Next year, the Lake Thoreau spillway will feature a nature-inspired public artwork created by South Lakes High School’s STEAM team.
The 10-foot tall installation was designed to embrace Reston’s natural environment with a “modern twist,” according to Public Art Reston. Viewers will see a forest from one perspective and a single tree from the other. Students plan to illuminate flowers fastened to the tree’s branches.
The design was selected by Public Art Reston’s selection committee, which narrowed down submissions to three concepts.
In order to fund the project, the STEAM team is selling calendars that feature nature photography by Reston resident Mary Prochnow. Calendars can be purchased online or in-person at the Reston Museum.
The art club has been creating artwork on the lake spillway since 2014. It is led by South Lakes art teacher and working artist Marco Rando. Projects are supported by Public Art Reston and Reston Association.
This year’s artwork — titled “Rise” — was inspired by Reston’s rapid development.
A new magnatile-like structure now floats atop Lake Thoreau’s spillway in Reston.
The public art installation by South Lakes High School’s Science Technology Engineering Art Math (STEAM) club was installed in late June. Called “Rise,” the artwork was inspired by the rapid development of Reston.
The artwork represents the growth of Reston’s population and the rise of high-rises and other infrastructure, “abstractly” representing the community’s goals of “reaching new heights in progress, innovation and diversity,” the club said in a statement.
When Robert E. Simon, Jr. bought the land to develop Reston, it was rural farmland without access to downtown Washington, D.C. Simon dreamed of turning his planned community into a modern suburban utopia for residents and commuters alike. His dream would be realized decades later with the construction of Route 267, the Dulles Toll Road. Since then, Reston has grown from a nationally renowned, but relatively small, planned community, into a hotspot for international corporations and contemporary housing developments. Nevertheless, Reston retains its core values and remains an intertwined, multi-faceted place to live, a place like nowhere else. Rise represents the growing success of Reston, one that was founded on humble beginnings.
This is the club’s 11th year, with several artworks installed on the spillway since its founding. The group is led by advisor and SLHS art teacher Marco Rando in partnership with Public Art Reston and Reston Association.
This year’s artwork is also sponsored by the Lake Thoreau Entertainment Association, Mary and David Prochnow, Red’s Table restaurant, and supporters of the STEAM Team’s calendar fundraiser.
Rando said the installation was completed earlier than expected.
“This is more than just a work of art,” Rando said. “Its essential element is layers of collaborative relationships between STEAM students, Reston Association, Public Art Reston, and the community, who for the first individuals to pass by, provided major positive feedback. One such woman always loves to see bright colors on the art works, adding how well it accentuates Reston’s greenery.”
RISE is expected to remain afloat for the better part of the year.
A Baltimore-based artist has been selected to bring public art to life at Fairway Drive underpass in Reston.
Shawn James of Mural Masters, Inc. will work on the project, Public Art Reston announced last week. He started his company in an effort to create an outreach and mentorship program for inner-city youth.
The underpass project — which is a collaboration with Reston Association — will be the third permanent public artwork commissioned by Public Art Reston.
The open call for artists issued in February sought applicants to engage the community and enhance the perception of safety by deterring graffiti and tagging. James was selected from a pool of 34 applicants, five of which were interviewed by a selection committee.
“It was an honor serve on the Fairway Drive Underpass Project Art Selection Committee along with people representing a broad range of community perspectives,” Public Art Committee Chair Regina Coyle said. “Selecting one artist from the 34 talented artist submissions was very difficult. If funding were available, we could have easily awarded multiple artists underpass projects to lead within the surrounding community.”
According to Public Art Reston, James will develop a design for the underpass artwork with the help of workshops at Lake Anne Elementary School for students and families.
Here’s more from Public Art Reston on James:
James received his BFA in painting, photography, and art education from Old Dominion University, and went on to complete an MFA at the Maryland Institute College of Art. For over 20 year, James has worked in a variety of media to complete public and private commissions across the United States. He has extensive experience with small- and large-scale public art projects and working collaboratively with municipal organizations, private businesses, and community members. He is deeply involved in community arts, community activism, and youth mentorship.
His dedication to education includes his role as a program director for the Access Art Youth Center — an outreach program that provides art lessons for inner-city youth. Since his tenure, the organization expanded to a million-dollar program, spanning three schools on the west side of Baltimore. In addition to his artistic practice, James has been an Open Society Institute Fellow, served as director of the Baltimore Mural Program, and most recently was the Community Arts Coordinator for the Baltimore Office of Promotion and The Arts. For the latter, he managed the creation of over 150 murals and community-based projects.
Restonians can officially select Reston’s new animal icon.
The winner selected by the popular vote will be fabricated into a replicable cast sculpture. It will then be painted and auctioned to finance future public art projects Reston.
The three options for consideration are a blue heron by Ben Morse, a woodpecker by Danan Scheurer and a fox by Tracie Griffith Tso.
Friends of Reston Board President Maggie Edwards told FFXnow that the organization has launched new projects and maintained existing initiatives like youth enrichment scholarships.
“The funds raised will be dedicated to the continuation of the underpass program which focuses on enhancing the road underpasses, part of Reston’s pathway system,” Edwards said. “This community arts fundraising initiative falls perfectly within FOR’s 24 year mission supporting RA through charitable, educational and scientific activities.”
Phoebe Avery, Public Art Reston’s public art manager, said the organization looks forward to participating in the project.
“We’re always happy to provide guidance and support to Reston and our community partners,” Avery said.
Restonians also have the option of submitting an icon of their choice for consideration. Artwork can be sent to FriendsofReston@gmail.com.
The survey will be open until May 31.
Local organizations are exploring the possibility of creating a new icon for Reston.
The icon would serve as a local, visible symbol that would be memorialized in sculptures across the community. The symbol would be available for local businesses, corporations and residents to display as a fundraising effort that will provide money for public art.
At a March 23 meeting of the Reston Association Board of Directors, chairwoman Sarah Selvaraj-D’Souza presented the project, following up on a previous presentation to the board in July. RA is the funding beneficiary of the project, while Friends of Reston is leading the fundraising efforts.
The icon will be selected from a list of four choices: a blue heron, woodpecker, a fox, or a write-in animal.
“The infrastructure is us, which is our underpasses and our spillway,” D’Souza said. She hopes that the project will be unveiled at RA’s annual membership meeting on April 11.
Jennifer Jushchuk said she was confused about RA’s role in the project.
“Is there money that’s involved? Is there staff time that is involved?” Jushchuk inquired.
Board member Travis Johnson said he was confused about the scope of the project and the placement of the icon.
“I see the word ‘icon’ and it just concerns me a little,” Johnson said.
The winning selection will be fabricated into a cast sulphur to be painted and auctioned off for future public art projects in Reston.
Selvaraj-D’Souza noted that other communities have similar projects. Norfolk has a mermaid, while D.C. has donkeys and elephants — the animals representing the country’s two major political parties — as well as pandas. She hopes the funds will be used to pay for public art projects on RA’s underpasses.
Board member John Farrell noted that the Walker Nature Center — which is operated by RA — already uses a pileated woodpecker, suggesting that additional animal-centric icons could create confusion.
But board member Margaret Perry, who expressed support for the program, noted that the center also uses a squirrel and turtle in some of its programming.
“We’ve already shot ourselves in the foot there,” Perry said.
Reston’s annual Founder’s Day celebration will return to Lake Anne Plaza on Saturday, April 15 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The celebration, which marks Reston’s founding and founder Bob Simon, Jr., will feature community performances, cake, activities and music.
This year, the celebration kicks off with a community clean up.
“April is earth and volunteer month and what better way to give back to the environment than a community cleanup,” event organizers said.
Volunteers will gather at the Bronze Bob statue to clean up nearby Reston Association paths.
A ribbon cutting ceremony for the gallery is slated for 12:30 p.m. at the steps of the Washington Plaza Baptist Church, after which the gallery will be permanently installed at the museum. It will be Reston’s second Free Little Art Gallery, following an installation outside the Cathy Hudgins Community Center at Southgate.
Performances include a show by the Foley Academy of Irish Dance, Adrenaline Dance Studio, South Lakes High School Theater, Reston Community Players and Langston Hughes Middle School’s choir.
Local food trucks will be on site at the event, which is presented by Reston Museum and Reston Community Center and cosponsored by Public Art Reston. Lake Anne Plaza hosts the event.
Cake will also be served at an event with local authors Rebecca Green, Shelley Mastran and Cheryl Terio-Simon at RCC’s Jo Ann Rose Gallery.
Cerebral, a public art piece created by South Lakes High School’s STEAM club on the Lake Thoreau spillway, is officially no more.
There are no plans to install the sculpture after high winds loosed its joints and its pieces fell into the lake and beyond last weekend, according to SLHS art teacher Marco Rando.
The sculpture is the first to fail because of the elements and the seventh installation overall placed by the club on the spillway.
Rando said that, although the sculpture is designed and engineered for extreme elements using hurricane ties, the winds damaged some of the joints.
“The tie down cables worked to keep the elements secured to the concrete base even when half sculpture fell into the lake,” Rando said. “Fortunately the wood members of the sculpture allowed the work to float, this helped in towing the work to shore where it was disassembled in smaller pieces for transport back to the school.”
Because of the significant damage to the sculpture, the team decided not to focus on reassembling.
But it won’t be long before another sculpture will take its place. Students are currently working on a new concept — “Rise” — that will face “more engineering scrutiny” to buttress the sculpture to weather more natural elements.
“The team is very confident this year’s concept will be aesthetically beautiful with added structural details to withstand the erratic weather conditions that seem to be common of the current climate change. The students of STEAM Team take great pride in serving the community,” Rando said.
He says setbacks like the structural failure of an artwork are a learning experience for all.
“Such setbacks will only strengthen the students experience, this real world problem, which occurs on professional levels as well, affords the Team opportunity to examine and resolve issues before they are unsettled,” Rando said.
A community art exchange confined to a box is now open at the Cathy Hudgins Community Center at Southgate (12125 Pinecrest Road) in Reston.
The project, called a Free Little Art Gallery (FLAG), operates like the more typical Free Little Library model.
Residents can deposit and take art that is displayed on miniature cabinets. The FLAG was installed in December, but Public Art Reston and Reston Association held an official unveiling at the community center on Tuesday (Feb. 14).
The concept was created by artist Stacy Milrany, who installed the first FLAG in December 2020 in Seattle, Washington. Since then, the concept has popped up across the country.
All kinds of art — including books — can be deposited in the box.
Christine Hodgson, director of the community center, said the FLAG will help the center provide a welcoming and inclusive environment where everyone feels a sense of belonging.
“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.” Hodgson wrote in a statement.
The first FLAG in Reston was installed in the Waterview Cluster by resident Sue Johnston in December 2021. The model was borrowed by Public Art Reston at activity tables in community events.
The FLAG at the center is the first in Reston that is installed on public property. It’s supported by funding from a civic organization called Random Acts.
Public Art Reston board member Amanda Scarangella helped push the project forward, building the box with her partner, John Dean.
“Having designed the FLAG, it’s been my honor to work toward fostering a place for future artistic expression,” Scarangella remarked. “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. 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.”
The Fairway Drive underpass in Reston is slated for a facelift.
Public Art Reston is seeking artists to submit ideas for an art project at the underpass, which connects residential areas with a pool, community center and the Lake Anne Village Center.
The project is the third permanent public artwork commissioned by Public Art Reston. The organization partners with Reston Association.
Reston’s master plan for public art contemplates using the pedestrian tunnels for public art projects in an effort to “foster community engagement, enhance public safety and instill pride of place,” according to Public Art Reston.
The organization expects to involve the community in the project. The selected artist or artist team will work with Lake Anne Elementary School students and other neighborhood groups to create the work.
Here’s more from Public Art Reston on the importance of artwork in Reston’s history:
Public art is an important part of Reston’s history. Commissioned, site-specific play sculptures were integrated into the built environment of its first development at Lake Anne Village Center. Offering residents daily encounters with art was a unique feature for a 1960s suburban development, and one that distinguishes Reston for its visionary role in current placemaking initiatives. Among these commissions are Uruguayan modernist Gonzalo Fonseca’s whimsical sculptural environment for North Shore Drive Underpass (1965) and Baltimore-based potter, Olin Rossum’s abstract ceramic mosaic for Moorings Drive Underpass (1967).
The application deadline is Feb. 24. Materials are available online.
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.”