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Alexandria’s knitters and crocheters can celebrate their finished work at a new interactive mural at yarn shop fibre space (1319 Prince Street) in Old Town.

The mural allows for customers to take photos with their finished objects (known as FO’s), and pretend to be holding an umbrella under a shower of knitting notions and tools.

“It’s raining all things knitting,” said fibre space owner Danielle Romanetti. ” I wanted something interactive that our customers could take pictures with so they can stand under the umbrella and hold or wear their finished piece.”

Alexandria muralist Matthew McMullen painted the piece, and it was designed by graphic artist Shelli Martinez.

McMullen also painted the fibre girl mural on the other side of the building.

Romanetti moved to the 1319 Prince Street location five years ago, and says that there is still plenty of available space on her building for more murals.

“This building was historically a very colorful place,” Romanetti said. “Before it was fibre space it was a paint store. There’s plenty of real estate on the building for more, so Matt will probably be doing another mural.”

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Fall is art season in Alexandria.

Two popular art festivals are on the horizon — the 20th Annual Alexandria Old Town Art Festival on September 17 and 18, followed by Art On The Avenue on October 1 in Del Ray.

Both festivals draw tens of thousands of visitors to Alexandria, with hundreds of artists selling their paintings, sculptures, jewelry and photos.

20th Annual Alexandria Old Town Art Festival

For the second straight year, the Alexandria Old Town Art Festival will be held at John Carlyle Square (300 John Carlyle Street) in the city’s Carlyle neighborhood.

More than 150 juried artists will be set up along John Carlyle Square — near the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The event lasts from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“Alexandria is recognized as one of the country’s premier artistic hubs,” the event organizer said on the festival’s website. “All artwork is juried, which provides a higher level of quality, diversity and creativity of art on display, exemplifying the gifted artists in regions from all over the country.”

Art On The Avenue

Art On The Avenue is widely regarded as the best day of the year in Del Ray, drawing tens of thousands of art lovers to Mount Vernon Avenue.

The festival, which is always held the first Saturday in October, will be held Saturday, October 1, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Celebrating in its 27th year, the festival now features live music on three stages, a kids art corner at Mount Vernon Recreation Center and a virtual charity pie auction.

While deemed a success for artists and visitors, last year’s Art On The Avenue event was marked by a day-long power outage that shuttered businesses along the main stretch of Mount Vernon Avenue.

Dozens of vendors participate, although they have not yet been publicly listed.

The music schedule is below.

City Stage (Mount Vernon and Oxford Avenues)

  • 10 – 10:45 a.m. — Marian Hunter Band
  • 11 – 11:45 a.m. — Janna Audey Band
  • 12 – 12:45 p.m. — Irish Breakfast Band
  • 1 – 1:45 p.m. — The Rob Hornfeck Enterprise
  • 2 – 2:45 p.m. — Cast Iron Skillet
  • 3 – 3:45 p.m. — The Rand Band
  • 4 – 4:45 p.m. — The Rockits Band
  • 5 – 6 p.m. — Rogue Johnsen Project

Americana Stage (1900 Mount Vernon Avenue)

  • 10 – 10:50 a.m. — Justin Shaffer Duo
  • 11 a.m. – 11:50 a.m. — Craig and Rick Duo
  • 12 – 12:50 p.m.  — Esther Haynes Duo
  • 1 – 1:50 p.m. — Mike Elosh Duo
  • 2 – 2:50 p.m. — Julia Kazdorf Duo
  • 3 – 3:50 p.m. — Elizabeth Lane Duo
  • 4 – 5 p.m. — Dire Wolves Duo

Colonel Arnald D. Gabriel Concert Band Stage (Mt. Vernon Community School basketball court)

  • 10 – 10:45 a.m. — Whiskey Before Breakfast Band
  • 11 – 11:45 a.m. — Alexandria Singers
  • 12 – 12:45 p.m. — NOVA Concert Band
  • 1 – 1:45 p.m. — NOVA Nighthawks Jazz Band
  • 2 – 2:45 p.m. — Alexandria Choral Society
  • 3 – 3:45 p.m. — The Alexandria Citizens Band
  • 4 – 4:45 p.m. — The Alexandria Citizens SWING Band
  • 5 – 6:00 p.m. — The Academy at Metropolitan School of the Arts (Vocal Performance Ensemble)
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Whink’s Coffee (photo via Whink’s Coffee Roasters/Instagram)

Port City Brewing Company is collaborating with Made in ALX for a pop-up market next weekend featuring around two-dozen local artists and businesses.

The market is scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 18, from noon-5 p.m. at Port City Brewing Company (3950 Wheeler Avenue). Admission is free and the market is pet-friendly.

“The pop-up market is a collaboration between Port City and Made in ALX,” Made in ALX said in a release. “The event will be a fun way to welcome fall, and several makers will debut fall lineups of candles and cozy items.”

Parkin gis available on the street and at a lot across the street.

According to the release, participating makers include:

Image via Whink’s Coffee Roasters/Instagram

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Alexandria’s Office of the Arts has announced new funding aimed at helping to revitalize community programs in the West End, Arlandria and Old Town.

The Creative Neighborhood Grant Program (CNGP), funded by the City of Alexandria and a grant from the National Endowment of the Arts, launched in April with $60,000 to distribute.

Ultimately, the release said the program is granting $61,143 to 13 organizations, which in turn will hire and engage over 200 artists with 38 different programs.

“The Office of the Arts is truly pleased that the Creative Neighborhood Grant Program awardees will be able to help energize three neighborhoods in Alexandria including the West End, Arlandria, and Old Town by hosting unique and engaging community programs,” the city said in a release.”All Alexandria city residents are cordially invited to participate in the upcoming Creative Neighborhood programs and to take part in this historic initiative which will help create vibrant creative communities in our city.”

In Arlandria, two of the programs receiving funding are a “MakersFEST” — a free art-making day with local artists in October — and a concert/”instrument petting zoo” hosted by the Alexandria Citizens Band.

In the West End, the grant funding will go to benefit an Ethiopian Film and Art Festival later this month, a Tango Concert series in September, and more.

Another Ethiopian arts event is planned for Old Town at the Durant Art Center (1605 Cameron Street) in October. The “Made in Ethiopia DMV Trade Fair” event spotlights traditional music and dance.

The link to the press release was broken at time of writing, so the full release is posted below the jump: Read More

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Washington D.C. depicted on an Oreo (photo via Hasan Kale/Instagram)

Old Town coffee shop Turkish Coffee Lady (1001 King Street) is marking its anniversary with a new art exhibition of painted tiny objects.

The current exhibition focuses on U.S. cities represented on miniature food art, like a coffee bean or popcorn.

“A Virginia born woman-owned small business, Turkish Coffee Lady will celebrate its anniversary in the DMV area with a breathtaking miniature art exhibition by artist Hasan Kale known as Microangelo,” the release said. “Kale; a world-renowned micro art master who can turn tiny objects into minuscule paintings, will exhibit his masterpieces in the heart of Old Town Alexandria.”

The exhibit started on Aug. 1 and will continue through Thursday, Sept. 1.

Turkish Coffee Lady opened in Tysons Corner Center in 2017 and the Old Town location opened in January this year, so it isn’t quite aligned with the store’s anniversary.

Founder Gizem Salcigil White said in the release:

“I am incredibly grateful for having the chance to celebrate this important milestone with our community members. After traveling the world with a non-profit award-winning Turkish Coffee Truck for eight years, we introduced our unique coffee and culture house to DMV’s culture adventurers five years ago through our first brick and mortar store. After two years into the pandemic, we survived the storm as a woman-owned business and opened our flagship store in Old Town, Alexandria. To express our gratitude and appreciation to all of our supporters over the past five years, we will proudly mark our anniversary with our new arts director Mr. Kale’s special art exhibition and continue our mission of building friendships one cup at a time”.

The release said a portion of the art exhibit sales will be donated to Children’s Emergency Fund to provide aid to children and families at risk in Ukraine.

In addition to the art exhibit, the coffee shop will also host traditional handcrafts like ceramic tile painting and Turkish coffee brewing on sand.

Photo via Hasan Kale/Instagram

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Jeni’s Ice Cream by Alanna Rivera (image courtesy Principle Gallery)

A new exhibit launching this Friday, Aug. 5, highlights some of the newest faces at the Torpedo Factory Art Center.

The exhibition is opening at the Principle Gallery (208 King Street) with an opening reception on Friday from 6-8:30 p.m.

“Artists are the most important part of the Art Center, and we are excited to share their work in one exciting exhibition,” said Brett John Johnson, Director of Torpedo Factory Art Center, in a press release. “Partnering with Principle Gallery gives artists an opportunity to exhibit in a professional gallery while creating a more outward-looking Art Center connecting directly to the community.”

The artists were selected as part of a new jury process, one piece of a controversial new vibrancy plan that advocates say will revitalize the Torpedo Factory. Critics of the plan, however, have expressed concern that the planned changes will slowly push out artists and erode what makes the location special.

There will be work from 38 different Torpedo Factory artists on display in the gallery.

“Now more than ever, it’s important for arts organizations to collaborate in support of the arts, artists, and disseminating culture,” said Clint Mansell, director of the Principle Gallery. “The Torpedo Factory Art Center has been an institution in Old Town for almost 50 years and we are excited to team up for the first time to usher in the new class of artists and a new day
for the institution.”

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When Diana Gamerman was little, she wanted to do exactly what her older sister did.

The Arlington resident has a studio in Alexandria called DianaArt, where she sells her work, but it’s on Nextdoor where she have been gaining a degree of local fame.

Gamerman has been painting professionally since she was 22 years old, she told ARLnow. While she owes her initial interest in art to her sister, the now 80-year-old has continued her passion, specializing in watercolor, oil painting and sculpture work. Her work has even been featured in the Museum of Arts and Design in New York.

“[I’ve] done it all,” Gamerman joyfully said.

Gamerman’s inspiration comes from everyday life experiences. What she chooses to paint is influenced by things she likes — if she sees a beautiful landscape, she’ll create art from it. She also takes her inspiration from Wayne Thiebaud, a California artist who specialized in landscapes and cars.

She said watercolor is more convenient to use but she opts for oil pastel when the weather is good — “don’t have to worry about things flying away.”

One painting, of her music teacher, took three years to complete, she said.

Gamerman posts to Nextdoor, the social media website for neighbors, photos of her paintings, which are most often pictures of homes in the neighborhood. From time to time, she posts sketches of people sitting at Compass Coffee or pictures of her sculptures.

The posts have become something of a fixture of the local social network.

One post she made on Nextdoor, of a home in her neighborhood, garnered hundreds of likes and dozens of comments on her talent. Her feed shows dozens of paintings of “what is happening” in her neighborhood, at a development project, at her studio, at a coffee shop.

In another painting, vivid yellows and oranges mesh together to show scenes of workers at a construction site and another with workers doing road work.

“I can show you what is happening in my neighborhood because I love [to] paint the work men because they wear such bright colors,” she wrote with the post.

She called Nextdoor a “wonderful” platform where she can share her work and people reach out to her to commission paintings. Her posts are a way to make extra money and enjoy her time — another hobby of sorts, in addition to playing the banjo and mandolin, she said.

The site is also a place to find a sense of community that transcends the local and national controversies that prompt less neighborly discussions.

“Everybody makes nice comments on Nextdoor,” Gamerman said.

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Art On The Avenue on Saturday, October 2, 2021, was a hit, but local businesses suffered due to a power outage that lasted all day (staff photo by James Cullum)

In the run up to this fall’s 27th annual Art On The Avenue festival in Del Ray, Dominion Energy is starting off with better footing than last year.

The power company just approved a $20,000 sponsorship to embellish the festival’s Kids Art Corner, a popular activity at the festival where more than a dozen nonprofits provide art activities for kids and families.

“It’s a big deal for us,” festival founder Pat Miller told ALXnow. “Ten-to-14-year-olds wander around Art On The Avenue, but there isn’t really anything for them to do.”

Last year’s festival was disrupted by a 16-hour power outage, which ended up shuttering many businesses on Del Ray’s busiest day of the year.

“I don’t want to think about that (the outage),” Miller said. “This is about the kids.”

Subsequently, Dominion committed to millions in infrastructure upgrades in Alexandria to prevent future outages. The energy giant also gave grants this year to Runningbrooke, Rebuilding Together, the Four Mile Run Conservancy Foundation and the Alexandria Tutoring Consortium.

Dominion spokesperson Peggy Fox said the company is excited to participate as an exclusive sponsor.

“In addition to family favorites, such as pumpkin painting and scarecrow making, Dominion Energy’s sponsorship will bring brand new art styles and activities such as robotic art for kids 10-13 years old,” Fox said. “We’re also hoping to see a kinetic art activity at Kids Art Corner, which is held at the Mt. Vernon Recreation Center fields.”

Art On The Avenue is from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, October 1.

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The ‘I Love You’ art installation with all bulbs out, at Waterfront Park in Old Town. (staff photo by James Cullum)

The ‘I Love You’ art installation at Waterfront Park is having a rough summer. For most of June and July, the “o” in “Love” was out of commission, and all the lights were recently shut off due to flooding.

Not to worry. The opportunity to take awesome selfies with your squeeze has returned.

As of Friday (July 22), all the light bulbs were replaced and are now in working order.

The installation by Roberto Behar and Rosario Marquardt of R&R STUDIOS opened in March and will be on view until November. It’s the fourth in the Site See: New Views in Old Town annual public art series, and maintenance of the installation is the responsibility of the artists.

The neon lights are individually hand-crafted glass tubes containing neon gas, and a repair crew “added some reinforcements to the neon tube to help reduce future breakage,” said Diane Ruggiero, deputy director of the city’s Department of Arts Recreation, Parks & Cultural Activities.

The ‘I Love You’ art installation with all bulbs lit at Waterfront Park in Old Town. (staff photo by James Cullum)
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On September 11, 2020, The Little Theatre of Alexandria held its first show since the pandemic started in March, 2020. (Staff photo by James Cullum)

The Little Theatre of Alexandria is back to full strength. After two-and-a-half years of Covid restrictions, the theatre returned to full capacity on June 27.

The venue will still require proof of full Covid vaccinations for theatergoers, who must still wear masks indoors during performances.

“We will no longer be holding out every 3rd seat for social distancing,” LTA announced on its website. “However, we will still be requiring proof of full COVID vaccination AND wearing a mask indoors, including during the performance. This policy applies to all persons, regardless of age.”

The pandemic forced the theater to close for six months — from March to September of 2020, followed by nearly two years of restricted seating.

As for performances, from July 23 (next Saturday) to August 13, LTA will next present “Something Rotten,” an award-winning musical farce set in Renaissance-era England.

In the musical, brothers Nigel and Nick Bottom have to exist in the same universe as The Bard, and wear their hearts on ruffled sleeves — with a colorful cast of supporting characters.

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