The McLean Project for the Arts is going downtown, at least for a weekend, though it hopes to stay longer.
The nonprofit will launch an inaugural “MPA Inspires” celebration of art and jazz on Nov. 18-19 that will also serve as its introduction to a new space at The Signet (6910 Fleetwood Road), a seven-story condominium building with some ground-floor retail space.
Known for now as “MPA Downtown,” the facility is envisioned as a supplement to MPA’s main galleries and offices in the McLean Community Center at 1234 Ingleside Avenue, according to MPA communications director Deb Bissen.
“MPA has been looking for a way to have additional space to provide more arts education opportunities for our community as well as an expanded exhibition and events space,” Bissen told FFXnow.
While the organization isn’t ready to discuss details yet, Bissen confirmed it’s pursuing a space in downtown McLean in place of the arts center that the Fairfax County Park Authority board approved last year last year as an option for future development at Clemyjontri Park.
That proposal — the crux of a revised master plan for the 6317 Georgetown Pike park best known for its disability-inclusive playground — “has now been set aside,” she said.
In addition to being more accessible than Clemyjontri for pedestrians in McLean’s redeveloping downtown, The Signet has a courtyard and Elm Street Park across the street that could support outdoor exhibitions and events, according to Bissen.
“We’re excited about the potential of this idea, and hoping our community of supporters will embrace it as well during this weekend of celebrating MPA’s artistic legacy and our exciting plans to expand our presence within the vibrant D.C. arts community,” she said.
MPA Inspires will kick off at 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 18 with an Art Insights panel and reception featuring art collectors Michael Abrams and Sandra Stewart, art advocate Nancy Hirshbein, and University of Maryland University College Arts Program Director Eric Key.
Following the panel, attendees can get a gallery tour and meet the artists showcased in a new alumni exhibition that will be open for viewing from 2-4 p.m. this Thursday (Nov. 9), Sunday (Nov. 12), Nov. 14 and Nov. 17.
Sunday, Nov. 19 will bring an Art + Soul Jazz Brunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. to raise funds for MPA’s new space. It will feature live music by saxophonist Langston Hughes II, bass player Chris Hon and guitarist Jan Knutson, along with a Collectors’ Drawing for the more than 60 works donated to the alumni exhibition.
While the panel event is free, the brunch will cost $150 per person, and the 60 tickets available for the drawing are an additional $600, covering the purchase of the artwork. Sponsorships are also being offered, starting at $1,000 for four brunch tickets.
Proceeds will go to “the development of a new MPA Art and Education Center,” the event website says.
“We are thrilled this weekend will bring such a group of dynamic artists, each esteemed alumni of MPA’s exhibition program, together with our warm and engaged community of supporters,” MPA Executive Director Lori Carbonneau said. “…This moment stands as one of the most remarkable milestones in MPA’s 61-year history, and a celebration of our continued leadership in McLean and the wider regional arts scene.”
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