The McLean Project for the Arts is set to open two new exhibits this week related to climate change and the future of Earth.
The new exhibits will be “Navigating Climate Change, Extended” by Alonzo Davis and “Intium Novum: Humanity’s End as a New Beginning” by artist Yuriko Yamaguchi and writer Mineke Schipper. They will be on display at the McLean Community Center (1234 Ingleside Ave.) from April 1 through Jun. 10.
MPA Director of Exhibitions Nancy Sausser says the two exhibits complement each other, because they “both bring a focus to our larger world.”
“Alonzo Davis is an artist who successfully brings a wide-angle, panoramic view of the world to all the work he creates,” Sausser said. “Organized around a concern about climate change and the future of our planet, our second exhibit is inspired by end of the world mythologies from around the world.”
Influenced by his childhood in California and the stick charts of Micronesia, Davis’s exhibition features “raft-like works from a variety of materials including bamboo, sailcloth, paper, twine, wax, paint, and light,” according to an MPA press release.
MPA describes the exhibit as “unique, dynamic, and immediately relevant” in reference to the current global warming crisis. It will be available for viewing in the Atrium Gallery whenever the community center is open.
“Intium Novum” will be in the Emerson Gallery, which will be open to visitors with tickets on Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tickets can be reserved through the MPA website.
According to MPA, this exhibition pairs Yamaguchi’s “expressionistic” paintings with writings by Schipper that can be accessed through QR codes on the wall near each piece. It also has two site-specific installations by Yamaguchi that utilize “physical materials, video, and light.”
The McLean Projects for the Arts will host a virtual opening reception for both collections on April 8 at 7 p.m., including a conversation with the artists. People interested in joining the free event can register to receive a link.
Photo courtesy McLean Project for the Arts
The City of Falls Church is taking steps to show its appreciation for the arts.
When it meets tonight (Monday), the Falls Church City Council will conduct its first reading of a draft comprehensive plan amendment to establish an Arts and Cultural District. The council reviewed staff recommendations for the proposal at a work session last week.
The amendment would “add new policy goals and objectives to promote public art and a proposed Arts & Cultural District Map,” according to the staff report presented by Falls Church City planner Emily Bazemore.
“Public art is important in all communities and becomes even more so when a city goes through a period of redevelopment and reinvestment,” Bazemore said. “The policy…outlines specific short-term actions as well as long-term strategies that the City of Falls Church can utilize to work towards its vision and commitment to public arts.”
Virginia state law lets localities create arts and cultural districts within their boundaries “for the purpose of increasing awareness and support for the arts and culture.” Localities can offer tax incentives and regulatory flexibility to encourage the development of arts and cultural venues in the districts.
Since it was reviewed during a Sept. 21 city council work session, the proposal has been amended to clarify the Falls Church’s vision and emphasize providing more support for local artists. The changes were based on input from various city groups, including the Falls Church City Planning Commission, Arts and Humanities Council of Falls Church, and Falls Church Village Preservation and Improvement Society (VPIS).
“The Arts and Humanities Council as well as VPIS and the Historical Commission all recommended adding language that ties into how history plays an important role in public art and how we can use public art to utilize a way to remind us of our past,” Bazemore said.
The map for the proposed Arts and Cultural District has been revised to include houses of worship. The Arts and Humanities Council and VPIS specifically recommended St. James Catholic Church and The Falls Church Episcopal as examples of church-owned land that could be incorporated.
In addition to creating an arts district, the proposed comprehensive plan amendment suggests that Falls Church support public art by establishing a registry, expanding efforts to feature temporary art displays, and incorporating public art in parks and open spaces around the city.
The amendment recommends that the city support a public art program by allocating regular funding from its operating or capital improvements budget each year, which could also go toward arts-related festivals and events. Another option could be working with the private sector to include public art in development projects or provide monetary contributions to a public art fund.
Bazemore clarified that the amendment text does not apply to private residences.
“The thought is more commercial and, of course, public facilities and parks,” she said.
While the staff report says adopting the amendment will not have a direct fiscal impact, Councilmember Letty Hardi argued that, if Falls Church wants to encourage public art, the city will have to devote money and staff to make it a priority.
According to Hardi, the City of Falls Church currently allocates just $50,000 per year to nonprofit arts and humanities groups, funds that mostly go toward operations rather than artwork. It also does not have any staff dedicated to developing art projects.
“Policies and recommendations are only as good as where we put our budget and our priorities,” Hardi said. “So, while it’s good that we have our map and we’re talking about how important public art is, I’d love to make sure that we have people and budget dollars allocated against this…I think that’s something we should consider either in this budget cycle or future budget discussions.”
After tonight’s meeting, the proposed amendment will be referred to the planning commission. Staff has recommended scheduling a public hearing and final vote for March 22.
Image and map via City of Falls Church
The show will not go on for the theatrical performances that 1st Stage Theatre had planned for the remainder of its 2020-2021 season — at least not in the form they were originally conceived.
The Tysons-based theater company announced this afternoon (Thursday) that it will not move forward with productions of “The Waverly Gallery,” “The Nance,” and “Mlima’s Tale” as planned “due to the ongoing health crisis.”
“While we were holding out a sliver of hope that the new vaccines might give us a chance to move forward as planned, it is clear that there simply won’t be a safe option,” 1st Stage said in an emailed newsletter.
In lieu of the anticipated in-person performance, the company will instead present a virtual, live reading of “The Waverly Gallery” performed by the original 1st Stage cast. A finalist for the 2001 Pulitzer Prize in Drama, “The Waverly Gallery” is a memory play written by playwright and film director Kenneth Lonergan that follows the concluding years of a grandmother’s struggle with Alzheimer’s disease.
1st Stage will hold the live reading via Zoom on Mar. 20 at 2 p.m. Tickets cost $5 and can be purchased through the organization’s website.
The theater company does not indicate whether there are any plans to do similar live readings of “The Nance” by Douglas Carter Beane or “Mlima’s Tale” by Lynn Nottage, but it says it is working on getting the necessary permissions to move its fourth annual Logan Festival of Solo Performance up to this spring with outdoor performances.
The scrapped productions had originally been scheduled for 2020 as part of 1st Stage’s 13th season, but the theater decided in July to delay the season to this year so that it could focus on virtual offerings during the COVID-19 pandemic.
That pivot will continue with a newly announced slate of online classes, including an introductory “Drama Games” course and two improvisation courses, one aimed at adults and the other at middle and high school students. Registration for the classes is now open with a deadline of Mar. 11.
Staff photo by Jay Westcott
Construction on planned renovations is now underway at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts.
Funded by donors to the park, the renovation project primarily involves replacing temporary tents that covered the Associates and Terrace decks, OVATIONS restaurant, and private Encore Circle Lounge at the Filene Center with permanent pavilions.
While they will retain the open-air feeling that has become so iconic to Wolf Trap, the new wooden pavilions will have better protection from the elements, Wolf Trap Director of Communications Erick Hoffman says.
Constructed out of Douglas fir, the new structures were designed by the architecture firm Gensler to match the style of the Filene Center, a 7,000-seat outdoor ampitheater that hosts the park’s main summer programming.
Hoffman notes that, compared to the existing vinyl and aluminum tents, the wooden pavilions will be more compatible with the surrounding natural environment. They will also allow for more year-round use by patrons, whereas the tents could only be used on a seasonal basis.
“The new Pavilions will allow for greater use throughout the year in a more inviting and appropriate design environment,” Hoffman said. “Users of the deck will have enhanced protection from the elements and enjoy an architectural vocabulary befitting the unique character of America’s only National Park for the Performing Arts.”
Recently, programs at Wolf Trap have been online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the pandemic has not affected the renovation timeline, according to Hoffman, who says the $3.5 million project is on track to be completed by late spring.
While construction will not interfere with any performances once in-person events are allowed again, Wolf Trap has closed some parts of the park to visitors, including all decks, Barn Road, and select parking areas. The closures took effect on Dec. 14 and will remain in place until further notice.
The Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts announced on Dec. 8 that it will not hold spring performances at The Barns this year “due to continued concerns stemming from the pandemic and subsequent guidance from state and local officials.”
“The Foundation is enormously thankful for the continued generosity and support of its donors, patrons, and community as we navigate these challenging times,” Wolf Trap said in a press release. “When it is safe to do so, we look forward to gathering in person again in celebration of the performing arts.”
While it will likely look different from past seasons, hope that there will be live summer performances remains, especially since this year marks the Filene Center’s 50th anniversary.
Gov. Ralph Northam announced yesterday that, starting Monday (Mar. 1), outdoor entertainment venues will be permitted to operate at 30% capacity or with up to 1,000 individuals, whichever is lower. The cap on the number of attendees could be lifted in April if COVID-19 cases in the state continue to decline.
Dozens of local artists and arts-oriented organizations got welcome news last week when ArtsFairfax announced the recipients of $567,138 in emergency relief and recovery grants on Jan. 15.
A nonprofit that serves as Fairfax County’s designated local arts agency, ArtsFairfax created an Emergency Relief and Recovery Grants program in order to provide quick funding to an industry that has been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The program comes in lieu of the agency’s usual grant programs, which were suspended for fiscal year 2021.
“The impact of COVID-19 continues to have a devastating effect on the arts community, yet we have seen the arts continue to provide arts education, senior engagement, family entertainment and so much more,” ArtsFairfax president and CEO Linda S. Sullivan said.
Out of the $108,500 in funding requests that it received, ArtsFairfax has awarded $101,950 in emergency relief grants to 40 different Fairfax County arts organizations. It also raised private funds to support $28,300 in grants to 29 individual artists.
In addition, 39 arts organizations will receive operating support grants for FY 2021. These funds are awarded annually to nonprofit arts organizations in Fairfax County and the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church to support basic operations.
ArtsFairfax is awarding $436,888 in operating support grants for this fiscal year after receiving $913,933 in requests from 39 different organizations.
“The arts will be a vital part of our health and economic recovery,” Sullivan said. “We need to support the arts today, so they are here for us tomorrow.”
With in-person performances and exhibitions largely suspended for the past year, the pandemic has taken a significant toll on the American arts and culture industry.
The nonprofit Americans for the Arts estimates that, as of Jan. 11, arts and cultural organizations have lost $14.8 billion nationally as a result of COVID-19. 63% of workers in the arts sector have become unemployed, and 95% have reported a loss of income.
According to a dashboard from Americans for the Arts, nonprofit arts organizations in Fairfax County have reported a median financial loss of $30,000 for a total impact of $4.3 million, though that is based on a small sample size of 55 respondents.
The McLean Project for the Arts is one of several organizations to get both an emergency relief grant and an operating support grant from ArtsFairfax. The grants combine for more than $30,000, according to MPA Director of Communications and Public Affairs Deborah Bissen. Read More
Park Authority staff kicked off the process last week with a virtual public meeting on Dec. 17, when MPA Executive Director Lori Carbonneau presented conceptual renderings for the proposed arts center and detailed how it would align with Clemyjontri’s core mission of providing a playground for children of all abilities.
“We have a vision of a natural marriage of art and the outdoors that this center can create,” Carbonneau said. “It’s going to celebrate our natural heritage, and it’s going to offer a way to extend the vision [property donor Adele] Lebowitz had of creating a place where all can play.”
The overall plans for the arts center have not changed since the public’s first glimpse of the project in February. If approved, it would house three galleries, studio classrooms, staff offices, and an outdoor event space, potentially with gardens and public artwork.
However, what was initially envisioned as a campus with multiple pavilions has now been consolidated into a single building, a change that Carbonneau says came out of talks with prospective architectural and engineering firms that toured the park on Mar. 12.
In addition to lowering maintenance costs, having just one building would make security and cleaning easier, and MPA would only have to invest in one central heating, air conditioning, and ventilation system, a concern that emerged as the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of proper indoor ventilation.
Carbonneau and Park Authority staff emphasized that the project is still in its infancy, meaning that it’s too early to give concrete answers to many questions, including the potential cost to its impact on parking and traffic.
When asked about potential plans to address existing issues with crossing Georgetown Pike, Ryan Stewart, the chief of long-range planning for the Park Authority, said the agency will consult with the Virginia and Fairfax County transportation departments throughout the master planning process.
MPA would schedule arts center programming around peak park usage, with exhibition openings and other special events generally taking place between 7 and 10 p.m., according to Carbonneau, though the organization has not studied park usage beyond publicly available data.
“During COVID, any analysis would be unsatisfying because of the very different traffic patterns that we’re all experiencing right now,” Carbonneau said. Read More
The McLean Community Center’s annual Holiday Art & Crafts Festival is officially virtual this season due to the coronavirus pandemic. The festival will be broadcast live at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 5 and Sunday, Dec. 6.
This year’s festival will feature traditional handcrafted works by established and seasoned artisans, alongside innovative exhibits by new artists. According to the release, pottery, glass, jewelry, holiday decorations, mixed media, fashion accessories, wood, fine art, artisanal foods and more will be on display and for sale.
According to the MCC Special Events Manager Catherine Nesbitt, the live show will also provide a behind-the-scenes look at how the participating artists craft their products.
“During our in-person event, we require the artists to be onsite, which allows attendees to meet them, but in some ways, the virtual show allows for an even more intimate experience of how these artists are inspired to create their masterpieces,” Nesbitt said. “In addition, the format will allow attendees to ask the artists questions in real time.”
The Northern Virginia Handcrafters Guild will help provide show management. NVHG is a non-profit community-based organization with a mission to help artists and craftspeople show and sell their work and promote the development and education of arts and crafts in the community, according to the release.
Image via McLean Community Center
(Updated on 11/12/2020) Capital One expects to unveil a 1.2-acre sky park with food trucks, a bar and beer garden, games, a dog run and an amphitheater in time for summer 2021.
Nested on top of the newly open Wegmans grocery store, The Perch is part of the second building to be completed in the 24.25-acre Capital One complex. Two more parts of the project are slated to open in the fall of 2021: the Watermark Hotel and the Capital One Hall.
From The Perch, Capital One Center Managing Director Jonathan Griffith said the public will “view Tysons from a completely different vantage point.”
For him, that perspective applies to the company’s mission to mix employees and Tysons residents.
“We are trying to separate from the notion that this is for only Capital One employees,” he said, citing The Star, a shopping and dining destination inside the Dallas Cowboys’ new training facility in Frisco, Texas, as inspiration.
The Watermark Hotel and two residential buildings will surround the Perch. The 300-room hotel will be managed by B.F. Saul Hospitality, whose flagship property is The Hay-Adams luxury hotel in Washington, D.C.
The Watermark will no longer be one of two hotels on campus, after the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved a request to change a planned hotel into an office building.
The Watermark Hotel is slated to open next fall, while construction on the residential towers could begin in 10 years, Griffith said.
Until the residential towers go up, semi-permanent installations will “activate the space,” including an old-school double-decker London tour bus and an Airstream converted into food trucks, Griffith said.
From the Sky Park, people can see the glassy Capital One headquarters, completed in 2018, as well as a 30-story office building with two floors of retail.
These developments fit with the trifecta of “live, work and play,” but Griffith said a fourth component, “culture,” is missing.
To fill that gap is Capital One Hall, with a 1,600-seat theater and 250-seat black box theater, as well as vaulted event spaces, large restrooms, plentiful concession areas and an expansive coat room, he said.
Capital One Hall General Manager Jamey Hines described both performance venues as “tight in feeling and room focus, but not uncomfortable.”
“People on the edges have just a good view and the audience won’t feel far away from the performer,” he said.
Having two options impacts the performer, too. “I’ve found that you have to create the room, so people achieve in the room, through seating,” Hines said.
Capital One, Fairfax County, and ARTSFAIRFAX are working together to ensure county agencies and Fairfax County Public Schools get access to 15% of the hall’s bookings at discounted rates. Already, the manager is looking to fill dates for 2022-2023.
Hines has mapped out some events and is gauging what people want to see.
The pandemic has given Capital One Hall more opportunities to be added to a multi-city tour, but he anticipates the Hall will be a bigger destination for one-time shows and productions. Hines encouraged those who are interested in dates to join the email list at capitalonehall.com.
Capital One Hall and The Perch will be open to weddings, bar and bat mitzvahs, galas and functions for nonprofits, concerts and speaker series, Capital One Center marketing and community affairs manager Meghan Trossen said.
The coronavirus pandemic has sped up the building pace, now unencumbered by traffic, but the supply chain has been disrupted, impacting shipments of materials and equipment, Griffith says.
Through it all, he said Fairfax County has done “an incredible job” accommodating construction during the pandemic, implementing measures such as inspections via FaceTime to keep employees safe.
Photo courtesy Capital One
It’s was an unconventional Halloween to cap off an unconventional year for the McLean Community Center, an organization dedicated to establishing a sense of community a time of social isolation.
During a meeting last week, the MCC leadership discussed the Halloween activities that were ongoing at the McLean Old Firehouse Center.
Terri Markwart said that the event had been a success with many local middle school kids who were looking for a chance to meet up with their friends in costume. The event had over 200 attendees, Markwart said.
“Parents who came with their kids were appreciative,” Markwart said, “and the kids said the haunted house was fantastic.”
Other members of the MCC expressed similar approval of the work the Old Firehouse had done.
“It was a well run event,” said Barbara Zamora. “There was a line at one point, but everyone was spaced.”
The group also discussed the future of the McLean Project for the Arts with Lori Carbonneau, executive director of the MPA.
“We’re doing virtual openings and artist talks,” Carbonneau said, “[and] bringing people into the gallery in groups of six.”
Carbonneau said engagement has gone up over the last few months, which she attributed to the group working largely with people with disabilities, elderly residents, and folks who are otherwise homebound. As a result, the group had its second highest attended Artfest this year in terms of website traffic.
“For our first rodeo, we’re feeling pretty good about it,” Carbonneau said.
The success came in spire of a 95% drop in normal corporate sponsorship, but Carbonneau said the group was able to put the event together with community support. Carbonneau described artist sales as “not great” but adequate.
Unsurprisingly, the group also announced that the annual WinterFest parade has been cancelled. This is the second year in a row WinterFest has been cancelled, as it was cancelled last year due to predicted rain.
McLean Project for the Arts Proposes New Single-Building Art Center — “The McLean Project for the Arts (MPA) is advancing a revised, single-building concept for its proposed art center at McLean’s Clemyjontri Park that would be more efficient, accessible and secure than the initial multiple-building design.” [Inside Nova]
Falls Church High School Student Recognized by Governor for Black History Awareness Efforts — “A group of 52 students from Laurel Ridge Elementary School and one student from Falls Church High School have been recognized by Governor Ralph Northam for nominating Black Virginians to be recognized on highway markers throughout the state.” [FCPS]
Upcoming Virtual Open House for Plan to Revitalize Downtown McLean — “Curious about a draft plan to revitalize downtown McLean over the next 20 years? We want your feedback at the Nov. 7 virtual open house!” [Twitter]
Staff photo by Jay Westcott