Art on the Ground, Underground

By Robert F. Murray, the von Brahler Ltd

Overview of the unique underground art gallery in Crystal City. Courtesy photo.
Overview of the unique underground art gallery in Crystal City. Courtesy photo.

This large, appealing space is home to the Arlington Artists Alliance, where members monthly exhibit art that includes representational and  abstract paintings, pottery, sculpture and other mediums by both students as well as established and professional artists. It’s a fascinating art venue on the way to the Metro (Blue Line) and Crystal City business complexes on the same level as many other shops and eateries.  It may be under ground but this Gallery is on the mark for the steady stream of gallery and art lovers on-the-go.

Jessica Mickey and Sandi Parker co-direct all the activities of the gallery.  Both are superbly friendly, knowledgeable and willing to show you around and share tidbits about a current show and the work of the Alliance.  They do two interesting presentations each month. In September, for example, there is a show called, “Rain of my Soul,” paintings by Nihal Kececi, in their FOCUS GALLERY, a special section devoted to special interest groups, causes or art styles that are selected for particular emphasis.  The other main sections of the gallery are devoted to the MEMBERS SHOW that presents sculpture, glass, jewelry and all manners of paintings – it is a changing experience, so many spend time perusing the collection often.  Moreover, for the record, artists and gallerists appreciate those who come and go to see what’s going on and do not feel the pressure of having to purchase something every time.  One practical thing I noticed, though, in my times there, is that the work itself is generally of manageable sizes for those who are already collectors and have run out of room for more art.  I was also attracted to the pricing on most work. It struck me as low, but I learned this Alliance can keep their prices low because of the practical way they are structured, a model they can quickly explain for artists who wish to join.

Many people want to learn how to paint or to find the time to do their artwork.  With that in mind,  Gallery Art Underground regularly does “Gallery Uncorked” where, during shared glasses of wine, a lead artist selects a subject matter, provides the materials and creates the space and help to anyone wishing to take part.  This happens on Thursdays and a call to the gallery will give you the low cost and the particulars.

This is a happy place.  If, by chance, you can’t make it there in person, they have an interactive website at  However, you know, for my money, looking or purchasing art online is a second option.  Original art ( as opposed to print editions) carries its own soul that can only be experienced or felt firsthand.

Montebello Women #4 by Anna Schalk. Courtesy photo.
Montebello Women #4 by Anna Schalk. Courtesy photo.

September’s Artist of the Month at Art Underground is Anna Schalk. Her oil, “Montebello Women #4” is shown here and her “Presence,” a  mixed media work was one of the first intriguing paintings I admired during my recent coverage of the August show.  I admired the traditionally perfect oils by George Bowles as well as Laura Clerici’s striking icons.  There’s art for every age here and well worth your effort and time. It is a recreational, educational and cultural experience in our local world of art.

Gallery Art Underground is located at 2100 Crystal Drive in Arlington. They can be reached at 571-483-0652 or [email protected].


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