A Reston resident and former South Lakes High School parent is using her interest in photography to fundraise for the school’s next public art sculpture on Lake Thoreau’s spillway.

Mary Prochnow, who recently retired from a career in systems engineering, has donated her nature photographs, for a calendar that can be purchased to help raise money for the students’ work. Each year, students from the school’s Science, Technology Engineering, Art and Mathematics (STEAM) club create a public art piece on the spillway.

“Knowing that funding this project is always a challenge and that it is entirely independently funded, I was looking for an easy way for anyone who enjoys the artwork to be able to help support the effort,” Prochnow said.

All proceeds from calendar purchases will go toward pushing materials for the sculpture, which will likely be installed in the summer of next year. Lake Thoreau Entertainment Association and Red’s Table, a restaurant, will cover the costs of printing the calendar.

Phoebe Avery, Public Art Reston‘s public art manager, said her organization was humbled by the support of Prochnow, her husband who runs the entertainment association and Ryan Tracy of Red’s Table, for supporting the students’ work.

“Along with our program partners at Reston Association, we have been gratified to watch the STEAM Team grow from four participants to more than 30 students each year,” Avery wrote in a statement.

Two SLHS students — Nava Mehrpour and David Raw — joined Public Art Reston’s public art committee to handpick several of 72 photographers by Prochnow for the calendar.

Marco Rando, an art teacher at the school and the STEAM teaam’s program advisor, said he was ecstatic that Prochnow offered to help fundraise for the effort.

“Using art to support art could not be a more appropriate concept. In addition, the suggestion to engage in an aesthetic gathering with STEAM students to choose her photos for the calendar was a beautiful layer of educational collaboration,” he said.

Rando and Public Art Reston did not immediately return requests for comment on what next year’s public art will look like or where the project is in the development phase.

Residents have until Oct. 31 to donate to the project in order to receive a calendar gift. A minimum donation of $20 is suggested.

The STEAM team has brought public art to life on the spillway, with projects like Spectrum in 2019 and Simon in 2016.

Photo via Public Art Reston

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Morning Notes

Northam Advocates for Vaccine Requirements — Gov. Ralph Northam urged business leaders to follow the public sector in setting COVID-19 vaccination mandates at a Capital Region Business Forum in D.C. yesterday (Thursday). His comments came hours before President Joe Biden announced that all businesses with more than 100 workers must require the vaccine, among other new rules. [Inside NoVA]

Feds Use Reston Company’s Data Against Facebook — The Federal Trade Commission revealed user data on Wednesday (Sept. 8) that officials said supports their antitrust lawsuit against Facebook, which argues that the social media company has a monopoly. The FTC cited data from Reston-based market research firm Comscore that it says Facebook uses to prepare materials for CEO Mark Zuckerberg. [Bloomberg]

Tephra Sculpture Celebration Kicks off Art Festival — The Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival starts today (Friday) with a long-awaited celebration of artist Sue Wrbican’s surrealist-inspired Buoyant Force sculpture in Reston Town Square Park. Now in its 30th year, the festival will continue through the weekend with live performances and more than 200 artists present to share and sell their work. [Tephra ICA]

Smithsonian Creates Archive of 9/11 Memories — “The Smithsonian National Museum of American History is gathering written and recorded memories of 9/11 for the 20th anniversary of the attacks. You can submit your written memories, photos, or a video to the Smithsonian’s ‘9-11: An Evolving Legacy’ website. You can also read what has been submitted so far.” [DCist]

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(Updated at 3:40 p.m.) There’s a tiger on the prowl at Terraset Elementary School, thanks to the hard work of the seven-member Junior Girl Scout Troop 1632.

A new 94-foot-long mural of the body and tail of Terry the Tiger — Terraset’s mascot — now adorns the sidewalk leading to the school. At the end of Terry’s tail is the school slogan, and nearby, colorful flowers have sprouted on one of the school’s formerly-bare garden sheds.

This is due to the talent and effort of the Reston-based Junior Girl Scout troop, who completed it to meet a scout requirement and to add a little joy for Terraset’s staff and students.

“I want them to think that we really put a lot of effort into it and that it makes them maybe happy,” says 10-year-old Avery McCusker, who will start fifth grade at Terraset this fall.

Terraset Principal Lindsay Trout agrees that, after such a difficult year, Terry’s already bringing smiles to faces.

“The tiger and motto are making a difference to those who have seen them,” Trout said in a press release. “They beautify the school, boost school spirit…and are fun. I’ve already seen both kids and adults walk the winding tail of Terry the Tiger into the school.”

Junior Girl Scout Troop 1632 formed six years ago with many of its seven members having known each other since they were in preschool, so more than half of their lives.

The mural took hours of preparation, mostly done virtually.

As Avery points out, kids her age can’t be vaccinated yet, so they had to continue to stay safe and apart. So, when the girls gathered outside on a hot Saturday in mid-June to paint, it was a joyous occasion.

“It was like the first time we were seeing each other in person in over a year basically,” says McCusker. “It was really nice, because we all got to have fun together and stuff.”

Even with a little help from adults, including South Lakes High School art teacher Matthew Ravenstahl, who helped design the mural so that it could fit the walkway, painting the tiger and flowers took all day.

The entire project cost about $1,000, mostly for supplies and stencils, but the troop raised all the money themselves by selling cookies, magazines, and other products.

For their efforts, the seven members of the troop earned a Bronze Award.

“A Bronze Award is the highest honor a Junior Girl Scout can earn unless she saves a life,” Troop 1632 co-leader Angie Tombul said. “As Girl Scouts work hard to raise money and earn awards and badges, they are simultaneously learning the importance of giving back to the community in positive ways.”

Terry the Tiger is now ready and waiting to greet students when they return this fall back to Terraset Elementary, which opened in 1977.

It will be McCusker’s first time going to school in-person since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020. She’s looking forward to it — with some reservations.

“I am kind of [excited], but I’m also kind of not because I don’t like masks,” says McCusker, referring to the expectation that unvaccinated students will still be required to wear face masks. “But overall, I am.”

Angela Woolsey contributed to this report.

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Public Art Reston has a new executive director.

The nonprofit announced last week that Trinity Villanueva officially took over the role on April 26. She succeeds Anne Delaney, who served as executive director for 11 years before stepping down on July 31.

Villanueva says that she plans to focus on making art more accessible and inclusive. Citing Reston founder Robert E. Simon’s belief in art as a necessity, she says she is “thrilled” to know it is such an ingrained principle in Reston’s culture.

“Art is a connector. It fosters a strong climate and elevates voices on the spectrum of agency,” Villanueva said. “We will continue to cultivate accessibility and equitable art, already embedded in Simon’s guiding principles.”

Villanueva comes from the Carlos Rosario International Charter School in D.C., where she founded and led the arts integration and culture department for more than a decade.

She’s also the co-founder of Mixt Collective, which supports marginalized artists, and she’s a graduate of multiple institutions, including the University of Pennsylvania and Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music.

Public Art Reston Board of Directors Chair Maggie Parker noted how Villanueva’s energy has already impacted Reston, complimenting her “zest for living and her unlimited view of what public art can do for a community.”

“She has already injected joy and enthusiasm into Reston and will be a wonderful collaborator and thought leader in the community,” Parker said.

The COVID-19 pandemic has kept the art world on the sidelines in recent months, shuttering venues and limiting many events to online spaces, but Villanueva feels it has also spotlighted the need for art to take on a more primary role.

“The constraints of these times have further shown that you do not need to go into a building to engage in art,” Villanueva said. “Your direct involvement is what makes art transformative, and this next chapter for Public Art Reston will set that tone.”

As Public Art Reston’s executive director, Villanueva will oversee the continued implementation of the Public Art Master Plan for Reston that the organization adopted in 2008.

“I look forward to gathering the Reston community to collectively define public art,” said Villanueva. “It is a wonderful time to recharge and regenerate what public art means, across disciplines, and positively impact Reston’s current and future growth.”

Photo via Public Art Reston

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The Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art is expanding its reach to downtown D.C., where it is installing a sculpture by California artist Gisela Colón.

Titled “Parabolic Monolith Iridium,” the sculpture will be located at the top of James Monroe Park near the National Mall, and it will be on view starting this Saturday (May 8). It is Colón’s first public sculpture by  in the D.C. region.

“We’re thrilled to bring Gisela’s work to Washington,” Tephra ICA Executive Director and Curator Jaynelle Hazard said. “The Parabolic Monolith Iridium is an object that speaks to the future, to transformation, and especially to hope. It’s symbolism is very much aligned with how we aim to position ourselves and our perspective as an institution.”

Tephra, which was previously known as the Greater Reston Arts Center, is currently hosting Colón’s D.C.-area debut solo exhibit, which features acrylic and carbon-fiber artwork made using “advanced aerospace technology,” according to the institute’s website.

The Quantum Shift exhibition will remain on display at Tephra’s gallery in Reston (12001 Market St.) through May 29. In-person visits are limited to 30-minute appointments made in advance, but it can also be viewed through a virtual tour.

The monolith that will be on display in D.C. was part of the solo exhibit. A native of Puerto Rico who currently works and lives in Los Angeles, Colón says she wanted to explore the relationship between humans and the earth through her sculptures.

“While their outward appearance is high-tech, space-age, and futuristic, [my Monoliths] are also visceral, primitive, and reminiscent of ancient cultural artifacts,” Colón said.

The “Parabolic Monolith Iridium” project is being sponsored by Leidos and the civil engineering firm Charles P. Johnson & Associates. Tephra partnered with the Golden Triangle Business Improvement District on the display.

As part of its sponsorship, Leidos has committed to making a donation to the Puerto Rican nonprofit Hogares Teresa Toda, which provides shelter, education, and other supports to adolescent girls.

“As a leading science and technology company, creativity drives our pursuit of knowledge and solving problems for our customers,” Leidos Senior Vice President Melissa Lee Dueñas said. “We are excited to team up with Ms. Colón on this new exhibit and we look forward to partnering with her to help empower girls and young people in Puerto Rico.”

Photo courtesy Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art

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A new sculpture installed on Lake Thoreau late last month was designed and built by South Lake High School students, a tradition that dates back to 2014.

Part and Parcel” was developed by about 20 students on the South Lakes High School STEAM (Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) Team.

Made primarily from repurposed PVC piping from a previous Reston Station project, the sculpture’s design and name were envisioned as a metaphor for how each part of society is needed in order to create one that’s functioning and whole.

“I hope people are left with a sense of joy and hopefulness after seeing Part and Parcel,” Ann Ehrlich, a member of the STEAM team, wrote in an email to Reston Now. “We were able to present a lovely piece of art to the community during such a rough time and I hope they can see that even during difficult times, some beauty can arise.”

The sculpture sits on the Lake Thoreau spillway, turning a potential eyesore into a work of art.

Part and Parcel transforms and activates an otherwise drab concrete platform into something unexpected and visually delightful, both during the day and when lit up at night,” Public Art Reston Program Coordinator Phoebe Avery told Reston Now. “This is what public art is all about.”

Public Art Reston is a longtime sponsor of the project.

This is the seventh sculpture designed and built by the students in the program, which was co-founded by South Lakes art teacher and local artist Marco Rando. The previous one, installed in summer 2019, was called “Spectrum” and was composed of five wooden interlocking prisms.

Rando says that, beyond putting beautiful art in the world, the program also teaches students how to collaborate, take feedback, defend their ideas, and navigate processes that can sometimes be difficult.

“The students see firsthand…the steps of [having] to defend their idea, who they have to defend it to, preparing for a presentation, explain how they’re going to go about building this, and logistics of everything,” Rando said. “They’re getting that professional experience at this wonderful age of learning. It’s shaped a lot of students.”

Team member David Raw agrees that this project provided a glimpse into the professional lives of artists and engineers.

“By working on Part and Parcel, I was given the opportunity to work hand and hand with real art and engineering professionals.,” he wrote to Reston Now. “From contacting material suppliers to assisting helpers put up the final piece on the spillway, I was exposed to the real working environment of professional art.”

Of course, the students had their fair share of challenges this year. The design was first conceived in the fall of 2019, prior to the pandemic, but it had to be tweaked due to public health restrictions. In-person group meetings were sporadic and had to be socially distant. The budget was also significantly lower than in previous years, Rando says.

All of this posed potential problems that the students had to overcome.

“We came into a huge issue with the integrity of the design,” Gwyneth Wagner, one of the students, said. “We had to completely rethink the design of the sculpture and it set us back until our later install date…[but] I think it was for the best because we are all really happy and proud of the sculpture now.”

Wagner’s teammates agree that the extra attention and collaboration paid off.

“Personally, the most rewarding aspect of designing and building this sculpture was being able to collaborate with others,” Sofia Pakhomkina said. “It is always so amazing to watch as a group turns a simple idea into a physical, tangible thing.”

Rando is proud of his students.

“It was perseverance, like I’ve never seen it before,” he says.

“Part and Parcel” is expected to be on display at Lake Thoreau at least through the end of the year.

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The Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art will welcome its first new exhibit under new branding tomorrow.

The institute, formerly known as the Greater Reston Arts Center, will present the work of light and space artist Gisela Colon. The exhibition, which is on display through May 30, is the artists first solo exhibit in the DC area.

The exhibit features artwork that is made from carbon fiber using aerospace technology. Here’s more from Tephra on the exhibit.

Gisela Colón (b. 1966) introduces mutable, transformational qualities in her practice using a unique sculptural language of Organic Minimalism. Colón produces objects that are seamless, featuring little to no edges, lines, or place for the viewer to rest their eye, nodding towards an energy of constant fluctuation and growth. Made from carbon fiber material using advanced aerospace technology, the “Pods,” “Monoliths,” and “Elliptoids,” are light weight yet durable objects, both from this earth and not of this earth, birthed from a symbiosis of high art and high science. 

An opening reception and artist talk is set for March 18 at 6 p.m. In addition to in-person viewing, the exhibit can be visited via an online viewing room, a video walkthrough and a series of public programs. More information on these offerings is expected soon.

Photo via Tephra

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A 31-foot tall, digital three-dimensional gigantic aquarium filled with sharks now hangs at Reston Metro Plaza.

The digital LED screen was installed late last year by the developer Comstock Holdings and shows a illuminated shark tank on a twenty minute loop.

Additional digital art being featured on the screen on the loop are daily Google doodles and cityscape flyovers. Commuter information is also displayed.

Outdoor movies and concert performances on the screen are being planned for the spring and summer.

The screen is 31-feet in height and 55-feet wide and hangs at the center of the Reston Metro Plaza at Reston Station.

This isn’t the only art that’s been put on display at the Metro station in recent years.

Several former D.C. public art pieces have found forever homes at Reston Station, including three that were once part of the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities 2002 “Party Animal” street sculpture collection.

Additionally, two pandas that were previously among the more than 150 panda sculptures that dotted D.C. in 2004 are also now at Reston Station.

In 2018, Italian sculptor Lorenzo Quinn’s bronze work The Force of Nature was installed at the station. Another Quinn art piece can also be viewed in the lobby of 1900 Reston Metro Plaza, which is the office building above the Metro station.

Last year, a new mosaic art installation was added outside of the apartment building near the Metro station.

And, in January, Virginia’s iconic “LOVE” letters were installed at Reston Station. The nearly 8,000 pound sculpture will remain there as part of its permanent art collection.

“We believe public art strengthens a community’s identity and sense of place and bolsters the reputation as a stimulating place to live, work, and visit,” said Christopher Clemente, CEO of Comstock, wrote in a press release. “Comstock believes the inclusion of art in development projects serves the common good in a manner that enhances architectural designs, landscaping and streetscapes.”

Photo courtesy of Comstock/Carolina Skelly

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Tuesday Morning Notes

Senior Girl Scout Builds Turtle Platform — Mercer Thomas built a turtle platform on Lake Thoreau as part of her Gold Award to help the turtle population in Reston. Thomas needs the community’s help to track her project. [Reston Association]

Final Construction of STEAM Project Underway — Students from South Lakes High School’s STEAM team is working on the final construction phase of “Part & Parcel,” a temporary sculpture to be installed in the Lake Thoreau spillway in Reston. [Public Art  Reston]

Metro Plans Next Phases of Reconstruction, Capital Projects — “Metro will rebuild deteriorating outdoor platforms at Arlington Cemetery, Addison Road, and four Green Line stations north of Fort Totten next year, continuing its robust capital program to keep the system safe and reliable for the next generation of riders.” [Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority]

Reports of Stolen Campaign Signs Increase — “With less than a month until Nov. 3, and 2020’s contentious political climate, local police and sheriff’s departments are fielding reports of stolen, damaged and vandalized campaign signs.” [WTOP]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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A parking garage in Reston got a facelift after artist Kelsey Montague completed a mural at the request of American Real Estate Partners in late July.

Montague was commissioned to create a mural on the garage at Reston International Center (11800 Sunrise Valley Drive). The artwork features her signature #WhatLiftsYou wings design, which the company says celebrates “COVID-19 frontline heroes, wellness and visionary developer, Robert E. Simon’s founding principles for Reston.”

AREP hopes the artwork will “activate” the outdoor space and make the area more welcoming for tenants.  The 25-by-25-foot-mural features two sets of wings and includes five stars that represent Reston’s five village centers. The number seven is included to recognize Reston’s seven founding principles.

“Reston Wings reflects our dedication to the community and fulfills our promise to create dynamic places that inspire and elevate experiences not just for our customers but also for neighboring residents,” said Paul Schulman, Principal and Chief Operating Officer of AREP. “We’re excited to challenge the preconceptions of large-format community art as an urban phenomenon and introduce this suburban opportunity for people to become a part of the canvas and be more fully engaged with their community.”

Montague is an international street artist who has street murals around the world, including in Istanbul, New York City, Cape Town and Buenos Aires.

Photo via AREP

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Summer Entertainment Series Returns — “Beginning July 30, the Fairfax County Park Authority will livestream 25 free summer concert events featuring a mix of nationally known performers and singer-songwriters. These virtual events provide a new way to enjoy great performances from the safety of your home.” [Fairfax County Government]

Private Wagon Rides at Frying Pan Farm Park — The park is offering 30-minute  private tours Monday through Friday mornings throughout August. The cost is $40 per family and advance reservations are required. [Fairfax County Government]

Public Art Reston to Host Virtual Artist Talk — “Join Public Art Reston for a live virtual artist talk with DeWitt Godfrey. The artist’s latest work ‘Simon’ is scheduled to be installed at Valley & Park here in Reston in August. During the artist talk, Godfrey will be interviewed by Public Art Reston Board Director and local artist Marco Rando. They will discuss the new sculpture, the artist’s creative process, and inspiration.” [Viva Reston]

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Artwork at the Colts Neck Road underpass is under consideration for an international award.

A jury selected Thoreau’s Ensemble by Philadelphia-based artist Ben Volta for the 2020 CODA Awards, an international juried arts competition. Volta’s work is inspired by Reston’s 55 miles of pathways.

The artwork was one of 445 projects from 30 countries submitted for consideration for the Top 100 list.

The awards recognize projects that integrate commissioned art into an interior, architectural or public space.

Members of the public can vote to select the people’s choice award. Only one vote is allowed per project and the deadline is Tuesday, June 30.

Winners from ten categories selected by jurors and two people’s choice winners will be announced on August 31. Voting is open online.

Photo via Public Art Reston

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Herndon Residents to Organize Peaceful Driving Protest — Local residents are organizing a driving protest on a designated route through parts of Herndon tomorrow (Thursday). Herndon Police Department offers will be on hand during the event. [Facebook]

Phase Two in Northern Virginia Delayed — “Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) announced on Tuesday that most of the commonwealth will move into the second phase of the state’s reopening plan due to the impact of COVID-19 on Friday. Similar to the first phase, however, Richmond and northern Virginia, including Loudoun County, are being delayed.” [Loudoun-Times Mirror]

Local Artist Creates Chalk Art in Reston Town Center — Artist Ben Morse created chalk art of the state’s bird and flower in Reston Town Center at the request of the Reston Town Center Association. [The Connection]

More COVID-19 Testing Options Available — More than 20 sites across the Fairfax Health District are offering testing for uninsured and insured residents. Local health officials urge anyone with symptoms or with close contact with someone who is sick to be tested. [Fairfax County Government]

Reston Association Publishes Activity Guide — This month’s guide features a mask-wearing man running with his dog. The cover story discusses ways to stay safe while enjoying Reston’s trails. [Reston Association]

Photo by robinreston

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In a collaboration between the Reston Town Center Association and South Lakes High School, students will envision and create a sculpture for display in Reston Town Center.

SLHS art teacher Marco Rando — who has also led a number of art projects in the area — will work with art students on the project. The project will be delivered this spring during the town center’s 30th anniversary year, according to a press release.

“This is a unique opportunity for us to bring project-based learning into the classroom in a very powerful way, and we hope its success this first year will lay the groundwork for a long-term continuation of this wonderful partnership between SLHS and Reston Town Center,” said SLHS Principal Kimberly Retzer.

RTCA and project sponsors reviewed students’ proposals for the project and selected a “lenticular” sculpture that could present four different murals, according to RTCA. The association, Boston Properties, and professionals in design and art, will review two maquettes created by students.

Rando said the approval project will allow students to get a glimpse of the approval process for artwork.

This is part of the challenge and learning experience for our students, to interact with and respond to the multiple professional interests that would typically be required to get a project like this approved at a dynamic place like Reston Town Center,” Rando stated

In addition to the support of RTC, Boston Properties is providing the school’s funding for the project while the Hyatt Regency at Reston Town Center is offering the location at Hyatt Park and power at no cost. Power Services, Inc. will complete all electrical and lighting work at no charge while KCS Landscape Management will transport the sculpture to the site for free.

RTCA’s executive director, Robert Goudie, said the project is the product of partnerships created by Public Ar Reston, Reston Association, and the school.

Thanks to our incredible partners – Boston Properties, Hyatt, Power Services, and KCS, who are covering the school budget and more – we can bring that model into the classroom and deliver a community project that furthers an important part of RTCA’s mission:  enriching our downtown through the arts.”

Photo by vantagehill/Flickr

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A new 50-foot steel sculpture will be delivered and placed in Reston Town Square Park today (Friday).

The long-anticipated artwork, “Buoyant Force” by Sue Wrbican, is composed of steel.

Here’s more about Wrbican and her work from the Greater Reston Arts Center:

Buoyant Force will be a 50-foot steel sculpture by Sue Wrbican inspired by the paintings of American Surrealist Kay Sage (b. 1898, Albany, New York; d. 1963, Woodbury, Connecticut). Sage, who lived in the shadow of her husband, the surrealist Yves Tanguy, is now recognized for her paintings of scaffolded structures and furled fabric in desolate landscapes. GRACE organized the first comprehensive exhibition of Wrbican’s work, entitled Well Past the Echo, in Fall 2017. The exhibition featured photography, maquettes of Sage-inspired structures, and a site-specific installation. It was featured in The Washington Post and East City Art. Based on the success of the exhibition, GRACE has commissioned Wrbican to realize one of her structures at full-size in Reston Town Square Park. 

GRACE’s executive director and curator Lily Siegel said the artwork will be secured to the base today.

Installation, which includes weather proofing, signagae and weather proofing, is expected to take two weeks to complete. The sculpture’s foundation will remain enclosed with a fence for safety reasons.

A formal community celebration is planned in the spring.  The square was previously home to a nest-like sculpture made from tree saplings in 2017.

GRACE turned to a crowdfunding to help finance the construction of the project. 

Photo via GRACE

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