The Reston Community Players are back on the stage after a year of no on-stage performances.

Dark since March 2020, the Reston Community Players have drawn back the curtain for a virtual-only performance of the Cold War-era drama “A Walk in the Woods.”

The show was pre-recorded at CenterStage at the Reston Community Center. It was available on-demand starting last week and will be available through March 25.

The theater’s artistic director Kate Keifer said the theater has been working “tirelessly” to develop new ways of creating and delivering their art to the community.

“It’s a hard time to know when is the ‘right’ time to come back to the stage,” writes Keifer in an email to Reston Now. “We have all missed producing live theater so much during the past year. Filming this production at the CenterStage at RCC… and then streaming it online seemed to be a good compromise to the continued concerns for the health and safety of our volunteers and our patrons.”

Keifer says that while it’s been the pause “equal parts frustrating and fascinating,” it’s given the theater a chance to innovate and learn new skills.

This past summer, the theater organized a two-day virtual telethon with partnership with more than a dozen other community theaters across the region to raise money for the arts.

In the fall, they held a month-long concert series to help with their own operating costs as well make donations to other local non-profits.

This performance of A Walk in the Woods, however, is the first time that they are getting back to doing something similar as they had done in the past.

A Walk in the Woods follows two Cold War nuclear arms negotiations, one Russian and the other American, as they hold a series of informal discussions in the woods about the current state of affairs. The seasons change, as do their understanding of one another.

Keifer admits that it was a challenge for the two-person cast to perform in front of an empty theater, but gave them the opportunity to get creative.

“[It was] definitely not as much fun as performing to a theater full of appreciative patrons,” she says. “But the actors in this production are extremely talented professionals who deliver carefully crafted, emotional performances despite the lack of a live audience. We were also able to explore techniques we don’t typically get to use, such as close up camera angles.”

As for when audiences will be able to see the Reston Community Players again in person, Keifer says the hope is soon.

“We are hopeful to be able to return to the stage before the end of 2021,” she says. ” We are working feverishly on some very exciting plans to make it happen.”

The Reston Community Players is a non-profit 501c and have been performing since 1966. It has called CenterStage their home since 1979.

Photo courtesy of Reston Community Players

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As the seasons shift to spring, the start of the National Cherry Blossom Festival is fast approaching.

Among the events kicking off this year’s festival will be Art in Bloom, a community-wide public art exhibition. The exhibition includes sculptures of oversized blossoms decorated and finished by 25 area artists, including Reston resident, and painter and ceramic artist, Tracie Griffith Tso.

The 4.5-foot-tall fiberglass sculptures will be installed in all eight D.C. wards, as well as National Harbor in Maryland and the Aurora Hills and National Landing neighborhoods in northern Virginia. The 25 artists were selected from 129 local and national submissions.

Griffith Tso’s sculpture, entitled ‘Sakura+Seasons,’ will be installed today at the Southwest Waterfront at 4th Street and M. The sculptures will debut March 20, the opening day of the festival, and remain on display through May 31.

“Many small strokes of my brush created a larger-than-life grand spectacle of the cherry blossom,” Griffith Tso said in a release. “The idea of modest contributions to a greater whole is enduring in many ways today and for the future.”

According to Griffith Tso, her sculpture is a tribute to age-old Japanese sumi-e or black ink brushwork as a nod to the gift of the cherry blossom trees from Japan in 1912. The flowers on the sculpture – which is sponsored by Mars, Inc. – are interactive, doubly functioning as colorful seating.

Her design was completed in eight days and painted freehand. Bamboo rings the edges of the blossom while orchids bloom in the center and chrysanthemums make up the base. The blossoms represent winter, orchids for spring, bamboo for summer and mums for autumn, according to Griffith Tso.

Additionally, the bamboo represents longevity and resilience on the flower edges, chrysanthemum represents prosperity in the base and orchid indicates bravery as the center to form the sakura, or cherry blossom, a symbol of optimism.

Griffith Tso is the brush painting teacher at The Reston Community Center Lake Anne and also sells her pottery and prints at the Torpedo Factory Art Center’s Scope Gallery in Alexandria and on Etsy. A California native, she began working out of the Reston Community Center at Lake Anne after moving to Reston in 2007 from Kentucky with her husband.

She teaches and lectures about Chinese brush painting nationwide and specializes in spontaneous flower-bird painting. She has specialized in Chinese artwork since she began art classes as a 12-year-old.

“The Art in Bloom exhibition will radiate springtime across the District and beyond,” Diana Mayhew, president and CEO of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, said in a press release.

“We can’t wait for everyone to see the artists’ designs on these larger-than-life blossoms.”

Anyone interested in viewing the exhibition pieces can visit the Art in Bloom map online to go on a Blossom Hunt in order to find the sculptures. Visitors to the sculptures are also eligible to win festival prize packages, including a $25 Amazon gift card, by posting photos of the pieces to social media, tagging the festival (@CherryBlossFest) in posts and adding #ArtInBloom in the caption. Winners will be chosen each week during the display period.

Art in Bloom will culminate with a Blossom Auction in late spring 2021. Proceeds from the sale of the sculptures will support National Cherry Blossom Festival programs and community initiatives.

Art in Bloom is presented by Amazon and supported by Clark Construction Group. Additional supporters include Arena Social Arts Club, Chase, Clark Concrete, DowntownDC Business Improvement District, Embassy of Japan, JBG Smith, Mars, Incorporated, Miller & Long Concrete Construction, National Harbor and National Landing.

Photos courtesy Tracie Griffith Tso

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Dozens of local artists and arts-oriented organizations got welcome news last week when ArtsFairfax announced the recipients of $567,138 in emergency relief and recovery grants on Jan. 15.

A nonprofit that serves as Fairfax County’s designated local arts agency, ArtsFairfax created an Emergency Relief and Recovery Grants program in order to provide quick funding to an industry that has been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The program comes in lieu of the agency’s usual grant programs, which were suspended for fiscal year 2021.

“The impact of COVID-19 continues to have a devastating effect on the arts community, yet we have seen the arts continue to provide arts education, senior engagement, family entertainment and so much more,” ArtsFairfax president and CEO Linda S. Sullivan said.

Out of the $108,500 in funding requests that it received, ArtsFairfax has awarded $101,950 in emergency relief grants to 40 different Fairfax County arts organizations. It also raised private funds to support $28,300 in grants to 29 individual artists.

In addition, 39 arts organizations will receive operating support grants for FY 2021. These funds are awarded annually to nonprofit arts organizations in Fairfax County and the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church to support basic operations.

ArtsFairfax is awarding $436,888 in operating support grants for this fiscal year after receiving $913,933 in requests from 39 different organizations.

“The arts will be a vital part of our health and economic recovery,” Sullivan said. “We need to support the arts today, so they are here for us tomorrow.”

With in-person performances and exhibitions largely suspended for the past year, the pandemic has taken a significant toll on the American arts and culture industry.

The nonprofit Americans for the Arts estimates that, as of Jan. 11, arts and cultural organizations have lost $14.8 billion nationally as a result of COVID-19. 63% of workers in the arts sector have become unemployed, and 95% have reported a loss of income.

According to a dashboard from Americans for the Arts, nonprofit arts organizations in Fairfax County have reported a median financial loss of $30,000 for a total impact of $4.3 million, though that is based on a small sample size of 55 respondents.

Local recipients include Arts Herndon, the Reston Chorale, and Reston Community Orchestra. A full list of ArtsFairfax grant recipients can be found on the nonprofit’s website.

Photo via Reston Community Orchestra

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Artwork by students at South Lakes High School is on display at Marymount University through Jan. 3.

The exhibition, titled Visions, features the work of several students, including David Raw and Maxine Prudhomme, who won honorable mention awards for their work.

The following students’ work is featured:

  • Juana Hernandez
  • Sahitya Jammula
  • Audrey Kim
  • Brianna Le
  • Maxine Prudhomme
  • David Raw
  • Milagro Rosa Flores
  • Simone Stevens
  • Camila Ytriago
  • Mindy Zheng

“The South Lakes work is incredibly inventive, personal, and experimental in both media and concept,” said SLHS art teacher Matt Ravenstahl.

Here’s more from Erica Harrison, who curated the exhibition:

Adjudicating the visual explorations of regional emerging artists who are investigating the complexities of the human experience through varied artistic disciplines was a pleasure. When selecting the works for the exhibition I looked for a combination of form and content that was intelligent and compelling.

During this process, I asked myself several questions; was the focus of the work well composed and visually impactful? Did the artist have a clear sense of what they were communicating? Did the treatment of media show an understanding of artistic fundamentals?  The notable artists selected as awardees not only demonstrated a mastery of media but showed a passion for independent exploration and a willingness to push themselves.

I would like to acknowledge and thank the families and friends of all these young artists for encouraging their gifts, the faculty members of the art departments for their courage and commitment to their students, and Marymount for fostering this open opportunity that supports our vibrant artistic community.

The exhibit can be viewed online.

Artwork by David Raw

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Greater Reston Arts Center (GRACE) has announced the Mary B. Howard Invitational: An Excellent Thought About a Quality Idea, on view now through February 6 via the exhibition’s online viewing room. The group exhibition features new work by Rahne Alexander, Matthew Mann, Omolara Williams McCallister, Zia Palmer and Mojdeh Razaeipour. 

The artists were selected by Guest Curators Zoe Charlton and Tim Doud, the co-founders of ‘sindikit, alongside GRACE Associate Curator Erica Harrison, according to a press release from the arts center. 

Artists were invited to submit a proposal for the exhibit using its title as a prompt, in alignment with the project’s commitment to supporting studio research and experimentation emphasizing gender, sexuality and race, according to the release. Artists explored and developed concepts, receiving feedback from the curators. 

The ‘sindikit project is a self-funded endeavor that values collaborative practices as artists and educators. The platform includes artist projects and creative community conversations between cultural activators, visual artists and their co-conspirators, said the release. The project was founded on the discussion of socio-political and cultural issues affecting art and artists.

According to the arts center, the exhibit honors the memory of Mary B. Howard, an artist, long-time board member and supporter of GRACE. 

GRACE remains closed to the public. For more information, readers can visit their website

Art by Rahne Alexander/GRACE Online Viewing Room

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The Herndon Town Council is considering a move to create new incentives for art-focused redevelopment projects.

The language of the proposal applies to projects in downtown Herndon, but a town spokesperson did not indicate how the plan applies to the stalled redevelopment of downtown Herndon, which is a joint effort between the town and Reston-based company Comstock.

Economic incentives include:

  • A 50-percent reduction in fees for water, sewer and building permits in the initial establishment of the project
  • An annual rebate of up to 100 percent of real property taxes linked to the total. Redevelopment project for taxes due to the town for up to a decade.
  • Exceptions that allow a reduced number of parking spaces required for multi-family residential use
  • Deferral of developer contribution for recreational amenities

“These amendments create additional opportunities to expand the type, quantity and quality of. Art offerings to town residents and increase the town’s presence as a destination for art activities,” according to an Oct. 20 staff report.

It’s unclear how the incentives will be applied to the redevelopment project in downtown Herndon. A town spokesperson did not provide comment by the publication deadline.

The $85 million redevelopment project, which includes a new arts center, would transform nearly 4.7 acres of land in downtown Herndon into a vibrant mixed-use district.

A meeting on the matter is set to take place today (Tuesday) at 7 p.m.

 Image via handout/Comstock

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As local camps announce cancellations for the summer, the Greater Reston Arts Center is transitioning to its first digital summer art camp.

The program, which is geared toward children between the ages of 5 and 10, includes guidance on how to make art through pre-recorded, instructional videos The digital program replaces in-person camps, which were previously organized with Reston Association.

The online program mirrors what is offered at the in-person program and will run for six weeks between June 29 and August 7.

The art camp includes a weekly collection of pre-recorded video lessons with a professional arts educator.  Each activity, which will be 15 minutes or less in order to limit screen time, will also include written instructions.

The camp also includes a camp-in-a-box kit with materials required for activities. A list of materials not included in the kit like scissors or makers will be available on GRACE’s website before the camp begins.

Each kit was prepared by PPE-wearing staff members using items ordered online. Kits can be picked up every Saturday from noon to 2 p.m. at GRACE by appointment only.

Here’s more from GRACE on the different sessions offered:

My Mom Would Never Let Me Do That!

June 29-July 3 (Ages 5-7)

July 6-July 10 (Ages 8-10)

Explore the possibilities of art with our most popular camp, adapted for our new digital camp model. Using a variety of materials, this session combines scientific exploration and the creative process to create the messiest and silliest of art projects.

FUN-TASTIC Forts!

July 13-17 (Ages 6-10)

In this camp, kids investigate all things 3-D! From blankets to boxes, we cover the basics of building the best forts ever! Campers will spend their days creating new spaces to explore and will walk away with a basic understanding of engineering, and a personalized fort of their own!

Fibers & Friends!

July 20-July 24 (Ages 5-7)

July 27-July 31 (Ages 8-10)

Have you ever wondered how a spider builds its web, how a bird weaves a nest, how your friend made such an AWESOME key chain? Become a wonder-weaver as we explore all things fiber!

Art & Movement

August 3-August 7 (Ages 6-10)

Who says art-making has to be stationary? This camp session focuses on all the ways art can get you moving and features 2-D and 3-D projects, which will utilize movement and art-making in innovative ways.

Registration, which is $220, opened today (Monday). It will close one week before the start of each camp.

Photo via Mariah Hewines/Unsplash

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Monday Morning Notes

Maryland Man Arrested in Connection with Robbery — Police believe Ronald Smith, 46, assaulted a man while he was walking along Sunrise Valley Drive on May 14 at around 8:30 p.m. Smith, a Maryland resident, was charged with robbery and possession of marijuana. The victim had minor injuries. [Fairfax County Police Department]

Masks Required on Metro Starting Today“Face coverings or masks be required when traveling on Metro effective Monday, May 18. The move strengthens Metro’s position on the matter, which has ‘strongly recommended’ the use of face coverings since early April.” [WMATA]

Greater Reston Arts Center Exhibit Reviewed — “For those looking for an introduction to the book art space, The Velocity of a Page covers ample ground. Others will be compelled to search out the book-makers for more. In fact, the way to get the most out of this exhibition is to leave it. This is something the curator seems to understand, and is perhaps why The Velocity of a Page is marketed as multi-platform.” [Hyper Allergic]

Photo by vantagehill/Flickr

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Along with a myriad of other events, the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival in Reston has been rescheduled for later this year.

Event organizers made the call yesterday (March 24) to postpone the festival, which brings together a variety of handcrafted art pieces, until September due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a press release.

Now, the festival is set to take place from September 11-13, according to the Greater Reston Arts Center (GRACE).

“Our first priority is the health and well-being of our artists, volunteers, sponsors, and patrons,” GRACE’s Associate Curator and Festival Director, Erica Harrison said in the press release.

This annual event draws more than 30,000 guests from around the D.C. area, according to a press release.

As originally planned, the festival will still take place at the Reston Town Center.

Photo via Northern Virginia Arts Festival/Facebook

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Greater Reston Arts Center has selected a new executive director and curator after former head Lily Siegel resigned earlier this year.

Jaynelle Hazard will lead the organization as it rebrands and repositions itself in the community as a cultural force, according to a press release.

“I intend to expand GRACE’s already critically engaged practice by introducing new methods to advance scholarship; extend its reach in interdisciplinary experimentation of contemporary art and ideas; and engage audiences of all backgrounds and identities,” Hazard said.

Here’s more from the release:

Hazard received her BA in Fashion Design & Merchandising from Virginia Commonwealth University and her MA in Art Business from Sotheby’s Institute of Art in New York (she is currently DC Chapter Co-Chair for Sotheby’s Institute of Art Alumni). For the last two years she has been the Director of Exhibitions for the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton, Virginia, where she oversaw five main gallery spaces, six artist-run galleries, outdoor installations and community-related projects (including a highly regarded outdoor mural project and festival), produced 75+ exhibitions, provided opportunities for 200+ artists, bolstered a new base of over 700 visitors, and grew social media presence by more than 2,000 followers. Before that she lived in New York working as Art Collection Administrator for the important UBS art collection (supporting an inventory of 30,000 modern and contemporary art works). She also spent four years in Cape Town, South Africa, a time that included serving on the team at Blank Projects Art Gallery. She is the Chair of the Faith Flanagan Fellowship and Co-Chair of the State of Art 5/DC conference for the DC Chapter of ArtTable, Inc. (the foremost professional organization dedicated to advancing the leadership of women in the visual arts).

“Jaynelle differentiated herself from a strong list of candidates with her inspiring contemporary curatorial vision and aesthetic since, first and foremost, we are a content organization dedicated to delivering the very best contemporary cultural experience,” said Robert Goudie, GRACE Board Chair. “And at a time when we are growing the strength of our voice in the regional and national cultural conversation, Jaynelle also brings strong connections to art networks in the DC region and New York. There are a lot of very talented people in our region, but Jaynelle, I think, is someone who can really establish for herself and GRACE pretty special and distinguished territory.”

Siegel left GRACE to become the new executive director of Hamiltonian Artists in the District as its fellowship program and exhibit transitions into a nonprofit organization.

Photo by Prathibha Polapragada

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Crafters can now enjoy AR Workshop, a new do-it-yourself studio that opened in Herndon today (Thursday).

A grand opening party is set for 6-9 p.m. at the new location, which is located at 315 Spring Street. Attendees can take part in a free mini project and enjoy drinks, sweets, giveaways, and raffles. Guests must register online and like the Facebook page of the business.

Here’s more about the studio from co-owners Jacqueline Maglione and Michelle Shepard:

Workshop participants can construct custom wood plank signs, framed signs, canvas pillows, round signs, trays, Lazy Susans, centerpiece boxes, cake stands, canvas items, specialty projects and more utilizing raw materials, a variety of non-toxic stain and paint colors, and stencils. Attendees can also create textile items such as chunky knit blankets as well as seasonal or holiday keepsakes.  

“We’re so excited to share our new do-it-yourself space with the Reston community,” Maglione said. “Everyone is always on the search for something fun to do and we have a huge variety of projects to make.”

The business has eight other locations across the country.

Photo via AR Workshop

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The Greater Reston Arts Center is welcoming a new exhibit featuring the work of artist Moira Dryer this month. 

Dryer’s work, which features large abstract paintings on wood panel, will be on display from Jan. 18 through April 18. The exhibit, which was curated by GRACE’s executive director and curator Lily Siegel is titled “Yours for the Taking.”

Here’s more from GRACE on the exhibit:

This exhibition will provide an intimate look at the artist’s practice through works given as gifts to friends and family, many never previously shown publicly. Her work has been exhibited extensively across the United States in institutions such as Boston’s Institute for Contemporary Art; Whitney Museum of Modern Art; and The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Dryer’s work is included in the permanent collections of The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; and Museum of Modern Art, New York

Dryer was educated at the School of Visual Arts. Her first solo exhibition debuted in 1986 at John Good Gallery in New York. She was born in Toronto, Ontario in 1957 and died in New York City in 1992.

The exhibit is supported by ARTFAIRFAX and Robert and Theresa Goudie, as well as the Exhibition Circle.

A curator’s talk and opening reception is set for Jan. 19 from 4-6 p.m.

Photo via Moira Dryer/GRACE

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The upcoming “Gifts from the HeART” fair in Reston will let community members shop for handmade crafts and unique items during the holiday season.

The 21st annual fair will take place at the Reston Community Center at Lake Anne (1609 N. Washington Plaza) from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Saturday (Dec. 7). It is free for all to attend.

Items vary in price, according to the event.

“Beautiful original artwork, remarkable ceramics, stunning jewelry and many other one-of-a-kind items will be sold by the artists themselves,” according to the event website.

People may email Gloria Morrow with any questions.

Photo via RCC/Facebook

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Seven art organizations across Fairfax County, including the Greater Reston Arts Center, were recently awarded part of a $105,296 grant from ARTSFAIRFAX.

The Greater Reston Arts Center plans to use the funds to display works from Moira Dryer, who currently has a larger selection of works displayed in D.C.

Dryer’s work “Yours for the Taking” is expected to be available for viewing from January to April, and the Reston Greater Arts Center is set to host a reception and curator talk on Jan. 18 from 4-7 p.m.

Each organization will receive a sum of money between $1,000 to $30,000 to assist with a specific project. ARTSFAIRFAX declined to share the specific grant amounts for recipients with Reston Now.

The seven art centers demonstrated factors including enrichment, economic growth for the area, accessibility to art and the ability to foster individual creativity, according to a press release.

“Project awardees presented innovative and creative means to engage the community and bring people together to experience arts in fresh and unusual ways,” the press release said.

Other grant recipients include the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts and the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra.

Image via Greater Reston Arts Center/Facebook

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State Gov. Ralph Northam has appointed Robert Goudie, board chair of the Greater Reston Arts Center to take part in the Virginia Commission for the Arts.

The commission is state agency tenant supports the arts by seeking funding from the Virginia General Assembly and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Goudie is also the executive director of the Reston Town Center Association, where he expanded the RTCA’s programming. He also helped found Public Art Reston and serves on its Board of Directors. He is also a member of ArtsFairfax’s advocacy committee.

GRACE wrote the following about Goudie:

In the six years that Mr. Goudie has served as GRACE Board Chair, GRACE has built out its exhibition and educational content and Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival in service of a new vision to identify GRACE as an important cultural destination along Metro’s Silver Line and grow its voice in the DC metropolitan region’s cultural conversation; added to its board depth and diversity; grown its financial capacity; forged new partnerships with prestigious downtown institutions like the National Gallery of Art and others; built a strong strategic partnership with George Mason University and added collaborations with other educational institutions; added a satellite gallery at the Signature building in Reston Town Center; and was recognized as one of only four visual arts institutions in the entire Commonwealth to receive a VCA 50th anniversary award.

In a statement, Goudie described the appointment as an “institutional honor.”

“We have a very dedicated and talented Board of Directors, a superb staff led by our Executive Director and Curator, Lily Siegel, and fantastic supporters,” he said. 

Photo via GRACE

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