A force behind more than 150 performances at South Lakes High School’s Theatre Arts program is leaving the program. Maria Harris, the program’s theatre arts director, plans to retire after 30 years of coaching students, putting on productions, and watching the program grow over the last three decades.
Harris is now turning toward what she calls her final act: her own acting career and production company, Rising Star Productions, and spending more time with her family and aging parents.
“It’s been a good career, but it’s not over yet,” Harris said. She commutes two hours daily from her home in Loudoun County to SLHS.
After teaching for a few years in Michigan — where she was born — and two other Fairfax County schools, Harris landed a full time job at SLHS. She’s worked as the performing arts chair and taught speech, english, theatre and film — watching the program grow from two shows required per year to an around-the-year program. The job has given her the opportunity to travel with her students — including the prestigious American High School Theatre Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland where the school was selected to represent Virginia. Her students have also won two state championships in the Virginia High School League’s film competition.
Over the years, she said she has most enjoyed watching her students grow. “I’ve really enjoyed my time here at SLHS. I love, love, love my kids and I’m going to miss them the most.” Before shows, she assembles her students into a big circle and leads them through breathing exercises, passing a squeeze of good wishes down the chain of linked hands until they reach her.
Ryleigh Line, one of her students, told Reston Now that Harris has helped many students realize their full potential.
“The most important thing that she does for us is support us and she pushes us to be the best we can be by having high expectations and constructive feedback for us after every assignment and production,” Line said. “The South Lakes community will miss Mrs. Harris very much and are forever thankful for her.”
For Harris, who calls herself a “Motown girl,” the arts were ingrained in her lifestyle since she was five. She received her bachelor’s degree in education from Wayne State University.
While she was working in the school’s program, she launched Rising Star Productions in Reston in order to fill the lack of “cultural theatre” in the community. For years, she worked with her team to bring African American Theatre to Reston Community Center. She has appeared in films including Broadcast News and Accidental Tourist. Her stages roles include Addapearle in The Wiz, Bloody Mary in South Pacific, Asaka in Once on This Island, and Myrna Thorn in Ruthless! The Musical.
“I wish my students the very best, whether they take their careers into theater or whatever they endeavor to do.”
Photo via Maria Harris
A solo exhibition featured the world of Maryland-based Douglas Moulden is on display at the Greater Reston Arts Center’s satellite gallery at the Signature apartments (11850 Freedom Drive) through August 29.
The exhibit, “A Purposeful Manner Towards a Vague Destination,” features a series of large-scale acrylic paintings on panels. The work is inspired by Moulden’s memories of woods near his Frederick, Md. home and the outskirts of the DC area.
GRACE said the following about the exhibit:
Calling on his expertise as a sculptor he makes his plywood panels, often utilizing non-traditional shapes, and then applies his paint in a unique fashion. His approach to research could be referred to as coddiwomple (v.), an obscure English slang word that gained popularity with globetrotters, meaning to travel in a purposeful manner towards a vague destination.
This is not the first time Greater Reston Arts Center has featured Moulden’s work. In the 2009 exhibition The Empty Landscape, curated by Joanne Bauer, Moulden presented a large body of paintings and sculptures, different from the ones seen here. Since then, he has lost the ability to use his signature technique of using a paint-filled syringe to draw, similar to pointillism, and build up the painting’s complex surface.
This set-back has affected the way in which Moulden creates his work but his deep appreciation for nature and the joy found in making beautifully crafted objects is still his driving force. In this exhibition, GRACE presents three new works,Things Are Looking Up, Puzzle, and Globe Thistle, the first of this artist’s transition from one method to another to capture the abstract and mysterious beauty in our area landscapes.
A curator’s talk is set for August 8 from noon to 1 p.m. The exhibit is free and open to the public from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
Photo via GRACE
More than 200 fine artists from across the country will come for Greater Reston Arts Center’s 28th annual Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival.
The outdoor festival will take place at Reston Town Center (11900 Market Street) on May 17 through May 19 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.
On Friday (May 17), town center merchants will offer “Festival Friday” deals. A “Festival Party” on Saturday (May 18) from 7-10 p.m. will feature this year’s awards of excellence. Food is catered in-kind by Not Your Average Joe’s and the event is sponsored by M Group Architects. The party is free for GRACE’s sponsors, supporters, and all festival artists, according to event organizers.
A movement installation by Heidi Latsky will celebrate the beauty of differences. The performance is sponsored by Reston Community Center and will take place on Saturday (May 18) at 7 p.m. during the party and at Reston Town Square Park on Sunday (May 19) at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Artists featured in the festival were selected by an independent panel of professional jurors, with some help from GRACE’s curatorial staff. Sofia Blom, GRACE’s gallery and communications manager, said the following about the selection process:
The three highly qualified jurors for the 2019 Festival are Nehemiah Dixon III, a widely exhibited native Washingtonian artist; Lauren Hilyard, a Washington-based art advisor with 20 years of experience working for the Guggenheim Museum and Christie’s Auction House among others; and Laura Roulet, an independent curator and writer and frequent contributor to Sculpture Magazine. These three jurors will also judge each artist booth on Friday and Saturday to select the ten Awards of Excellence. Each winner will receive a $500 cash prize, a blue ribbon for booth display, and automatic acceptance into the 2020 Northern Virginia FineArts Festival.
Over 500 volunteers are needed for the event. Signup is available online.
Photo by Charlotte Geary
Williams’ work includes animation, sculptures and costumes and “explores themes of identity through omission and inclusion,” GRACE says. Williams’ recent Instagram posts showcase pink, animated objects with meat-esque appearances.
“Things That Don’t Have Names” opens next Saturday (April 20) at 12001 Market Street, Suite 103. An opening reception will be held on Saturday, April 27, from 5-7 p.m.
Photo via Facebook
An annual exhibit showcasing student art returns next week to ArtSpace Herndon.
The Herndon Pyramid Schools Exhibit will feature art created by students from the following schools:
- Aldrin Elementary School
- Armstrong Elementary School
- Clearview Elementary School
- Dranesville Elementary School
- Herndon Elementary School
- Hutchison Elementary School
- Herndon Middle School
- Herndon High School
The exhibit runs from Tuesday, April 9, to Monday, May 20, at ArtSpace Herndon (750 Center Street).
An opening reception will be held on Wednesday, April 10, from 6-8 p.m.
Some of the art will be available for purchase.
Image via Google Maps
Lake Anne will have a new art exhibit ahead of Founder’s Day.
The exhibit will run from April 1-29 at the Jo Ann Rose Gallery (2310 Colts Neck Road). Founder’s Day, which celebrates Reston’s founder Robert E. Simon, Jr. and the community’s history, will be held on Saturday, April 6, at Lake Anne Plaza.
“In this exhibit, artists step back and focus on things that evoke feelings — anger, happiness, serenity — and give color to them through their art,” Reston Community Center’s website says. “They hope to capture the intensity of a moment and convey the message that reality is not what we see, but what we discover and create for ourselves.”
Pat Macintyre, the founder of the League of Reston Artist, is a sponsor of this exhibit, according to RCC.
A reception is set for Sunday, April 7, from 2-4 p.m.
Photo courtesy Reston Community Center
An Aldrin Elementary School student received a surprise celebration in front of her classmates today (March 21) for her artwork.
Shortly before 2:30 p.m., Aldrin students assembled in the lobby of the school for an announcement by Principal Shane Wolfe. The Virginia Lottery then surprised fifth-grader Elizaveta G. with the news that she is one of three winners statewide in the “Thank a Teacher Art Contest.”
Jennifer Mullen, the public affairs and community relations manager at Virginia Lottery, told the students that the lottery started the artwork contest last year as an addition to its notecard writing to thank teachers during Teacher Appreciation Week. Three students’ pieces were selected from 700 entries, Mullen said.
The Virginia Lottery presented Elizaveta with a $150 gift card along with $1,000 for Aldrin’s art department.
Elizaveta’s original design will be used on thousands of thank you notes that will be distributed to public school teachers in Virginia during National Teacher Appreciation Week in May.
Wolfe facilitated a Q&A between Elizaveta and her classmates, who asked questions about her favorite color (“blazer blue and red”), how long it took to make the art (“one to two hours”) and who told her about the contest (her mom).
The other two winners have not been announced yet.
A South Lakes High School teen was among the 21 students from Fairfax County public schools who earned national medals in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards program.
Gabrielle Baughman will receive a silver medal for a painted self-portrait, FCPS said in a press release.
In June, an award ceremony at Carnegie Hall in New York City will honor the national medalists, according to the press release.
The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards recognize student artists with categories including architecture, ceramics and glass, comic art, design, digital art, drawing, editorial cartoon, fashion and more.
Image via Scholastic Art & Writing Awards/Facebook
Creative printmaking tonight — Head to ArtSpace Herndon to learn how to carve and create your own prints from handmade plates, carved blocks and more from 6-8 p.m. All levels are welcome. Four sessions cost $160 total. If you enjoy it, the next class will be held on April 3. [ArtSpace Herndon]
Reston company scores SEC contract — Reston-based Octo Consulting recently “announced it has been awarded a position on the Securities and Exchange Commission’s ONE IT IDIQ vehicle. This 10-year, $2.5 billion vehicle contains seven service channels through which the SEC’s Office of Information Technology will procure IT services and solutions, including systems and software development.” [Associated Press]
2019 Virginia GeoBee — Out of the 23 students named as semifinalists, some are from area schools, including Forestville, Great Falls Elementary and McNair elementary schools. [FCPS]
Artist Alyssa Imes’ solo show titled “Looming Connections” opens tomorrow (March 5) at ArtSpace Herndon (750 Center Street).
The mixed media exhibit includes sculptures made from cast iron and other metals covered with knitted fabric, along with earthen colored drawings on raw paper.
Imes, who describes herself as a social person, explores physical bonds and emotional relationships with her artwork — a theme that carries over into her exhibit.
From the ArtSpace Herndon description:
The artist sees the yarn as time and life, and the knots as experiences we share. The looms are the places we meet people. The pieces of fabric are knitted from the sculptures themselves so the iron looms create support and help mechanically weave fabric from an individual strand of string.
A reception will be held on Saturday (March 9) from 7-9 p.m.
“Looming Connections” will run until April 6.
Photo via ArtSpace Herndon/Facebook
RA election starts — Voting begins today for the Reston Association’s Board of Directors. [Reston Association]
Community conversation — Want to help Fairfax County on its strategic planning process? Join a meeting tonight from 7-8:30 p.m. at the Reston Community Center. [Eventbrite]
Youth Art Month — Exhibits open today at the Jo Ann Rose Gallery and the 3D Gallery at RCC Lake Anne featuring artwork by kids from eight Reston elementary schools. “National Youth Art Month has been observed annually since 1961. It emphasizes the value of art education and encourages support for quality school art programs.” [Reston Community Center]
(Updated at 5:05 p.m. on March 4) Starting Saturday (March 2), a student art exhibition will be on display at the Greater Reston Arts Center (GRACE).
The exhibit features art by students at Fairfax County public schools, who are participating in GRACE’s education program called “Emerging Visions.”
GRACE reworked the program to include grades K-12, inviting elementary and middle schools to participate for the first time, according to a press release from the arts center.
“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,” Executive Director and Curator Lily Siegel said in the press release.
In addition to the three longstanding participating FCPS high school schools — Herndon, Oakton and South Lakes high schools — the exhibit includes student art from Dogwood, Hunters Woods and Hutchinson elementary schools and Rachel Carson Middle School.
The exhibit is based on Caitlin Teal Price’ exhibit last year titled “Green is the Secret Color To Make Gold.”
GRACE worked with art educators at the schools to develop content and concepts to include into the curriculum, according to the press release. After educators, students and their families had the chance to view the exhibition and meet the curator and artist, students were able to respond to the theme by creating their own artwork.
FCPS released additional information about the students and their art on March 4:
One student, who is non-verbal, experiences art and, primarily painting, as a ritual or routine, according to this teacher. He makes repetitive marks with varying color and layers them to refer to different subject matter, such as a landscape. Another student has made at least one artwork a day for multiple years on topics from space-like environments to designs that involve flags of the world. South Lakes students shared their artist statements, explaining the process for creating their works.
[Another] student described the artwork as expressive of the mental illness she has been diagnosed with and says her work shows “that I’m locked inside myself and can’t get out of the emotions in my head.” She uses symbols indicative of psychological and emotional states. A team of two students uses found objects to which they apply paint, glue, and other materials, embracing their sense of humor and love of experimentation to provoke a sense of play and curiosity in their audience.
A third student uses her art to define herself through her own values and beliefs, not through the culture of her home country. She uses layering as a metaphor for memory and experience relevant to her life today. One student used a found piece of wood to which she responded with color and brush strokes ranging from tumultuous to more gentle; another uses her responses to daily events, observations, and feelings to create her paintings. One student submitted a photography display using a camera from a bin of broken cameras, kept by his teacher for spare parts, and fabricated a pinhole lens for the camera. Using a 30-second exposure, he took a series of photos that didn’t meet his expectations but he came to like for their abstract quality and colorful texture that “had a kind of painterly approach.”
Several free events are based around the exhibit.
The opening reception for the exhibit is set for tomorrow from 5-7 p.m. GRACE plans to host an open mic for kids on March 16.
The exhibition will be on display until March 30 at the gallery located at the Reston Town Center (12001 Market Street #103).
Photo via FCPS
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
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
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