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JUST IN: Here’s the next art installation at Waterfront Park in Old Town

(Updated at 10:35 p.m. on 11/22/22) The fifth art installation at Waterfront Park will commemorate the wrecked 18th century ships discovered at the sites of the Hotel Indigo and Robinson Terminal South.

“Two Boxes of Oranges and Admonia Jackson” will be erected in mid-to-late March 2023 and be up until November. The work, by New York City-based architect and artist Nina Cooke John, reveals a steel abstract of a ship’s hull, meant to illustrate the city’s historical depths.

“Viewed from the park, visitors stand on the outside of the hull with a view onto one side of history,” said the City’s Department of Arts, Recreation, Parks & Cultural Activities. “Once inside, a fuller story is revealed. Visitors move in, through and between the installation reading the text on the ground and touching the text on the steel. Light traces the profiles, reinforcing their form and allowing for a different experience at night.”

The installation was chosen by a task force of Alexandria Arts Commission members, including Claire Mouledoux, senior vice president of marketing for Visit Alexandria; Clint Mansell, director of the Principle Gallery (208 King Street); and Nicole McGrew, the owner of Threadleaf & Company.

According to the City:

Like an archaeological dig, the site is layered, with portions of different information coming through.  The sea of blue on the plaza is painted on the outer surface of the pieces.  The orange of the inner surface extends to its shadows on the ground.  Herring, coconuts and gin are painted on the ground alongside Jane Tailor, female, 5′-2″ in text pulled from ships manifests.  Also listed are two boxes of oranges and Admonia Jackson. The text is also embedded in the underside of the steel.

Cooke John has also been chosen to design the new Harriet Tubman Monument in Newark, New Jersey.

Goodbye, “I Love You”

Fabian and Angie Chavarria at the ‘I Love You’ art installation at Waterfront park on Nov. 6, 2022 (staff photo by James Cullum)

In the meantime, the “I Love You” installation was taken down on Sunday — after a farewell party hosted by the Department. The neon “I Love You” sign by Roberto Behar and Rosario Marquardt of R&R STUDIOS opened in March, and was a favorite for selfie-takers.

A holiday tree will be put in its place, and lit up on Nov. 19. That’s in addition to the big holiday tree lighting just a few blocks away at Market Square in front of City Hall on that same date.

“I Love You” had issues with light bulb outages over the summer, and the bulbs — individually hand-crafted glass tubes containing neon gas — were reinforced by a repair crew. But in its final weeks, the bulb in the “O” in the sign’s “You” was blown out after someone tried to throw a football through it.

“So, we finally figured out a way to keep those tubes from snapping, and then somebody tried to throw a football through the ‘O’ in the ‘YOU’,” said Diane Ruggiero, the deputy director of the city’s Department of Arts, Recreation, Parks & Cultural Activities. “If this artwork weren’t temporary then it would be designed a little differently, and that’s what it is — temporary.”

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