Crystal City is taking an artful approach to liven up its underground shopping district: Art Underground launches this weekend.
The Crystal City Business Improvement District, or BID, is working with area businesses to improve the image of the underground Crystal City Shops and to bring more exposure to its mazes of shopping, dining and art.
“We sort-of know what it looks like now, but in two years it could be so much bigger,” said Angela Fox, the BID's chief executive. “We’re excited to see how it morphs and grows.”
Art Underground kicks off from 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday with an open house that will allow visitors and guests to tour the Gallery Underground, view photography taken from all over the world, and participate in an ArtJamz mega-paint event.
“You will have opportunities to paint, you can learn about art, you can watch an artist work, you can explore your own art opportunities as well,” Fox said.
The BID, along with property owner Vornado/Charles E. Smith and the Arlington Artists Alliance, hope that the addition of artistic opportunities will allow visitors to rethink how they view Crystal City — transforming what they once viewed as a concrete box to a vibrant location.
To that end, empty stores have been changed into private art studios available for rent; the Northern Virginia Art Center, renamed Gallery Underground, will continue to exhibit local artists.
The main columns and entrances to the five-block underground maze will also boast colorful murals.
A mix of selected winning photographs from FotoDCwill continue to hang from the walls of the shopping and dining center, exhibits that will change every six months.
“It’s so exciting,” said Gallery Underground Co-Director Sandi Parker. “It’s going to bring in this vibrancy and all these art lovers.”
ArtJamz, a self-described “hybrid bar, lounge, public art studio, school and gallery,” will add some color to the open house by allowing 100 pre-selected participants to paint on an 8-by-10 canvas over the four-hour event Saturday.
Anyone not pre-selected can contribute to a large communal canvas that ArtJamz plans to hang in a new Underground Studio.
“We're excited to be launching our ArtJamz Underground Studio as much as we are about being part of this pretty cool initiative to reshape underground Crystal City into an arts corridor/destination,” Michael M. Clements, ArtJamz’s chief creative enabler, told Patch in an email.
Through spring, Clements said, ArtJamz will serve as a monthly pop-up, but it is looking at building a stationary residency in the Underground.
Snacks will be provided for open house attendees, and a cash bar will be on location.
“We are continually adding to the Crystal City experience for tenants, residents, visitors, and the surrounding community,” said Mara Olguin, Vornado/Charles E. Smith senior vice president of marketing told Patch. “Art Underground adds an exciting new dimension of art and culture to Crystal City.”