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NextStop Theatre Creates Program for D.C.-Area Playwrights

NextStop Theatre Company is rolling out a new program to strengthen the network of D.C.-area playwrights.

The Herndon-based, nonprofit theatre company unveiled The Playwrights’ Initiative on Friday (Feb. 8) to help connect artists and to provide resources often needed for new theatrical works.

“I have long aspired for NextStop to get involved in developing new work,” NextStop Theatre Company’s Artistic Director Evan Hoffman said in a statement. “But I wanted to start by consulting with playwrights. I wanted to find out how we could best serve them and their creative process.”

Hoffman says that playwrights often say they face two challenges. “They lamented that the writing process can be very lonely work and that finding the people and space to gain objective feedback is daunting,” Hoffman said. “It is my hope we can help to ease both of those struggles through this program.”

The program has two components.

First, the theatre company will host an inaugural “Playwrights’ Mixer and Pitch-fest” on March 23. NextStop Theatre Company plans to invite 30 local playwrights network with each other and local directors and producers before each playwright pitches their work to the group.

After the event, playwrights in attendance will have the opportunity to complete a survey about the pitches, which will help NextStop Theatre Company select the works for a series of free staged readings. The theatre company plans to have professional actors and directors take part in the developmental readings, which are slated to take place over six months.

The Playwrights’ Initiative is partly funded by a grant from ArtsFairfax.

Photo by NextStop Theatre Company

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Nun-Themed Art Show Comes to Hunters Woods at Trails Edge

A Vienna resident’s art show titled “A Bunch of ‘Nun’sense” will bring depictions of nuns and stained glass windows to Hunters Woods at Trails Edge.

The art show “consists of mainly acrylic and ink on large stretched canvas, which includes a variety of styles,” according to information provided by Hunters Woods at Trails Edge.

Jan Dittmar, 68, started painting at the age of 50. A decade later, she earned an arts degree at Columbia College in South Car0lina at the age of 60. She is currently a member of the League of Reston Artists and the Vienna Arts Society.

Locals can view her nun-themed art while sipping sangria and enjoying sweets at the Pre-Opening Showroom (2254B Hunters Woods Village Shopping Center) from 6:30-8:30 p.m. on Friday (Feb. 8).

Photo via Jan Dittmar/Facebook

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Annual Exhibit Showcases Fine Art Photos at ArtSpace Herndon

Finalists’ photographs for a contest have their work on display at ArtSpace Herndon starting today (Feb. 5).

The 10th Annual Fine Art Photography Exhibit features nearly three dozen finalists in the Fine Art Photography Competition.

A sneak peek at the artwork on ArtSpace Herndon’s website and Facebook shows some of the vibrant, colorful and dramatic photographs in the exhibit.

“These photographers show how a group of artists with a range of themes and skills can be brought together to exhibit work ranging from whimsical digital collages to realistic black and white prints to colorful abstract images, into one spectacular exhibit,” according to ArtSpace Herndon’s description of the exhibit.

Photographer Mary Louise Ravese is the competition’s judge. She selected the 45 photographs from more than 180 submissions from 93 professional and amateur photographers in Virginia, Maryland, D.C. and Pennsylvania.

Locals who visit the exhibit will see art by some Reston-area artists. A handful of members of the League of Reston Artists have their work showcased, including Vladimir Grablev, Maureen Costantino and Sandy Gherardi.

Ravese will announce the winners during the free awards reception from 7-9 p.m. on Saturday (Feb. 9) at 750 Center Street.

The exhibit runs until March 2.

Photo via ArtSpace Herndon/Facebook 

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Quilt Show Opens Today at Jo Ann Rose Gallery

The Cotting Quilters’ second quilt show opens today (Feb. 4) in the Jo Ann Rose Gallery at Reston Community Center Lake Anne.

The group brings together Reston and Herndon quilters who focus on traditional and modern designs.

“Through The Eye of The Needle II” showcases full-sized quilts, art quilts, wall hangings, table runners and other fabric art, according to the Reston Community Center.

The exhibit features the following quilters:

  • Dora Anderson
  • Ruth Grubb
  • Hannah Hamilton
  • Barbara Happ
  • Anita Lowen
  • Nicky Moering
  • Connie Wright-Zink

The show will run until March 3.

Photo via Reston Community Center

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Artist Seeks ‘Sculpture Court’ Performers for NoVa Fine Arts Festival

Adults are needed to participate in a movement installation for the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival.

Artist Heidi Latsky plans to “celebrate the beauty of differences” with a movement installation titled “ON DISPLAY/RESTON.” The installation is a sculpture court where the performers are the sculptures, according to the Reston Community Center.

The Reston installation is a local platform for a worldwide initiative called “ON DISPLAY,” which was created by a partnership between Heidi Latsky Dance, a New York City dance company, and the United Nations to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Men and women age 18 and older are able to participate — no formal dance experience is required. “Diversity and the most inclusive range of ability are welcome. The movement installations will involve focus, stillness and structured improvisation,” according to the press release.

“ON DISPLAY/RESTON” will take place on Saturday, May 18, at 7 p.m. and Sunday, May 19, at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. People interested in participating should contact Kevin Danaher at [email protected]

The three-day festival at Reston Town Center is set to start on Friday, May 17, and last until Sunday, May 19. More than 200 artists are anticipated at the festival.

Photo by Charlotte Jones

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NoVa Maker Faire Kicks Off with Reston Event Next Week

The kickoff celebration for the 2019 NoVa Maker Faire will take place next week in Reston, even though the event itself is set to take place elsewhere.

The annual event — now in its sixth year — gathers engineers, artists, scientists, crafters and more to show off their hobbies, experiments and projects.

The kickoff event will be at the Nova Labs “makerspace” at 1916 Isaac Newton Square next Wednesday (Jan. 23) from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Participants can watch presentations, get information about the Maker Faire and eat food.

The Maker Faire, which used to be held at South Lakes High School, found its new home at George Mason University in 2017.

The main event is slated to take place on June 2.

Photo via Maker Faire NoVa/Facebook

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NPR’s Abby Wendle Reviews Greater Reston Art Center’s Art Tonight

Abby Wendle, the producer of NPR’s “Invisibilia,” will spill her thoughts on art as a part of Greater Reston Art Center’s “Creative Response” events.

One Thursday of each month, GRACE invites an expert in their field to respond to the work on view in the gallery with an open discussion. Presenters may range from poets to dancers, from writers to musicians.

Wendle was a farm reporter for Harvest Public Media in rural Illinois and helped launch This Land Radio in Tulsa, Okla. Her work has appeared on NPR News, the BBC, CBC and ABC in Australia.

In her spare time, she enjoys creating experimental sound art, according to GRACE. In fact, she has an ongoing collaborative sonic experience called “~1652Hz (the howling dome)” in which people are invited to make noises they associate with a pain or grievance in their life.

Maryam Ovissi, the chief executive officer and founder of Beloved Yoga in Reston, will provide a “sonic introduction.”

The free monthly event is sponsored by Reston Community Center. The event starts at 7 p.m. tonight (Jan. 17) at 12001 Market Street, Suite 103.

Photo via Greater Reston Arts Center

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Herndon House Concert Set to Challenge Zoning Citation Next Week

A Herndon house concert series that features independent artists is set to challenge a zoning violation at the Board of Zoning Appeals next week.

Chris Devine, the host of The Crib, received a violation notice taped to his front door from the Town of Herndon for a concert on Nov. 17 in his home, the Herndon Connection reported last week.

Dated Dec. 13, the citation says that 44 people were observed entering the home between 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. for a Gina Venier and Lexie Hayden concert.

“[This] activity constitutes an Indoor Entertainment use and is not a permitted use on the subject property pursuant to the Town of Herndon Zoning Ordination,” the citation said. It gave Devine 15 days to resolve the violation to avoid incurring fines.

Instead, Devine decided to appeal the violation.

“We firmly believe The Crib house concert does not meet that definition, and further believe the citation arose from a lack of understanding of the house concert concept,” The Crib’s blog says.

At the public comment period during the Town Council public session last night (Jan. 15), Devine said that he met with town staff after receiving the citation.

“In that meeting, I learned that the town had very little understanding of that activity, which is house concerts, and as a result were very vague on how my activity tripped the wire as a commercial use,” he said.

Devine slammed Town of Herndon’s leadership, saying that he was denied access to basic information about the situation after he tried to ask follow-up questions after the meeting.

A Herndon town attorney told Mayor Lisa Merkel that the appeal never goes to the Town Council. Instead, it goes to the Board of Zoning Appeals and then to the circuit court.

“There is a role in the Town Council in looking at our code if there were a change to be made in the future,” Merkel said.

As Devine tackles the appeals process, a GoFundMe page created on Dec. 20 is helping to cover the fines.

The campaign says the following:

It will take a while to work through the appeals process — possibly as long as three months — and we don’t know at this point what the outcome will be.

During this time we have five fantastic artists already scheduled to perform and we will incur fines for each event we choose to hold, but we want to continue with the events in order to keep our commitments to both the artists and our guests who have made advance donations.

During normal times, each house show we hold costs The Crib between $100-$200; we do this because we have a passion for connecting incredible artists with deserving and appreciative guests.

But we can’t absorb the fines on top of the costs we already incur as part of our mission to the arts and the community.

Our fundraising goal will allow us to pay the fines over the next several months ($200 for the first event and $500 per subsequent event). We are also seeking a small amount to cover any legal fees we may incur during the appeals process.

Any residual funds will be used to create an even better experience for artists and audiences and/or donated to our non-profit partner, The Warrior Music Foundation.

The campaign has already hit its fundraising goal of $3,200. In 26 days, 32 people donated $3,335.

Since launching in 2015, The Crib has hosted nearly 50 house shows with 28 different artists, according to its website.

Each show lets the artist perform two 45-minute sets of original music. Seating is on a first-come basis with a capacity of roughly 40 people. Attendees are encouraged to make a donation in advance — all of the donations go to the artist.

A public hearing notice indicates that the Board of Zoning Appeals will take up the matter next Thursday (Jan. 24) at 7:30 p.m. at 765 Lynn Street.

Photo via The Crib/Facebook

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Reston Community Players Present ‘Superior Donuts’ Next Week

The curtain rises on Reston Community Players’ production of “Superior Donuts” next week.

The comedy kicks off Reston Community Players’ first show of the year by taking audiences on a visit to a small donut shop in Chicago’s historic and diverse Uptown neighborhood.

What’s the show about? Reston Community Players gave this plot description:

Arthur Przybyszewski (Michael Kharfen), a burnt-out hippie owner of a fading Chicago donut shop, has lost interest in life because of guilt over avoiding military service and a failed marriage. When a charismatic young African-American man named Franco Wicks (Bryce Monroe) talks his way into a job, Arthur begins to recover his spark. He encourages Franco’s goal of publishing the next Great American novel. When the would-be novelist’s past catches up with him, Arthur finds more than his livelihood may be in danger. A comedy-drama from the Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Tracy Letts of “August: Osage County,” “Superior Donuts” explores the challenges of accepting the past and the redemptive power of friendship.

Director Seth Ghitelman said he wants people to come away from the show with a better understanding of what it means to be a friend and to be an American.

“On the surface, it’s a funny play about a rundown donut shop in Chicago and the characters that pass through, but on a deeper level, it speaks about the people in a community that is going through changes,” he said.

Ghitelman says the play embodies the American Dream and the American experience. “We share a common dream that success is available to everyone, and I think it is the right time to remember what we Americans share in common and embrace, not repulse, the diversity of our people,” Ghitelman said.

The full cast is the following:

  • Tel Monks as Max Tarasov
  • Mattie Cohan as Officer Randy Osteen
  • Matthew McCarthy as Officer James Bailey
  • Sally Cusenza as Lady Boyle
  • Michael Kharfen as Arthur Przybyszewski
  • Bryce Monroe as Franco Wicks
  • Ian Brown as Luther Flynn
  • Michael King as Kevin Magee
  • Tice Rust as Kiril Ivankin

Performances will be held at the Reston Community Center’s CenterStage (2310 Colts Neck Road) at 8 p.m. on Jan. 18, Jan. 19, Jan. 25, Jan, 26, Feb. 1 and Feb. 2. A matinee will be held at 2 p.m. on Jan. 27.

A champagne reception will follow the show on its opening night next Friday (Jan. 18).

Parents, be advised: the production is rated PG-13 for language and violence.

Photos via Reston Community Players 

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New Art Exhibit and More This Weekend in Reston

For those interested in arts or crafts, there’s plenty to do around Reston this weekend.

The Greater Reston Arts Center will host a grand opening tomorrow of the new exhibit STRETCH, featuring work of artists responding to the prompt “if you could do anything, what would that be?”

Five local artists were selected to display work in the new exhibit.

The opening reception from 5-7 p.m. is free and open to the public. The exhibit will run until Feb. 9.

Tomorrow (Dec. 15)

Workshop: Handmade Holiday Ornaments (9:30-11 a.m.) — The Greater Reston Arts Center (12001 Market Street) will be hosting a class on building creative holiday ornaments. Tickets are $10 for Reston residents or $20 for non-Restonians.

Reston Town Center Winterfest (10 a.m.-9 p.m.) — The all-day Winterfest celebration at the Reston Town Center will include a carousel at the ice skating rink, face painting, a gingerbread man and more.

Balloon Twister (11 a.m.-1 p.m.) — A balloon show will be held in the Reston Regional Library, open to the public and for all ages. Balloon artists will be creating hats, giant birds and other creations as part of a holiday celebration. The library will also be hosting an open house from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. the same day with light refreshments, music and entertainment.

Christmas from Ireland (2 p.m.) — The Irish musical group Lúnasa will be hosting a performance at the Reston Community Center blending spoken word, dance and traditional Irish music. The performance is sold out, but those interested in the show are encouraged to come to the box office at 1 p.m. to see check and see if extra tickets are available.

Sunday (Dec. 16)

From Here to There (7 p.m.) — The Reston Community Center will host an opera performance by mezzo-soprano and Restonian Elizabeth Bishop. Tickets are $15 for Reston residents or $20 for non-Restonians.

Photo via Greater Reston Arts Center

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Greater Reston Arts Center to Expand Classroom Art Experiences

Greater Reston Arts Center will expand its classroom arts immersion program in the coming months after receiving a grant from ARTSFAIRFAX. Fairfax County’s designated local arts agency.

Funding will help the organization boost its Emerging Visions program, which provides opportunities for K-12 students to directly engage with contemporary art in their classroom.

ARTSFAIRFAX, legally known as the Arts Council of Fairfax County, is a nonprofit organization that is funded by the county, corporations, foundations, individuals, the Virginia Commission for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. It seeks to foster a dynamic and diverse local arts community.

“Over the years GRACE has become known and loved for its GRACE Art and Emerging Visions art enrichment programs,” said GRACE Executive Director and Curator Lily Siegel. “With the generous support of ARTSFAIRFAX we are now able to take the best parts of our existing programs, expand those in close conversation with FCPS, and make a greater impact on more young artists.”

GRACE offered the following information about Emerging Visions:

Emerging Visions provides art enrichment content to educators based on a GRACE exhibition. Focusing on one exhibition a year, GRACE–working directly with Fairfax County Public School (FCPS) art educators–will develop content and supporting concepts to integrate into classroom curriculum for each stage of schooling, K-12. Previously, the program was only available at the high school level and GRACE-produced content was more limited. The selected exhibition for 2018-19 is Green Is the Secret Color To Make Gold, featuring new work by Caitlin Teal Price, currently on view.

Student artwork will be exhibited as part of the Emerging Visions exhibition at GRACE in March 2019.

Photo by Charlotte Geary

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Reston Historic Trust & Museum Seeks Funds to Reinstall Lakeside Pharmacy Icons

The Reston Historic Trust & Museum has launched an online campaign to raise money to reinstall the lakeside pharmacy icon. Designed by Chermayeff and Geismar, a New York-based graphic design firm, the icons were inspired by 1960s pop art and Reston’s founder Bob Simon’s wish for whimsical art at Lake Anne Plaza.

The icons, which served as advertisements for the Lakeside Pharmacy, were removed in July to make way for new businesses to open up in the pharmacy’s former location.

The fundraising target is $15,000 to repair, clean and reinstall icons in a new permanent exhibit in the plaza. The new exhibit will be unveiled during the organization’s annual Founder’s day event on April 6.

The museum put out the following information about the historical significance of the icons:

The New York graphic design firm of Chermayeff and Geismar (now Chermayeff, Geismar & Haviv), was hired by Whittlesey & Conklin, the architects of the plaza, and together they created the storefronts on the plaza. While the main purpose of the Lakeside Pharmacy icons was advertising, the icons are characteristic of the 1960s Pop Art aesthetic and reflected Reston’s Founder Bob Simon’s wish for whimsical artwork on the plaza.

The building was a pharmacy for 44 years, closing in 2014. Since the building will soon be occupied by new businesses, the icons were donated to the Reston Historic Trust & Museum in order to preserve them. Currently, the icons are in storage until they can be cleaned and reinstalled. The installation is being designed by Jeanne Krohn of Krohn Design.

Photos by Charlotte Geary and Krohn Design

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Washington West Film Festival Kicks Off On Thursday in Reston

The eighth annual Washington West Film Festival returns to Reston and other nearby locations this Thursday through Monday. This year’s theme is “Story Can Change the World.”

The festival showcases new films from around the world and aims to bring filmmakers and actors together for conversation in Reston. All net box office proceeds will go to Kids in the Spotlight and the Robert Duvall Children’s Fund.

Opening night on Thursday kicks off with a 7 p.m. screening of My Indiana Muse, a story about an artist who tackles a project that will take more than a decade to complete. The screening at Bow Tie Cinemas (11940 Market Street) will be followed by a reception with light appetizers and drinks.

The festival was founded in 2011 by Brad Russell, who sought to bring films to the area that focus on creating inspiring stories, not just watching them.

To view the full schedule and to purchase tickets, visit the film festival’s website. Other screenings are planned in Arlington, Sterling and Stone Ridge.

Photo via Washington West Film Festival

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Save the Date: Monster Drawing Rally Set for Dec. 1

For the second time in two years, Greater Reston Art Center‘s gallery will be transformed into a public performance space for the Monster Drawing Rally, a live drawing event, and fundraiser.

The event, set for Dec. 1 from 1-5 p.m., draws artists from the Greater Washington area and challenges them to create artwork on-site using their preferred medium. The artwork is hung on the wall and available for purchase for $75 each. If more than one person wants to purchase the artwork, a draw of cards determines the winner.

In a new addition this year, Jessica Stafford Davis, founder of The Agora Culture, a national online multicultural arts platform, and the team at STABLE, a DC-based studio complex, will help event organizers select and invite participating artists.

All proceeds benefit exhibition programming at GRACE.

Here’s more from organizers about Davis and STABLE:

Jessica Stafford Davis is the founder of The Agora Culture LLC (TAC), a national online multicultural arts platform that supports emerging artists of color and collectors at all level through educational programming, art salons, and the annual Art on the Vine exhibition in Martha’s Vineyard. Art on the Vine is one of the only contemporary African-American art fairs presenting critically-acclaimed, institutional level work in the United States, and features a four-week residency created by Ms. Stafford Davis to give young artists of the African diaspora a space to continue to explore their practice.

Ms. Stafford Davis is the 2018 and first recipient of the Arena Stage Emerging Leader Award. She currently serves on the board of The Smith Center for Healing in the Arts, is a member of the George Mason University School of Art Advisory Board and ArtTable. She previously served as a member of the board of Washington Project for the Arts. She received her Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science from George Mason University. Jessica resides in McLean, Virginia, with her two sons.

STABLE is a DC-based studio complex that provides visual artists with an active, affordable workspace to pursue their profession. STABLE’s mission is to strengthen DC’s contemporary visual arts community by providing sustainable studio space, fostering an engaged, diverse community, and extending access to local, national, and international audiences through partnerships, programming, and exhibitions. STABLE was co-founded by  Tim Doud, Linn Meyers, and Caitlin Teal Price.

Photo via GRACE

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Tuesday Morning Notes

Google eyes Reston Station — Google is considering leasing a block of office space near the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station. The Mountain View, a California-based company, is in talks to lease about 100,000 square feet from Comstock Cos. at 1900 Reston Metro Plaza, the building designed by architect Helmut Jahn. [Washington Business Journal]

If you’re coming to the football game — At South Lakes High School’s football game, don’t forget to bring a donation for the school’s food pantry. They’re looking for cereal, toothpaste, deodorant, canned veggies, applesauce, and/or beans. [SLHS Food Pantry via Twitter]

An artful run and a run in the arts — Three runners who also happen to be artists will show off their work beginning today at Reston Community Center. The exhibit ends on Nov. 5. [Reston Community Center]

Photo by Bako Glonti

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