term on an office space that might be too big or too small.”
And as an added bonus, “We don’t have to empty the dishwasher,” he says, laughing.
On a calm summer night a few months ago, just after the Fourth of July, a big, century-old tree toppled over, blocking a street and knocking out power to much of the Ashton Heights neighborhood.
Fast forward to today and something cool has come from the tree’s unfortunate demise.
Local chainsaw artist Andrew Mallon has turned part of the big tree — the stump of which remains horizontal in a front yard along the 500 block of N. Lincoln Street — into a sculpture of a two-headed dragon.
The sculpture has captured the neighborhood’s imagination and is clearly an object of fascination for the homeowners’ young son, who was outside admiring it with a caretaker when ARLnow.com stopped by yesterday afternoon.
Mallon, who grew up two blocks from the home, says the family was “disappointed” that the tree fell down, but specifically asked whether it could be kept for posterity, in dragon form.
“They asked if a dragon with a horn was a possibility,” Mallon said. “They wanted a carving the kids could play on that also included a bench for the adults to enjoy. I thought it was a great idea and quickly started thinking of different ways to incorporate all the elements the family wanted.”
“This carving has really been an amazing piece to work on and I couldn’t be happier it is living at a great home, with a fun loving family, in my old neighborhood,” continued Mallon. “I have to be honest the 10 year old in me is a little jealous I didn’t have a dragon to play on as a child.”
Before the carving could begin, Mallon said, a crane had to be brought into remove the four-ton tree from the street. After that, the design was finalized: a dragon with two heads and a kid-friendly saddle.
“To fit the design in the log I had to start the carving by leveling out the bottom and removing about 1,000 pounds from it,” said Mallon. “After being properly leveled, I used my largest saw to block out the heads, body, and tail. Once the general shape was there I was able to switch to a smaller saw to begin working on the details. This includes the playful faces, tail, saddle, etc.”
“I still have some details like the scales to complete, but will be waiting to finish them until we can put the dragon in its permanent location,” he added. “Once the carving is finished I will burn it to add depth and color. This will be followed by a nice sanding, to prevent splinters, and finished with an outdoor sealer to protect the carving from the elements so it lasts for years to come.”
Arlington Searching for Ultimate Frisbee Coaches — With ultimate frisbee approved as a new school-sponsored sport, Arlington Public Schools in now on the hunt for frisbee coaches at each of its middle and high schools. [InsideNova]
Dems Hold Unity Event — Arlington Democrats are presenting a unified front heading into election season. After a bruising primary, both County Board Chair Libby Garvey and her once-challenger, Erik Gutshall, attended a Democratic unity event at the house of County Board member Jay Fisette last night. [Twitter, Twitter]
‘Tranquility’ in Crystal City Underground — Gallery Underground, the subterranean art gallery in the Crystal City Shops, is preparing for its next exhibit, on the theme of “Tranquility.” The month-long art show starts Sept. 1. [Gallery Underground]
Photo courtesy Eric LeKuch
Former Mansion Owner is In Jail — Rodney Hunt, the man who once owned the $23 million Arlington mansion that’s being used to throw large parties (and which was recently sold at a foreclosure auction), is currently in the Arlington County jail. Hunt was ordered to spend 90 days in jail earlier this month for violating his parole. An attorney says Hunt doesn’t know anything about the parties. [Washington Post]
Tourists Can’t Handle the Heat at the Cemetery — Anytime it gets sufficiently toasty outside, medical calls to Arlington National Cemetery become frequent. Tourists at the cemetery regularly suffer heat-related ailments that require paramedic dispatches during the summer. The cemetery is advising visitors to wear sunscreen and bring a bottle of water during the warm weather months. [Twitter]
Airbnb Is Costing Arlington Tax Revenue — Arlington County has yet to figure out a good way to get those renting out their homes on Airbnb to pay the county’s 5.25 percent lodging tax, which is paid by hotels and should be paid by Airbnb hosts. “Very few of the folks who should be paying taxes have stepped up to fork over the money,” reports Michael Pope. [WVTF]
Art Murals in Crystal City — Crystal City has more than two dozen outdoor art murals, implemented by the Crystal City Business Improvement District. The murals are part of an effort to “visually revitalize the area,” which is noted for being something of a concrete canyon. [Curbed]
Teacher Salaries By School — A list shows the average teacher salary, by school, at Arlington Public Schools. Topping the list is Kenmore Middle School, at $80,411. At the bottom of the list is the Arlington Mill high school program, at $61,731. [Patch]
APS Finance Chief Wins Award — Leslie Peterson, the assistant superintendent for finance and management at Arlington Public Schools, is one of three officials in the U.S. to receive the 2016 Pinnacle of Achievement Award from the Association of School Business Officials International. [InsideNova]
Amtrak Police Chief Shared Apartment With ‘Alleged Boyfriend’ — Amtrak Police Chief Polly Hanson, who’s under investigation for fraud and conflict of interest, reportedly shared an Arlington apartment with her “alleged boyfriend,” a senior director at a contractor that Amtrak hired under Hanson’s supervision. The two also are said to have co-owned a condo in Dewey Beach, Del. [Washington Post]
The Arlington County Board on Saturday is set to consider the purchase of an “arts truck.” In a staff report, officials said the truck could bring the arts to various locations across the country, partially filling the void left by the closure of the Artisphere in Rosslyn.
“When closing the Artisphere, the County Manager and County Board made a commitment to continue programming for artistic and cultural events, specifically through the use of mobile and periodic programming along major commercial corridors,” says the staff report. “Cultural Affairs staff believes that an Arts Truck that delivers innovative, professionally-curated pop-up style arts events is an excellent mechanism for expanding the reach of arts, entertainment and culture throughout the Arlington community.”
Potential arts truck programming could include:
- “Pop-up visual arts exhibits”
- “Lunchtime mini-concerts”
- “Lounge and learn educational and civic programming”
- “Temporary public art activities”
The truck is expected to cost about $55,000. Another $14,000 is being allocated for one-time costs and “pilot programming.”
Nearly $30,000 of the costs is being provided by donations that were made to Artisphere but never spent. Close to $40,000 is being provided by existing Arlington County arts funds.
“While the Artisphere was in operation, the [Arlington Community Foundation], on behalf of the County, managed a fund dedicated to Artisphere donations,” says the staff report. “Now that the Artisphere has closed, the remaining balance in the fund must be used in a manner consistent with the intent of the fund – to support innovative cultural programming throughout the County. After consulting with both ACF and public stakeholders, Cultural Affairs staff have determined that an Arts Truck providing such cultural programming in the major commercial corridors would broaden the reach of arts in the community and complement existing arts outreach.”
ArtJamz Underground Studio, a new “paint and sip” studio, will be opening next Friday, July 15, in Crystal City.
Located in the Crystal City Shops, at 2105-B Crystal Plaza Arcade, the 1,000 square foot public art studio and lounge will offer freestyle paint sessions, guided classes, and other private and public special events.
Studio time for customers includes art materials, an easel, a smock, two complimentary glasses of wine or one beer and local artists that are on hand to give tips and guidance.
“We really encourage original art, for people to create something unique,” said founder and CEO Michael Clements. “Our tagline is unleash your inner artist because we want our studios to be as close to what an artist would experience in their studio.”
Customers can choose from six different canvas sizes — and they’re also allowed to paint on the walls. Just for fun, fake artist mustaches and berets are offered at an additional charge.
“Our mission is make the world a more creative place,” said Clements.
Customers can book sessions online. Until opening night, ArtJamz is offering a special where patrons can book sessions using the promo code “opening16” to receive 20 percent off a reservation.
County Board Primary Voting Today — Arlington residents are heading to the polls today to vote in the Democratic County Board primary, choosing between incumbent Libby Garvey and challenger Erik Gutshall. Polls close at 7 p.m. [Arlington County]
More Security at Local Gay Bar — Freddie’s Beach Bar in Crystal City has tightened its security, banned backpacks and is now searching purses in the wake of the mass shooting at a gay club in Orlando. [NBC Washington]
Art Therapy Group Shutting Down — The 296 Project, which provided art therapy for veterans with PTSD, is closing down. On June 25, the group will be hosting a big art supply giveaway at its Crystal City studio. [Facebook]
Local Jewelry and Fashion List — Washingtonian Magazine has released a list of what it says are “the best places to shop in Arlington for local art, custom jewelry, and discounted designer fashion.” [Washingtonian]
It’s finally going to feel like May today, with the temperature nearing 90 degrees — just in time for some outdoor chocolate sampling.
The event is being held from 6-8 p.m. at the Arlington Arts Center in Virginia Square (3550 Wilson Blvd).
Andelman and Springfield will be discussing their methods and how they got their start in art and business. Chocolate samples and light refreshments will be provided. Admission is free, but registration is required.
Two Add’l Endorsements for Gutshall — Democratic County Board Erik Gutshall has picked up two more endorsements. The campaign announced this week that Gutshall was endorsed by Clerk of the Circuit Court Paul Ferguson and former county treasurer Frank O’Leary. [InsideNova]
Garvey’s Idea for I-66 — In an interview with the urbanist blog Greater Greater Washington, County Board Chair Libby Garvey, who is running for reelection, talked about her belief in more Bus Rapid Transit service as a transit solution and her plans for making Arlington a “great” place to live. Among her ideas: building large decks over I-66 to provide more parkland, more bus parking and to “knit our community back together.” [Greater Greater Washington]
Barley Mac Grand Opening — Barley Mac in Rosslyn is holding its grand opening celebration this weekend: “The party will kick off each night at 8:00 p.m. and go until 2:00 a.m., and we’ll serve [complimentary] passed appetizers and light bites in the bar from 8:00-10:00 p.m.” [Facebook, Rosslyn BID]
Native Species Returning to Arlington — The removal of invasive species from Arlington’s parkland is paying off. A number of plant and animal species once thought to be gone for good have started returning to the county, including certain frogs, otters, foxes and turkeys. The county announced this in a press release with the alliterative headline “Nurtured Nature Nets New Natives.” [Arlington County]
Inexpensive Local Art on Sale — The Arlington Artists Alliance is holding an art show and sale later this month where every work of art is priced at $95 or less. [Patch]
Real Housewives Filming in Clarendon? — An episode of the Real Housewives of Potomac was reportedly being filmed at Oz restaurant in Clarendon last night. The restaurants is owned by cast member Ashley Darby and her husband. [Twitter]
Arlington Man Found Dead in Canal — Police have identified the man found floating dead in the C&O Canal in Georgetown as 51-year-old Arlington resident Osbaldo Lemus Bernal. So far, his death has not been deemed suspicious. [DCist, Patch]
Gutshall Steps Up Campaign Against Garvey — Planning Commission member and County Board hopeful Erik Gutshall is stepping up the rhetoric against his Democratic primary opponent, County Board member Libby Garvey. Gutshall, in an email, called Garvey a “failed… career politician.” At an event last night he blasted her tenure on the School Board — saying she did not do enough to address the school system’s capacity crisis — and her alleged lack of effort in addressing transit issues along Columbia Pike, following the cancellation of the streetcar project. [InsideNova, Blue Virginia]
Gutshall Wins Straw Poll Landslide — Those attending Del. Alfonso Lopez’s (D) second annual straw poll event on Columbia Pike last night favored Erik Gutshall over Libby Garvey in a landslide. One could argue that the event was attended by a select group of Democrats pre-disposed to oppose Garvey, but Gutshall captured 88 percent of the vote to Garvey’s 12 percent. The straw poll also asked attendees about the School Board race (Nancy Van Doren – 46%, Tannia Talento – 35%, Michael Shea – 11%, Chaz Crismon – 7%) and the Democratic presidential nomination (Hillary Clinton – 77%, Bernie Sanders – 23%).
Registration Open for Rosslyn Social Event — Registration is now open for City Social, Rosslyn’s annual meeting. The event, on May 11, is open to residents and will be attended by a number of Rosslyn movers and shakers. In addition to live music and giveaways, attendees at this year’s City Social will be able to enjoy wine, beer and a bourbon bar from Barley Mac, which is preparing to open in the former Red, Hot & Blue space on Wilson Blvd. [Rosslyn BID]
Wegman’s Inches Closer to Arlington — Arlington’s favorite unattainable grocery store obsession will soon be closer than ever. Wegman’s is reportedly planning to open a store in Tysons Corner in 2019. [Washington Business Journal]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick