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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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Martin Luther King Jr. addressing the crowd in Washington at the Civil Rights March in 1963 (via National Archives)

A bestselling author who wrote a book on the cost of racism will be the keynote speaker for Reston Community Center’s 38th annual Reston Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. birthday celebration.

The main event on Monday, Jan. 16, features Heather McGhee, the author of The New York Times bestseller “The Sum of Us: What Racism Cost Us and How We Can Prosper Together.” The address begins at 11 a.m. at RCC Hunters Woods. Tickets are $5 for Restonians and $20 for all others.

“It is vital to ask ourselves every day ‘are we keeping the promise?'” Beverly Cosham, chair of RCC’s Board of Governors, said. “When we commemorate Dr. King’s birthday and recall that he gave his life to achieving justice, we are called again to the fight for universal human rights. Memory of his beliefs and service to others fuel our commitment to making our community and world better for everyone.”

A complete line up of events from RCC is below:

Saturday, January 14

Community Service Projects
9:00 a.m., Cathy Hudgins Community Center at Southgate, 12125 Pinecrest Road, Reston
6 years and older — Free

Join friends and neighbors in honoring Dr. King’s legacy by serving your community. As Dr. King said, “Everybody can be great … because anybody can serve.” RCC is partnering with the Cathy Hudgins Community Center at Southgate, Reston Association, Cornerstones and The Closet on community service projects. Indoor projects include sorting and organizing items from The Closet and making bag lunches for the Embry Rucker Community Shelter. There will also be outdoor projects such as cleaning up the natural areas, pathways and hardscapes, weather permitting.

To volunteer, please contact Ha Brock, Volunteer Reston Manager, at 703-435-7986 or habrock@reston.org.

Reston Community Orchestra
Annual Musical Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: Words and Music as Diverse as the World of Which He Dreamed
4:00 p.m., RCC Hunters Woods Community Room
All ages — Free

With music and words specifically chosen for this occasion, RCO joins the Reston community in a weekend commemoration of the contributions made by this celebrated American, and his vision of a society free of prejudice and racial division. The program features Reston vocalist Beverly Cosham, students from Al Fatih Academy and other special guests. There will be songs and spirituals known and loved by Dr. King. Tickets available through the RCC Box Office.

Sunday, January 15

Mark G. Meadows: Music and The Movement
2:00 p.m., RCC Hunters Woods — the CenterStage
$15 Reston/$20 Non-Reston

Join Mark G. Meadows & The Movement as they pay tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Mark G. Meadows is a man on a mission to create a unifying sound that breaks through social barriers. There’s something for everyone in his music, which harmonizes jazz, gospel, R&B, hip-hop and rock. Mark uses his artistry to send a positive message of love, joy and hope to his audiences. Get ready to lift every voice and sing with Mark G. Meadows & The Movement. Tickets sold through the RCC Box Office.

Monday, January 16

Keynote Address by Heather McGhee followed by Community Lunch
11:00 a.m.
RCC Hunters Woods: the CenterStage and Community Room
$5 Reston/$20 Non-Reston

A renowned expert on the American economy, Heather McGhee is one of the most brilliant and influential thinkers exploring inequality today. Both her viral TED talk and her instant New York Times bestseller The Sum of Us reveal the devastating true cost of racism – not just for people of color, but for everyone. Deeply stirring, intelligent and compassionate, McGhee’s talks offer us an actionable roadmap during one of the most critical – and most troubled – periods in history. Following the keynote address, a family-style lunch will be provided in the RCC Community Room.

Especially for Youth
10:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
RCC Hunters Woods
6 – 12 Years Old – Free. Registration Required. Reg. #704750

You may register your school-age child (first to sixth grade) to participate in activities at RCC. Children must be registered in advance and no onsite registration will be available on the day of the event. Children will rotate through a series of activities, including an age-appropriate video and arts and crafts. All activities will be based on the history of Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement. Lunch will be provided.

Tuesday, January 17

American Red Cross Blood Drive
RCC Hunters Woods
1:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Reston Community Center partners with the American Red Cross and Fairfax County NAACP to offer a blood drive. People with minority roots are especially encouraged to participate to increase the blood supply for vulnerable populations. Make your appointment here.

The events are organized by RCC with the cooperation of the Cathy Hudgins Community Center at Southgate, Cornerstones, The Closet, Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn’s office, Reston Association, Reston Community Orchestra and local schools.

Photo via National Archives

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The annual exhibit returns to Reston in early December (courtesy RCC)

Reston Community Center will host its 24th annual gifts and shopping exhibit in early December.

The Gifts from the HeART Exhibit and Holiday Gift Shopping Event will take place on Dec. 3 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at RCC Lake Anne (1609-A Washington Plaza North).

“Gifts from the HeART is an event that brings the community together, showcases great local artists, and helps Cornerstones,” RCC Arts Education Director Cheri Danaher said. “Our artists and the community eagerly participate in this unique shopping event, and their support of Cornerstones exemplifies the Reston spirit of providing support for those who need it.”

Started in 1999, the annual exhibit and sale has raised more than $19,000 for the nonprofit Cornerstones over the past 23 years, according to RCC.

Artists will display their creations on display in the Jo Ann Rose Gallery at RCC Lake Anne through Jan 9. The 3D gallery exhibit will remain on display through Feb. 18. Artist entry fees and 10% of all sales will be donated to Cornerstones.

Proceeds will go toward the organization’s Embry Rucker Community Shelter, Laurel Learning Center, and community services, including emergency food assistance and job counseling.

RCC will offer a directory of visual artists on its website the day of the exhibit. Interested shoppers can shop directly from the artists’ links.

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Maggie Parker joins Reston Community Center to manage offsite programming (courtesy of RCC)

Reston Community Center has hired a new director of offsite and collaborative programming in an effort to expand beyond the walls of its two facilities.

Maggie Parker, who most recently served as executive director of Partnership Reston, will take on the role, which includes directing offsite programming like the summer concert series and family-friendly events in area neighborhoods.

“Working with the outstanding staff at RCC to deliver its fabulous programming throughout Reston will be exciting and fulfilling for me,” says Parker. “Reston Community Center’s mission reflects one of the founding precepts of the Reston vision – namely, to provide a variety of leisure opportunities, including a wide range of cultural and recreational facilities. This department will continue moving RCC beyond its brick-and-mortar homes to build community for everyone, everywhere in Reston.”

Parker managed public relations for Reston-based developer Comstock Companies and oversaw event productions, community outreach and public relations with Myers Public Relations, another Reston-based company. She was also selected as Best of Reston honoree in 2019.

The hire comes as RCC combines its community events and outreach and collaboration units to keep pace with new services.

“We are thrilled to bring Maggie aboard to shepherd the planning and execution of a growing array of offerings for Reston neighborhoods,” RCC Executive Director Leila Gordon said.

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The Reston Community Center at Hunters Woods (file photo)

Three candidates are running for three seats on Reston Community Center’s Board of Governors.

The annual vote — known as the preference poll — will feature incumbents Beverly Cosham and Paul Thomas, along with Shane Ziegler.

Voting begins on Sept. 3. Each property owner in Small District 5 will receive a ballot in the mail, which must be received by 5 p.m. on Sept. 29. Walk-in and online ballots must be received by 5 p.m. the following day.

Cosham, a founding member of the Reston Chorale and the Reston Players, has served on the board since 2001. She hopes to “bring people together in positive arts, aquatics, leisure and learning experiences,” according to her candidate statement.

Thomas, who grew up in Reston and worked as a former teacher and coach, has served on several nonprofit and county boards, including Reston Association’s Board of Directors and the Reston Historic Trust and Museum’s Board of Directors.

“New real estate development will continue in Reston for years,” Thomas wrote. “Though RCC has no control or voice in approving the development that comes, we need to make sure that RCC’s facilities and offerings continue to support and bring together our growing, evolving community without raising the tax rate.”

Shane Ziegler, who recently founded a nonprofit called Reston Forward, says he wants to ensure that RCC offers programs that young families want to access. Reston Forward aims to help people new to Reston get involved.

“We want young professionals and newcomers to stay in Reston as they are starting families of their own. Additionally, as our community continues to grow, it is important to think about the future and identify the leisure experiences and spaces that these young families want access to,” Ziegler wrote in a statement.

A candidates forum is slated for Sept. 6 at 6:30 p.m. at RCC Hunters Woods. A poll is required even though the race is uncontested.

The board was established by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors to represent the interest of Reston residents and business as a policy-creating body that provides financial oversight for RCC. The county board makes selections after the annual preference poll.

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The Reston Multicultural Festival takes place in Reston Town Center this year (via Reston Community Center)

A staple of Reston’s events scene — the Reston’s Multicultural Festival — returns in September with a new venue and line-up of presenters.

This year’s festival will take place at Reston Town Center through a partnership with the Reston Town Center Association instead of the typical location at Lake Anne Plaza.

Reston Community Center Executive Director Leila Gordon told FFXnow that the relocation was necessary after the center found itself “unable to agree on mutually satisfactory terms of use for Lake Anne Plaza” with the Lake Anne of Reston Condominium Association (LARCA).

“We needed to make alternative location plans to proceed with the other layers of planning the Reston Multicultural Festival requires,” Gordon wrote in a statement. “Fortunately, we have a continuing and longstanding relationship with Reston Town Center Association in presenting complex, large-scale events and programming, so this location was a logical alternative and will be a lovely venue for this signature community event.”

This year’s festival also includes a new line-up through a partnership with the National Council of Traditional Arts, bringing NEA National Heritage Fellows, which have received the country’s highest honor in folk and traditional arts.

Fellows — including New Orleans’ Treme Brass Band, Capoeira Master Jelon Vieira and soul pioneer William Bell — will take the stage at Reston Town Square Park on Saturday, Sept. 17 between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. The festival will also feature master crafts artists who will demonstrate their art.

“This year’s special anniversaries offer us an opportunity to design a unique lineup and produce the event in a new setting,” said RCC Board of Governors Chair Bev Cosham. “We are delighted to partner with the National Council for the Traditional Arts (NCTA) to present the NEA Heritage Fellows, and with Reston Town Center Association (RTCA) to create a memorable day of celebrating the diversity of cultures that makes ours a great nation and Reston the special community we know it to be.”

The performances are part of an expanding partnership with the NCTA and mark the 40th year of the NEA fellowship program. Since 1982, the program has granted 467 National Heritage Fellowships. Fellows are nominated by the public and then judged by experts in the arts.

Participants are encouraged to come dressed in attire related to their cultural roots.

It’s not the first time that disagreement between LARCA and event organizers have prompted a location change.

In April, a free summer concert series by the center relocated to Reston Station after an impasse between the board and RCC. At the time, Gordon told Patch that RCC failed to reach an agreement on crafting a policy for plaza use and an application to execute events in an orderly manner.

RTCA Executive Director Robert Goudie says the association is looking forward to partnering with RCC again.

“Our longstanding partnership has generated outstanding performances and events for the entire community to enjoy. This year’s Multicultural Festival will continue and extend that terrific partnership,” Goudie said.

A complete breakdown of the festival is below after the jump. The schedule and participating organizations will be released in early September.

Read More

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The annual series returns to Reston Community Center this summer (via RCC)

Reston Community Center has announced its annual lineup of professional artists that will grace its stage for the 2022-2023 season.

Tickets will be available for Reston residents and employees on Aug. 1 and to the general public on Aug. 8.

This year’s series includes a special anniversary program by the National Endowment for the Arts’ National Heritage Fellows program and a talk by author and activist Heather McGhee. Theater artist Ping Chong will also take part in an artist-in-residence program this season.

RCC’s arts and culture director Douglas Michnewicz said he is thrilled to have a complete slate of performers this year.

“We have several special events, including performances by some of the best-loved National Heritage Fellows, and a residency by national Medal of Arts honoree Ping Chong,” Michnewicz said. “We also are excited to welcome back some of Reston’s favorite performers as we sing, dance, laugh, cry and think together at the CenterStage.”

This year’s Reston Multicultural Festival will feature the NEA’s nine fellows, as RCC marks the 10th year of having the fellowship in Reston and the overall program’s 40th anniversary. The festival is on Saturday, Sept. 17, and performances will take place at varying times between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m.

A complete line up of the schedule is below, after the jump.

All performances take place at RCC Hunters Woods (2310 Colts Neck Road), unless otherwise noted.

Read More

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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 production launches in Tysons through an apprentice program (courtesy Heather Regan Photography)

Through a new youth-focused program, Reston Community Players will grace the stage of Capital One Hall in Tysons next month as part of its new apprentice program.

RCP, which typically performs at Reston Community Center’s CenterStage, will present a youth-centered production of “Newsies” from July 8-17. The program, which launched in the fall, enables students between the ages of 13 and 18 to get exposure to the process of building a theatrical production.

Capital One Hall opened in October and offers “steeply discounted” rates for small nonprofit organizations, according to RCP President Kate Keifer.

Keifer told FFXnow that RCP has been working with Capital One for the past three years as one of the first community partners to take advantage of the program, which is overseen by the local arts agency ArtsFairfax. The organization was selected to perform in The Vault, a 225-seat black box theater.

Here’s more from RCP on the production of “Newsies”:

Based on the 1992 motion picture and inspired by the true story of the Newsboy Strike of 1899, Newsies tells the story of Jack Kelly, a charismatic newsboy who dreams of a better life. After publishing giant Joseph Pulitzer raises newspaper prices at the newsboys’ expense, Jack rallies a ragged band of newsies from across the city to strike against the unfair conditions and fight for what’s right.

RCP’s production of Newsies is directed and choreographed by Alisa Claire and Brian Collier, visiting teaching artists from NYC’s The LMproject, located in New York City.  The production team also includes Merissa Driscoll (musical director), Dan Widerski (technical director) Mary Jo Ford (company manager), Franklin Coleman (lighting designer), Richard Bird (sound designer), and Lori Crockett (costume designer).

“Newsies” will be performed at 7 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and at 2 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets are available online.

However, RCP will still call RCC home.

“While our full mainstage season will still perform at Reston Community Center, and that will remain RCP’s performance home, we have developed our Apprentice Program as a brand new offering of our organization to provide young students with a pre-professional theatrical experience that matches the tone of this fantastic new venue,” Keifer wrote.

Keifer hopes the program will marry the group’s longstanding tradition of producing high-quality theatrical productions with an emphasis on student education.

The ultimate goal is to reach new audiences and develop “a new generation of performing and technical artists.”

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A new arts center is proposed in Reston Town Center (via Fairfax County Government)

A nearly 60,000-square-foot proposed arts center in the heart of Reston Town Center could cost up to $81 million.

The proposed center comes out of a proffer from Boston Properties’ next phase of development at Reston Town Center. It would be located next to Sunset Hills Road in the southeastern corner of the proposed development site.

Architectural firm Grimm + Parker presented findings from a feasibility study on the project to the Reston Community Center’s Board of Governors on Monday (June 13). The meeting was part of the center’s annual public hearing for programs and budget.

Accounting for inflation, escalation, and an increase in construction costs, the project carries a cost estimate of $81 million if the center is built in 2030. In current dollars, it could cost around $58 million.

The cost estimate includes both hard costs, like construction, and soft costs, like furniture and other design elements.

Grimm + Parker launched a series of community meetings between February and April to court public feedback on the project. The firm then evaluated community needs and requirements for programming, conceptual design and an overall estimate of the project.

The center would accommodate roughly 500 seats, including 372 seats on the orchestra level and 165 on the first balcony, according to Sue Haines, a partner with the firm. Parking would also be shared with neighboring parcels.

The center would also have an open studio for arts, gallery with flexible display options, utility spaces, a catering kitchen, offices, storage, and a digital media studio.

“Life’s been tricky lately, building buildings,” Haines said.

She said that attempts to increase the size of the house — which was flagged as a concern in previous community meetings — are not feasible because of the site design.

Amy Upton, the firm’s director of environmental design, said it was important not to “duplicate facilities that are already around,” noting that other arts-related venues and activities are available in and near Reston.

“Obviously, when that gets designed, all that could get changed,” Haines said.

The Town of Herndon is also expected to welcome a new black box theatre as part of its delayed downtown redevelopment.

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn and county staff will negotiate details of the proffer going forward to determine if and how the project will proceed. Funding is anticipated from a variety of sources, some of which has not yet been identified. Proffer-related deadlines are anticipated this summer.

It is unclear when design and construction could begin.

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