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More Than A Year After IOTA Club’s Closure, What’s Next for Arlington’s Live Music Scene?

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 “You walked in and you just felt good,” says Eric Brace.

When the IOTA Club and Cafe, a Clarendon performance venue whose motto was “live music forever,” closed its doors in the fall of 2017 after more than 23 years, Brace took it hard. Though the Last Train Home frontman played IOTA with his rootsy rock band on two of the club’s final three evenings, he couldn’t bear to return to the club for its closing night.

“I did not go on the last day because I was kind of too sad,” says Brace, who lived in the D.C. area for about 20 years before moving to Nashville. “I was just physically and emotionally wiped out.”

In a somewhat ironic turn, Last Train Home — a band that had one of its first gigs at IOTA in the mid-’90s and went on to play annual New Year’s Eve shows there for a string of years — performed a late-December set at The Birchmere just a few hours after our conversation. The legendary Alexandria music venue was an inspiration to IOTA’s founders, longtime Arlington residents Jane Negrey Inge and brother Stephen Negrey, who identified it as one of their “idols” in a press release prior to the club’s closing.

Now, more than a year since the closing of the storied arts space — home to performances from Norah Jones, John Mayer, Ryan Adams, Dawes and countless others between 1994 and 2017 — Arlington has yet to fill the void.

For Josh Stoltzfus, deputy director of Arlington Cultural Affairs, the county arts scene is essentially a series of micro-scenes, defined by the venues and events in each neighborhood. But when it comes to specific music spaces, Stoltzfus says, “there is no one flagship that everything revolves around.” Luckily, the county boasts many restaurants and bars offering live, local music, including Galaxy Hut, Rhodeside Grill, Westover Beer Garden, Cafe Sazon and Bistro 29.

Yet none of those establishments regularly host a mix of national touring acts, D.C.-area musicians and poetry readings, as IOTA did for more than two decades.

Today, the Wilson Boulevard building that once housed IOTA lies dormant, its vestibule sporting a dangling string of twinkle lights and a well-preserved, if incongruous, welcome sign. The block is slated for redevelopment as Market Common Phase 2, a property of Regency Centers, with construction expected to begin early this year.

In the press release announcing their closure, IOTA’s owners cited the impending construction and anticipated rent increase as contributing factors in their decision. But as a cultural mainstay that managed to survive for nearly two dozen years in a transforming neighborhood, IOTA and its legacy has not been forgotten.

One project memorializing the space is “The IOTA Chair,” a video series led by D.C. musician Rachel Levitin, who purchased a chair from one of the venue’s fire sales and re-imagined it as a set piece for performances and interviews of onetime IOTA performers she posts on Facebook. Another notable tribute is on the way — in September, Inge launched a GoFundMe campaign for a book that will retell IOTA’s history through her and Negrey’s eyes. Thus far, the effort has raised only about 13 percent of its $30,000 goal but garnered dozens of supportive comments.

“IOTA was one of the most beautiful music communities I ever met in my travels; it helped make my life worth living,” writes one donor.

Inge declined to be interviewed for this article but reflected on her venue via email: “At IOTA, live music was the center and purpose of everything we did,” she writes. “We chased inspired live experiences and creative new music for our stage. Stephen and I had the honor to meet and work with wonderful poets, musicians and musical performers, touring and local. We got to know the people who appreciated the shows, who got it, and who supported IOTA to keep us going for so long.”

For D.C. singer-songwriter Laura Tsaggaris, who started playing IOTA in the early 2000s and has performed throughout the area, the club was “the center” of the local songwriting scene.

“It felt easy — easy to stretch out and do what you wanted to do there,” Tsaggaris says. “I’ve never felt as comfortable as I did there.”

To acquire an IOTA-esque mystique, an Arlington music venue would need to strive not just to attract talented national artists but also serve as a sought-after haunt for the local arts community. Arlington singer-songwriter Justin Trawick, founder of “The 9” songwriter series and co-host of “The Circus Life” podcast, began making the trek to IOTA from Leesburg in 2005 in pursuit of the club’s well-known open-mic night. IOTA had a scene, he says, perhaps matched today only by Jammin Java in Vienna or a couple of newer D.C. venues, such as sister venue Union Stage.

“They’ve really created an amazing culture of not only bands that play there, but people who want to hang out there in that ‘Empire Records’ kind of way,” Trawick says. “IOTA had that.”

Though IOTA certainly had a successful open-mic culture, with two sign-up times per night to accommodate the dozens of eager performers filing in, Arlington’s open-mic opportunities live on. Alexandria musician Alex Parez hosted IOTA’s weekly open mic in its final three years and has since transferred the IOTA format to Rhodeside Grill. While he says “no place can replace IOTA,” he expresses pride over the local talent that continues to surface in Arlington.

Yet Brace, who is also a former music journalist for The Washington Post and the founder of Nashville-based Red Beet Records, expressed doubts about whether modern-day Arlington can provide an affordable space for an IOTA-size venue, which had expanded its capacity to roughly 300 when it closed.

“Arlington’s square footage is so expensive; it’s hard to have a place where you can afford to just have a big empty space in the form of a stage, and it’s hard to invest a lot of money in a great sound system and have a great sound person every night the way IOTA did,” Brace says.

But with the coming arrival of Amazon HQ2 to the newly named “National Landing”, it’s not unthinkable that music venues along the lines of The Wharf’s Union Stage or Pearl Street Warehouse could be part of the development mix.

A spokesperson for National Landing developer JBG Smith declined to comment, but the property website does highlight JBG’s plans for the “Central District” redevelopment project, set to include “a 130,000-gross-square-foot entertainment and shopping destination anchored by a 49,000-square-foot Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, a specialty grocer, restaurants, bars and other experiential offerings.” Could a live performance space be one such offering?

For now, Arlingtonians hoping for an IOTA-like experience will have to wonder and wait for an existing Arlington music hub to expand its offerings (not to mention its footprint) or an entirely new venue to spring up.

“Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” Brace says. “There’s always people making music, and they’ll have little pop-up clubs in basements or house concerts. I’ll choose to be hopeful.”

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Photos: ‘Impulse’ and Its Musical, Colorful Seesaws Take Over Pentagon City Parking Lot

Ever seen a light-up, musical seesaw? If not, you might want to swing by a new public art installation in a parking lot sitting on the border of Crystal City and Pentagon City.

Starting last week, the lot became home to “Impulse,” an interactive art display designed to spruce up the previously barren space at the corner of 12th Street S. and S. Eads Street, just across from the Whole Foods grocery store.

The Crystal City Business Improvement District and property owner LCOR teamed up to bring the new exhibit to the area, after it was initially displayed in downtown Montreal, and it’s designed as a “an interactive light and sound experience.”

“It consists of large seesaws whose light intensity and musical tones change when set in motion by visitors,” Crystal City BID Events Manager Cassie Hurley wrote in an email. “This work creates an ephemeral and ever-changing field as the public plays with this urban instrument. Impulse embodies ideas of serialism, repetition, and variation to produce zones of intensity and calm.”

Hurley added that the BID has been working with LCOR recently to make the parking lot a bit more inviting, dubbing it “The Grounds,” with plans to sketch out a full “lineup of new arts and events programming” for the area next year.

“The Crystal City BID is always looking for unique ways to enliven spaces, engage residents and welcome visitors to our community, which makes Impulse an ideal choice for our latest art installation,” BID Executive Director Tracy Gabriel wrote in a statement. “The exhibit energizes the area between Crystal City and Pentagon City, connecting the neighborhoods with light, sound, and excitement, and its whimsical seesaws are a fun way for residents and visitors to socialize and enjoy the season.”

“The Grounds” sits in a section of the neighborhood set to see quite a few changes in the coming years, thanks to Amazon — the space is just across from the “PenPlace” development that the tech giant purchased for one of its new office buildings in the area, and is just a block away from the Metropolitan Park properties where the company will build more space.

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Morning Notes

Shatner: Arlington E-Bike Rules ‘Barbaric’ — E-bike enthusiast and Priceline pitchman William Shatner, better known as Star Trek’s Captain James T. Kirk, said via Twitter yesterday — in response to a tweet from the sassy Arlington Dept. Environmental Services Twitter account — that Arlington’s prohibition on e-bikes on local trails is “barbaric.” [Twitter]

Kojo Coming to Crystal City — WAMU 88.5 is bringing the Kojo Nnamdi Show to Crystal City for “a town hall-style discussion about how local officials, businesses, and community members in Northern Virginia and the region are reacting to Amazon’s decision.” Those wishing to attend the taping can register online. [Kojo Nnamdi Show]

Upgrades for Ballston Senior Housing — “The Arlington County Board [Tuesday] approved a low-interest loan of $3.025 million in federal Community Development Block Grant funds to help renovate The Carlin, a 162-unit, 10-story building located at 4300 N. Carlin Springs Road. The Carlin serves low income elderly residents who are 55 years and older.” [Arlington County]

‘Arts District’ Near Crystal City? — “Even before the specter of Amazon’s second headquarters put stars in everyone’s eyes in Crystal City, Stratis Voutsas and Georgia Papadopoulos, managers of a trust that owns many buildings on the neighborhood’s ‘restaurant row,’ were dreaming up a plan to bring more people across U.S. Route 1 to the neighborhood… The trust wants to build an open-air park and plaza on a parking lot and site of a Greek restaurant the trust owns behind some of the 23rd Street restaurants. It would have artist spaces tucked below, facing onto 22nd Street.” [Washington Business Journal]

Amazon News Roundup — Amazon’s HQ2 search was about “selecting locations with specialized kinds of talent that meet certain needs,” and “Crystal City… puts Amazon closer to tech talent, but also to government leaders, cloud customers, and the U.S. Department of Defense.” Crystal City is built upon the former Abingdon Plantation and the new Amazon presence “affords us the opportunity to recognize and memorialize the lives of those enslaved there.” Meanwhile, a former JBG executive who left to help build a $3 billion development in Tampa is returning as the company prepares for Amazon’s arrival.

Nearby: New Wawa and New Restaurant — A new Wawa is coming to Vienna, making it the closest Northern Virginia location to Arlington for the beloved convenience store chain. And an acclaimed chef is planning to open a new Italian restaurant on N. Washington Street in the City of Falls Church.

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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Westover Exhibit Explores 40 Years of Change in Arlington’s Neighborhoods

Arlingtonians can get a glimpse into the past with a photo exhibit currently on display at Westover Branch Library.

The historic photo montage documents houses and buildings in Arlington before their demolition and the structures that replaced them, spanning 40 years. The photos are showcased in window frames preserved from the demolished houses depicted.

The “Windows to the Past: Arlington, Then and Now” exhibit by Tom Dickinson will be on display until Jan. 5 at 1644 N. McKinley Road, Suite 3.

Dickinson, a historian, photographer and historic preservation advocate, told ARLnow that his exhibit combines his passion for photography and historic preservation.

When he moved to Arlington in 1978, he said he was shocked by the constant demolition of older homes and commercial buildings, so he’s been snapping and collecting pictures of houses fated for demolition and then what replaced them.

Dickinson said he finds out about the houses from online archives of demolition permits that developers have to apply for, word-of-mouth and his own observations. One indicator he looks for is a dangling power line, which has to get cut from the telephone pole before a demolition.

The exhibit, which is funded by the Arlington Arts Grant Program, includes photos of Lustron prefabricated enameled steel houses which were developed after World War II, and Certigrade homes, which are made from cedar wood. The original houses in the “before” pictures were built between the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Dickinson got permission from the developers to salvage windows from the houses. His appreciation for the craftsmanship of windows began after he took a workshop on window construction about 15 years ago.

“These are the windows through which who knows how many thousands of eyes peered out through this glass to the world around them, and the light that illuminated their lives came in,” he said. “It’s the last sort of symbolic artifact from these houses.”

While Dickinson acknowledges that some people see new developments as a progress, Dickinson has a “two-prong lament for the loss of affordable housing and of historic structures.”

Some houses in Arlington are better off torn down, he said. “A lot of these places that were torn down were houses that were not distinguished in any way, just average and inexpensive [ones] that served their purpose and came to the end of their life,” he said. “But still that comes with a cost, environmentally, in terms of the energy for demolition, transporting debris and filling up landfill space. There’s an environmental penalty.”

Dickinson insists that the greenest houses are the ones that are already built.

On the heels of Amazon’s announcement that it will set up its second headquarters in Crystal City, Dickinson said he expects to see fewer “less expensive” houses as housing demand skyrockets, along with increasing congestion on the highways and Metro. “It’s the Manhattanization of Arlington.”

Dickinson isn’t holding his breath for Arlington County to put the brakes on developments. “They’re going to do everything they need to do to make Amazon happy and help them find housing for people,” he said.

“This change is inevitable — it’s going to happen for good or for bad,” Dickinson said, adding that in 40 years from now, he expects Arlington to look completely different from its appearance today.

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County Inspectors Issue Goody’s A Warning for Painting Unapproved Mural on Storefront

Arlington officials say Goody’s pizzeria in Clarendon didn’t earn the county approval it needed before painting a new mural on its storefront — but the county won’t be taking drastic action against the restaurant just yet.

Helen Duong, a spokeswoman for the county’s Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development, told ARLnow that zoning inspectors visited the restaurant and “concluded that the artwork is considered a sign under Arlington County’s zoning ordinance because the artwork relates to the advertisement of a business and its services.”

That means Goody’s needed a permit before adding the painting earlier this month, but Duong says the eatery “did not receive prior approvals from the county.”

She added that inspectors delivered a “courtesy notice” to the restaurant last Thursday (Nov. 15), laying out steps for how the business can remedy that issue, but has not forced Goody’s to cover up the new artwork or taken any other punitive measures against the restaurant. The county has taken such steps against other businesses in the past, including when it briefly tangled with Wag More Dogs on S. Four Mile Run Drive over similar murals.

Glenda Alvarez, the restaurant’s owner, says she has yet to seek any county approval for the mural, a fact Duong confirmed. She was unaware of any need for a permit before commissioning the artwork, which she says she hoped to add because the building “was not attractive enough.”

“We just wanted to get a little more attention from people walking by,” Alvarez said.

Alvarez took over ownership of the restaurant earlier this spring, after its previous owners sold her the business. Goody’s closed briefly in April to account for the changeover before reopening in May.

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Artists Paint New Murals on Exterior of Goody’s in Clarendon

Update, Friday at 8:30 a.m. — After this article was published, a county spokeswoman told ARLnow that zoning officials were “not aware of the mural at Goody’s.”

“A zoning enforcement inspector will be visiting the site to further investigate this matter,” spokeswoman Helen Duong wrote in an email.

Earlier: Artists are currently hard at work adorning the exterior of longtime Clarendon pizzeria Goody’s with some new murals.

The artwork depicts all manner of ingredients and menu offerings. Mushrooms, tomatoes and basil are all prominently featured, as are gyros and hamburgers.

Goody’s is adding the new exterior artwork roughly six months after new ownership took over the Clarendon institution and fully renovated its interior.

Its previous owners, Nick and Vanessa Reisis, sold the business back in April, leading to a brief closure for the pizzeria. The Reisis’s were long fans of seasonal drawings on the restaurant’s windows, though that artwork generally didn’t include the pizzeria’s walls as well.

Similar murals on Arlington businesses have attracted scrutiny from county zoning officials in the past. The county once tangled with Wag More Dogs on S. Four Mile Run Drive over a mural on its walls, which was deemed to be “advertising” that was therefore not allowed under local sign regulations.

There’s no word yet from a county spokeswoman on whether Goody’s might be subject to similar permitting requirements for its new artwork.

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New Public Art on the Way for Crystal City, Fresh Off Arrival of Colorful Bikes and Flowers

A bevy of new public art looks to be on the way for Crystal City, just a few weeks after the neighborhood’s largest property owner commissioned a series of art projects around the area.

The Crystal City Business Improvement District has put out a call yesterday (Wednesday) to local artists looking to bring some temporary public art to the neighborhood, as part of an effort to “activate vacant and open spaces” and “enliven and connect the public realm.” The BID is offering up to hand out up to $50,000 for each project, and is inviting professional public artists, “art consultant organizations and curators” to apply.

The BID says it’s looking for applicants who can “show a proven history of successfully managing and completing publicly-funded projects with budgets of equivalent scale.” It plans to evaluate projects on how each one:

  • Expands cultural experience
  • Promotes community dialogue
  • Promotes place-making and interaction
  • Supports visual beautification
  • Drives visitorship and media attention

The BID did not lay out how many art projects it plans to accept, or when it hopes to have the art installed. But any project will inevitably invite comparisons to JBG Smith’s efforts to add some visual flair to the area, starting with building wraps for some Crystal City structures soon after it took over ownership of the properties and continuing through its latest work to bring colorful spray-painted flowers and bikes to streets between Pentagon City and Crystal City.

The latter effort attracted quite a bit of attention in recent weeks, as JBG didn’t immediately reveal that it was behind the artwork, leaving residents a bit puzzled.

Sources around the company have even speculated to the Washington Business Journal that the whole project was an effort to impress Amazon executives visiting as part of their HQ2 deliberations. JBG, however, says it was merely an effort to tie Crystal City and Pentagon City together, and brighten up an area experiencing quite a bit of construction at the moment.

Applications for the BID’s newest public art effort are due by Friday, Nov. 2.

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UPDATE: Artist Emerges for Mysterious Street Art in Pentagon City, Crystal City

(Update at 4:25 p.m.) After this article was published, Carol Fuller, president of the Crystal City Civic Association, reached out with some clarity on the origin of the street art:

The art projects are the work of JBG Smith, the major developer in Crystal and Pentagon Cities.  They have so many projects in the works, including PenPlace where the bikes are now located on the wall, that they wanted to “beautify” the project areas. They did this as a “small mini intervention” project to link Pentagon and Crystal Cities and create some “buzz” for their development projects in an interesting and more attractive way. The work was done by Ground Swell, a company of architects, landscapers, and artists from Philadelphia.

The mysterious street art cropping up around Pentagon City and Crystal City seems to be evolving.

Readers first alerted to ARLnow to a series of spray-painted flowers popping up all along 12th Street S. and S. Eads Street earlier this month. Several colorful bikes adorned with flowers appeared on street corners soon afterward, though no one in the county government or local business community had any idea who was responsible for the art.

This week, the bikes remain, but have migrated slightly. Many are now mounted on the wall of a bike and pedestrian trail running along 12th Street S., between S. Fern Street and S. Eads Street, not far from the Pentagon City Metro station. Others are affixed to walls alongside S. Eads Street itself.

Some readers say they’ve spotted a pick-up truck full of workers dropping off the bikes, though it remains unclear who is backing the public art effort. Reader Christine Brown was able to snap a picture of the truck, which is labeled “The Property Coach.”

State records show no indication of any business with such a name, and an internet search was fruitless as well.

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Grand Opening Scheduled for Gallery Clarendon Saturday

Gallery Clarendon is celebrating its grand opening.

On Saturday (Sept. 15), the Gallery Clarendon will officially open at the corner of Clarendon Blvd. and and Fillmore St. in the former Fuego restaurant corner.

Gallery Clarendon is the newest professional art gallery created by the Arlington Artists Alliance, and first opened its doors in late June.

The grand opening will start with festivities at 11 a.m. with activities for adults and children. A more adult-oriented wine reception runs from 5-8 p.m., catered by nearby restaurants and featuring the music of local band HYFY. The reception will give visitors a chance to meet and mingle with the gallery artists.

The Gallery Clarendon will showcase art from local artists and manage professional artist studios. The professional studios on the second floor of Gallery Clarendon will be open daily to the public from 11 a.m.-7 p.m.

The gallery will also host events and offer classes for aspiring artists, operating an art academy that will offer day and night classes for adults and children.

On the second Fridays of every month, Gallery Clarendon will host a free opening reception for a new exhibit. Each month, the main gallery space will change with a fresh show from a different local artist.

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Mysterious Artwork Blooms Between Pentagon City, Crystal City

(Updated at 2 p.m.) A series of spray-painted flowers have bloomed on streets and trails around Pentagon City and Crystal City — but no one we’ve talked to is quite sure who’s responsible for them.

Eagle-eyed ARLnow reader Margot Duzak says she first spotted the flowers popping up in the area last Thursday (Aug. 30), without any explanation.

The flowers come in a whole host of colors and designs, with some running along 12th Street S., between S. Fern Street and S. Eads Street, on curbs and a trail not far from the Pentagon City Metro station.

From there, the artwork extends on curbs, sidewalks and bike lanes on S. Eads Street up until it meets 15th Street S., near the road’s intersection with Jefferson Davis Highway in Crystal City.

But the flowers aren’t the work of the county government — spokeswoman Jennifer Smith says she couldn’t find anyone responsible for the blooms, noting that staffers with the county’s Department of Environmental Services, Walk Arlington and Bike Arlington were all unaware of the flowers.

Crystal City Business Improvement District Chief Operating Officer Rob Mandle was similarly stumped.

Some colorful, flower-decorated bikes have also started popping up in the area of spray-painted flowers.

While the artist responsible may be unknown, for now, Duzak says the art is quite the welcome addition to the neighborhood.

“The bike lanes and sidewalks have never looked better,” she said.

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County Board Contenders Call for Boost in Arts Grants, Differ on Private Sector’s Role

Both contenders for the lone County Board seat on the ballot this fall say they want to see more money go toward grants for local artists, though they differ a bit on the exact logistics.

In a forum focused on the county’s arts scene, hosted by Embracing Arlington Arts and Arlington Independent Media earlier this month, both independent incumbent John Vihstadt and Democratic nominee Matt de Ferranti emphasized that the arts have such a vital role to play in the county’s cultural and economic health that the county needs to subsidize local programs.

Furthermore, both candidates want to see the county restore the $30,000 the Board slashed from the new year’s budget in funding for “Challenge Grants,” which provide some matching funds for artists who attract private donations. Vihstadt and de Ferranti both advocated for even increasing the amount offered through the program in future budget cycles, even with the county facing an uncertain financial future due to Metro funding obligations and a persistently high office vacancy rate.

Though the forum was light on stark disagreements between the two, Vihstadt painted the private sector as having an especially large role to play in supporting the arts. Though he remains confident the county will be able to eventually increase grant funding, he cautioned that Arlington’s “economic headwinds” will inevitably limit what the county can do.

“The arts are going to have to step up to the plate a bit, maybe to a greater degree than the art community has, in terms of really leveraging those private sector resources,” Vihstadt said. “The government can be a catalyst, it can help with climate change of a sort, but the government can’t do it all.”

He pointed out that the Board already took one step in the direction of encouraging artists to embrace the private sector when it restored $70,000 in funding for AIM originally set to be cut from the fiscal 2019 budget, which came with the condition that the organization pursue matching funding from donors.

“That was controversial, but I felt it was the right thing to do to encourage and really make sure that AIM would further reach out into that community and bring in those private sector dollars,” Vihstadt said.

De Ferranti says he was certainly glad to see those AIM cuts reversed, calling them “short sighted,” but he was more willing to see a role for direct county spending, connecting the success of Arlington’s arts scene to its economic prosperity.

“If we view this as a zero-sum game, then Arlington will lose in the long term,” de Ferranti said. “We have to see it as how we can grow together and have the vision to find the right investments to move us forward so the budget isn’t so tight… We have to think about, how do we create an environment where millenials don’t want to go to the Wharf and the Anthem, but want to stay in Crystal City, or at least consider it.”

Beyond direct subsidies, de Ferranti also expects the county can do more to help artists afford to live in Arlington. For instance, he pointed to the Maggie Walker Community Land Trust in Richmond as a model for the sort of program the county could experiment with to make home ownership more affordable — the nonprofit acquires single-family homes to sell to qualified buyers at affordable prices, but maintains ownership of the land itself. That helps the nonprofit reap the benefit of any increase in market value when owners decide to sell, which it uses to keep prices affordable going forward.

De Ferranti foresees the county creating a similar system matching artists, or even groups of artists in co-op communities, with affordable homes.

“Artists desperately want to live here… but in Arlington, being middle class is not easy,” de Ferranti said. “We need to make sure we’re caring for folks who need the chance to get up that economic ladder.”

Yet Vihstadt and de Ferranti both expressed confidence that space in the Four Mile Run valley in Nauck will someday be home to more affordable studio space for artists of all stripes. Though the creation of an “arts district” in the area has at times stirred controversy throughout a lengthy planning process for the valley, both candidates say they feel such a solution is the right fit for its future.

“We will have an arts district in harmony with the other uses around that park area, and we’ll have that synergy,” Vihstadt said.

Photo via YouTube

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‘Art Attack’ Planned for Lubber Run Community Center Ahead of Its Demolition

Arlington’s first purpose-built community center will receive an art-heavy send-off from 5-9 p.m. tonight (Thursday).

Lubber Run Community Center (300 N. Park Drive), built in 1956, will be demolished to pave the way for an updated facility.

But before all that, community members will have the chance to say goodbye with art activities like paint bombs, life-size silhouette painting and a group mural, paired with a live DJ and food trucks, at an event dubbed “Art Attack.”

The center closed to the public on July 6, but will reopen for this evening’s festivities. The county projects that construction on the new center begin later this year and be wrapped up by 2020.

Photo via Arlington County

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New LED Public Art Installation Coming to Rosslyn’s Central Place Plaza

A colorful, constantly changing public art installation is now on the way for Rosslyn’s Central Place.

Arlington Public Art is teaming up with the Rosslyn Business Improvement District and developer JBG Smith to host the new work of art at Central Place Plaza (1800 N. Lynn Street), just across from the Metro station.

California-based artist Cliff Garten will be working to install and program the piece from now until Thursday (July 12), according to a county press release. The 150-foot-wide, 15-foot-tall LED artwork, titled “Gravity and Grace,” will be projected onto the top two floors of the parking garage at the site.

“The ever-changing artwork incorporates real-time environmental data that organizes its spectral shifts of color,” the county arts program wrote in the release. “Both color field painting and blues guitar inspired the design of the artwork. If the work of art were played on a guitar, you might say that the programmed environmental factors are really what are strumming the chords of color you see on the wall.”

The county added that Norm Schwab of the design firm Lightswitch and artist Pablo Molina helped write algorithms for the artwork “that drives the color and motion transitions in the artwork.”

“The significant pieces of real-time environmental data tied to the artwork vary daily and show significant fluctuations over long periods of time, such as temperature and extreme weather tied to climate change,” the county wrote. “This shifting data introduces chance into the structure of the artwork pulling data from factors like local variations in Arlington’s temperature, river level, traffic patterns or water usage.”

Garten, who is also the designer behind the “Corridor of Light” art installation coming to N. Lynn Street’s intersection with Lee Highway and I-66, will host an “on-site artist talk” about the installation tonight. The event will start at 9 p.m.

Photo via Arlington Public Art

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Stunning Showcase Returns During 6th Annual Arlington Festival of the Arts

Washington Boulevard in Clarendon will transform into an art-lover’s paradise this weekend — April 21-22 — during the 6th Annual Arlington Festival of the Arts.

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.

Presented by Howard Alan Events (HAE), producer of the nation’s finest juried art shows, the 6th 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.

When: Saturday, April 21 and Sunday, April 22 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Where: 3003 Washington Blvd., Arlington, VA 22201
Cost: Free and open to the public
Contact: [email protected] or 561-746-6615

Festival At-a-Glance:

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

About Howard Alan Events, Inc.:                                                                           

Howard Alan Events, a Florida-based company, produces the nation’s top juried art and craft shows. Ranked among the Top 100 Art Fairs in the Country by Sunshine Artist Magazine, the 34-years established company has overseen art festivals in such noted cities as Aspen, CO; Sarasota, FL; Fort Lauderdale, FL and 40 other destination markets in the nation.

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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Morning Notes

Beyer’s GOP Challenger Holding Arlington Event — “Republican congressional candidate Thomas Oh will host a campaign kickoff on Tuesday, April 24 from 5 to 8 p.m. at Spider Kelly’s, 3181 Wilson Blvd. Oh is the GOP challenger to U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-8th), who is seeking a third term. He was the only Republican to file for the nomination.” [InsideNova]

Local Scenes on Sale at Arts Fest — Among the artists at the upcoming Arlington Festival of the Arts in Clarendon will be Joseph Craig English, whose “silkscreens and lithographs capture local landmarks and street corners in vivid colors,” including “an architectural juxtaposition of old buildings and new construction in Courthouse; Potomac River vistas; local murals and street signs known to commuters who’ve passed by them for years.” [Arlington Magazine]

Arlington Tourism Surtax Gets Gov’s Signature — “The Arlington County government will be able to continue collecting a surtax on hotel stays to pay for tourism promotion, now that Gov. Northam has signed legislation extending the measure for three more years.” [InsideNova]

Don’t Try This at Home — Per scanner traffic, police officers responding to a call yesterday afternoon were advised that “the suspect is known for using hand sanitizer as an alcoholic drink.”

Nearby: Alexandria OKs More Funding for Metro Station — “Plans to build a new Metro station at Potomac Yard in Alexandria, Virginia, took a crucial step forward Tuesday. Alexandria City Council unanimously approved raising the budget from $268 million to $320 million. The change was made in part to reflect the rising cost of materials and labor.” [WTOP]

Photo by Dwayne Stewart

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