Alexandria, VA

It’s no secret that Del Ray loves its dogs, and next month a new mural will be unveiled in their honor.

For the last month, local artist Patrick Kirwin has been working on the “Dogs Of Del Ray” mural, which is on the north side of Stomping Ground, facing the Pat Miller Neighborhood Square in the heart of Del Ray.

“It’ll last forever, or as long as the siding lasts,” Krwin said. “The trick is balancing the eyes, getting them right according to the axis on the head gives them their personality.”

Del Ray is full of personalities, like Dodger, Olive, Sadie and Aspin. Sue Kovalsky’s dog, Barley, for instance, will walk right up and lean on strangers on Mount Vernon Avenue — just to get a friendly pet.

Pat Miller came up with the idea with neighbor Karen Johnson.

“Dogs bring a lot to Del Ray,” Miller said. “When you’re out walking your dog, you always stop and talk to the next person that has a dog, so you get to know the community. And the dogs start liking each other and they start like being together.”

Miller says that the waiting list for dog portraits is completely full, and that some of the paintings are from dogs who have passed on.

“It was a tear-jerker, a way to memorialize their dog,” she said. “And that’s important because dogs are all about love and fun.”

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The deadline to vote on the 12 choicest matchbooks in Del Ray is 11:59 p.m. tonight (April 15).

Alexandria artist Laurel Prucha Moran has painted watercolor matchbook designs of more than 30 Del Ray restaurants, including Los Tios Grill, Thai Peppers, The Dairy Godmother and Spice Kraft.

The contest is sponsored by Made In ALX, an online local makers market founded last year by Lore Burek and Alexandria Living Magazine publisher Beth Lawton.

“I am donating 25% of the Del Ray print purchase price to ALIVE!” Moran said in an email. “If the print doesn’t end up with the exact matchbooks you prefer, I have a custom grouping option on my website and for each custom order, I donate the cost of a hot meal to the charity Hook Hall Helps which provides food in the DC region for restaurant industry workers during the pandemic.”

Lawton said that more than 1,300 votes have been cast so far, and the top three restaurants are:

“We thought this was a fun way to combine local art, our favorite restaurants and give back to the community at the same time,” Lawton said. “On the cusp, all around the 12th spot, are Cheesetique, Northside 10, Stomping Ground and Holy Cow. If people rally, they can really influence the turnout.”

Photo via Made In ALX

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Morning Notes

Verizon store crash suspect also suspected of crashing into D.C. apartment complex — “Following receipt of his emails, we immediately worked to increase security at the property. Unfortunately, he visited the office twice last Monday and the second visit is when he crashed his car into our lobby. After leaving The Drake, he visited a Verizon store in Virginia and crashed his car through their storefront as well.” [PoPville]

The Art League bringing back in-person classes this month — “In-person classes will start on Monday, April 5 with adherence to CDC, Alexandria Health Department and Virginia Department of Health guidelines. Over 40 classes will be offered, covering a range of art forms, including drawing, painting, ceramics, sculpture, metal jewelry design, stained glass, and steel furniture design and construction.” [Patch]

April is Sexual Assault Survivor’s Month — “In April, the City will recognize Sexual Assault Awareness Month with a series of events, activities, workshops and displays to support survivors of sexual assault and engage the community in prevention efforts.” [City of Alexandria]

Today’s weather — “Sunshine and clouds mixed. High 48F. Winds NW at 15 to 25 mph. Higher wind gusts possible… Clear skies. Widespread frost likely. Low around 30F. Winds NW at 10 to 20 mph.” [Weather.com]

New job: Child care director — “Are you a natural leader who LOVES working with children? Are you passionate about working in child care and managing and inspiring a team? Are you ready to grow personally and professionally? We are seeking an awesome assistant director to join our child care team.” [Indeed]

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Governor Ralph Northam’s guidance easing restrictions on public gatherings takes effect today, and groups in Alexandria are already planning a number of in-person events that traditionally bring in tens of thousands of people.

Northam recently announced that effective April 1, additional capacity and indoor and outdoor gathering limits will increase to 50 people for indoor settings and 100 people for outdoor settings. Additionally, entertainment venues must continue operating at 30% capacity with a maximum of 500 patrons; recreational sporting events can increase 30% capacity, or from 25 people to 100 people per field; and graduation events must have a cap of 5,000 people or 30% capacity for outdoor events.

The Alexandria Old Town Springtime Art Festival is scheduled as an in-person event on May 15 in the city’s Carlyle neighborhood.

Additionally, the Old Town Arts and Crafts Fair is being planned as an in-person event this summer, and Del Ray’s Art on the Avenue won’t be virtual like it was last year. The city calendar does not yet include any parades or celebrations.

“Our special events staff is working closely with event organizers to determine the right approach,” Mayor Justin Wilson told ALXnow. “I miss parades. I cannot wait until we can safely gather as a community.”

Art on the Avenue features hundreds of artists and routinely brings in 75,000 visitors to Mount Vernon Avenue.

“I’m beyond thrilled to get back to living life,” said Bill Blackburn of Pork Barrel BBQ. “Looking forward to Art on the Avenue — one of my favorite days in Del Ray.”

Alexandria Makers Market founder Alyssa Kovach has received applications from event organizers to participate as a vendor at Art on the Avenue and the Old Town and Arts and Crafts Fair.

“I’ve gotten the applications and we’re optimistically moving forward,” she said. “I take a lot of responsibility for people’s safety, so I want to keep our makers safe. I want to keep the public safe. I don’t want to rush into it until I know that it’s the right thing to do.”

The Del Ray Business Association organizes Art on the Avenue, and DRBA President Lauren Fisher said that such an event is part of a collective healing process for the community.

“As restrictions begin to life, the business community is excited to gradually start hosting live events,” Fisher said. “I believe that both the businesses and citizens are ready to engage in familiar community traditions, which is undoubtably, play an integral role in the collective healing process. We are especially excited about the scheduled return of one of our signature annual events, Art on the Avenue in October. Of course, we will continue to monitor the health risk to our community and will make decisions in accordance with city, state, and federal guidelines.”

Photo via Art on the Avenue/Facebook

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Morning Notes

Free Krispy Kreme doughnut offered to vaccinated people — “Anyone who has received one or two doses of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine or single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine can request one free glazed doughnut. A COVID-19 vaccination record card must be shown to receive the offer.” [Patch]

Waterfront art exhibit ‘Groundswell’ on display — “The installation features a ground mural depicting the floor of the Potomac River and more than 100 wood pilings throughout the site. They will range in heights from 12 to 42 inches, in accordance with the river floor topography or bathymetry. Each 14-inch-diameter piling is topped with a cobalt blue mirrored surface etched with growth rings that suggest the passing of time.” [Alexandria Living]

Nominations deadline March 25 for environmental award — “There’s still time to nominate a local environmental hero for the Ellen Pickering Environmental Excellence Award! Nominations are due this Thursday, March 25, and you can find the nomination form here.”  [Twitter]

Today’s weather — “Partly cloudy skies during the morning hours will become overcast in the afternoon. High 63F. Winds ENE at 5 to 10 mph… Cloudy skies early with showers later at night. Low around 50F. Winds ENE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 60%.” [Weather.com]

New job: Bartender and server — “We are a waterfront restaurant and event venue in North Old Town Alexandria seeking qualified servers/bartenders to join our professional family. You must be experienced, personable, and have a passion for hospitality!” [Indeed]

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Groundswell, a new art installation paying homage to Alexandria’s maritime history, will be installed at Waterfront Park later this month, the city recently announced.

New York-based artist Mark Reigelman was chosen for the third in the city’s Site See: New Views in Old Town public art series. Groundswell features more than 100 raw wood pilings ranging from nine to 39 inches in height and mirroring the Potomac River’s floor topography.

Reigelman incorporates the drastic measures Alexandria took to develop its shoreline.

“Starting in the 18th century, thousands of wood pilings were driven deeper into the Potomac River over time, thereby shifting the city’s waterfront over decades. This allowed Alexandria to develop and grow its sprawling dock into a major commercial port,” according to the city. “Each 14-inch diameter piling will be topped with a cobalt blue mirrored surface etched with growth rings that suggest the passing of time.

“These mirrored surfaces will shimmer in the light like water and reflect the sky and faces of passersby. Visitors to the site will be immersed in this shimmering landscape as they navigate through the pilings considering their place in the city’s history at this moment in time.”

Groundswell will be on display until November.

Riegelman, who works and lives in Brooklyn, is not ashamed of singing his own praises. He was named one of the “Coolest Dads of 2019” list by Fatherly magazine, and has been featured in the The New York Times, New York magazine and Vogue. Other installations have been featured at the Shanghai Museum of Glass, Britain Museum of American Art and Museum of Modern Art.

“Quite simply, Mark Reigelman is a genius,” the artist says on his website. “He bears his burden with the grace and sophistication not often seen in someone so young, so talented and so very handsome. His genius is exceeded only by his modesty and benevolence. Those who know Mark are blessed, and those who do not can only hope for such good fortune.”

The previous installation at Waterfront Park, Wrought, Knit, Labors, Legacies, was relocated to Old Town Pool (1609 Cameron Street).

Photos via City of Alexandria

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Morning Notes

Northam Remarks on a Year of Coronavirus — “For far too many people, life will never be the same again. It has been a hard year, but I have been encouraged by the strength of Virginians in every corner of our Commonwealth.” [Patch]

Beyer Remarks on a Year of Coronavirus — “A year ago today Virginia’s first case of coronavirus was confirmed at Ft. Belvoir in Fairfax County. I remember it like it was yesterday, a frightening time. We’ve lost so many people since then, as the country endured misery and hardship. But we are going to beat this virus.” [Twitter]

Plant-Based Cottage Bakery Coming to Del Ray — “Soon, Del Ray residents and visitors will be able to follow their noses to a new place for flaky croissants and more: Le Petit Grump. The cottage bakery is starting small – really small, in fact. Owner Mel Gumina’s 437-square-foot home in Del Ray is the place where the magic has been happening for months as Gumina perfects her pastries in anticipation of a springtime opening.” [Gazette]

Capital Bikeshare Comes to West End — “West End: Another @bikeshare station has been installed…on Taney Ave., near Howard St. More stations on the way…” [Twitter]

Art Adorns Alexandria Trails in New Public Art Initiative — “Artist Cristina Fletcher spent Thursday moving ladders and hanging colorful birds from trees along Holmes Run Trail in Alexandria’s West End. She is one of three artists installing public art exhibitions on Alexandria park trails as part of a grant program from the Alexandria Commission on the Arts.” [Alexandria Living]

Today’s Weather — “Sunny skies. High 54F. Winds NW at 5 to 10 mph… Mostly clear skies. Low 37F. Winds light and variable.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Youth Soccer Coach — “Soccer Shots blends soccer, education, and fun into high energy 30-minute sessions to kids ages 2-8 throughout the DC/MD/VA area. You’ll laugh. You’ll break a sweat. And you’ll go home at the end of the day knowing that you made a difference.” [Indeed]

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A new exhibit at the Torpedo Factory Art Center set to launch tomorrow aims to blend the virtual and in-person tourism that’s likely to be a cornerstone for local galleries as the pandemic rages on.

The series is called Movements, Moments and features six filmed movement-based performances as part of a larger gallery featuring 20 artists.

The series also incorporates elements of national dialogue over the last year, from protests over racial inequality to feelings of isolation brought about by coronavirus.

According to a press release:

LaRissa Roger’s filmed performance piece ‘We’ve Always Been Here, Like Hydrogen, Like Oxygen’ is a two-channel video depicting Roger’s rubbing her body with an orange. The fruit recalls the murder of Latasha Harlins, whose death after being wrongfully accused of stealing a bottle of orange juice inspired the 1992 LA riots. The work addresses what it is to inhabit the world in the body of a black woman. She uses the orange as symbolism of being pasteurized, commodified, and sold for consumption. This motion and action of cleansing herself is an act of self-care and resistance.

The exhibit is scheduled to launch with a virtual reception via Facebook Live tomorrow, Feb. 12 at 7 p.m. The exhibit will be open Wednesday-Sunday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. with limited visitor capacity to allow for social distancing. The gallery is on view through Sunday, March 7.

Image courtesy Torpedo Factory Art Center

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Morning Notes

Carjacking at Gunpoint Near Potomac Yard — “The Alexandria Police Dept. is investigating a carjacking in the 400 block of Calvert Ave. It happened just before 5pm. Victim’s vehicle stolen at gunpoint. No injuries were reported. Expect police activity in the area.” [Twitter]

Port City Brewing Co. Turns 10 — “We can’t celebrate 10 years of PCBC w/ a big in-person event so we’ve put together a Virtual Event to celebrate 10 years. The Anniversary video includes a message from our Founder, a Tasting Room update, 2021 beers, & a Colossal X tasting w/ a brewer!” [Twitter]

Dozens of Trees Planted at Four Mile Run Park — “55 trees were installed along the eastern edge of Four Mile Run Park. At maturity, the tree buffer will improve sightlines, expand habitat fauna, and create shady areas for park and trail users to enjoy. We look forward to seeing this project continue to grow!” [Twitter]

Snow Sculpture in Oronoco Bay Park Honors Disappeared Duck — “Thus, when the snow came down in Alexandria Monday, February 1, Robert decided to pay homage to Lex by sculpting the Snow Duck, which he named Lex Jr.” [Zebra]

Today’s Weather — “Sunshine and some clouds (during the day). High 38F. Winds SW at 5 to 10 mph… Partly cloudy skies during the evening will give way to cloudy skies overnight. Low 28F. Winds light and variable.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Tennis Instructor — ” We are looking for positive coaches with communicative, motivated, life-experienced/educated, and relevant qualifications. We value diversity. Your work here is both independent and team collaborative. You will be a key valued team member.” [Indeed]

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Del Ray might be a well known neighborhood in Alexandria for locals, but a new 15-foot-tall public art project will officially put a name to a face.

The Del Ray art marker for Pat Miller Neighborhood Square at 2311 Mount Vernon Ave. is expected to be erected this spring. The project, which was designed by Maryland artist Kirk Seese, has been in the works since 2018.

“It’s supposed to be an identifier for Del Ray,” Pat Miller told ALXnow. “There’s no place that says Del Ray in Del Ray. None. So, this is to be an identifier through an artistic piece for the community.”

The square was named after Miller, who is an Alexandria Living Legend, more than five years ago. Situated in the heart of Del Ray, it hosts weekly farmers’ markets, and is home to the Del Ray Christmas Tree and Del Ray Music Festival performers.

The project is sponsored by the Del Ray Citizens Association, the Del Ray Business Association and the Del Ray Community Partnership.

Miller said it’s important for the community to have an identifying marker.

“Public art is extremely important,” she said. “It makes you smile. And, it’s an identifier,  a place to meet. For example, if you want to meet somebody in Del Ray for dinner, but you don’t know where to eat, you can just say, ‘Meet me at the identifier.'”

Image via City of Alexandria

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