Alexandria, VA

Alexandria artist Laurel Prucha Moran started painting watercolors at home during the pandemic, and now she’s so busy painting commissioned pieces that she can’t take on any more Christmas orders.

Moran, a freelance graphic designer for the last 20 years in Alexandria, has five paintings she has to finish by this weekend alone. She recently launched Blue Room Studio, and sells prints of her watercolors as cards and stationary. She’s also married with three kids, and until this year only found time to paint while taking classes at the Torpedo Factory Art Center.

“This has been my creative outlet, and I gotta say my family always says I’m my happiest when I’ve just completed a painting and it turned out really well,” Moran told ALXnow.

The first project was a watercolor room rendering for an interior designer friend. The experience sparked the flame, and soon she was making paintings of friends’ homes

“I definitely love getting lost in the details,” Moran said. “I just did a painting of a porch for a neighbor that has little bitty details from her mother-in-law’s screened porch. Her husband died a couple years ago, and it’s fun incorporating those little details, like his favorite chair and the fun art pieces that were scattered throughout the room.”

You can see Moran’s work in person at the Del Ray Artisans Holiday Market on Dec. 18, 19 and 20.

Photo via Blue Room Studio/Facebook

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Alexandria’s course toward social justice might be long, but hope remains for a better future. That’s the message behind the Alexandria Choral Society’s (ACS) Refuge project, and if all goes as planned the five-movement piece will be performed live next May by members of the T.C. Williams High School choir.

“There’s a lot of mileage that you have to go on that journey for a better future,” Refuge composer Jonathan Kolm told ALXnow. “There’s an uplifting arc of hope, but one that is tempered by difficult circumstances that we find ourselves in.”

ACS Artistic Director Brian J. Isaac said that the piece has been labeled a “crowdsource commission,” because portions of the texts that will be sung by the choir have been chosen by the ACS members and fans in Zoom chats. The texts from the fifth movement will be chosen next month.

“Right now, we plan to present this live in May,” Isaac said. “But if it’s not safe to do so, we will likely release a portion of this and maybe a teaser of one movement or a portion of one movement in a virtual format, and then perform the entirety of this work with T.C. Williams as soon as we possibly can.”

A portion of ticket revenue from the concert will be donated to a social justice charity in Alexandria.

The first four movements will include the following texts:

Photo via Alexandria Choral Society/Facebook

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The Torpedo Factory Art Center is one of Alexandria’s cultural landmarks of the waterfront. But as the city moves forward with other modernizing changes to the waterfront, it is also turning an eye towards overhauling the Torpedo Factory to be more of a “hands-on” public attraction.

A series of recommendations in a recently released action plan include plans the city hopes will turn parts of the Torpedo Factory into a more engaging artistic space.

The first part of the plan is to “re-establish the Art Center’s identity for a 21st century audience.” In practice, this would mean greater utilization of the facility as a space for gatherings and festivities. The first action under that subheading is “celebrate food as art” with food and drink-centered events and festivals in partnership with restaurants and breweries.

Other proposals to re-establish the facility’s identity include implementing a focus on new technological development utilized in artwork and recurring family-friendly and educational experiences.

Lastly, this portion of the plan included a recommendation that artists are encouraged to participate in “on the road” pop-ups along the waterfront to bring the program more into the public eye.

Part of the plan involved reshaping the ground floor experience of the Torpedo Factory. The action plan called for better utilization and upgrades to first floor studios with more hands-on opportunities and “spectacles” likes printmaking and glass making. This would involve a reshuffling of existing studios to put “public-facing” features on the first floor.

In general, the plan highlighted more engagement with visitors over the traditional viewing experience of the Torpedo Factory. The reimagined Torpedo Factory would have “make-it space” type activities on the first floor. The Art League Store could also potentially be moved to the first floor in the redesign. Read More

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The Wrought, Knit, Labors, Legacies art installation at Waterfront Park will be taken down next month at Waterfront Park, and the public is being asked to weigh in on a proposal to temporarily move the installation outside of Old Town Pool (1609 Cameron Street).

The four figurative sculptures by Olalekan Jeyifous are meant to convey Alexandria’s history with African American quilting and textile designs, and was unveiled in March. The installation is the second to occupy the public art space at Waterfront Park, after the Mirror Mirror installation in 2019.

A community meeting on the topic will be held on Thursday, October 29, from 7-8 p.m.

No replacement installation has yet been made public.

The full message from the city on the move is below the jump.

Read More

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With limited public performances, shuttered galleries and cancelled events, the Alexandria art scene has been hit hard this year.

On Saturday (October 24), the Alexandria Arts Alliance and ACT for Alexandria will host a virtual fundraiser for arts organizations and artists in the city.

“We knew as the weather gets colder, gathering will become more challenging,” said Alexandria Arts Alliance Board President Melinda Kernc. “There is amazing and inspirational art happening all around us, and we want Alexandria residents to experience it, even if they are staying home. These artists and arts organizations desperately need support from the community they serve so well. This entertaining, collaborative showcase provides a way to ensure the arts will emerge strong when the pandemic subsides.”

The event, which will raise funds for dozens of organizations, will be live streamed Saturday at 7 p.m. on the Alexandria Arts Alliance Facebook page. The event will include Guests will include an appearance by the mayor, a Saturday Night Live cast member and video vignettes from 23 Alexandria-based artists and arts organizations.

Additionally, Homegrown Restaurant Group (Holy Cow, Pork Barrel BBQ, The Sushi Bar, Sweet Fire Donna’s, Tequila & Taco, and Whiskey & Oyster) will donate 10% from its take-out orders that night if customers mention the event.

The following artist organizations will be featured:

  • Alexandria Choral Society
  • Alexandria Citizens Band
  • Alexandria Film Festival
  • Alexandria Harmonizers
  • Alexandria Singers
  • Alexandria Symphony Orchestra
  • Art on the Avenue
  • Arts on the Horizon
  • ArtSpire VA
  • Brave Spirits
  • Del Ray Artisans
  • Eclipse Chamber Orchestra
  • Fantastical Glass
  • Karen Fitzgerald Art
  • Lisa Schumaier
  • Local Motion Project
  • Metropolitan School of the Arts
  • MetroStage
  • QuinTango
  • The Art League
  • UpCycle Creative Reuse Center
  • Washington Metropolitan Philharmonic Association
  • Yellow Door Concert Series

Wow! Just WOW! We are so grateful for the ACT donors who have pledged $14,000 in matching funds to save #artsALX!

Posted by Alexandria Arts Alliance on Wednesday, October 21, 2020

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Alexandria will release a draft action plan for revitalizing the Torpedo Factory Art Center today (October 16), and the proposal on the table includes a front entrance on the waterfront and a more interactive experience for families.

The city took over operations of the Torpedo Factory in 2016, and the art center traditionally sees more than a half a million visitors every year. But Diane Ruggiero, the city’s deputy director for recreation, parks and cultural activities, says that it doesn’t have a family-friendly atmosphere.

“A lot of the focus of the plan is about activating the first floor, kind of changing that initial experience that people have when they come into the art center,” Ruggiero told ALXnow. “We do know that folks want a more engaging and interactive experience from an arts perspective.”

There are more than 80 studios in the building, and artist studios take up 70% of the building. The largest tenant, The Art League school, art supply store, gallery and offices takes up 12% of occupancy. Its next largest occupant is The Alexandria Archeology Museum.

“I think the liveliness of the Art Center has always been something that has come back as a criticism of the Art Center, even pre-COVID,” Ruggiero said. “Some of the feedback that we had from the community is that there’s not a lot going on there that’s family friendly.”

The draft plan was developed by two consultants and Ruggiero says it will be on the city’s website later today.

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Morning Notes

U.S. Secretary of Education Commends ACPS Superintendent for Sending Child to Private School — “How great that Superintendent Hutchings is able to make this choice for his child. Every family in Alexandria, VA, and across the entire country, should have the same freedom to choose where, when and how their kids learn.” [Twitter]

Beyer Says Trump Lying About Health Care Plan — “rump has no health plan. He’s been lying for five years, always saying there’s this amazing plan just around the corner. Meanwhile he’s suing to get the health law that protects Americans with preexisting conditions struck down by the Supreme Court.” [Twitter]

City Wins Grant to Add WiFi and Seating to Four Mile Run Park Plaza — “Alexandria was one of just 10 cities to receive the award.” [City of Alexandria]

City Releases Guidance for Trick-Or-Treaters — “The City of Alexandria and the Alexandria Health Department (AHD) strongly urge residents to choose lower risk Halloween and Dia de los Muertos activities this year to reduce the likelihood of COVID-19 outbreaks. There are many alternative options to celebrate Halloween and Dia de los Muertos while also maintaining a lower level risk of spreading COVID-19.” [City of Alexandria]

Virtual Fundraiser for Artists on October 24 — “ACT 4 #ArtsALX was inspired by the need for artists to share their work given the difficulty of performing, teaching and holding exhibits in the time of COVID-19. The lack of revenue from performances, classes and exhibitions has led to critical financial problems for the arts. Most artists and organizations have had to cancel seasons and indoor events for the foreseeable future, transitioning to smaller, outdoor events and virtual presentations.”

Today’s Weather — “Mainly sunny (during the day). High 73F. Winds W at 5 to 10 mph. A mostly clear sky (in the evening). Low 54F. Winds S at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Keyboards/Guitar Teacher — “3+ years teaching experience on keyboards/guitar. Multi-instrumentalist a plus. Experience working with children as young as 6 years old. Ability to pass a standard background check and sign a code of conduct.” [Facebook]

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Country Music Hall of Famer Marty Stuart will play The Birchmere on Halloween night, and the celebrated music hall in the city’s Arlandria neighborhood has a full slate of performances all this month.

Stuart, who started his career playing with Johnny Cash’s road band, will play at 7:30 p.m. on October 31.

There are a number of other well known artists performing throughout the month.

The full schedule is below.

Photo via Marty Stuart/Facebook

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Morning Notes

Kamala Harris’ Husband Douglas Emhoff Ecourages Voters in Alexandria — “Excited to welcome @DouglasEmhoff to Alexandria as he works to encourage voters to turn out and make his wife our next Vice President!34K+ ballots have been mailed.Nearly 8K in-person early voters….and we are just getting started!” [Twitter]

Councilman Chapman Takes Tour of Potomac Yard Metro Station Construction –“Some pictures from my tour this morning of the construction site of the Potomac Yard Metro!” [Facebook]

Art on the Avenue Goes Virtual This Weekend — “Happy October! While this year’s festival is different, we’re still working overtime to support local artists and maintain the creativity and spirit of this community festival that we all love. Our 25th anniversary festival kicks off online Saturday at artontheavenue.org!” [Facebook]

Casa Chirilagua Chosen for Pandemic Street Design Grant — “Very grateful for Casa Chirilagua to have been selected!” [Facebook]

Carlyle Council Showing ‘Jumanji’ Saturday Night — “Join us this weekend for our Saturday Cinema Series showing of Jumanji: The Next Level! Grab a movie bag special from Sweet Fire Donna’s, bring a chair or a blanket and enjoy the film!” [Facebook]

Michael’s Little Italy Calls For Unity Through Italian Food — “Maybe we’re all from different families, countries, political parties. But that doesn’t matter at Sunday dinner. As we approach this weekend, I have an idea: come together folks. We have pizza, pasta, wine, and each other. That is really all we need.” [Facebook]

Sheriff Reads Kids’ Story Online — “Sheriff Dana Lawhorne shares a new book with a very important message — Speak Up! When something really matters, one voice can indeed make a difference.” [Facebook]

Today’s Weather — “Some clouds in the morning will give way to mainly sunny skies for the afternoon. High 68F. Winds WNW at 5 to 10 mph. Clear (in the evening). Low 47F. Winds light and variable.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Fitness Operations Manager — “The Operations Managers are dedicated to making the fitness experience at our clubs an exceptional one. They create a clean, fun and friendly environment by training and motivating their staff. They also generate revenue, keep a clean and well maintained club, all while providing great customer service.” [Indeed]

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Del Ray’s Art on the Avenue festival usually draws hundreds of artists and upward of 75,000 visitors along Mount Vernon Avenue, but this year the celebration will be virtual.

“This is out 25th year, and it’s even more heartbreaking we can’t do it in-person,” festival founder Pat Miller told ALXnow.

More than 150 artists are still participating, and their work will be available by category from October 3 through the December holidays on the Art on the Avenue website.

“Through our site, you can buy from artists and see their work, almost just like you would with Art on the Avenue,” Miller said.

Available art includes:

  • Wheel-thrown vases and bowls
  • Tiles
  • Sculpture
  • Tote bags and purses
  • Drawings and pastels
  • Knitted and crocheted hats and gloves
  • Woven scarves and shawls
  • Gourmet food
  • Fused and blown glass
  • Jewelry
  • Paintings
  • Photography

Photo via Art on the Avenue/Facebook

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