Fairfax County is envisioning its forthcoming COVID-19 memorial as a space for reflection — something that’s been difficult to come by since the pandemic upended life temporarily for some and more permanently for others.
The concept comes from artists Miriam Gusevich and Salvatore Pirrone, who have been chosen to design and build the memorial, ArtsFairfax announced Monday (Aug. 21).
“We need memorial spaces and artworks to help us appreciate the bonds we share as human beings,” ArtsFairfax President and CEO Linda Sullivan said. “With such artworks, engagement invites us to learn from our pain and redouble our efforts to lift up each other every day, not just in emergencies.”
A nonprofit designated as the county’s official arts agency, ArtsFairfax and the Fairfax County Arts Committee selected Gusevich and Pirrone unanimously after putting out an open call for artists earlier this year.
According to ArtsFairfax, the pair proposed “a tall and slender memorial” called “Circles of Memory” that will “protect a contemplative space” in honor of local residents who have died from COVID-19, along with the health care workers, first responders and others involved in the county’s emergency response.
The memorial will be installed in front of the county’s Public Safety Headquarters and Herrity Building at 12055 Government Center Parkway.
“The monument will be comprised of a 27-foot tall hollow concrete cone, divided by a break in the center and topped with an oculus from which to view the sky. Visitors will be invited to sit inside the structure and on the surrounding benches,” ArtsFairfax said.
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors directed county staff in February 2022 to start planning for a memorial that will symbolize the pandemic’s impact on the local community.
Since then, Covid has ceased to be designated as an official public health emergency both locally and nationally, but the disease continues to spread, albeit at lower levels of severity than in previous years. As of yesterday (Tuesday), the Fairfax Health District had recorded 273,842 cases, 5,403 hospitalizations and 1,794 deaths, according to Virginia Department of Health data.
The county’s memorial will create a communal space for visitors to acknowledge those losses.
“We hope to provide an environment that will bring people together,” Pirrone said. “The memorial strives to be a place of reverence for the lives lost and the people who honor them.”
The design will be finalized after the artists conduct a full site review, according to ArtsFairfax Director of Communications Allison Mui.
The agency says the project will take “several months to complete,” including opportunities for members of the public to meet the artists, discuss the design concepts and “share experiences.”
“Art does not cure, yet it can help us heal. Creativity can offer renewal; through it we can nurture faith in the future,” Gusevich said.
Here’s more on Gusevich and Pirrone from the press release: Read More
ArtsFairfax wants you to help it keep track of all the public art popping up around Fairfax County.
The county’s designated, nonprofit local arts agency recently launched an online Public Arts Locator to identify and map out murals, sculptures and other installations placed in the community, either permanently or on a temporary basis.
The app currently shows 94 works of art, including a few that fall outside the county’s borders in Arlington and Manassas. It can be searched by location and different categories of art, such as murals or street fixtures.
Monitored by the nonprofit’s staff, the app is free for anyone to use and includes a survey where people can submit the address, images and descriptions of works of art that they’ve seen.
“If the artwork is available in a public setting and accessible day and night, we want it captured in this inventory,” said Lisa Mariam, ArtsFairfax’s senior director of grants and services and project lead for the Public Art Locator.
The locator was developed by ArtsFairfax and the county’s Department of Information Technology using aerial imagery, map layers and other geographic information systems data. It was designed by GIS analyst Chip Galloway, according to a July 13 press release.
ArtsFairfax says the locator was created in conjunction with its ongoing development of a public art master plan, which will serve as a “blueprint” for the county as it evaluates existing works and plans for future ones.
The app’s launch came on the heels of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors accepting a master art plan focused on facilities. Both that plan and the one on public art are being guided by the Fairfax County Arts Committee, which consists of both county staff and volunteers.
“The ArtsFairfax Public Art Locator will be a critical planning tool as we continue work on the County’s Public Art Master Plan,” ArtsFairfax president and CEO Linda Sullivan said. “By crowd-sourcing public art in our community, this inventory will help us identify where there are gaps and greater needs for community enhancement and creative placemaking.”
Fifteen years after it emerged from the shell of the former Lorton prison, the Workhouse Arts Center will take the spotlight at Capital One Hall in Tysons as the top honoree of the 2023 ArtsFairfax Awards.
The center will receive the Jinx Hazel Award at the annual ceremony and fundraising event on Oct. 26, ArtsFairfax, the county’s official arts agency, announced earlier this month.
“The 2023 ArtsFairfax Awards honorees all demonstrate how the arts revitalize communities, improve our wellbeing, and spark creativity in unexpected places,” ArtsFairfax President and CEO Linda Sullivan said. “We’re thrilled to celebrate each of these awardees for enriching the lives of Fairfax County residents.”
Given to Capital One Hall last year, the Jinx Hazel Award recognizes “an individual or organization whose vision and commitment has helped shape the cultural life of Fairfax County,” ArtsFairfax says.
Opened to the public in September 2008, the Workhouse Arts Center is the only multi-disciplinary arts facility in the area of southern Fairfax County recently rebranded as Potomac Banks, according to ArtsFairfax.
The 55-acre campus hosts art studios, galleries, performing arts space, classrooms and the Lucy Burns Museum, drawing about 100,000 patrons annually with exhibits and special events like Fourth of July fireworks or the upcoming BrewWorks Festival.
The center is still being built out, with a new location for Bunnyman Brewing expected to open in a recently refurbished building this year. Future developments could include an amphitheater, more events and educational venues and even housing, depending on the master plan that the county is currently finalizing.
Reinsch is this year’s recipient of the ArtsFairfax Philanthropy Award, which goes to a person, corporation or foundation “that has provided leadership funding or long-term monetary support to the arts.”
As president, owner, and CEO of the Reinsch Companies, a residential and golf course developer, Reinsch has been a regular donor for numerous local arts nonprofits, including the McLean Project for the Arts (MPA), the Virginia Chamber Orchestra, 1st Stage theater in Tysons and the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts.
Her contributions to MPA include a matching gift to support a future art and education center at Clemyjontri Park, according to ArtsFairfax.
Meanwhile, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute will be recognized with an Education Award for providing arts education classes, clubs and events to older residents of Northern Virginia.
The ArtsFairfax Impact Award will go to the Inova Schar Cancer Institute for its Arts and Healing program, which supports a permanent art collection, ongoing exhibitions, performing arts events and 20 artists-in-residence to help patients and their families going through treatment or recovery.
Tickets and sponsorships for the awards ceremony are now for sale. Reston Community Center is the visionary sponsor for the awards, which typically attract over 300 guests, according to ArtsFairfax.
“The arts are the heartbeat of all truly great communities, and we can’t envision any world in which the arts aren’t central to what makes us human,” RCC Board Chair Beverly Cosham said. “The arts play a central role in Reston’s neighborhoods and Fairfax County has embraced their vital importance to building vibrant places to live and learn. ArtsFairfax is the catalyst for these successful efforts.”
(Updated at 1:50 p.m. on 4/6/2023) There are no “Do not touch” signs associated with the latest artworks installed at Tysons Corner Center.
Now displayed on the second floor of the Bloomingdale’s wing, Muller’s work is the second installation resulting from Tysons Corner Center’s partnership with ArtsFairfax, the county’s nonprofit arts agency.
The first installation featured paintings that were rescued from Afghanistan or created by artists who were evacuated after the Taliban took control of the country in August 2021. Curated by the street art collective ArtLords, the works were on display throughout January and February.
Announced on Monday (April 3), “Static Dynamism” will get a grand opening from 6-8 p.m. on Thursday, April 20. Expected attendees include Muller, ArtsFairfax CEO Linda Sullivan, and Tysons Corner Center Director of Property Management Jesse Benites.
“As the name of the installation suggests, the pieces on display are static but were designed to be interactive and dynamic,” the mall and ArtsFairfax said in a press release. “Each piece changes with the participant’s vantage point as well as ambient conditions of the environment.”
The exhibit will remain on display through May 31.
ArtsFairfax is still accepting applications for future exhibits at Tysons Corner Center, a collaboration that will continue through the end of 2023.
“The goals for this art collaboration between Tysons Corner Center at ArtsFairfax is to create unique and interactive art environments, echo Tysons Corner Center as a contemporary and creative destination, and most importantly, to showcase the talents of local artists and arts organizations,” the press release said.
Descriptions of the individual pieces in “Static Dynamism” from Muller are below. Read More
Fairfax County is looking for artists to contribute to a COVID-19 memorial.
“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.
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.
Boston Properties has proffered to provide a site for the arts center on Block J of the next phase of its Reston Town Center development.
“We’re talking about a pretty significant project from at least a capital cost standpoint,” said Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn.
Fairfax County has to choose between two options for the site, as pitched by Boston Properties: an arts center or an athletic field.
The athletic field would include one or more full-size fields built by Boston Properties on top of a parking garage on the property off Sunset Hills Road. If that doesn’t work out, the developer would provide roughly $6.5 to $7 million for park facilities in the Reston area.
For the arts center option, Boston Properties would provide property to the county on Block J and drop the athletic and park improvements described above.
A Fairfax County Board of Supervisors decision on the feasibility of the project is anticipated by the end of January. The deadline was pushed back by several months to allow more time for public input and engagement.
Financing remains an issue, some residents noted at the town hall, which is the second on the proposal this year.
Hunter Mill District Planning Commissioner John Carter said that although the estimated costs are “daunting,” he expects overall costs to go down as the scope of the project narrows.
“This is a great location right next to Metro,” Carter said. “We certainly would like to hold onto that, I would think.”
The financial cost of the project will not fall on residents who live in Special Tax District #5 — a possibility that was floated in earlier months. The county will likely seek general obligation bonds for the project, a method typically used to fund libraries, schools and other public projects, but no related bond referendum is currently under consideration for voters.
Reston Community Center Executive Director Leila Gordon pledged that residents in the tax district would not see increased taxes as a result of this project. A potential operator for the arts center hasn’t been identified yet, but its board of governors has committed to keeping the tax rate flat.
(Correction: This article previously said that RCC won’t operate the arts center, but the community center clarified that no decisions about the operator have been made yet.)
“We need similar space to accommodate existing demand and will be seeking solutions to that problem using our available resources in one way or another,” Gordon told FFXnow. “So while we don’t know who might operate this venue, the idea of RCC doing so is not out of the question.”
Other options for an arts center could include a venue on county-owned land west of the Herndon Metro station or similar property in Reston Town Center North, according to the county.
Tammi Petrine, a Reston resident and community advocate on the Reston Planning and Zoning Committee, noted that residents of the tax district already pay a “huge tax” that can be “way too much of a burden” for residents.
While much of the discussion was dominated by funding options and overall cost, ArtsFairfax board chair Scott Cryer encouraged residents to step back and examine the overall economic and cultural benefit of the project.
“There’s a real positive economic impact that will be provided by a facility like this,” Cryer said.
Through a $55,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, the residency program will place performing and visual artists at county parks, libraries, schools, community centers, and affordable housing complexes.
“Everything we do to increase access to the arts is rooted in the belief that meaningful arts experiences are transformative for all of us, regardless of age or lived experiences,” ArtsFairfax President and CEO Linda S. Sullivan said. “We are so grateful to the County agencies for their partnership in helping ArtsFairfax expand our reach into the communities that need it the most.”
ArtsFairfax started the residency program as an effort to improve access to artistic opportunities for marginalized communities throughout the county. It also provides education and community engagement training to professional local artists.
This year marks a return for the residency program, which limited activities after COVID-19 hit in 2020.
“In recent years because of Covid, we had a few virtual programs in senior centers and middle schools,” an ArtsFairfax spokesperson said. “In the year ahead, we will be in person at a broader range of locations reflecting the needs of areas identified by the County as being underserved in formal arts programming.”
For the 2022-2023 year, resident artists from a variety of disciplines will provide free, interactive programming at five different locations.
- John Marshall Library — Suzy Scollon, visual art
- Strawbridge Square apartments — Edgar Reyes, visual art
- Original Mt Vernon High School — Katherine Zukeri, dance
- Woodley Hills Elementary School — Brad Waller, theater
- Ellanor C. Lawrence Park — Danielle Badra, Fairfax County’s new poet laureate
ArtsFairfax has partnered with the county’s public schools and library systems, Neighborhood and Community Services, the park authority, and nonprofit Wesley Housing for the program.
Participants will work alongside the artists, whose residencies range from one to four months.
“Arts and humanities go hand-in-hand to spark the imagination and nurture creativity. We’re thrilled to launch ArtsFairfax Artist Residencies at the John Marshall Library to inspire and engage the community with visual art,” Kevin Osborne, deputy library director of Fairfax County Public Library, said.
Registration for the artist residency at John Marshall Library in Rose Hill opens tomorrow.
Scollon, a visual artist based in Fairfax, said she sees art as a tool for promoting empathy and attested to the transformative impact of working with students.
“I’ve worked with all ages on creating carved ceramic relief tiles inspired by personal stories,” she said. “It has been remarkable and joyful to see middle school students participate so openly and to see older adults illustrate important memories and life events.”
Fairfax County has a new ambassador for poetry.
Danielle Badra will serve as the second Fairfax Poet Laureate through 2024, leading a program to bring poetry-related activities to local parks, ArtsFairfax shared yesterday.
Introduced by the arts agency in 2020, the poet laureate is intended to celebrate poetry and promote the art form to new audiences through a community service project and events. The title was first bestowed on “How to Prove a Theory” author Nicole Tong for the inaugural 2020-2022 term.
“The Fairfax Poet Laureate is a remarkable example of how support to a single artist can impact the whole County,” ArtsFairfax President and CEO Linda S. Sullivan said in the news release. “Danielle’s vision to bring poetry to the parks is inspired, and we’re as excited to learn from her as we are thrilled to share her work with the Greater Fairfax community.”
Badra was selected by a six-person panel of Tong, Maryland Poet Laureate Grace Cavalieri, Poetry Daily Managing Editor Gregg Wilhelm, Beltway Poetry Quarterly Editor Kim Roberts, Fall for the Book Festival Director Kara Oakleaf, and Anya Creightney, a programs specialist for the Library of Congress Poetry and Literature Center.
The panel considered applicants’ proposed community projects, their professional activities, and the artistic merit and impact of their work, according to Arts Fairfax.
“Grace Cavalieri emphasized that Dani’s style of poetry and delivery allows her to be vulnerable, warm, friendly, and accessible, which in turn helps her meet people where they are in their poetry journey whether they are new to the form or avid fans,” the agency told FFXnow.
A Clifton resident who works as a technical writer for the county’s Land Development Services, Badra sees the poet laureate position as an opportunity to share her love of poetry with the community.
“Poetry is one of those subjects that a lot of people learn in school and never want to learn again. And I want to change that,” she told FFXnow by email. “Poetry is inspirational, it is healing, it is empowering. I want to share that with the community.”
An ArtsFairfax spokesperson says that while the selection panel was aware that Badra had a county government job, it “was not a factor in their selection,” though they saw a “potential benefit of having representation of a poet who does not work in academia.”
Originally from Kalamazoo, Michigan, Badra has published two collections: “Dialogue with the Dead,” which was published in 2015 and dealt with the loss of her sister, and “Like We Still Speak,” which won the 2021 Etel Adnan Poetry Prize, according to her website.
The $1,000 prize is awarded annually by the University of Arkansas to a writer of Arab heritage for their first or second book of poetry in English. Badra is of Syrian and Lebanese heritage.
She obtained a bachelor’s degree in creative writing from Kalamazoo College and a master’s of fine arts degree from George Mason University. The latter program also counts Tong as an alum.
Badra told GMU that her “Poetry in the Parks” project reflects her enthusiasm for the outdoors and nature — a source of “poetic inspiration” for her.
“Poetry in the Parks looks to not only provide inspiration for creative expression but to also advocate for environmental stewardship,” Badra told FFXnow.
Her plans for the next two years include poetry readings, workshops, a “Poetry Beneath the Stars” event, and “poetry plaques” that will display a poem and prompt at scenic stops around local parks.
The plaques will specifically appear at Riverbend Park, Huntley Meadows Park, Burke Lake, and Ellanor C. Lawrence Park. A QR code will let visitors upload their own writings.
Readings during National Poetry Month, which comes in April, will likely be held at Ellanor C. Lawrence in Chantilly, she said.
“My experiences in life and in the literary world directly inspire my vision for the next two years as Fairfax Poet Laureate,” Badra said in a statement to ArtsFairfax. “Through poetry workshops, readings, and activities in the Parks, I want to illuminate how language and our natural environment can be a source of comfort and creativity.”
Arts agencies from Fairfax County, Arlington and Alexandria are forming a supergroup.
Unveiled Monday (Aug. 8), the newly created Northern Virginia Local Arts Agencies (NVLAA) consists of ArtsFairfax, the Alexandria Office of the Arts, and the Arlington Cultural Affairs Office. Its initial ambitions are modest, centered mostly on professional development, but the pooled resources could be a boon for the local arts community.
“The more opportunities that are available and cross-promotion that we can provide, getting the word out and reaching artists and organizations that can use this type of support, it benefits everyone,” ArtsFairfax Senior Director of Grants & Services Lisa Mariam said, noting that many artists do work across the three jurisdictions.
The collective can trace its origins back to the pre-pandemic days of early 2020, when the Washington Area Lawyers for the Arts approached all three agencies to see if they were interested in collaborating on workshops for artists, Mariam told FFXnow.
Formed in 1983, WALA is a nonprofit of volunteering lawyers who provide education, advocacy, and legal services to artists and cultural organizations in the D.C. area, according to its website.
The groups started planning a series of workshops that Mariam says was always intended to be virtual, since it would serve participants from across the region. That decision proved fortuitous, though, after COVID-19 shut down in-person gatherings and events in the spring of 2020.
The desire to collaborate reemerged last year when ArtsFairfax invited its Arlington and Alexandria counterparts to an “Art of Mass Gatherings” symposium aimed at helping festivals prepare for emergencies. Though based in McLean, the event drew participants from all three localities over two days in October.
After that experience, staff at the different agencies started discussing other ways to collaborate, especially for professional development, as local arts groups were trying to find their footing during the pandemic.
“It’s been really great for us, because we each have limited resources for this type of programming,” Mariam said. “Sharing the costs as well as the logistical support involved in pulling off these programs and promoting them works really well with a collaborative like this.”
ArtsFairfax received nearly $1.4 million from Fairfax County for the current fiscal year, which started on July 1. That included a $250,000 increase over the previous year to bolster the agency’s grants program. The organization also gets funding from state, federal, nonprofit and private sources.
NVLAA will officially launch this fall with four online workshops: Read More