Local Commentary

A Penny for Your Thoughts: News of Greater Falls Church

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Art took center stage (pun intended) at last week’s Board of Supervisors meeting as the board considered a proposal to amend Fairfax County’s Comprehensive Plan by adding a new section for the Visual and Performing Arts.

The proposal follows a 2008 recommendation by the Commission on the Future of the Arts in Fairfax County that the county should include arts planning and programming in its development policies. The policy must be diverse and inclusive, and arts facilities community based. Developers should be encouraged to incorporate potential arts venues and public art in their plans. The proposed policy noted that “the time has come…to develop a comprehensive cultural arts plan for arts facilities that meets the needs of the county residents.”

Arts and business advocates testified on behalf of the new language. Doug Brammer, area manager for Verizon and chairman of the Arts Council of Fairfax County, connected the new policy to jobs, education, economics, and quality of life. Skeeter Scheid, co-president of the Springfield Art Guild, pointed out that many of our young artists gravitate away from the county because of lack of facilities. She said that, without a space to perform, the Springfield Community Theatre struggles to remain viable. Jo Hodgin, Director of Planning and Initiatives for Wolf Trap, said, while the main stage at Wolf Trap is terrific, we need adequate space throughout the county for small theatre and dance companies to rehearse and perform, and for average citizens to try their hand at making their own art.

The Planning Commission amended the original draft proposal, removing language about proffers, contributions and land dedication. Those items are optional, not mandated. Language also addresses engagement of the community and maintenance of public art located on public land. The plan amendment is about more than new places to perform or new exhibit halls. It is about incorporating art into new and renovated structures, and development of locations for placement of art and artistic landmarks. Building architecture can be art: even parking garages can be interesting and artistic, depending on the form, façade, features, and the use of textures, color, and plantings.

Following nearly two hours of testimony and debate, including an attempt to deflect the debate to government involvement in the content of art, my motion passed by a vote of 9 to 1, Supervisor Pat Herrity (R-Springfield) voting “nay.” The new section of the Comprehensive Plan is a tribute to a lot of hard work by arts advocates and county staff, and a lasting legacy of Ann Rodriguez, executive director of the Arts Council until her untimely passing last October. Ann’s dedication to improving the quality of life for all Fairfax residents is memorialized in its successful passage.

The current “Art in the Workplace” exhibit at the Mason District Governmental Center, 6507 Columbia Pike in Annandale, features watercolors by Lake Barcroft resident David B. Goldstein. The exhibit features 19 paintings, some with an Asian-inspired touch. “Cart Man” depicts a worker pulling a cart, with an exquisitely colored peach and yellow background. It could be sunset, or sunrise – a gorgeous use of color. In a change of pace, “Snow Canoe” could be a Lake Barcroft rack of boats following a storm. “Wall Street Flags” is reminiscent of the famous Childe Hassam flag paintings, slightly subdued. The exhibit is open during office hours, Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. until 6 p.m.


Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be e-mailed at [email protected]