Artist Creating Mosaic Public Art for RCC’s Aquatics Center Revamp

(Updated) Reston will welcome a new public art piece when the Reston Community Center debuts its newly renovated Terry L. Smith Aquatics Center in the fall.

RCC chose mosaic artist Valerie Theberge to create mosaic artwork for two large wall panels adjacent to the pool overlook area.

RCC’s Executive Director Leila Gordon told Reston Now that having Theberge on board from the start of the renovation, which will update the 40-year-old aquatics center with two pools, allows for the engineers, designers and the artist to plan how the wall with the art will look and get used, with conversations ranging from color palettes to electrical engineering decisions.

Theberge has been working with the project team, which includes RCC’s Deputy Director John Blevins and Martha Sansaver, Karen Davis and Geoff Kimmel from the Department of Public Works and Environmental Services and the contracting firm Branch Builds — previously named Branch & Associates.

Currently, Theberge is in the preliminary design stages for the art, which will occupy two main panels that are about 50 square feet each.

“I keep getting snapshots of what’s going to come and it keeps percolating, because we have been talking about this for a year,” she told Reston Now. “It will be strong and vocal.”

Unlike her previous mosaic art at the Glade Drive Underpass and the Dogwood Pool, Theberge says this piece is influenced by its different location, one that she describes as indoors, focused on people instead of nature and “white, clean, quiet.”

“The other ones are very earth-centered and this is very water-centered,” Theberge said, adding that she plans to add “sparklers” so that viewers will feel movement in the art.

In a group interview with Reston Now, Theberge and Gordon shared different elements that stand out to them about the aquatics center, including the contrast between the water’s buoyancy and the hard surfaces on the ground, the windowless cave-esque location, the polarity between the exterior and interior worlds and the action of people stripping off layers of clothing before they get into the water. While some of those evocative ideas might sound harsh or vulnerable, Gordon emphasized that “it is hard to be hostile in the presence of art.”

Once Theberge has a design, she said she will build the two pieces in her studio before they get bolted onto the wall.

Once installed, community engagement activities and art workshops will allow Restonians to respond to the art. “It’s not one monolithic swimming community. There are families. There are older adults. There are swim teams, and every one of those groups of people have different desires,” Gordon said.

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Have You Seen These Eight Public Art Pieces Around Reston?

Reston has more than 70 pieces of public art. While many of them are placed in well-traversed locations, like the Mercury Fountain in Reston Town Center, some pieces are less widely known because they are hiding in plain sight or located off the beaten path.

“There are many gems that are off the main areas,” Anne Delaney, the executive director of Public Art Reston, told Reston Now.

Reston Now has rounded up information on eight “hidden treasures” — as Delaney describes them — and where to find them.

Berlin Wall Fragment

Where to find it: Bundeswehr–German Liaison Office (11150 Sunrise Valley Drive)

Description: A part of history is at the entrance to the office. The 4-foot-wide Berlin Wall fragment is circa 1973 and was acquired by the Command Headquarters in 1990 to commemorate the reunification of Germany, according to Public Art Reston.

Emerge 

Where to find it: Glade Drive Underpass near Hunters Woods Village Center

Description: Valerie Theberge’s 2010 glass and mirror mosaic tiles greet bicyclists and people walking eastbound on the Turquoise Trail. “Theberge designed this artwork to be uplifting, whimsical and optimistic,” according to its Public Art Reston bio. “Multiple shades of greens were chosen to reflect the rich vegetation in Reston.” Students from Hunters Woods Elementary School helped create the stars scattered around the art.

The Underpass

Where to find it: North Shore Drive Underpass near Lake Anne

Description: Multiple, concrete sculptural elements created by Gonzalo Fonseca in 1965 decorate the tunnel connecting Lake Anne and the nearby Hickory Cluster townhouses along the Green Trail. “Along with a functional seat and table, The Underpass includes pieces that — upon close inspection — provide passersby with surprises meant to jog the imagination with stories and ideas,” Public Art Reston says.

Pylon

Where to find it: Right by The Underpass

Description: The curved, concrete cylinder, also by Fonseca, sits near the pathway beyond The Underpass. Public Art Reston notes that this piece is the most inconspicuous of Fonseca’s work in the area.

September 11th Memorial

Where to find it: Attached to a large stone in the garden at the Freedom Grove at Brown’s Chapel (1575 Browns Chapel Road)

Description: The Reston Association commissioned the bronze memorial by Kathy Walden Kaplan to honor the memory of the victims of the 9/11 attack, including Reston residents Leonard Taylor and Norma Cruz Kahn, according to Public Art Reston.

Slit Figure

Where to find it: In the parking lot at Plaza America directly across from MOD Pizza

Description: While three red ellipses standing more than 6 feet tall might sound like a sculpture that would stand out, this welded steel art piece by Al Landzberg is hiding in plain sight at the complicated Plaza America parking lot. Meant to be the centerpiece of the plaza, “Slit Figure is a study in contrasts: the contrast in shapes between three closed ellipses and a mysterious opening that slices through them, the contrast in colors between the sculpture’s fire-engine red and the shopping center’s subdued hues, and the contrast in design between the center’s business orientation and the sculpture’s playfulness,” Public Art Reston says.

Swing

Where to find it: Also near The Underpass

Description: Overlooking Lake Anne, the wood and steel swing was designed by William Roehl in collaboration with Conklin and Rossant. The swing has changed since it was first installed in 1965, evolving from a hanging basket swing to its current form, according to Public Art Reston.

Untitled

Where to find it: Along Moorings Drive by the Blue Trail

Description: This mysterious ceramic, mosaic piece made by Olin Russum in 1967 is an abstract representation of the map of Reston, although only the right side remains intact, according to Public Art Reston. “I would love if anyone knows how this work came to be,” Delaney told Reston Now.

People looking to learn more about public art in Reston and visit the pieces in person can contact Public Art Reston or the Reston Association to find out information about upcoming walking tours and print and digital maps marking the locations of the art.

Last two photos via Google Maps 

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Public Art Reston Picks Artist to Transform Colts Neck Road Underpass

The Colts Neck Road underpass will soon get its long-awaited makeover.

Public Art Reston recently awarded a contract to Philadelphia-based artist Ben Volta to create permanent public artwork for the underpass.

When selecting the artist, Public Art Reston sought someone who could “address the spirit of the Hunters Woods Neighborhood; respond to the cultural diversity of the community; and develop an artwork that identifies the underpass as a civic facility within the fabric of the surrounding neighborhood,” according to a Public Art Reston press release.

Public Art Reston’s Executive Director Anne Delaney said that Volta stood out because of his previous community engagement coupled with his powerful and colorful art.

“The project is an opportunity for infrastructure beautification, engagement, education and inspiration,” Delaney said. “It will promote active use of the underpass that links residential areas, Hunters Woods Village Center, two schools, two senior facilities and two community centers.”

Known for his public murals and sculptures, Volta will work on the project with the Dogwood and Hunters Woods elementary schools, in addition to partnering with Hunters Woods at Trails Edge, a soon-to-open senior living facility.

Volta, who is familiar with working with students in participatory art creation, told Reston Now that he plans to engage with kids in the classrooms with the hope of brainstorming an idea, color or shape that will then get incorporated into the art.

Right now, he is working to get the design done before summer break starts for the kids.

He has started making several planned site visits, where he also meets with students, teachers and administrators at the two schools. “I like to start with the site,” Volta said about his artistic process.

While the Colts Neck underpass was “dark with lots of mud everywhere” on his first visit, Volta said he’s been thinking about how the tunnel’s purpose as a passageway between the two schools can lead to a transformative experience for people who enter and exit it.

“Really, the site has a lot to say because of the way people experience it,” Volta said.

Volta said he didn’t know much about the Hunters Woods area before he was chosen for the project, but said he was struck on his first visit by the area’s connection to nature. “I really fell in love with Reston.”

The project has an anticipated installation in the summer so that the artwork will be ready for when students return to classes in the fall, he said.

Photo of Ben Volta courtesy of Public Art Reston

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New Steel Sculpture in Reston Town Center Delayed Until Spring

The Greater Reston Arts Center has pushed back the completion of a new 50-foot steel sculpture in Reston Town Center from this fall to spring 2019. 

Reston Now previously reported the installation and an opening ceremony were expected in August.

Now, the sculpture’s anticipated unveiling is set for spring after the project faced construction delays, Lily Siegel, executive director and curator of the Greater Reston Arts Center (GRACE), told Reston Now.

“As we embarked on [the project], things have shifted and got a little bit delayed,” she said.

Titled “Buoyant Force,” the sculpture by artist Sue Wrbican is inspired by the work of Kay Sage, an American surrealist who was known for her paintings of scaffolded structure and furled fabric in barren landscapes. GRACE previously featured Wrbican’s work last fall.

Currently, the sculpture is being fabricated by two fabricators. The main 50-foot piece is getting welded together at one fabricator’s shop in Rockville Md.

Siegel said that the GRACE team has dropped in several times on the fabrication, describing the tall piece as reminiscent of scaffolding or the inside of a skyscraper. Even though the 50-foot piece is lying on the ground, “it’s very impressive,” she said. “The impact is pretty powerful.”

A second fabricator is making other steel structures that will get attached to the sculpture. Both sourced preexisting, pre-fabricated materials at Wrbican’s request. 

While the main work on the pieces is “pretty much done,” technical details still need finishing before installation. Once the pieces are on site, the installation will require a crane and boom lift, she said.

“Buoyant Force” marks Seigel’s first public sculpture — an undertaking that has taught her quite a bit throughout the process. For starters, the project initially planned to have one fabricator, before she decided the work required two people, she said.

“It’s taking a whole team of professionals to get this done,” Seigel said That team includes architects, inspectors, a concrete team, engineers, movers and — of course — the artist.

Seigel also took a new approach to fund the sculpture. For the first time, GRACE started a crowdfunding campaign to cover the costs. Locals can donate online.

So far, the campaign raised about $50,000 — nearly half of the required funds — in roughly five months, she said. The Reston Town Center Association, Reston Community Center, ArtsFairfax and Public Art Reston are some of the places that have donated.

Seigel said the “slow” fundraising efforts are not causing the delay.

Additionally, the architect, engineer, concrete company and transportation company are providing pro bono work — a donation of its own kind, she said.

Siegel said a community celebration to mark the grand opening will happen.

After that, she plans to host programming, including dance, poetry and education, around the sculpture, which is expected to be on view for five years. “We’re looking for different ways to bring the community back around the sculpture” with different perspectives, she said. “We are incredibly excited about this project.”

Images via Greater Reston Arts Center 

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Reston Historic Trust & Museum Begins Raising Funds for Lakeside Pharmacy Icons Exhibit

The Reston Historic Trust & Museum has raised $965 in three weeks with its fundraising campaign to reinstall the iconic, quirky pharmacy icons from the Lakeside Pharmacy.

The GoFundMe campaign launched on Nov. 8, Alexandra Campbell, the executive director of the Reston Historic Trust & Museum, told Reston Now.

The fundraising target of $15,000 will pay for repairs, cleaning and reinstallation of the 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.

“We’ve still got a long way to go,” Campbell said. “We have some time to get to the $15,000.”

Most of the 22 donations have been small, individual donations — seven people have given $25, while others have donated amounts between $10 to $100.

The icons served as advertisements for the Lakeside Pharmacy, a legacy Lake Anne Plaza store. 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 Lake Anne of Reston Condominium Association donated the icons to the Reston Historic Trust & Museum after they were removed in July to make way for new businesses in the pharmacy’s former location.

“We’re really glad to help preserve and keep them here,” Campbell said about the icons.

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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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Public Art Reston to Celebrate Birthday, Adoption of Public Art Master Plan

Public Art Reston will celebrate its 11th birthday with an annual ‘PARty!’ on Oct. 18 (Thursday) from 6:30-9:30 p.m. Unlike previous years, limited-edition artwork will be available for sale, with all proceeds benefiting Public Art Reston.

The program will be launched with photographs of sculptures at Lake Anne Village Center by Reston-based artist and photographer Charlotte Geary, according to Chelsea Rao, chair of Public Art Reston’s reception committee.

The 2018 Annual PARty! offers attendees a fun opportunity to celebrate the public art of Reston, the ongoing initiatives of Public Art Reston as well as its sources of inspiration,” Rao said.

This year’s event will also celebrate the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the Public Art Master Plan for Reston. The master plan was adopted by the board of Public Art Reston in December 2008, solidifying the organization’s commitment to ensuring the planning process integrated public art in a manner that enriched community life and spirit. Since 2008, a dozen permanent artwork and another dozen temporary installation have been commissioned in Reston.

The event will take place at Comstock’s Reston Station on the 16th floor. It’ll include a cocktail party with catering by Ridgewells and an art installation created by Marco Rando, a local artist, teacher and Public Art Reston board member.

“The installation design is intended to visually play with the raw space of the Jahn building. The geometric forms are created to be an illusion of a three-dimensional space. At first glance, the lines creating polygons are received as correct proportions, but with closer examination, one discovers the optical illusion. The colored lines are intended to enhance the playful and whimsical overall design,” Rando said.

Tickets, which can be purchased online, are $60, two for $100, and $55 for attendees 25 and under.

Photo by Sarah Mccue

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Art Ideas Sought to Transform Colts Neck Road Underpass

It’s no secret that the Colts Neck Road underpass could use some sprucing up. Public Art Reston is looking for artists to create a site-specific artwork to enhance the inside and outside walls of the underpass.

Artists should capture the spirit of the Hunters Woods neighborhood, respond to the cultural diversity of the community and identify the underpass as a “civic facility” within the surrounding neighborhood, according to a description of the call to artists issued by the organization.

Public Art Reston also indicated the following:

The project will promote active use of the underpass that links residential areas, Hunters Woods Village Center, two schools, two senior facilities, and two community centers. At the Colts Neck Road underpass, public art will have the opportunity to enhance the community’s relationship to their infrastructure and encourage active transportation options such as walking and cycling. The artist will actively engage with community stakeholders to develop the concept of the artwork and will give workshops to students.  This project is an opportunity for infrastructure beautification, education, engagement, and inspiration. 

The project is in collaboration with Reston Association and Atlantic Realty Companies.

The deadline for entries is Oct. 26. Entries can be submitted online.

Photo by Public Art Reston

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‘Before I Die’ Display Returns to Lake Anne Plaza

Two bold black and white chalkboards are up at Lake Anne Plaza, challenging passers-by to write down what they wish to do or achieve before they die.

The public art installation, called Before I Die, is a temporary public art installation as part of the run-up to the 12th annual Jazz and Blues Festival at the plaza this Saturday (September 1). The festival is free and open to all ages.

The community project was started by artist Candy Chang in New Orleans. Chang created the project to examine the way “the wall of our cities can help us grapple with death and meaning as a community today.” After undergoing grief and depression following the loss of a loved one, Chang covered a crumbling house in her neighborhood in New Orleans with chalkboard paint and stenciled the prompt, “Before I die I want to.” Since then Before I Die walls have popped up in more than 70 countries, including China, Brazil, Kazakhstan and South Africa.

So far, the display in Reston includes wishes and goals like building a business, climbing a mountain and adventuring all over. It will be on display until September 10.

Photos via Public Art Reston

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Registration Now Open for ChalkFest at Reston Town Center

Artists of all ages and skills levels can now save the date for the annual ChalkFest at Reston Town Center. The annual street art festival invites artists to transform RTC’s Market Street with chalk drawings.

Registration is now open and artists can register in the following categories. Prizes will be awarded for each category, as well as audience chance awards.

This year’s sponsors include Boston Properties, Reston Community Center, Fairfax County Government, Reston Association, Cooley, and Leidos.

File photo

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Art Project by South Lakes High School Students Installed on Lake Thoreau

“Connie’s Quilt,” an art project by students at South Lakes High School, now blankets a portion of Lake Thoreau.

The structure was created by the school’s Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM) club. It is made of galvanized metal, airplane cables, tubing, connectors and cable ties.

The project aims to represent community connections and the notion that the self-made man does not exist, according to Public Art Reston. Reston Association, Public Art Reston and SLHS partnered to make the project possible.

A series of videos about the project are available online:

Photos via Public Art Reston

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“LOVE” Letters to Return to Lake Anne Plaza This Month

Virginia’s “LOVE” letters are making a comeback to the Lake Anne Plaza from May 31 through June 7.

The letters statue is known for photo opportunities. Lake Anne Brew House is encouraging locals to come to the plaza for the statue and to stay for local events on the plaza including a Pride Night event held at the brewery on June 1 from 4-11 p.m.

June is LGBTQ pride month. It was established to honor the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York City, during which patrons and supporters of the Stonewall Inn protested to resist the harassment and persecution of LGBT Americans by the police, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

Reston has other events in store for the month, including an inaugural Pride Festival, led by the Unitarian Universalist Church in Reston.

File photo

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New Public Art Installed at Reston Station Plaza

A cast bronze sculpture inspired by the power of Mother Nature was installed at Reston Station Plaza this month.

The piece, “The Force of Nature,” is by artist Lorenzo Quinn and is located on the north side of Wiehle-Reston East Station.

A statement from the artist is below:

“We humans think of ourselves as supreme beings, above all others and in absolute control of our destiny and our surroundings. We live with a false sense of security only to be awakened by Mother Nature’s fury, almost as if she needs to remind us of her presence and our responsibility towards her child (The Earth).

After having seen the ravaged coast of Thailand and the Hurricane that affected the Southern States I decided to create a sculpture dedicated to Mother Nature. This would be reminiscent of the early statues made as peace offerings to the Gods in the hope of quenching their anger.  

In essence, people are not very different today from the people who lived thousands of years ago. We still devote ourselves to symbols in order to escape our destiny.”

Photos via Public Art Reston

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Spiraling Glass Sculpture to Debut at Signature Park in Reston Town Center

A spiraling tower of glass created by American glass artist Danny Lane is under construction next to the newly-opened Signature, Boston Properties’ 508-unit apartment building.

The artwork consists of stacked, iron glass on a granite plinth that can also be used as seating. The twisting form is placed at the center of the convergence point between three pedestrian paths.

The art piece is the “focal point” within Signature Park, which contains widened bike path, a play area for children and stairs leading to town center, according to Richard Ellis, Boston Properties’ vice president of development.

The site is under construction as work on landscaping continues, according Anne Delaney, executive director of Public Art Reston.

Here’s more about the piece and the artist from Public Art Reston:

The goal of the artwork is three fold. From macro to micro, our objective for the new Danny Lane sculpture site is: to enrich the civic life of greater Reston; to contribute a permanent sculpture to the Reston Town Center development that introduces a unique and elevating experience and to specifically form a connection between the new Signature residential tower that both harmonizes with the building’s elegant design and serves as a welcoming transition from the adjacent public green space.

Danny Lane is an American glass artist currently living and working in London. He is best known for his large scale glass and steel sculptures. Through his work, he contrasts the seeming fragility of glass as a material with the sturdiness of steel to create sculptures that are at once commanding and elegant. His work can be found in collections around the world, from London, to Hong Kong, to the United States.

Photo via Public Art Reston and Danny Lane

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Monday Morning Notes

Nominations Open for Volunteer Service Awards — Reston Association is seeking nominations for its annual Volunteer Reston Service Awards which recognize individuals, groups, families and businesses that are contributing to the community through volunteer service. Award winners will be announced at a ceremony at The Lake House on April 19. Nominations are due by Feb. 9. [Reston Association]

Artwork Available for Purchase from Monster Drawing Rally — Greater Reston Arts Center is selling remaining artwork from its live monster drawing valley event and fundraiser. During the program, more than 50 artists created artwork on site.  Pieces are available online. To purchase, email [email protected] or stop by the gallery. All proceeds benefit the center. [Greater Reston Arts Center]

Election Information Session Set for Jan. 3 — Individuals interested in running for an open seat on RA’s board of directors can attend the information session, which will provide an overview of the elections process and candidates’ roles and responsibilities. The session will take place at RA headquarter (12002 Sunrise Valley Drive) from 7 – 8 p.m. [Reston Association]

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