Alexandria, VA

Morning Notes

Alexandria Keeps High Bond Rating — “S&P Global Ratings and Moody’s Investors Service have reaffirmed the City of Alexandria’s top bond ratings of ‘AAA’ and ‘Aaa,’ respectively, in advance of the City’s planned sale of $205 million in general obligation tax-exempt bonds to fund the Potomac Yard Metrorail Station and school facility capital projects.” [City of Alexandria]

More Phone Problems for City — A week after an issue with a fiber optic line knocked out incoming calls for most Alexandria non-emergency phone lines last week, the same issue with incoming calls cropped up yesterday. It was reported to be resolved later Tuesday afternoon. [Twitter/@AlexandriaVAGov]

Art League Holding Ceramics Sale — “Calling all holiday shoppers and ceramic enthusiasts! The Art League’s blockbuster Holiday Ceramics Sale is back starting Friday, December 6 through Sunday, December 8, at 722 King Street in Old Town Alexandria. This highly anticipated pop-up shop features hundreds of original works for every taste and budget.” [Zebra]

Czech Ambassador Visits Port City — “Today we welcomed the @CzechEmbassyDC to the brewery! We are honored to have Hynek Kmoníček, the Ambassador Extraordinary of the Czech Republic to the U.S. here. He has given the official stamp of approval for our #DownrightPilsner a Czech-style Pilsner!” [Twitter/@PortCityBrew]

Thanksgiving Cooking Tips from AFD — “Ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, the Alexandria Fire Department is offering cooking safety tips so your meal can go smoothly. According to the National Fire Protection Association, Thanksgiving is the leading day for cooking-related fires in homes. In 2017, there were 1,600 reported home cooking fires on Thanksgiving, a 238 percent increase over the daily average.” [Patch]

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The new art project coming to Waterfront Park (1 Prince Street) next year will feature a series of silhouettes representing the city’s history of slavery.

The concept renderings from artist Olalekan Jeyifous feature four three-dimensional silhouettes, each roughly 11 feet tall, with industrial imagery carved into the bodies. The figures will face out towards the river. The ground of the plaza will be covered with a pattern referencing African-American quilting — mixing traditional symbols with ones that represent industries from the city’s past — like an armory and rail tracks.

The art would replace the Mirror Mirror installation — which also reflected a piece of the city’s history. The displays are part of a series by different artists called Site See: New Views in Old Town.

Diane Ruggiero, director of the Office of the Arts, unveiled the designs to the Waterfront Commission yesterday (Tuesday) morning. The designs were approved at the Arts Commission meeting that evening.

Ruggiero said Jeyifous visited Alexandria in the spring and went on a tour around town. Jeyifous’ visit to the Freedom House (1315 Duke Street) — once the headquarters of the largest domestic slave trading firm in the United States — was one of the visits that ultimately helped shape the project, Ruggiero said.

The artwork is expected to be installed in March, according to Ruggiero.

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A new mixed-use apartment complex scheduled to open in the West End in early December has debuted three new pieces of public art.

At the front of the $200 million complex, Array at West Alex, artist Harry McDaniel has built a kinetic sculpture garden titled “En Pointe.” The artwork, which took three years to sculpt, involves large, abstract sculptures of people moving slowly in circles.

“As the design took form, I began to see the combined forms (in motion) as dancers,” said McDaniel. “That was not by intention, but the association stuck with me, so I settled on the title ‘En Pointe’ which refers to the dance position and describes the fact that each of the sections of the sculpture is balanced on a point.”

On the complex’s plaza, local artist Alma Selimovic has completed sculptures of bright flowers on a 45-foot wall, titled “Last Summer.” The blue, orange, and yellow flowers add life to an otherwise plain concrete wall.

“I love the area,” said Selimovic. “Last Summer is my first public sculpture, I’ve always wanted to build big pieces and I finally got the chance to do that in Alexandria.”

Along the nearby King Street, sculptor David Smedley has installed a tile wall titled “The Event” — an op-art, geometric abstraction made up of a mosaic of squares and triangles with a variety of colors.

Array at West Alex has 278 apartment units along with a mixed-use ground floor with multiple retailers.

In addition to a 62,000 square-foot Harris Teeter projected to open in early 2021, the complex has a Sports Clips barbershop, a Lifestyle Nail Salon, and a sushi restaurant slated with early 2020 openings.

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Over 22 local artisans are participating in the first Alexandria Makers Market next week.

The holiday event is set for Sunday, November 24 from 12-6 p.m. at Port City Brewing Company (3950 Wheeler Avenue).

“My intention with Alexandria Makers Market is to celebrate all the hard-working creatives based in our city, and to enable opportunities for us to showcase our talent,” said market founder Alyssa Kovach in a statement.

“I approached Port City because they are incredible makers themselves. I thought they might appreciate the motivation of this concept in a way that other venues may not be able to relate to. I am so honored and grateful they have agreed to host our inaugural event.”

In addition to a wide variety of vendors to shop from, three ticketed workshop events are scheduled throughout the day. Tickets must be purchased in advance for the workshops, which will be held upstairs in the brewery. All workshop participants will receive a pint of Port City beer during their class.

The workshops include:

A full list of the scheduled vendors are below:

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Over the last two weeks of adoptable pets at ALXnow we’ve had cats that high-five, bonded rabbits, and now: a painting pup named Ricasso.

Ricasso, né Rico, came to the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria last fall, according to Gina Hardter, director of marketing and communications for the AWLA. He quickly perfected sit, stay and shake, but staff noticed his constant tail-wagging and had an ambitious idea.

“When he was introduced to some washable paint, ‘Ricasso’ was born,” Hardter said.

Ricasso’s artistic debut will be on Dec. 6 at an “Art for Animals” auction event. Twenty paintings will be auctioned off with proceeds going to help his fellow pets in Alexandria.

Guests can register online for the wine and cheese auction — though vegan options will also be available. The artist is scheduled to be in attendance.

Photo courtesy Animal Welfare League of Alexandria

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Update 3 p.m. — For the second week in a row, the correct answer is lighthouse related. The Mirror Mirror project is inspired by the Fresnel lens of Alexandria’s Jones Point Lighthouse, according to the City of Alexandria website.

We’re back with Friday trivia!

Like last week, we’ll post a trivia question at 9:30 a.m. Comments are disabled to keep people from posting the answers. Play fair, make your best guess, and check back in at 3 p.m. when we post the answer.

For today’s trivia question, we’re taking a look at the Mirror Mirror art display at Waterfront Park at the foot of King Street. The display was created by SOFTlab, a New York-based design studio led by artist and architect Michael Szivos. The interior’s surface is tinted with full-spectrum of color with lights that respond to sound.

The artists cited a specific influence on the design of the project. Was it a kaleidoscope, a zoetrope, a Fresnel lens, or a dispersive prism?

Staff Photo by Jay Westcott

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Improvements and changes are coming to the Waterfront Park over the next few weeks.

Mirror Mirror, the circular art exhibit currently on display in the park, had originally been scheduled to remain on display through the end of next month, but at a Waterfront Commission Meeting on Tuesday staff said the installation will be removed the first week of November.

The project briefly went dark when the waterfront flooded but has since been re-lit. A new project from Brooklyn-based artist Olalekan Jeyifous is expected to replace it next year.

Staff also said a portion of the park will be closed for 3-5 weeks to replace lawn panels. Several light fixtures in the park will also be replaced with LED lighting. Lighting in the older section of the park south of King Street was noticeably darker than the area at the foot of King Street, staff said, so the new LED lights should equalize that.

Further south, the city is still struggling with debris at Windmill Hill Park. Some of the trash is brought in by the tides, but staff is laying some of the blame at the webbed feet of mischievous local geese.

The park is still within a one-year warranty with the contractor that built the project; staff said they are currently in discussions over the condition of the shoreline. Goose mitigation efforts are also in place to help hold back some of the debris.

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An Old Town mural has helped raise some $10,000 for a mix of local and national charities.

The mural of two butterfly wings on the side of lingerie shop Bloomers (924 King Street) was the center of a local social media fundraising campaign in August and September. Last week, organizers announced it helped to raise $10,200 for 111 nonprofits.

California-based artist Tasha Wahl painted and designed the mural, while an anonymous donor helped fund the project through ACT for Alexandria.

More from a press release:

The project was a result of a partnership between Vice Mayor Elizabeth Bennett-Parker, Tasha Wahl, ACT for Alexandria, Asana Partners, and Bloomers. More than 400 individuals participated in the campaign. Two nonprofits were honored with $1,200 in donations and prizes as a result of the generosity of the community. The Alexandria Police Foundation received the social media prize [for] the most posts on social media. The Animal Welfare League of Alexandria received the most photo submissions.

To participate, individuals were encouraged to take a photo in front of the butterfly wings mural located at 924 King Street, Alexandria, VA and select the charity of their choice from a list of almost 250 local and national 501c3 organizations to receive a $20 donation. Participants could also post their photo on social media tagging their favorite nonprofit, #inclusiveALX and #butterflyeffect for a chance to win an additional $500 for their favorite group.

“I’m thankful to Tasha Wahl for her vision in starting this global project and for choosing Alexandria; to Asana Partners and Bloomers for providing the space for the mural; and to the members of the community who brought it to life,” Vice Mayor Elizabeth Bennett-Parker said.

The awards were funded by Ms. Wahl and an anonymous donor through ACT for Alexandria, the community foundation. Working with Vice Mayor Bennett-Parker, Ms. Wahl customized the mural for our community to include the phrase, “Be the Change You Want to See in the World” in English, Spanish and Arabic.

“ACT for Alexandria believes the diversity of our community is one of Alexandria’s greatest assets; the vision of a vibrant community is core to our work. We are grateful to Elizabeth and Tasha for bringing the Butterfly Effect mural to Alexandria and honored to facilitate one of our donor’s philanthropic commitments to supporting the local nonprofit community,” said Brandi Yee, ACT for Alexandria’s Chief Program Officer.

Mayor Justin Wilson was among those who posed in front of the artwork in August.

The “Butterfly Effect” hashtag is a reference to a movement of mural-fundraisers started by Wahl in 2013 that combined her interpretation of Mahatma Gandhi’s concept of setting an example for change, and Edward Lorenz’s “Butterfly Effect” theory of small actions producing chain reactions to major changes.

Alexandria Vice Mayor Elizabeth Bennett-Parker first saw the project via Instagram, per a post on her website, and applied to host one of Wahl’s murals but with multilingual translations of “Be the Change you Want to See In the World” and #InclusiveALX hashtag

“I’m excited to bring the Butterfly Effect to Alexandria because it will build community, promote vibrancy on upper King Street, and highlight nonprofits in a fun, interactive way,” Bennett-Parker told Alexandria Living Magazine when the mural launched last month.

In a statement last week, she thanked Wahl and Asana Partners and Bloomers, and those who voted and “brought it to life.”

Image via Twitter/Justin Wilson

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Del Ray’s annual Art on the Avenue festival is returning this weekend and drivers are warned to keep clear of the area.

On Saturday (Oct. 5), Mount Vernon Avenue will be closed from 7 a.m.-9 p.m. between Bellefonte and Hume Avenues, according to a tweet from the Alexandria Police Department.

The free street festival is expected to feature over 300 artists, with a variety of musicians and food vendors. It runs from 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

Over 50,000 visitors are expected, event organizers say. Children’s activities, like stuffing a scarecrow and painting a pumpkin, will also be part of the festivities.

Photo via Art on the Avenue/Facebook

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