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An FCPS employee gets vaccinated against COVID-19 at an Inova clinic in January 2021 (photo by Karen Bolt/Fairfax County Public Schools)

Fairfax County is looking for artists to contribute to a COVID-19 memorial.

The project is spearheaded by ArtsFairfax, the county’s official arts agency, after planning started nearly a year ago.

“The selected artist/team will design, fabricate, and install a permanent work of art that will commemorate the suffering of people in the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the heroism of the people who responded to the emergency,” ArtsFairfax said in an email.

The memorial commemorates the approximately 1,743 deaths from Covid in the Fairfax Health District, where there have been approximately 264,451 cases. The district includes the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church.

“This scale of disease and its impact to the communities of Fairfax County, as well as the impact to a County workforce that responded to the public health emergency, are worthy of memorialization,” ArtsFairfax said in a release. “The County has identified a location for a significant public artwork that will commemorate the suffering of people in the pandemic as well as the heroism of the people who responded to the emergency.”

The memorial will be located at the center of the plaza at 12055 Government Center Parkway.

The application is open to all artists living and working in the area — meaning anywhere between Richmond and Baltimore, according to the release — and eligible to work in the U.S.

A $200,000 artist fee includes design, materials, fabrication, insurance, travel, packing, shipping, installation and a maintenance plan for the artwork, the release said.

Admission opened on Jan. 23. An online information session is scheduled for Wednesday (Feb. 1) at 3 p.m. The application deadline is April 12.

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The arts center could be located on Block J in Reston Town Center (via Fairfax County)

The location of Reston’s future arts center is officially inching closer to realization.

At a Fairfax County Board of Supervisors’ meeting today (Tuesday), Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn introduced a board matter selecting Block J — near the intersection of Sunset Hills Road and Town Center Parkway — as the location for nearly 60,000-square-foot future arts center.

So far, the county has determined that the block is the most appropriate location for the arts center. It’s part of proffers in Boston Properties’ development plans. The land could have been used as a park or a ball field.

The cost of the project is expected to be hefty — hovering between $58 million in current dollars and $81 million accounting for inflation. 

“This process clearly established that the arts center option is not only feasible, but it is clearly superior to the alternatives offered in the proffer,” Alcorn said in the board matter.

The center would be located across the street from the Reston Town Center Metro Station, fulfilling land use and transportation goals, according to the board matter.

A survey in 2019 found that 68% of residents supported the idea of a larger performing center in Reston. While Reston Community Center has advocated for the venue, no determination has been made yet on who will operate it.

RCC hosted a series of meetings on the issue and conducted a feasibility study on the possibility of the center.

Alcorn noted that the board matter doesn’t address financing and other details of the plan, but RCC has indicated that Reston’s small tax district will not be used to pay for the project. A bond referendum would likely be used to pay for the project.

The board approved the measure to accept Block J as the location for a community arts center.

“Accepting this land is accepting it under the provision that it become an arts center, should financing be worked out,” Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said. “If for some reason that changes, there are other avenues we could pursue in the future.”

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A new crafters’ playground is set to open tomorrow (Saturday) in Chantilly.

Craftspace will hold a grand opening for its maker space, studio and store at 3675 Concorde Parkway in Suite 1500.

The ribbon cutting is slated to take place at 11:30 a.m., although the event starts at 10 a.m. and ends at 2 p.m. The event includes prizes, giveaways, craft souvenirs, and refreshments.

The business offers supplies for scrapbooking, jewelry making, sewing, and stamping. Crafting classes are catered towards children and adults.

The idea came from owner and CEO Amy Robinson. Manager Sarah Christensen assisted in the effort, bringing a team of two local entrepreneurs together in the venture.

“After two years of careful planning, tools and material acquisitions, and space renovations, it is amazing to see the business finally come to life,” Robinson said, adding that her team has fully embraced the underlying business concept that “if you can think it, we can help you make it here.”

Here’s more from the company on the launch:

Crafters of all experience levels are invited to experience Craftspace. Basic tools and supplies are included in the hourly rate for using the space. Premium tools are available for an additional charge. Classes are priced by the event. Memberships are available for those who plan to use the space for several hours each month. The convenient location is perfect for gathering with friends, working on your favorite project or trying a new craft or tool without investing in the needed supplies upfront.

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The artwork features animals in celebration of the Year of the Rabbit (courtesy Tracie Griffith Tso)

Inspired by the Year of the Rabbit, a local exhibition in Reston aims to celebrate the Lunar Year.

Titled “Creatures Were Stirring,” a series of work by artists Tracie Griffith Tso and Lisa Schumaier is on display through Jan. 31 at Reston Community Center Hunters Woods (2310 Colts Neck Road).

The exhibit includes small and large creatures depicted in watercolor drawings to dramatic ink on silk and paper using traditional Chinese brushstroke work.

“Rabbits are celestial animals in the Far East,” said Griffith Tso, who has a pet rabbit herself. “They are lively and charming and their ears and posture expresses mood.”

A collection of 3-D clay art and jewelry from Schumaier and Griffith Tso are available year-round at the Torpedo Factory Art Center in Alexandria.

The artists met in 2008 at the Torpedo Factory, sharing a love with clay and expressive art. They are also behind that venue’s BunnyFest, which typically occurs the Saturday before Easter.

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The eternal question “Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?” has finally been answered. He’s in Fort Hunt, at least for the weekend.

Works from famed cartoon animator Ron Campbell will be on display and for sale starting tonight (Thursday) through Saturday at Nepenthe Gallery in Fort Hunt.

Campbell is known for his five-decade career animating some of the world’s most beloved cartoons, including Scooby-Doo, The Jetsons, The Flintstones, The Smurfs, Rugrats, and the 1968 Beatles’ movie “Yellow Submarine.”

“Abbey Road” by Ron Campbell (courtesy Scott Segelbaum)

After retiring, Campbell partnered with Scott Segelbaum to put on a traveling cartoon pop art show featuring works inspired by his 50 years animating beloved television shows.

When the artist died in early 2021, exactly two years ago this weekend, Segelbaum decided to continue the show as a way of keeping his friend’s memory and legacy alive and help others remember their happiest days watching cartoons.

Ron Campbell basically animated your childhood and your parents’ childhood — and their parents’ childhood,” Segelbaum told FFXnow.

Scooby-Doo by Ron Campbell (courtesy Scott Segelbaum)

When setting the show’s schedule for the year, Philadelphia native Segelbaum looked up art galleries in Alexandria after hearing great things about the local art scene. That’s how he found Nepenthe Gallery.

The relatively new art gallery located in the Hollin Hall shopping center on Fort Hunt Road was opened by the husband-and-wife team of Carrie and Jim Garland in March 2022.

They dreamed of owning a business together after their kids grew up, and an art gallery was a natural fit, considering their families’ long history of collecting art. So, the Garlands opened Nepenthe Gallery and a frame shop below the gallery, which is about a mile from their home in a space that used to be a Curves gym.

“We still get women who come in,” Carrie said. “I always tell them they are welcome to exercise here.”

The gallery’s location in Fort Hunt near the Hollin Hills historic district is in the middle of what Carrie calls an “art-centric corridor” between Old Town Alexandria and Mount Vernon.

Carrie and Jim both noted that their gallery is open to all sorts of styles of art. They never want to “pigeonhole” it, as Jim said.

So, when Segelbaum reached out about bringing his cartoon pop art show, the Garlands were happy to oblige. Read More

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The latest installation is inspired by Reston’s rapid growth (via SLHS STEAM Team)

Rise, the ninth art installation by South Lakes High School’s STEAM team, will bring a set of high-rises to Lake Thoreau’s spillway.

At a meeting before Reston Association’s Design Review Board on Tuesday (Jan. 17), students said the new concept is inspired by the growth of Reston’s population and emergence of high-rise construction — an ode to the community’s goals of “reaching new heights in progress, innovation and diversity.”

The project, which is currently in the planning phase, includes rectangular shapes with different colors, levels and sizes, representing the different layers of Reston’s community. Here’s from the STEAM team on the inspiration of the sculpture:

Our community is host to a colorful combination of nationalities, sexualities, and cultures, all of which complement one another and ensure prosperity. The variety of colors and rising levels showcased by our sculpture are meant to depict these groups which build upon one another, helping our community reach its aspirations and Rise above any barriers we may face. This sculpture, symbolic of our love for this city, illustrates Robert E. Simon’s actualization of a town “closer to hearts desire” of its residents

The model — which is the team’s tallest project to date — is made of tinted plastic, while the white sections will be covered with designs inspired by public art around Reston.

The team plans to make the frame out of smaller cubic units to separate the building. The blocks will be connected by bolts and brackets to cluster the buildings, and extra braces will support the structure.

Materials for the project include lumber, disband paneling, strata class, solar panels and cables.

The team raised roughly $6,000 to complete the project, largely through crafting at a local event, an exhibition at a local restaurant, and calendar sales.

Students plan to begin fabricating the model in February, with installation expected sometime in May or June, according to presentation materials.

Unlike previous years, the team hopes to complete installation before the end of the school year, SLHS student Sophia Pakhom said.

In response to a concern about possible light pollution, DRB chair Michael Wood noted that light spillage is going to be “pretty minimal.”

However, he encouraged the team to paint the wooden base white to avoid detracting from the rest of the design.

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The work, Ethos, is inspired by community interviews and Reston’s founder Bob Simon (via WMATA)

The atmosphere of the recently opened Reston Town Center Metro station will get a boost with artwork planned for this year.

Artist George Bates is working on artwork inspired by Reston’s founder Bob Simon and the statement “You can’t have a Utopia of one.”

The artwork, titled “Ethos,” is made of ceramic grit printed on safety-glass art panels.

Areas near the entrances of the stations at Ashburn and RTC will be replaced with glass art panels with images inspired by the communities around the station and poetry by local poets, according to Sherri Ly, a spokesperson for Metro.

Here’s more from Metro on the artwork:

The artwork is multifaceted and thought of as a dialogue in which everyone can participate. Bates’ design for the station can be seen as referencing artistic movements and philosophies such as Brutalism, Modernism, Wabi-Sabi, and Universal Constructivism, or as an echo of the biophilic character of Reston’s history of natural and environmental integration, growth, and togetherness. It may also be experienced as a representation of emotional delight, as the “Play” from the “Live, Work, Play” maxim of Reston’s founding vision. Ultimately, it’s about the past, present, future, enduring ideas, and histories that transcend time.

Bates has created 10 large-scale public artworks in the U.S. and several more are in progress. His work focuses on exploring the plastic nature of systems, communities, complexities, and the reality of society in relation to art.

“Both Reston Town Center and Ashburn have similar concepts,” Ly wrote in a statement to FFXnow.

Metro expects to install the artwork in the summer, she said.

The art was commissioned by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority through its Art in Transit initiative.

Four of the six new stations in phase two of the Silver Line — Herndon, Innovation Center, Washington-Dulles International Airport, and Loudoun Gateway — all have new artwork.

Several other stations also have artwork. A temporary installation called “Community in Motion” at the Tenleytown station brings a mix of color to construction barricades. It’s designed by artist Tamao Nakayama.

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An opportunity for local artists to gain exposure at the D.C. area’s biggest mall has been extended through the new year.

ArtsFairfax, the nonprofit arts agency for Fairfax County, announced on Dec. 22 that it will continue to partner with Tysons Corner Center owner Macerich to bring temporary art installations to the mall.

The collaboration was originally set to conclude on Dec. 31, 2022, but the quality of the 19 submissions that they received convinced ArtsFairfax and Macerich to keep the portal open for 2023. All artists and arts organizations based in Fairfax County and the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church can apply.

“We had some excellent applicants, and they wanted to be able to accommodate more artists on an ongoing basis,” ArtsFairfax Senior Director of Grants and Services Lisa Mariam said. “We continue to be getting the applications and interest.”

The first exhibition resulting from the initiative, which launched in July, is currently on display in the second-floor hall outside Macy’s.

Developed by ArtLords, an Afghanistan-based street artist collective with an office in Tysons, the installation features 30 paintings that were either rescued from Afghanistan when the Taliban took over the country in August 2021 or created afterwards by recently evacuated artists.

An opening reception will be held from 6-8 p.m. tomorrow (Thursday) to celebrate the installation, which is scheduled to remain on display through February.

To involve more artists, Tysons Corner Center will open up additional sites for exhibits, including a space by Barnes & Noble where ArtLords is planning to add a mural, according to Mariam.

The applications are collected and vetted by ArtsFairfax but chosen by Macerich. Mariam says the real estate company is currently negotiating agreements with at least two other artists.

In addition to lending some color to Tysons Corner Center and giving artists a platform to display their work for the 22 million people who visit the mall each year, the partnership has helped ArtsFairfax get acquainted with new artists and organizations, Mariam says.

“It’s been a really great experience for us, because through gathering these proposals, we’ve been learning about a lot of new artists that we weren’t even aware were living or working in Fairfax County,” she told FFXnow, noting that making those connections now will be especially useful as the agency gears up to do a census of local artists.

ArtsFairfax obtained funding for the census project in November, though Mariam said it’s too early to share details of exactly what it will entail. The count will help the agency know what services it needs to provide and focus its advocacy efforts on behalf of the arts community.

The findings will be integrated into a Master Arts Plan that the agency is developing with Fairfax County.

Eligibility criteria and other information about the Tysons Corner Center partnership can be found at ArtsFairfax’s submissions portal. The mall has committed to keeping each installation up for at least eight weeks.

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A local recording studio owner is putting money where his music is to help the industry thrive in the area.

Dave Mallen opened Annandale’s Innovation Station Music about six years ago in his house near Little River Turnpike. Now, he’s launching an annual grant to help locals record and promote their new music.

He says there are plenty of great musicians here in the D.C. area, but many need more resources to thrive.

“We have a ton of talent right that is homegrown,” Mallen told FFXnow. “[Innovation Station] is an incubator for local talent. I’m trying to get people to reach further and push the envelope with their music.”

The “Pay It Forward Grant” is for $2,000 and will be awarded annually to one applicant who demonstrates a vision and a need for assistance. The money can be used to record at Innovation Station. The deadline to send an application and work samples is Jan. 31.

“I’m trying through my…business to do the things that I think the local government, local arts councils, and other institutions should be doing, which is directing a whole more money to the local independent music scene,” Mallen said.

There are grants available through several local public-private organizations, but those are often aimed at venues, theaters, and established institutions with “name recognition,” said Mallen.

He also hopes that by supporting local artists, independent music venues will also come back.

“There’s quite a lot of talent and folks are not necessarily…well known because there aren’t a ton of outlets for people to play anymore,” he said.

He cites Vienna’s Jammin Java as the only venue now catering to the scene, particularly after Epicure Cafe suddenly closed earlier this year. With the advent of streaming music and consumers not really paying for music anymore, the need for venues where artists get paid to perform live is even more essential, he said.

This isn’t the first time he’s awarded grants to local musicians. Previously, after a break-in at his studio, Mallen provided grants to two Maryland-based musicians who now both have albums coming out in early 2023.

He also co-founded the DMV Music Alliance, a nonprofit aimed at bringing together musicians from across the region to better develop and promote the local music scene. Read More

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A Free Little Art Gallery has been installed at the Hudgins Community Center (courtesy Public Art Reston)

In a twist to the free little libraries concept, a new Free Little Art Gallery (FLAG) is open for all at the Cathy Hudgins Community Center (CHCC) at Southgate in Reston.

Modeled after give-a-book, take-a-book approach of Free Little Libraries, the galleries feature art contributed by community members that can be taken. The structure is composed of a miniature cabinet on stands. It’s the first FLAG gifted by a civic organization.

Christine Hodgson, director of CHCCS, said the project serves the center’s goal of creating a welcoming, inclusive environment.

“We believe in empowering our community and our hope is that this FLAG will provide an opportunity for our community members to connect and engage with their inner artist, the center, and the community,” she said.

Reston-based nonprofit organization Public Art Reston and Reston Association are responsible for the oversight of the FLAG. Public Art Reston will share photos of the community’s artwork on Instagram.

The FLAG concept kicked off when artist Stacy Milrany built and installed a library in December 2020 in Seattle, Washington. The project is intended to foster cultural enrichment.

Reston’s first FLAG was installed in December 2021 at the Waterview Cluster. Resident Sue Johnson, who led that effort, promoted the project at Public Art Reston activity tables.

Public Art Reston board member Amanda Scarangella offered financial support for the project through another nonprofit organization where she volunteers.

She built the mini gallery with her partner John Dean.

‘The FLAG will serve as a beacon of public art inspiring artists of all ages and skill levels to engage with their fellow community members in a positive manner,” Scarangella wrote in a statement. “The FLAG will create a safe, accessible, and equitable space for all to enjoy the benefits — educational, social, developmental, community-building, and more — of public art.”

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