Alexandria, VA

Creative writing nonprofit Heard is still finding ways to make noise. The three-year-old nonprofit had to shut down a number of its creative writing and art classes for the homeless, domestic violence survivors, and the incarcerated because of the pandemic. Now inmates at the Alexandria Detention Center will soon have back their creative outlet with Zoom classes.

“The jail did contact me and said they are in the process of getting more access to televisions and Zoom capabilities,” Collins told ALXnow. “And they asked me to put a proposal in so we could continue to offer creative writing poetry and visual arts classes.”

Heard now has a dozen community partners, including the Alexandria Domestic Violence Shelter, Community Lodgings, the Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center and the Arlington County Detention Center. It’s also in the process of adding Casa Chirilagua to its mix of clients.

Instructors include former Alexandria Poet Laureate Wendi Kaplan, former Baltimore Ravens cheerleader Tina Kantiano, and TV journalist Alexandra Rockey Fleming.

Heard sponsors an annual writing contest at the Alexandria and Arlington Jails, and also teaches creative writing, journalism, poetry, visual arts, improvisation, etiquette, dance and public speaking.

Collins, a retired U.S. Air Force colonel, said she is inspired by the level of creativity exhibited by Heard’s students.

“I always thought their stories were valid, that marginalized communities needed a platform and deserve to be heard,” she said. “There is no commonality among people in detention centers, aside from the fact that they’re incarcerated. There are people with advanced degrees, people who never made it through high school. They are some of the cleverest people I’ve ever gone across, and I base that on reading their written work.”

The untitled piece below the jump was written in August 2019 by Stephen Y. in the Alexandria Jail.

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Morning Notes

City Urges Residents to Use Caution Outside — “The City and the Alexandria Health Department urge everyone to follow Governor Northam’s order to #stayhome except for essential trips such as food purchases and medical care, and maintain physical distancing when possible.” [Twitter]

Beyer Lashes Out Against Senate Republicans — “Senate Republicans are refusing to consider more help for the American people during pandemic. Instead they are now prioritizing investigations of the President’s political rivals. They previously said they didn’t have time to hear from witnesses during the impeachment trial.” [Twitter]

Alexandria Wants Parental Feedback on Summer Camp — “The City of Alexandria Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities (RPCA) is asking parents in a survey to “tell us how modified summer programs will meet your family’s needs for a safe and enjoyable summer.” Options include half day camps, full day camps and a yes/no question on whether parents are interested in online or virtual camps.” [Alexandria Living]

Story Time: Alexandria Sheriff’s Deputy Reads ‘The Lorax’ — “Time for a classic from Dr. Seuss! Learn a lesson from “The Lorax” with Lieutenant Sean Casey.” [Facebook]

West End Business Association Happy Hour at 4 p.m. — “Each person will be able to give their one-minute introduction, and should also answer two questions: What Business-to-Business efforts have worked for you these past two months? What will be on your grill this weekend for Memorial Day?” [WEBA]

Old Town Artist Todd Healy Packs it Up — “It is with a heavy heart we share the news that after 40 years of making Alexandria his muse, our treasured Alexandria Legend Todd Healy is packing up his paints and canvases.” [Facebook]

ACPS Early Childhood Center has Message on Littering — “We’ve been learning all about Reduce, Reuse, Recycle at the ECC, and today we’re learning all about littering! Go on a walk with Bo and see if he can find any litter in his neighborhood!” [Facebook]

The Hard Times Cafe Horse is Wearing a Face Mask — “Thanks to the folks at Hard Times for letting us have some fun today! Mask from Mission Masks by KH Giving. Get one through the link below and you’ll be entered to win great prizes that KH Giving has bought from Alexandria businesses!” [Facebook]

Bishop Ireton High School Thanks Longtime Educator — “Congratulations to Mr. Sean Casey, winner of the inaugural Peter G. Davey Service Award, for his service as the president of the athletic boosters club. Under Mr. Casey’s leadership the past two years, a number of facilities and team improvements were made, highlighted by the new press box installed on Fannon Field.” [Facebook]

New Job: Toastique Team Member — “Toastique in Old Town, Alexandria and is seeking team members to help create smoothies, gourmet toasts, and run the POS system. Employees will be joining a team to create a fun, clean, fresh environment for a gourmet toast and juice bar in bustling Old Town! No specific skills or experience needed, but applicant must be excited to interact with customers and serve healthy, fresh food to the community.” [Indeed]

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Morning Notes

City Helps World Central Kitchen Give Out 1,250 Meals — “On May 14, City staff and volunteers distributed 1,250 hot meals to 350 families in the third food distribution organized in Alexandria by World Central Kitchen, a nonprofit food distribution organization founded by chef José Andrés. Local nonprofit ALIVE! also distributed 800 pounds of food at the event. This food distribution will take place again at Casa Chirilagua on May 21 and Ramsay Elementary School on May 28.” [City of Alexandria]

10,000 Maniacs Show at The Birchmere Rescheduled to November — “his show has been RESCHEDULED AGAIN, now for Friday November 20, 2020! All 3/20/20 & 5/31/20 tickets will be honored on the new date. Refunds available through Ticketmaster if you cannot attend the new date. If you purchased at The Birchmere Box Office, please hold on to your tickets until we reopen. Tickets for 11/20/20 on sale now!” [Birchmere]

Old Town Books Raising Funds to Stay Afloat — “I never thought I would be turning to crowd funding to keep the store open. This fundraiser is to cover payroll, rent, and fixed costs during the shut down. It will keep the store open through the next very uncertain year while we adapt our business model to continue operating through the COVID-19 outbreak. I want Old Town Books to be here when the clouds part, and I hope you do, too.” [GoFundMe]

Here’s the Latest from the Old Town Boutique District — “The Old Town Boutique District kindly asks for you to continue to hold hands with us and support us little guys any way that you can. We love our loyal shop local community and we still need you.” [OTBD]

Tall Ship Providence Hosting Virtual Tours on Tuesdays — “Every week, historic re-enactors talk about Providence, life aboard the ship and much more in a series of videos, online discussion and other virtual features.” [Alexandria Living]

North Potomac Yard Virtual Community Meeting at 7 p.m. — “The Virginia Tech Foundation and JBG SMITH will host a virtual community meeting to provide information regarding transportation, open space, sustainability and community benefits.” [City of Alexandria]

Sixth Grader Leaves Colorful Rocks in Neighborhood — “Sophie Richardson, a 6th grade student at St. Stephens/St. Agnes School, is brightening up the Vauxcleuse neighborhood near Inova Alexandria Hospital with rocks painted with uplifting messages for her neighbors to find.” [Gazette]

Virtue Feed and Grain Donates Meals to D.C. Nonprofit — “We are grateful for the partnership & hope to continue giving back to our community.” [Facebook]

Pedego Electric Bikes Gets Colorful Shipment of Helmets — “We just received a shipment of new Thousand helmets! Refilling some favorites and adding a few new awesome colors. Come and get them while they last!” [Facebook]

The Art League is Offering Online Courses — “Check out our new online classes to help keep you connected to each other and your creativity. Connect to online classes using Zoom, a video-conferencing platform that is simple and easy to use. And stay in touch with your classmates and teacher with Google classroom.” [Art League]

New Job: Alexandria Health Department Communications Officer — “The AHD Communications Officer is a key member of AHD’s Population Health team comprised of the Population Health Manager, Health Planner, and HIV/AIDS Prevention Coordinator. The Communications Officer reports directly to the Population Health Manager, is AHD’s principal communications subject matter expert, and provides oversight of AHD’s internal and external communications.” [Indeed]

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Morning Notes

ACPS Nurses Helping Out Health Department — “When Megan Costanza, a nurse at the T.C. Williams High School Clinic got the call to say her skills were needed by the Alexandria Health Department’s Coronavirus task force, she didn’t hesitate.” [ACPS]

Carpenter’s Shelter Raising Funds for Giving Tuesday — “#GivingTuesdayNow and Do More 24 have synched efforts to help organizations like Carpenter’s Shelter raise money during this unprecedented time. Advanced giving is open, so please support Carpenter’s Shelter by donating!” [Facebook]

Second Grader Wins National Photography Award for Merit — “The National PTA announced the results of the national level of the Reflections contest last week, and Riley Zwiselsberger, a 2nd grader at Charles Barrett, for the second year in a row, won the Award of Merit (a 3rd Place NATIONAL award!!) in the Photography category for a photo called “Within the Wall of War.” His work will now be featured in a traveling exhibition!” [Facebook]

Alexandria Aces Season Canceled — “We cherish the health and safety of all of our players and their families. We 🙏🏻 this all goes away and we see everyone in 2021 for a great season of Aces Baseball! Stay safe Aces.” [Facebook]

The Dog Park Offering Discounts for Cinco De Doggo Toys — “The Dog Park will be offering a SPICY deal for Cinco de Mayo….aka Cinco de Doggo! We carry toys for both cats and dogs.” [Facebook]

ACPS Brings Back Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program — “Kids 18 and under, who are present during pick-up, will receive a fresh produce bag along with their meals! While supplies last.” [Facebook]

The Art League is Offering Online Classes — “Our online courses give people a chance to try something new at home, and allows students to touch base with their creative community during an isolating time.” [Zebra]

Jobs: The Salvation Army Needs Administrative Specialist — “Knowledge of general office practices and procedures, effective and efficient record-keeping and bookkeeping practices, knowledge of proofreading symbols and basic mathematics. Ability to transcribe dictation and type information into a computer. Ability to scan documents and work with same. Ability to operate various office equipment including a telephone, Dictaphone, computer, scanner and adding machine.” [Indeed]

Fire Department Celebrates Resilience Week — “Building resilience helps our community recover from difficult experiences, like the current health crisis. As part of #ResilienceWeek VA (May 3-9), DCHS is sharing daily ideas & resources to help in our personal lives, families, work lives & community.” [Twitter]

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Morning Notes

Neighborhood Restaurant Group Family Fund Raises $44K — “Our employees are the lifeblood of this company and form the backbone of this amazing industry; they are the core of our communities and the heart of our restaurant family. We are working to support them through our to-go and delivery efforts and through our gift card sales – and we will continue to do whatever it takes. With your help, we will survive this crisis so we can continue to support our team and the communities in which we operate.” [GoFundMe]

Greener Cleaner of Del Ray Looking For Business on National Laundry Day — “It’s a perfect time to ‘Spring Clean During the Quarantine!’ Winter coats, comforters, rugs, all clothes, and much more accepted. Masks are also available for sale for $8.” [Facebook]

ICYMI: Senior Services of Alexandria Hosts a Public TV Show — “We know most people are aware of the monthly speaker series and other outreach activities including the stocking of Senior Information Corners around town, but did you know that SSA produces a monthly 30-minute cable television program? Check out the current April program that we were able to produce during the current health situation thanks to our amazing volunteers.” [Zebra]

City Warns of Scams During Pandemic — “Remain vigilant for scams related to #COVID19. You may receive fake phone calls or emails with malicious attachments or links to fraudulent websites. Avoid scams and misinformation throughout the pandemic.” [Twitter]

Inova Needs Blood From Former COVID-19 Patients — “The liquid part of the blood (the plasma) will be used to treat some of our sickest COVID-19 patients as the antibodies developed by those who have recovered may assist in the recovery of those still battling COVID.” [Facebook]

Counseling Center Hiring Remote Office Assistant — “The ideal candidate will be a hard-working professional able to undertake a variety of office support tasks and work diligently under pressure. This person will be comfortable working with a high degree of attention to detail and discretion as well as incorporating new and effective ways to achieve better results.” [Indeed]

Del Ray Artisans Has Online Exhibit — “Rust Doug’s art begins with found items from hikes, and these items lead him through a path to his finished pieces.” [Facebook]

Old Town Books Thanks Customers Around the World — “We’ve sent out more than 1,500 orders since closing March 15th. It’s been hard, I’m not gonna lie. I’ve had some really bad days. We’re all so tired. We miss seeing customers and talking about books with you. But I have to remember there’s an end in sight, even if we don’t quite know when that might be. But we’re determined – We’ll be here. You’re keeping us here. We thank you and we love you for that.” [Facebook]

Junction Bakery & Bistro Donates Food to Alexandria Hospital — “To the tireless & hard-working staff at Inova Alexandria Hospital, thank you for letting us treat you to some fresh-baked pastries & cold brew coffee. We hope it was a pick-me-up. If anyone needs it right now, you do.” [Facebook]

Alexandria Film Festival Accepting Submissions — “It will take place over four days this fall – November 12-15 – at AMC Hoffman Center. In existence for 14 years, the festival showcases “exceptional” short and feature-length films by independent filmmakers. Q&A sessions follow screenings, along with related presentations.” [Zebra]

Bunnies, Guinea Pigs Available for Adoption — “As an open adoption facility, the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria sees more than just dogs and cats; they take in all types of animals brought it from across the city.  Meet a few of the AWLA’s smaller — but no less furry — residents.” [Alexandria Living]

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Update 10:40 p.m. — City Spokesperson Craig Fifer noted that the city has offered deferred payment of certain businesses taxes until June 30 and offered 12-month payment plans after that, which is the same offer available to the artists. Fifer also said that rent is paid to the city because the city owns and manages the building, with management resumed in 2016. 

Artists can still access their studios and derive value from having a place to work, make online sales, and store their supplies and art.  Because some artists derive more income from walk-in sales than others, it would not make sense to apply a one-size-fits-all approach to studio rent. We notified each of our 119 leaseholders on March 31 that they could request rent relief with just a simple email, and only eight so far have done so.

Fifer also noted that the 35% reduction in rent at Workhouse brings it close to the Torpedo Factory — about $21 and $16 per square foot, respectively — with no deferral or payment plan options.

Earlier: With the Torpedo Factory Art Center closed to the public, local artists are left not only figuring out how to pay their bills but how to maintain rent at an art space they can’t access.

“I’m one of the people who closed,” said Estelle Vernon, a jeweler who worked in a four-person studio for a number of years. “All four of us are high risk. My studio closed as of 13th or 14th of March. I pulled out my things there. I did have to go back over a week later when I realized all the bills are there and then had to pay them.”

Vernon said her business has come to a halt, and she isn’t alone. Several artists said their primary income — showing art at galleries and at the Torpedo Factory — has come to a standstill.

“It’s affecting us all terribly,” Vernon said. “All of our shows are canceled. It’s put a lot of us out of business unless you really have a strong presence online.”

While some at the Torpedo Factory work there as a passion after retiring from other careers, for many artists their art is a primary income.

“I don’t do a lot of shows because the Torpedo Factory affords me an audience,” said ceramic artist Lori Katz. “Right now, I am completely without income and I expect to be without income for many months as the Torpedo Factory is closed down. I have shows that were scheduled for spring which are canceled and two art fairs that are canceled. I have work in two gallery shows — which are up but nobody can see them. I’m probably no different than anyone at the Torpedo Factory, but this is how I make a living.”
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Morning Notes

Asthmatic Champion Sprinter Noah Lyles Cautious Amid Pandemic — “Professional athletes can seem superhuman, but some like US sprinter @LylesNoah are having to take extra precautions to protect themselves during the Covid-19 crisis.” [Twitter]

The Majestic Menu Available Only For Easter Sunday — “We’re so hoppy to be back 🐰 The Majestic is back for one day only and offering a chef curated, prix fixe Easter menu for four. To pre-order, call us today at 703.997.5300. All Easter meals must be picked up at Mia’s Italian Kitchen located just .5 miles from The Majestic.” [Facebook]

Mystery Del Ray Chalk Artist Creates Street Art — “The most timely message from earlier in March read: STAY SAFE  WASH YOUR HANDS  BE KIND along with the more philosophical quote: ‘Life is, at times, tough. All we need to do is to prove that we are tougher than it.'” [Zebra]

It’s Super Easy to Volunteer Making Face Masks — “Being over the age to help with the general public, I was frustrated about how I could serve during this crisis … until I saw my sewing machine in the closet. I sent a note to Volunteer Alexandria that simply said ‘I sew’ and before I knew it I had an order for masks. Using tea towels, items in my sewing basket, and patterns found online I turned my dining room into a production line. As I handed over my first batch of masks, I was thinking how today’s technology merged with an old fashioned skill will hopefully keep people safer.” -Ivy, Sewer of Masks [Facebook]

At Home in Alexandria Gets Homemade Face Masks — “Several of our wonderful members have dusted off their sewing machines and have gotten to work. Our AHA [At Home in Alexandria] members are in their 60’s, their 70’s, their 80’s and their 90’s. They are the most vulnerable among us right now, and while we have had to pause our full range of services and events momentarily, we still have volunteers shopping for groceries and delivering necessities for our members to keep them safe at home.” [Facebook]

Police Receive Face Mask Donations — “Thank you so much American Uniform Sales, Inc. for these donated cloth face coverings. The Alexandria Police Department is really grateful, and glad to add these to our uniforms.” [Twitter]

Lee-Fendall House Easter Egg Hunt Goes Virtual — “The first five people to find all of the eggs will receive a family pass to visit the museum and a Lee-Fendall chocolate bar. Both can be redeemed when the property reopens later this year.” [Alexandria Living]

Alexandria Chamber of Commerce List of Business Updates — Here’s a list of more than 100 restaurants, retail shops and other businesses in the city, including deals and hours of operation. [Chamber of Commerce]

Free Online Therapist-Led Support Group Tonight — “Join us on Sunday and Wednesday evenings from 7:00pm to 8:00pm via zoom to connect with others, share resources, and to chat about this wild rollercoaster ride of life. We will limit the group to under 10 per meeting. Please RSVP for each event. We hope to see you there!” [Facebook]

Valor Awards Postponed, No Date Set — “Please be advised, the Valor Awards will be postponed to a later date given these unprecedented times. We will be updating the event date once confirmed and alert registered attendees and sponsors directly. We look forward to honoring these exceptional individuals for their tremendous sacrifices to our community.” [Chamber of Commerce]

Alexandria Hospital Reminds Residents to Monitor Stroke Symptoms — “During these unprecedented times, we understand that there is concern about entering a hospital…If you or someone you know is experiencing a serious life threatening emergency, such as a stroke, we urge community members to call 9-1-1 and activate an emergency response team to evaluate and provide further resources.” [Facebook]

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Stuck at home this weekend social distancing but still want to connect with your fellow Alexandrians? A few online or quarantine-friendly activities

If the quarantine has you stressed out, there are several local online meditation classes. Mind the Mat Pilates and Yoga is live-streaming various yoga, pilates and other exercise classes. The Meditation Center of D.C. is also hosting live-streamed meditations every Saturday at 3:30 p.m. with a Buddist monk.

Other locations throughout Alexandria are offering online fitness or wellness classes.

For the artistic Alexandrians, the Kyo Gallery is offering virtual tours of the art exhibits. Local art gallery The Athenaeum is also encouraging artists of any age to submit their doodles.

According to the submission page:

The Athenaeum Gallery invites artists–or anyone of any age–to e-mail sketches, doodles and other graphics that make a visual statement about your experience with or thoughts about the current pandemic, social distancing and other ways your life has been touched by it. When something resonates with our jurors, we will post it to our website, Instagram and Facebook accounts as a sort of virtual gallery. We are looking for true, quick, gestural and doodle-like work, not fully conceived and finished works of art. The works can be in any medium. To submit sketches and doodles, email jpgs or pdfs to Athenaeum Gallery Director, Twig Murray, at [email protected]

If you don’t feel like cooking this weekend and want to support some local restaurants, Visit Alexandria has compiled a list of restaurants offering social distancing-safe take-out and delivery options.

Alexandria’s farmers markets are still operating, but only for take-out orders placed online.

ALXnow compiled a rundown of many online church services last week. This week, the Fairlington United Methodist Church is also hosting an all-ages Trivia Night at 5 p.m. on Sunday, April 4.

Photo via Kyo Gallery/Facebook. James Cullum contributed to this story.

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Despite the coronavirus pandemic and economic woes afflicting Alexandrians, there’s a rare bright spot today: the art project at Waterfront Park in Old Town is nearly complete and on-course to be finished next week.

The designs for the new art project from Olalekan Jeyifous at the park were first unveiled last year. They depict silhouetted figures representing the city’s history of slavery and its role in building the industries Alexandria was later known for.

Many of the silhouettes are currently in place at the park, with the images on the ground evocative of African-American quilting.

The project is still on track to be completed by Friday, March 27, according to city spokesperson Craig Fifer.

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Annual art exhibition March150 is coming back to the Torpedo Factory Art Center (105 N. Union Street) this Saturday with a celebration of the show’s 10 year anniversary.

The multimedia exhibit in the Target Gallery of the building will feature over 200 works from artists in Alexandria and throughout the D.C. area. An opening reception is scheduled for this coming Saturday, March 14.

“Emerging and established artists are shown together displayed a wide variety of styles and media,” the Torpedo Factory said in a Facebook post. “The only requirement to be on view in the exhibition is that artists use the gallery-supplied 10″ x 10″ panel. All work in the show is priced at $150.”

General admission tickets are $30, or $50 for VIP access.

VIP attendees will get early access, starting at 6 p.m., with the gallery opening for all guests at 7 p.m. Hors d’oeuvres, beer and wine are planned to be served at the party. Activities include an art-themed photobooth, interactive art-making, and a raffle. A “glow in the dark themed” dance party following the gallery is scheduled for 9-10 p.m.

Photo via Torpedo Factory Art Center/Facebook

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You don’t have to go across the Potomac to enjoy cherry blossom season.

Alexandria’s pink and white blossoms are not as famous and centrally-located as those in D.C., but local tourism group Visit Alexandria put together a list of several cherry blossoms themed events around town.

One is a Cherry Blossom Pop-Up History Tour with Discover Alexandria. Two pop-up tours are planned during peak bloom week, with specifics set to be announced one week in advance. Admission to the tour is $15 per adult, or $8 for children and $12 for military, veterans and students.

“Discover Alexandria’s Cherry Blossom Pop-Up History Tour will occur twice during the week of peak bloom,” Visit Alexandria said in a press release. “The 75-minute tour offers the best of both worlds, combining local history with great cherry blossom sightseeing.”

The National Park Service announced earlier this week that peak bloom for the Tidal Basin’s Yoshino cherry trees was projected as March 27-30.

The tours are scheduled to depart from the Alexandria Visitor Center at 221 King Street.

Other local events include:

  • Cherry Blossom Jubilee at the Torpedo Factory Art Center (March 28): The annual festival is a celebration of cherry blossoms through art, with hands-on activities, performances, and art available on all three levels of the Torpedo Factory Art Center.
  • Alexandria Tastes of Spring Cherry Blossom Food Crawl (April 5): A self-guided food tour of Old Town. Tasting tickets can be bought online with $65 for four tastings, $80 for six tastings, and $96 for eight tastings. Each ticket is valid for a sampling at several locations throughout Old Town.
  • Blossom Ball at Gadsby’s Tavern Museum (May 2): A Regency-era ball with live music, English country dancing, a cash bar and seasonal desserts. Tickets are $45 and Regency or cocktail attire is encouraged. Visit Alexandria suggested in a press release that those not familiar with the style of dancing should complete at least one full lesson before attending.

If you do want to leave Alexandria, there are a few options for cherry blossom related choices. Starting March 1, the water taxi from the Alexandria Marina (1 Cameron Street) to The Wharf will start running at 6:40 a.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. on weekends, with $13 one-way tickets and $21 round-trip tickets.

There is also an electric bike tour that runs from Old Town to the cherry blossoms along East Potomac Park. The trips depart at 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. with $69 admission per bike.

Image via Visit Alexandria

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Eric Crenshaw believes in fate and that he was destined to create paintings depicting the emotion involved in the story of the Enterprise slave ship.

The ship left the port of Alexandria on Feb. 11, 1835, and was blown off course by a hurricane and landed in Hamilton, Bermuda, where a British Court freed 72 of the 78 slaves, who were held in appalling conditions on the Enterprise.

The 64-year-old Crenshaw is currently working to depict the emotion involved in the unbelievable story with an art installation. “Building Bridges, Not Walls” will be showcased next year in Alexandria and at the Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art in Hamilton. Crenshaw is currently finalizing a location for the exhibit in Alexandria.

“This is a story about freedom, and I’m working to find descendants of the Enterprise as we speak,” Crenshaw told ALXnow. “It’s the story of turning tragedy into triumph, and I’m a Christian. I believe that God had a hand in making this happen.”

Two years ago, Crenshaw and his wife, Rhonda, were visiting friends in Hamilton when they came upon a historical marker recognizing the Enterprise.

Many of the slaves on board the ship were kidnapped freed blacks and were not listed on the ship’s manifest. The previous year, Britain abolished slavery in each of its territories, and upon arrival the Enterprise’s captain, Elliot Smith, was presented with a writ of habeas corpus by former slave Richard Tucker, commanding him to deliver the 78 men, women and children to a Bermuda court. Thomas Butterfield, the chief justice of the court, then interviewed each slave and freed them all.

It was only 25-year-old Matilda Ridgely who decided against freedom and returned to the United States with her five young daughters, Ann, Betsey, Helen, Mahaley and Martha.

“Matilda’s story is what captivated me. She had to choose between freedom and returning home to her other children in the U.S.,” said Crenshaw, who lives in National Harbor. “One of the paintings I’m working on is called ‘Matilda’s Dilemma,’ which will show the pain of the decision that she had to make. She’s going to have five tears streaming down her face and in the tears you will be able to see the reflection of her children.”

As part of the installation’s creation, Crenshaw met Tom Butterfield, founder and creative director of the Masterworks Museum and direct descendant of the former Bermudan chief justice. He is also now working with a genealogist to locate descendants of the freed slaves to invite them to the exhibit, and plans to include pieces by Bermudan high school students.

“The fact that we were just walking down the street and saw this plaque, that the gentleman I met at the museum just so happened to be the great-great-great grandson of the chief justice of the Bermuda court who freed them, and so many other things that have lined up to make this happen seems to me to be more than coincidence,” Crenshaw said. “I was meant to do this.”

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