As the weather warms, creativity blooms in Alexandria, Virginia, just minutes from Washington, D.C. This spring, the new expansion of Waterfront Park welcomes a sound-responsive, rainbow-hued public art installation. The interactive piece is just one way to experience—and influence—Alexandria’s arts scene. Keep reading for more ways to make and marvel at art of all mediums, from music and sound art to cocktails and crafting.
1. Interactive Waterfront Art
This spring, step inside Mirror Mirror, a new sound-responsive interactive public art installation on the Old Town Alexandria waterfront. This temporary site-specific work, by New York’s SOFTlab design studio helmed by artist and architect Michael Szivos, blends history and technology to inaugurate Alexandria’s annual public art series. Walk, dance, play and sing inside and around the 25-foot diameter, eight-foot tall art installation and be bathed in rainbow-hued light as the piece responds to sounds you make. The artwork draws inspiration from the prismatic lens used at Alexandria’s historic Jones Point Lighthouse—the Fresnel lens, considered the most advanced lens technology of the 1800s. Celebrate the unveiling of Mirror Mirror at the public reception on March 30, 2019, in the new expansion of Waterfront Park at the foot of King Street. The highly Instagrammable work, hashtag #mirrormirrorALX, will be on display through November.
2. Art Parties
Art on the Vine & Art on the Rocks
Sip and view curated art-wine pairings at The Art League’s Art on the Vine event on March 22, 2019, at the Torpedo Factory Art Center. If you prefer cocktails, don’t miss the chance to sample the creations of local restaurants as they vie for the best cocktail, appetizer and artwork combination at Art on the Rocks on May 3, 2019.
March150 Art Party
March150 features 200 unique 10 by 10-inch works by local artists, on display at the Torpedo Factory’s Target Gallery from March 9 to March 31, 2019. On March 29, 2019, the exhibit culminates with the 9th annual March150 Art Party. Event attendees can purchase artwork for just $100 while enjoying food and drinks from local restaurants, live art demos and interactive performances.
Cherry Blossom Celebration & BunnyFest
The Torpedo Factory Art Center will also host two free open houses for spring-themed revelry, at the Cherry Blossom Celebration and BunnyFest. On April 6, 2019, enjoy an indoor hanami (flower viewing), where artists display and create blossom-themed works, accompanied by more activities and performances. On April 20, 2019, bunny motifs leap across all mediums as artists produce and sell their cottontail-inspired prints, dishware, etchings and more. At this family-friendly fest, participants can rock their own pair of rabbit ears while designing BunnyFest buttons and crafts.
3. Hands-on Happenings
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Factory Flow: A Healthy Art Series
Activate your muscles along with your right brain at the Torpedo Factory Art Center’s “Factory Flow” yoga series, occurring this spring on April 6 and May 4, 2019. This unique experience melds yoga instruction with insight from sound artists and dance instructors for a multi-sensory workout.
Classes & Workshops at Local Makerspaces
From sewing and jewelry making to the art of letter writing, Alexandria is filled with inviting opportunities to hone your skills or learn a new one. At paper goods boutique Penny Post, pen a message to a pal with Correspondence Club on April 6, 2019, or grow your own May flowers at the crepe peonies workshop on May 8, 2019.
There are plenty of other ways to revisit an old hobby or adopt a new one. Design your own home décor at AR Workshop, try your hand at knitting at fibre space, learn to embroider at Stitch Sew Shop or make your own accessories at Wear Ever Jewelry. Looking for even more classes? Check out the offerings at The Art League or Del Ray Artisans.
4. Gallery Exhibits
Torpedo Factory Art Center
To discover new D.C.-area artists, head to Target Gallery’s annual exhibition, 2019 Emerging Artists. The exhibit spans April 10 to June 5, 2019, with the opening reception happening April 12, 2019, during Late Shift: Art on the Horizon.
Also located inside the Torpedo Factory Art Center, The Art League Gallery features two don’t-miss exhibits this spring. From March 5 to April 5, 2019, view Ann Pickett’s collection, “The Exuberance of Life,” a joyful marriage of abstract expressionism and figure representation. Then, from April 9 through May 5, 2019, discover Megan Partridge’s “Bugs.”
Old Town Galleries
Take advantage of the warming weather and stroll to other art galleries throughout Old Town for more enchanting and provocative exhibits. Visit The Athenaeum from April 18 to June 2, 2019 to glimpse Barbara Januszkiewicz’s “Lyrical Flight,” where sight and “sound” overlap in vivid pieces such as “Led Zepellin’s Dancing Days.”
At St. George Gallery, co-owner Saba Alene narrows her lens on Ethiopian art and furniture, having pioneered Addis Ababa’s gallery scene in the 1990s. At Principle Gallery on King Street, you’ll find contemporary realism art, while Kyo Gallery on S. Patrick Street curates a diverse global collection.
Del Ray Artisans
After exploring Old Town’s art scene, head to Mount Vernon Avenue where you’ll find Del Ray Artisans’ boundary-pushing exhibitions. Their spring offerings include (No) Comfort Zone, open from April 5 to April 28, 2019, and Sacred Feminine, open from May 3 to June 2, 2019.
5. Live Music
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Experience Alexandria’s vibrant live music scene at any number of local hotspots, including Murphy’s Irish Pub, Sonoma Cellar and the Basin Street Lounge at 219. Then, snag tickets to one of the spring concerts below.
The Birchmere: America’s Legendary Music Hall will host big-name artists alongside up-and-comers this spring at their acclaimed, intimate venue. On March 27, 2019, catch American Idol alum David Archuleta. Then, on April 7, 2019, Keiko Matsui will offer up a jazz-infused piano set. Fans of the 1976 version of A Star is Born can spend an evening with co-star Kris Kristofferson and his band on April 25 and April 26, 2019. For an unforgettable night of genre-bending music, catch crossover violinist Damien Escobar’s “Elements of Love” tour on May 14, 2019.
Alexandria Symphony Orchestra: Rachmaninoff
On April 6 to April 7, 2019, the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra will present two ambitious nights of classical music. Conductor James Ross and pianist Marianna Prjevalskaya will tackle Sergei Rachmaninoff’s notoriously complicated Concerto No. 3 alongside pieces by Schumann and Reznicek.
Step back in time to New York City’s Jazz Age at Carlyle Club. Their red carpet entrance and art deco décor set the stage for tribute bands, DJs, themed dance parties and more.
6. Local Theater
Here’s a look at what’s on stage this spring in Alexandria as MetroStage takes some time off in anticipation of moving to their new home on N. Fairfax Street.
The Little Theatre of Alexandria
The Little Theatre of Alexandria, celebrating its 85th birthday, presents a searing theological comedy, The Savannah Disputation, from April 27 to May 18, 2019. Then, from June 8 to June 29, 2019, enjoy a lighthearted, slapstick romance with A Fox on the Fairway.
Monumental Theatre Company
Monumental Theatre Company is Alexandria’s Helen Hayes Award-winning company dedicated to producing contemporary works by millennial playwrights. From March 7 to March 30, 2019, Daddy Long Legs’ two-person cast will charm viewers with their melodious love story, while Flip Flop Reverse premieres in May. Young theater-goers can watch a plucky first-grader come into her own in the musical Dress Up Day on March 16 and March 23, 2019.
7. Art for a Cause
6th Annual Jazz4Justice Benefit Concert
In partnership with Legal Services of Northern Virginia and the Alexandria Bar Foundation, The Torpedo Factory Art Center presents a rousing night of Jazz4Justice on April 30, 2019. Special guest Warren Wolf will play the vibraphone alongside the NOVA Nighthawks. While admission is free, donations contribute to local programs for abused children and the elderly as well as legal aid support for low-income Alexandrians.
Veterans Comedy Show with Armed Services Arts Partnership
On May 17, 2019, the Torpedo Factory will host the popular and poignant Veterans Comedy Show with Armed Services Arts Partnership (ASAP). Come for the humor and human connection as ASAP gives voice to local veterans, service members and military families.
On April 18, 2019, Creative Writing with Community Building Art Works further encourages the military community’s self-expression via the written word and invites anyone to join in on the workshop.
8. Water Taxi to National Acts
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Plan an unforgettable spring night dining al fresco at one of Old Town Alexandria’s top restaurants, then hop on the Potomac Riverboat Company’s water taxi for an evening cruise to The Wharf or National Harbor to attend the showstoppers below.
At The Wharf’s hottest venue, sing along with Meghan Trainor at iHeartRadio’s Blossom Bash on April 5, 2019, and country music king Kenny Chesney on April 18 to April 19, 2019. Maren Morris will promote her latest release on May 2, 2019, with Broadway star Ben Platt rounding out the season on May 11, 2019.
Steps from the dock at The Wharf, the region’s premier playhouse for American theater debuts JQA this spring, reimagining John Quincy Adams onstage. Junk, on stage April 5 to May 5, 2019, explores Wall Street hubris, while Jubilee’s a cappella show April 26 to June 2, 2019 traces Fisk University’s barrier-breaking vocalists.
MGM National Harbor
Within eyesight of the Alexandria Marina, MGM National Harbor is just a short water taxi ride away and invites you to catch living legends in an intimate venue. See Mariah Carey on March 31, 2019, Chicago on April 6, 2019, and The Temptations & The Four Tops on May 3, 2019.
Header Image Credit: Photography by Alan Tansey