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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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Music, local food and beer is on tap this weekend for the Portside in Old Town Summer Festival at Waterfront Park.

This year, the event is merging with the 44th Annual Alexandria Jazz Fest, and the free events will be held on Friday (June 17) from 6 to 9 p.m. and Saturday from 1 to 9 p.m.

The Portside Festival is organized by Visit Alexandria and the City’s Office of the Arts.

“New this year, the event merges with the  on Friday evening to showcase jazz performances and readings by Alexandria poets,” Visit Alexandria said on its website. “Saturday the festival continues with an eclectic musical lineup, local food, hands-on art and history activities and more.”

Food will be provided by Borinquen Lunch Box, Chalkboard Wings & BBQ, Dolci Gelati and The Italian Place.

Additionally, Port City Brewing Company will provide these beers:

  • Optimal Wit (Belgian-style white ale, 4.9%)
  • Beach Drive (Golden ale, 4%)
  • Downright Pilsner (Bohemian style pilsner)
  • 4.8%; Monumental (IPA, India pale ale, 6.7%)

Friday schedule

  • 6 to 6:15 p.m. — Opening remarks
  • 6:15 to 7 p.m. — Cubano Groove
  • 7:15 to 8 p.m. — VERONNEAU
  • 8:15 to 9 p.m. — Eric Byrd Trio

There will be poetry read between sets by:

  • Zeina Azzam, Alexandria’s Poet Laureate
  • KaNikki Jakarta, Alexandria’s former Poet Laureate
  • An up-and-coming Alexandria youth poet

Saturday Schedule

  • 1 to 1:15 p.m. — Opening remarks
  • 1:15 to 2 p.m. — Eli Lev (folk rock)
  • 2:30 to 3:15 p.m. — La Unica (Irish Latin rock)
  • 3:45 to 4:30 p.m. — ilyAIMY (folk rock)
  • 5 to 5:45 p.m. — Rob Curto’s Forró for All (Brazilian forró)
  • 6:15 to 7:15 p.m. — Ras Band (Ethiopian reggae, jazz and funk)
  • 7:45 to 9:00 p.m. — Pablo Antonio y La Firma (salsa, merengue and bachata)

Via Facebook

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Morning Notes

A view from Shipyard Park along South Union Street (staff photo by Brandi Bottalico)

Mayor Asks Metro for Support During Closure — “Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson urged Metro in a Thursday letter to commit to city rail and bus service amid an announcement of extended closures, particularly on the transit agency’s Yellow Line.” [WTOP]

West Glebe Road Bridge Lane Closed — “Engineers have identified a structural issue with a bridge connecting Arlington County and Alexandria, prompting a lane closure.” [Patch]

Art Installation Opens at Waterfront Park — “The ‘I Love You’ art installation opened Friday morning at Waterfront Park, 1A Prince Street.” [Patch]

It’s Monday — Mostly cloudy throughout the day. High of 36 and low of 28. Sunrise at 7:00 am and sunset at 7:29 pm. [Weather.gov]

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I Love You park design, via City of Alexandria

A new art project coming to Waterfront Park later this month is bringing a splash of pink to Old Town.

The project by Miami artists Roberto Behar and Rosario Marquardt was proposed last year and the city announced it will be officially unveiled on Friday, March 25.

The design is a bold choice for the more aesthetically conservative Old Town known more for red brick than kitsch. A painted pink and white carpet will take up much of the park space while “I Love You” shines from a sign in neon pink letters.

The new display is the fourth public art feature in Waterfront Park since the Mirror Mirror exhibit opened in 2019. The “I Love You” display is scheduled to remain in the park until Nov. 6.

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After sailing through perilous economic waters, the Tall Ship Providence just shored up weekly tours until next spring.

The nonprofit is still tabulating the numbers, but expects that since launching in June 2020, thousands of visitors have been welcomed aboard the Tall Ship for tours and cruises. The Providence is a replica of the first naval warship commissioned by the Continental Congress in 1775, and visitors are welcomed aboard by an actor portraying Captain John Paul Jones.

“We were delighted to be able to have as many guests and customers aboard the ship as possible this summer and fall,” Claire Sassin, president and CEO of the Tall Ship Providence Foundation, told ALXnow. “It was a great joy, but there was also sadness because we just want to keep sailing.”

In August, the ship passed inspection with the U.S. Coast Guard and can now coast without a motor along the Potomac River with its sails unfurled. While still open for weekend and private cruises through next spring, the ship recently closed during the week.

“Being able to put the sails up is a completely different experience, and you do get to see what sailing was like back during the American Revolution,” Sassin said.

The pandemic forced the Foundation to alter its business plan to focus on small events, like private tours, wine tastings and beer cruises.

“We had not thought really about doing private tours until the pandemic came about,” Sassin said. “We’ve also added a whole layer of sanitizing in between every single tour, both at our Visitor Center and on the ship.”

In the days ahead, Sassin hopes to see the Tall Ship move to Waterfront Park by 2023, as massive plans are in the works to construct a barge, a new pier and cottages to house the ship and the Senator John Warner Maritime Heritage Center.

Future travelers in the cold months ahead can rest assured, as the ship has heating in the lower deck. In the short term, on December 11, 12, 18 and 19, Captain Jones will tell visitors the Christmas tale of the Schooner Rouse Simmons, which made perilous runs to deliver late-season Christmas trees, until it sank in a storm.

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I Love You park design, via City of Alexandria

The city has unveiled plans for the next art installation in Waterfront Park, which will be in place at the park for most of next year.

At a meeting of the Park & Recreation Commission Meeting, Diane Ruggiero, deputy director of recreation, parks and cultural activities and two-time ALXnow quotee this week, outlined the initial plans to work with R&R Studio in Miami on a new display meant to evoke joy and happiness after a dour couple of years.

The studio is run by husband-wife artist team Roberto Behar and Rosario Marquardt, who Rosario said have done previous installation art displays including a couple of pieces at Coachella.

The proposal for Waterfront Park is a 15-foot sign with metal letters, outlined in neon, that says “I Love You”. The park will also feature an open area of asphalt painted to look like a room’s carpet.

“There’s a sense of joy,” Ruggiero said. “It’s fun, it’s colorful. There’s an element of kitsch to it.”

Ruggiero said the color of the neon is still being decided as the artists work through figuring out what color shows up best. The current designs show the letters illuminated with what Ruggiero called “Pepto-Bismol pink.”

The idea, according to Ruggiero, is to have another photo-spot that draws people to the waterfront, like the Mirror Mirror exhibit in 2019.

The new park exhibit will run from March 19 — to correspond with the opening of the Cherry Blossom festival — until November 6.

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Morning Notes

Local school systems face bus driver shortages, but say they’re ready to roll — “ACPS recognizes there is a national shortage of school bus drivers, making it challenging to recruit and fill bus driver positions. ACPS has about 90% of our drivers available and 100% of bus monitor positions filled…” [Alexandria Living]

Alexandria recommends cooling centers during heatwave — “The next few days are going to be hot and humid. The City offers several locations as options to those without cooling in their homes, including rec centers and libraries, as well as assistance for adults 60+ and some low-income households. Learn more at alexandriava.gov/122602.” [Twitter]

Mayor conducting town hall meeting on the run — “This Thursday night I am bringing back my ‘Running Town Hall!’ Lace up your running shoes and meet us at Pacers Running at 1301 King Street at 7 PM. We’ll run and discuss the issues facing our City. See you there!” [Facebook]

Virginia liquor store sales hit record — “The Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority reported revenue of $1.4 billion during the 2021 fiscal year that ended June 30, an increase of $163 million from the previous year, the Virginia ABC announced Tuesday.” [Patch]

Anticipating fall, Visit Alexandria releases deets for events thru November — “Visit Alexandria, the city’s tourism bureau, has released details for local events into November. Take a look. There are plenty of things to do.” [Zebra]

Today’s weather — “Sunny, along with a few afternoon clouds. Hot and humid. High around 95F. Winds SE at 5 to 10 mph… Partly cloudy. Low 74F. Winds S at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]

New job: Server at Chadwicks — “Chadwicks Restaurant is currently looking to fill FULL- and PART-TIME server positions. Must be honest, hardworking, and capable of working well with others. Experience not a priority. We currently have more business than we can handle! Following a brief training regimen, you may pick up as many hours as you can handle. Start making very competitive server pay ASAP!” [Indeed]

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After two years in development, Misha’s Coffee opened its second location in Old Town over the weekend.

The new shop is located in a prime spot next to Waterfront Park at 6 Prince Street, and around the corner to Big Wheel Bikes and Chadwicks. The two-level coffee shop will also feature beer from the Port City Brewing Co. and cider from Lost Dog Cidery — as the final license hurdles are cleared.

Misha’s was founded in 1991, and operated out of its iconic first location at 102 S. Patrick Street until owners Misha Von Elmendorf and Andrea Seward decided to move to 917 King Street in 2019. That was about the same time that work started on the Prince Street location, which took two years to get off the ground.

The new Prince Street location has the vibe of the original. Large, brightly colored paintings by artist Kirsten Avne decorate the walls, and the carefully crafted jazz playlist is reassuringly stellar. It’s also got more electrical outlets, and soon outdoor seating will extend to the end of the block.

“This location feels more like 102 South Patrick,” Misha’s manager Stu Robinson told ALXnow. “It’s just the energy. Coming in here now is like sunshine after the storm. People are happy to be in this new space, and even our employees are happy to be here.”

For now, the new coffee shop’s hours are 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday and Tuesday and 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. the rest of the week.

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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

Beyer Rails Against Congressional Republicans — “I’m really sick of whining about ‘canceling’ from rich and powerful Republicans who tried to cancel our democracy.” [Twitter]

Deadline Extended for Landlords to Apply for Relief Program — The deadline for landlords to apply for the Rent and Mortgage Relief Program, to cover overdue rent or mortgage payments due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has been extended to March 1. Applications that have not yet been submitted can now include requests to cover rent payments through February 2021. Previously submitted applications are also eligible to include rent due in February through a contract amendment process.” [City of Alexandria]

City Council Affirms Commitment to Racial and Social Equity — “On Jan. 23, the Alexandria City Council unanimously adopted a resolution to acknowledge racial inequity in the past and present, and commit to adopting practices and policies that promote racial and social equity.” [Zebra]

City Councilwoman Amy Jackson Announces Run for Reelection — “I AM running for Re-election! With your support, I look forward to serving my hometown in this capacity for another term. Any contribution at any level helps! Thank you! #AlexandriaVA” [Twitter]

Alexandria Police Are Hiring — “Interested in becoming an Alexandria Police Officer? The first step is to take a written test. We have a few spots open for the next test on January 30th. Click the link below to start the process to become one of Alexandria’s finest.” [Twitter]

Power Outage Affects Some ACPS Teachers Tuesday — “Alert 1/26/2021 12:56 p.m.: There is currently an internet outage on the east coast that is impacting some of our staff. Please be aware as some teachers may not be able to connect to classes this afternoon.” [Twitter]

‘Groundswell’ Art Installation Coming to Waterfront Park — “A new art installation called Groundswell, featuring about 130 wood pilings in various heights, will adorn Waterfront Park in Old Town this spring.” [Alexandria Living]

Today’s Weather — “Except for a few afternoon clouds, mainly sunny. High 43F. Winds NNW at 10 to 15 mph. Overcast (in the evening). Low near 30F. Winds N at 10 to 20 mph.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Teacher – Head Start — “The Teacher creates, maintains, and manages an attractive, warm, and challenging learning environment for young children, incorporating developmentally appropriate learning activities that meet the needs of the group as well as those of individual children. The Teacher collaborates with all staff to facilitate the utilization of needed services to the children and their families. The Teacher is responsible for keeping accurate reports and records for each child and ensuring that all of the necessary forms are completed and properly maintained.” [Indeed]

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