Arlington, VA

As Cowboy Cafe (4792 Lee Highway) adds new outdoor seating, as temporarily allowed by the county, co-owner Jim Barnes wanted to spruce out the exterior of the restaurant a little.

The result: a towering, colorful mural currently being painted onto an empty brick wall.

Local artist MasPaz — whose distinctive style can be found from across the region from D.C. to Tysons — has been working on designing and painting the mural. The artwork’s design was inspired by the Wynwood Walls in Miami, but the theme came from the local response to COVID-19.

The project spun out of the Arlington Art Truck program when participants were asked to summarize their feelings on life in Arlington under the quarantine, according to the Lee Highway Alliance. MasPaz’s word was “community” and the subsequent mural depicts someone hugging several homes close to them.

Beyond the mural, the new patio will also feature lighting and other renovations. The plan is to host a ribbon-cutting ceremony, but the Lee Highway Alliance is still awaiting the final lighting installation, later this month.

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A new public art project set to debut later this summer will place numerous model slave ships in front of the Arlington Arts Center (3550 Wilson Blvd) in Virginia Square.

Local artist Lynda Andrews-Barry‘s display of 25 wooden slave ships, formed from driftwood collected from the Chesapeake Bay, will fill the lawn in front of the arts center. The ships will be staked into the ground and have sails that collect sunlight during the day and light up at night.

According to Barry:

This site-specific project was conceived through researching Arlington Arts Center and its location in the former Maury school. The institution’s namesake, Matthew Fontaine Maury, was a native Virginian astronomer, historian, oceanographer, meteorologist, cartographer, author, geologist, education, United States Navy officer, and Chief of Sea Coast, River and Harbor Defenses for the Confederacy. However, Maury was not a proponent of American slavery. Instead he favored relocating slaves (and their owners, if desired) to the Amazon, and sent a crew there to map the river and determine if his plan was feasible.

Maury’s proposal was part of a broader movement to relocate, rather than integrate, Black Americans formerly held as slaves. A school in Alexandria is also named after Maury.

The artwork commemorates the 12 million people captured and loaded onto those ships as cargo, some of whom Barry said she is descended from.

Megan Niewold, director of development at the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia, said the project was funded by a $10,000 grant. Niewold said the focus of the grant this year was on funding public art that was helping to transform communities.

“We wanted to do public art opportunities that were accessible for everyone and in a diverse area,” Niewold said. “[The project] had to be public, interactive, environmentally friendly, and had to talk about a big topic and encourage heavy discussion.”

Niewold said ten submissions were considered in the final review, but a volunteer grants committee was particularly impressed with how this design tackled race relations and the history of the Maury school — as well as the use of reclaimed driftwood.

The project was originally supposed to go up in April, Niewold said, but the foundation didn’t want to promote more public art during the height of COVID-19 so the timeline was changed to mid-August.

Image via The Community Foundation for Northern Virginia

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(Updated at 1:50 p.m.) A long-planned public art installation is finally becoming a reality in Rosslyn.

The first four stainless steel pylons of the “Corridor of Light” project are being installed along N. Lynn Street in Rosslyn, on either end of the bridge over I-66. Installation of the pylons started this past Monday; the installation of lighting and electrical connections is expected to be complete by Monday, May 25.

The project from California-based artist Cliff Garten was first envisioned in 2008, in the midst of the financial crisis. Now, during what may be a deeper, pandemic-fueled recession, the first of Garten’s “Luminous Bodies” sculptures are now in place and will soon be lighted.

“The four 26′ tall stainless steel sculptures are a major milestone for the ‘Corridor of Light,’ a three-phase, 13-year effort to create a new urban identity for Rosslyn’s central corridor,” Arlington Arts said in a Facebook post that was accompanied by a video of the installation, below.

We’re told by a tipster that the sculptures will be initially lighted blue, “to honor our health care professionals.”

Arlington Cultural Affairs spokesman Jim Byers said passersby can expect “splashes of light fractured into a multitude of effects.”

“Ultimately, the sculptures of stainless steel rods will be enhanced with an LED lighting scheme designed and programmed by the artist,” Byers said. “Prior to the artist programming the lights, the initial lighting plan will serve as a beacon for all Arlingtonians to reflect on our community’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Byers was unable, however, to confirm that the initial lighting scheme will be blue in honor of health care workers.

“Arlington Public Art staff are still in consultation with the artist about the specifics of the initial lighting to be unveiled on May 25,” he said.

The project, which has had to wait for construction of the Lynn Street Esplanade project, has been beset by delays. In 2014, ARLnow reported that the first pylons were expected to be installed in 2017. The County Board approved a $1 million contract with Garten for the first four sculptures in 2016. The county reported that the Esplanade project was “substantially complete” as of last month.

The first phase of the Corridor of Light project was a Garten-designed LED light display near the Rosslyn Metro station, dubbed “Gravity and Grace,” which the county says was installed in 2018.

A third phase would see the installation of additional lighted Luminous Bodies pylons on the N. Meade Street bridge over Route 50. So far, there’s no word as to when that might take place.

Over the next two-weeks, LUMINOUS BODIES by Cliff Garten will be installed at the Lynn Street Esplanade (North Lynn Street and Lee Highway, above Route 66 at the approach to Key Bridge). The four 26’ tall stainless steel sculptures are a major milestone for the “Corridor of Light,” a three-phase, 13-year effort to create a new urban identity for Rosslyn’s central corridor. When completed, the sculptures of stainless steel rods will be enhanced with LED lights programmed by the Artist. On the underside of the dome of each structure, passerby will see splashes of light fractured into a multitude of effects by the steel rods. Look for this iconic new gateway into Arlington when installation, lighting and adjustments will be completed by Mon., May 25.

Posted by Arlington Arts on Monday, May 11, 2020

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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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A mural featuring detailed pink and mint line work on the outside of Synetic Theater, on S. Bell Street in Crystal City, is now complete.

In July, the Crystal City Business Improvement District (BID) launched a design challenge for the mural, in partnership with developer JBG Smith, for individual artists to submit their portfolio for consideration. After receiving 24 entries, a jury of representatives selected five finalists to create conceptual designs.

Runner-up ideas featured tropical florals, silhouettes of people, and geometric shapes. In October, winning artist Jay Shogo was chosen for his wavy line art representing “the experiences and connections we all share with others,” according to the mural website.

“Each design concept that was submitted by our finalists was captivating and thoughtful, and we appreciate the level of artistry that went into creating them,” said Jason Najjoum, Managing Director of the Synetic Theater, in a statement.  “Jay’s dynamic use of flowing lines make for a thrilling design.”

Although two of the five finalists were from the area, Shogo hails from Japan. His artwork can be found everywhere from New York City and Los Angeles to Australia and Korea.

“Jay’s design is sophisticated and bold and serves as a beautiful addition to the Crystal City streetscape,” said Crystal City BID president Tracy Sayegh Gabriel. “There have been exciting productions at Synetic Theater for years, but the street environment hasn’t matched the energy behind the doors — until now.”

The mural was painted in November.

Synetic Theater, which performs at 1800 S. Bell Street in Crystal City, is a physical theater company noted for telling “classic stories through movement, music, technology and visual arts” — but without words.

Photos via Crystal City BID 

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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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A 26-foot-tall sculpture of a fire nozzle is coming to the new location of Fire Station 10 as a tribute to Arlington firefighters.

The artwork is the result of a partnership between Arlington Public Art and Penzance, the developer behind the upcoming massive development in western Rosslyn dubbed “The Highlands.”

Set to open in 2021, The Highlands will be the future site of the new Fire Station 10. Currently, the station is temporarily located at 1791 N. Quinn Street.

“This is our first opportunity to integrate public art into a fire station, which is a recommendation in Arlington County’s Public Art Master Plan,” said Angela Adams, Director of Arlington Public Art, in a press release. “Partnering with Penzance has allowed us to honor the history of Fire Station 10 through an enriching piece of public art for all to enjoy for years to come.”

Baltimore artists David and Eli Hess were commissioned for the artwork, which was funded by Penzance as a part of The Highlands development process.

The sculpture, described by officials as “larger-than-life,” will be fabricated from the same bronze used in actual firefighting nozzles. More from the press release:

The nozzle of the piece will act as a giant sconce or torch mounted to the side of the building. At night, a light inside the nozzle will illuminate the spray of water above. The water will be made from stainless steel pipe, twisting and bending in a quasi-spiral formation. The entire sculpture will be 26-feet-tall, attached 8 feet above the ground, extending to the top of the station’s façade. The stainless steel and bronze of the sculpture contrast the dark brick of the station, and the stainless water spray will shine at night against the rich red glow of the brick behind.

The Highlands, on the 1500 block of Wilson Blvd, will include three towers, up to 27 stories, with 104 condos, 780 apartments and 40,000 square feet of retail space.

Images courtesy of Penzance

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Arlington County is hoping residents can help inspire the artist designing the public art component of renovations to Jennie Dean Park near Shirlington.

Residents will be able to meet the Brooklyn-based artist Mark Reigelman on two days in early September during his first visit to Arlington to share their stories and memories of the 12-acre park.

“The input gathered will inform the art work design,” said officials in a press release.

Reigelman will give two presentations about his past work on Tuesday, September at 6:30 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. at the New District Brewery (2709 S. Oakland Street) and is also expected to open the floor for stories from residents. He is scheduled to host another, open house-style, meeting on Wednesday, September 4 from 8-9:30 a.m. at Busboys and Poets (4251 Campbell Avenue).

Reigelman has worked on two park projects before in New York City and San Jose, California, according to his website — which heralds him as a “genius” whose intellect is “only exceeded by his modesty and benevolence.”

The future artwork planned is part a fiercely debated redesign of the park that includes moving a baseball field near S. Nelson Street, installing a new bathroom near Four Mile Run Drive, and building basketball and tennis courts near where a WETA-TV production building now stands. The county held a public feedback session on the renovations last month.

The park redesign itself is also part of a larger plan to revitalize the Four Mile Run Valley area, solve overcrowding at sites like the Trades Center, and prioritize storm protections for the floodprone area.

New art for the park could pay homage to the park’s namesake, former slave Jennie Serepta Dean, who helped found a trades school for African Americans, per a 2018 staff report for the Arlington County Board about the project.

Map via Arlington County 

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Morning Notes

Big Tree Fall on Car — A large tree fell across 8th Street S. late last week, crushing a parked car and causing a widespread power outage. [Twitter]

Local NAACP Reflects on Progress — “The Arlington NAACP’s 71st-anniversary Freedom Fund Banquet was a chance to look back on progress, but also to press for vigilance so it doesn’t slip away… The banquet on Oct. 13 drew a large crowd to the Sheraton Pentagon City Hotel.” [InsideNova]

Rosslyn LED Art Unveiled — “Cliff Garten Studio is pleased to announce, ‘Gravity and Grace,’ a site-specific large-scale LED public artwork integrated into the architecture of JBG SMITH’s Central Place Plaza in the Rosslyn neighborhood of Arlington.” [LiveDesign]

Yorktown Tied for First — “With an important homecoming victory over the visiting Langley Saxons in Oct. 12 football action, the Yorktown Patriots (4-3, 2-0) upped their winning streak to three to remain tied for first place in the Liberty District.” [InsideNova]

ACPD Again Holding Take-Back Day — “On Saturday, October 27, 2018 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Arlington County Police Department, Arlington County Sheriff’s Office and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will give the public its 16th opportunity in seven years to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs.” [Arlington County]

Flickr pool photo by Tom Mockler

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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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