Tysons is far from the cultural wasteland it once was, but there are still challenges ahead as the area develops a creative arts scene.
If Tysons truly hopes to become “America’s Next Great City,” it must become a cultural hub as well as a technological and financial one.
Urban planners across the country use arts districts to bring reinvestment to neighborhoods, and cultural amenities can be a powerful draw to the creative class. However, there are still many obstacles in the way of local artists.
Arts in the area are served by public programs like the $500,000-a-year ARTSFAIRFAX grants, but ARTSFAIRFAX is a county-wide program and its budget is relatively modest for such a large jurisdiction.
High property values can be a major obstacle to those who would rent studio or gallery space. The Katibeh Art Center, which featured works by the Iranian artist Ebrahim Emad, recently closed.
Emad told Tysons Reporter that he’d had to close the gallery in part because of difficulty physically advertising its presence, as he was unable to hang promotional signs — and because his location in a mid-rise office building offered very little pedestrian traffic.
While the Katibeh Art Center has closed, here are some other art galleries open around the area:
- McLean Project for the Arts (1446 Chain Bridge Rd, McLean) — The McLean Project for the Arts hosts exhibitions, classes for all ages, and special events. The upcoming exhibition, Intention/Invention, will run from January 10 until March 2, with an opening reception on January 12 and an artist talk on January 26, featuring abstract works by two contemporary artists. The Project’s classes cover a wide range of media, and include many classes meant for adults with some artistic background as well as both classes and summer camps for children.
- MK Gallery (1952 Gallows Rd, Tysons) — This gallery, a Tysons establishment for over 15 years, primarily features artists of Korean nationality or heritage. The current exhibition, on show until January 11, is a double, featuring two exciting artists. The first, B. G. Muhn, a professor of art at Georgetown, organized the first-ever exhibition of North Korean art in the United States. The other, Suh Yongsun, is based in Seoul and uses strong color to depict themes of modern social and political life.
- Dara Global Arts (7501 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church) — Dara is a small pop-up gallery focused on painters from Syria and other Levantine countries. Featuring “a highly curated collection of original art that reflects the empowerment of artists and their freedom of expression,” it particularly features the work of women.
- LIK Fine Art (Tysons Galleria, 2001 International Drive) — Peter Lik’s latest of seventeen luxury galleries offers large-format landscape photography.
- Wentworth Gallery (Tysons Galleria, 1807 International Drive) — This gallery brings the work of internationally-recognized artists to Tysons. A wide variety of painters are represented, from neo-impressionists to pop artists. Wentworth rotates their gallery frequently, bringing a new artist every month for a show and a reception so that patrons have a chance to meet the artist. Every month brings something “new and different.”
- The Hermitage Gallery (6831 Tennyson Drive, McLean) — Offering both fine art framing and an exhibition gallery, the Hermitage represents a variety of local and international artists.
- YMM Art Space (8216 Old Courthouse Rd C, Vienna) — YMM is not a gallery, but rather a space of creation and education “dedicated to stimulating the imagination and enhancing the creativity of each and every student.” They “offer classes like fashion design, comics design and origami to students as young as 8, so kids have the opportunity to develop their interests in pretty specific areas,” and there are also classes for younger children and for adults.
- Tysons Art and Learning (8343 Greensboro Dr, Tysons) — This space offers a wide range of art courses for a variety of ages. Their courses extend to digital arts and to writing, and registration and schedules are flexible.
D. Taylor Reich is a freelance journalist who writes about urbanism and development. They are a Fulbright scholar, a 2017 graduate of Brown University and a proud alum of Arlington Public Schools.