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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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A public art piece inspired by the connectivity and energy of atoms has been erected in Reston Town Center’s Hyatt Park.

Called “Vidustria,” the installation is drawn from the word “vigor” and the Latin term “industria,” or energy. It’s the brainchild of students from South Lakes High School’s STEAM Public Art Program.

Local officials and sponsors gathered last Friday (Nov. 25) to celebrate the work’s installation.

“We started this project over three years ago…and then something called the pandemic intervened,”

Tysons Warren, Hyatt Regency’s general manager, also approved using the site to renew the project for future art projects. Hyatt allowed the project team to use the space and power — to light up the artwork — at night.

Robert Goudie, Reston Town Center Association’s executive director,  said the project would not be possible with community partners. For example, power Service ran electric and secured conduit and writing for free and Commercial Concrete poured six concrete piers to secure the installation, along with bolting the beams to piers. Yellowstone Landscaping helped transport and install the sculpture at no cost.

“It has been an amazing community effort, supporting the dedication and commitment of dozens of students under Marco’s inspirational leadership over almost three years, interrupted by the pandemic, to make this happen,” Goudie said.

The structure is made from aluminum composite panels, acrylic panels, LED lights, screws, spray paint, vinyl print and wood. The sculpture features figures in motion on one side and a collection of human irises floating like celestial bodies on the other.

Here’s more from Reston Town Center Association describing the art work:

Atoms are minuscule particles, fundamental building blocks which combine to create all tangible objects in this universe. Alone, they are nothing. Together, they are everything. People, especially the students who made Vidustria, can be compared to these atoms due to their interconnectivity, a recurring theme within this sculpture. However, atoms have one deficiency: they do not compose energy, only maer. This is where the students of South Lakes High School have the upper hand. The unique, individual energy that each person has put into Vidustria is what elevates this artwork above the molecular foundations of the cosmos.

On one side of the sculpture is a series of figures in motion, while on the other side, a set of human irises, floating as if they’re celestial bodies. Both of these representations are meant to be universally recognizable. Interconnectivity is intertwined with one’s humanity, by simply inhabiting a body and perceiving this world (whether visually or not), people naturally gravitate toward one another based on these shared experiences. It should be easy to see yourself in Vidustria, to acknowledge the relationships you forge with other people and the energy that these relationships establish.

The school’s STEAM Club has created many art installations in Reston, including several projects on Lake Thoreau. It’s run by SLHS art teacher and local artist Marco Rando.

The sculpture will likely remain on the site until the spring of 2024.

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Artist Hamilton Glass created the mural at Dogwood Elementary School in late May (via Reston Association/YouTube)

Richmond-based artist Hamilton Glass has brought a lively display of his mission for community change and social justice to the external walls of Dogwood Elementary School.

The bright outdoor mural depicts the school’s motto — Peace, Equity, Access and Connection (PEACE) — in colorful letters and designs next to the school’s kiss and ride lane.

The project was born out of an activity during the pandemic two years ago when students worked on a collaborative artwork designed by Glass during distance learning.

“Students each received a small section of the design by snail mail at home and after it was colored in, it was pieced together into a cohesive image,” Andy Siegel, the school’s family and community liaison, wrote in a statement to FFXnow. “The students so connected with the project that in 2022, we commissioned the artist to re-work the design to fit an exterior brick wall so the entire Reston community could enjoy the artwork — and the message.”

Glass, a mural artist, worked in the architecture field for seven years, after which he moved into a career as an artist. His work is inspired by messages related to the community in which the artwork lives. It’s characterized by bright vivid colors and sharp lines. He graduated from Hampton University  in 2005.

He created the mural at the school’s first multicultural festival on May 25. Reston Association recently featured his work in a Reston Today video.

The project was developed with support from Reston Community Center and Public Art Reston.

Photo via Reston Association/YouTube

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The “Thoreau’s Ensemble” art installation at the Colts Neck Road underpass in Reston (via Public Art Reston)

A familiar site intended to liven up Reston’s Colts Neck Road underpass is slated for temporary removal.

The public art installation — called “Thoreau’s Ensemble” by Philadelphia-based artist Ben Volta — will be removed in the coming weeks so the Virginia Department of Transportation can conduct a structural inspection of the concrete underpass.

The inspection, which happens every four years, will require Reston Association staff to remove and store the panels in coordination with the timing of the inspection.

“Once the inspection is done, the panels will be replaced on the underpass,” RA wrote in a statement.

If maintenance work is required, the installation of the panels will be delayed until the work can be completed, according to RA.

The public art installation was unveiled in October 2019 and features the work of hundreds of drawings by community members. Volta was inspired by poet Henry David Thoreau’s quote, “Pursue some path, however narrow and crooked, in which you can walk with love and reference.”

Community members and residents created drawings of paths based on the quote through a series of meet-ups. It was made possible through a partnership with Public Art Reston, Atlantic Realty Companies and RA.

The panels will be removed tomorrow (Tuesday), according to RA spokesperson Mike Leone.

VDOT told FFXnow it’s not clear when the panels will be installed again.

“This type of inspection is routine and typically takes a couple days to evaluate. Based on those findings, panels will likely be reset,” a spokesperson told FFXnow.

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Virtual learning may have kept kids physically apart earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic, but at Dogwood Elementary School (12300 Glade Drive), it also provided an opportunity for students to come together through art.

Inspired by its motto of PEACE (Peace, Equity, Access, Connection, Excellence) for all, the Reston school of 600-plus students collaborated with Richmond-based artist Hamilton Glass on a colorful wall mural that was designed and pieced together over the course of a year.

The result now graces the building’s hallways and will soon expand to an exterior wall, making its social justice-oriented message visible to the outside world.

“The Dogwood ES mural project is a great addition to public art in our community,” Public Art Reston Board Chair Maggie Parker said in an emailed statement. “…It not only brings a positive message to the school, but is there for all to enjoy and find inspiration.”

The community mural project began in 2020, when Dogwood resource teacher Rachel Albert learned about the “All in Together” initiative that Glass and fellow artist Matt Lively launched to give people an artistic outlet amid the isolation of the pandemic.

All in Together provides coloring sheets that participants fill in before bringing them together to form a full artwork. While Glass’s original mural design was specific to Richmond, the project can be replicated anywhere, letting people “be creative together, making something while being far apart,” he explained to Public Art Reston in a recent interview.

When contacted by Albert, All in Together agreed to partner with Dogwood Elementary School on a custom mural that Glass worked with students to design.

“Students each received a small section of the design by snail mail at home and after it was colored in, it was pieced together into a cohesive image,” said Andy Sigle, a Fairfax County Public Schools family and community liaison for Dogwood Elementary.

The mural was completed last fall as in-person classes resumed and students could unite their individual squares.

Sigle says students “so connected with the project” that Dogwood commissioned Glass to do an outdoor version of the mural “so the entire Reston community could enjoy the artwork.” The design will be adapted to fit a wall on the western side of the school, right next to the kiss-and-ride lane.

Glass will visit Dogwood Elementary to paint the mural during the week of May 23, including at the school’s first-ever International Night on May 25.

For the outdoor mural, Dogwood reached out to Public Art Reston and Reston Community Center for their assistance. RCC provided funding for Glass’s commission fee and related expenses, while Public Art Reston helped organize talks with Glass at the school and the Cathy Hudgins Community Center at Southgate on Tuesday (May 3).

“We were delighted to work with Dogwood Elementary School, Public Art Reston and the Cathy Hudgins Community Center at Southgate to assure that the artwork that began with students and Mr. Glass would expand to a location visible for all to enjoy,” RCC Executive Director Leila Gordon said in a statement. “These are our favorite ingredients for successful community building: young people, artists, imagination and partners who embrace the opportunity to bring them all together.”

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