If you have spent time in Falls Church City, or even just driven through it, you have noticed the Beyer Automotive’s Man Eating Dog Food sculpture, the hot air balloon mural in Mr. Brown’s Park, or the Tinner Hill Monument. They are Little City landmarks and some of more than 40 pieces of public art in The Little City.
Falls Church’s Arts & Humanities Council is highlighting the City’s public art through its new Falls Church Art Walk initiative. Mary Sellers and Ariadne Autor, AH Council’s at-large members, and Vice Mayor Letty Hardi, AH Council City Council liaison, have spearheaded an effort to document the City’s public art and make it more accessible and approachable. Under their leadership, and with assistance from the Falls Church Economic Development Authority, the Recreation and Parks Authority, and some Meridian High School students, Falls Church public art is now documented and online. An official launch of the self-guided tour and website will take place at the Falls Church Farmer’s Market on World Art Day, Saturday, April 15.
The Art Walk currently includes 36 pieces created or commissioned by businesses, citizens, developers, and the City. According to Mary Sellers, “The arts are vital to establishing a sense of community and documenting history or traditions. As a new resident of Falls Church City, I love stumbling upon the different pieces of artwork that are tucked away in different corners of the city. The challenge is that I’m left with many questions about the artist, process, or origin of that artwork. Art Walk solves this problem by allowing the public to access information about the artwork and celebrate who we are as a community.”
The website includes photos, artist recognition, descriptions, locations, routes, and a map. Media include murals, sculptures, arches, monuments, and architecture. Falls Church Arts’ gallery and Jefferson Street Artists’ studios are included as well. Ten more pieces will be added to the site soon, while a number of additional pieces, including a Tinner Hill mural and projects in new building developments will be added as they are completed. Placards with a QR code to access more information will be affixed to the pieces in the coming weeks, thanks to funding by the City’s EDA.
The Art Walk is a testament to the AH Council and to the community at large. As stated by Councilwoman Letty Hardi,“We’re fortunate to have an established and growing arts and culture community. Civic engagement and volunteerism are hallmarks of our community, and the Art Walk has been a great example of that collaboration come to life. With more planned public and private investment in art, I look forward to seeing new pieces added to the Art Walk in the coming years.”
For decades, business owners were the primary providers of public art in Falls Church. Beyer Automotive’s Man Feeding Pigs sculpture and Foxes Music’s Elvis on Mt. Rushmore mural, and the Eden Center Arch have been City landmarks for decades. Now, thanks to the City’s inclusion of art as a development requirement, the creation of the AH Council, artistically inclined developers, the Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation, and the involvement of artists and art lovers, more and more art installations will be added to the City’s landscape.
According to The Young Group’s Bob Young, who is also chair of Falls Church’s Economic Development Authority and the developer of Falls Church’s iconic flower and art nouveau themed commercial and mixed use buildings, “I believe that public art is very important to the community and, albeit indirectly, to economic development. As one drives or walks or bicycles through a community, art provides (if it exists) a vibe that reflects the community and its values.” Further, he states, “public art is important in creating a vibe in a community, along with the retail, restaurants, bars, etc.” The Young Group is also responsible for one of the City’s more recent murals, located on the Lily Building on the 100 block of E. Fairfax.
Falls Church residents and business leaders are fortunate to live, play, and work in a community that values public art and the benefits it relays. Public art has transformed the Falls Church landscape and helped create a better sense of community while providing a free source of entertainment, reflection, and stress relief. And now, thanks to the efforts of the AH Council, it is organized and easily accessible for all. Visit The Falls Church Art Walk website to see these various artworks. Information about unknown artists is welcomed.