Retrospectives: Memorials and COVID Catharsis

Seeking some comfort from the humidity and heat and ways to support local artists? Check out one of the many exhibits in Alexandria!

Boy, I have no idea where we were when I shot this. Did we turn left or go straight on? Maybe we turned around. Whichever, this remains some of the prettyest country I’ve ever seen. I was in Southern Arizona near Patagonia. Scanned from Ektachrome shot in 1977. Okay, I figured out where I was. San Rafael Ranch (or San Rafael Cattle Company), San Rafael Valley, Santa Cruz County, Arizona. The land is now a Arizona State Park but there are no plans to open it to the public. The ranch house was built in about 1900 on what was a Spanish Land Grant.

Alexandria, VA – * The Art League at the Torpedo Factory in July features an open exhibit in the main gallery. Toni-Lee Sangastiano, a multidisciplinary artist specializing in imagery of the carnivalesque via painting, printmaking, paper marbleizing, sculptural books arts, typography, and maker technology, is the curator. Her interest in such an unusual theme was born of a childhood mesmerized by the boardwalks of the Jersey shore. Toni-Lee is an Assistant Professor of the Practice in Studio Arts and a Digital Media Specialist at Georgetown University. She lives in Alexandria.

The July 2021 Solo Exhibit spotlights the multi-media paintings of Yasmin Bussiere in a one-woman show called Eastern Light. She fuses spiritual reflections with landscapes, using metallic paints, pens, acrylics, and oil pastels to celebrate the Central Asia landscape where she has lived and traveled extensively. To quote the Art League, Yasmin’s work is organic, instinctive, and transportive. The Torpedo Factory is still closed Monday and Tuesday and open Wednesday-Sunday 12-4 pm.

* Atheneum ~ 201 Prince Street, Old Alexandria. July 1 – August 8, 2021: A Line Doesn’t End With Me is a solo show of the work of Farida Hughes. If you missed the marvelous Master Copyists from the National Gallery of Art Copyist Program, there will be a special program Saturday, July 10, 10 am-4 pm, the Learn How to Paint the Masters Workshop with master copyist Tanya Roland. The workshop fee is $120. Tickets may be purchased online at the Athenaeum website.

Blend 37, oil, resin, and graphite on a cradled wood panel by Farida Hughes at the Athenaeum in Old Town. (Photo The Athenaeum)

There is also a free Write Like a Woman Networking Workshop Saturday, July 17, 1-3 pm. Alexandria Poet Laureate KaNikki Jakarta welcomes amateur and professional writers ages 18-100 who want to focus on fine-tuning their writing styles through uplifting and inspirational written exercises. RSVP to [email protected]

* Del Ray Artisans ~ John Hiller Retrospective Photography Exhibit, July 1 – 17, 2021. John Hiller was a 40-year resident of Alexandria, longtime community activist, veteran Del Ray Artisans member and volunteer, as well as award-winning photographer and filmmaker who earned both an Oscar and an Emmy for his work.

The exhibit, curated by Karen Schmitz and John’s wife Alyssa Pease, features over five decades of his photographs plus personal mementos as a cinematographer, producer, director, and editor of a life journey well done. John Hiller won his Oscar for his work on The Stone Carvers, the 1984 Best Documentary Short Subject, which spotlighted the creators of the magnificent sculptural stonework and gargoyles of Washington’s National Cathedral.

There are special extended hours and additional gallery open days for the two-and-a-half-week run with selected works for sale. On Saturday, July 17 at 7 pm, a Native American Pipe Ceremony will take place outdoors, led by Torpedo Factory studio artist and DRA member Guy Jones. Free opening day reservation passes for half-hour viewing from 12-8 pm are available Friday, July 2. For passes and more information, go to

* Lyceum– The Alexandria History Museum ~ Witnessing Worship: A Photographic Study of Faith in Alexandria. In 1985, photographer Nina Tisara documented 50 worship groups throughout the City of Alexandria. Her project Converging Paths documents “the breadth, variety, and vitality of worship in the city.” There are 106 photographs on display and some of the equipment Nina used at the time to document the Alexandria worship community.

The Lyceum is at 201 South Washington Street Alexandria. 703-745-4994 Limited free parking is available. The museum is open Thursdays and Fridays, 11 am -4 pm, and Sundays, 11 am-5 pm. Times tickets are required. The exhibit is also available online.

* Potomac Fiber Arts Gallery, Studio 29 in the Torpedo Factory Art Center: Everything Old Is New—Recycling. The collective textile and fiber artists utilize upcycled/recycled materials to fashion works that illuminate the possibilities of recreating the old and worn-out into new and fabulous wearable, decorative art.

* Principle Gallery ~ exhibiting contemporary realism at 208 King Street since 1994. Ever-popular G.C. Meyers is back this summer at the gallery with a solo show. Works by Geoffrey Johnson, Mark Lague, Jeremy Mann, Christine Lashley, Martin Poole, Jacob Pfeiffer, and many more are also on display.

From Eastern Lights, Yasmin Bussiere’s painting on exhibit in the Solo Gallery at the Art League. (Photo The Art League)

* Target Gallery ~ The contemporary exhibition space for the Torpedo Factory Art Center hosts eight exhibitions annually. Omolarà Williams McCallister’s (pronouns O/love/beloved) We, Too, Sing America continues through July 18. A Year In runs July 24 through September 5, 2021. All visual artists in every medium were invited to exhibit in an expression of catharsis, marking the one year of COVID-19 shutdowns since March 2020. This special exhibit’s juror is D.C. artist and curator Nancy Daly, who teaches photography, visual literacy, and design at American University and George Mason University.

* Gallery Underground ~ The July all-member, all-media show is appropriately called “Hot” on Exhibit in the Focus Gallery from July1-30, 2021. Artists’ work in oil, acrylic, water media, pastel, sculpture, wood, glass, and ceramics expresses the sights and sensations of summer: temperature, color, water, sand, sea, and sky- depicting sizzling sunsets to serene seascapes, idyllic sails to tempting picnic-fare still life. The Gallery Underground is located at 2100 Crystal Drive in the Crystal City Shops, Arlington and is open Monday-Friday 10am-6pm, and by appointment, 571-483-0652.

ICYMI: Alexandria’s Black History Museum Director Speaks Out: “It Must Stop Now!”

Kelly MacConomy

Kelly MacConomy is the Arts Editor for The Zebra Press.

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