Don’t Miss Art on the Avenue!
Art on the Avenue returns to Del Ray on Saturday, October 1.
By Maureen Schweers
Alexandria, VA – Over 350 artists will descend on Mount Vernon Avenue in the heart of Del Ray on Saturday, October 1, for Art on the Avenue, the region’s top multicultural arts festival. While the artists’ backgrounds are diverse – this year’s artists include a firefighter, a former zookeeper, teachers, scientists, veterans, and more – many have a common link: they thrived in the Del Ray Artisans’ supportive arts community.
Founded in 1992, Del Ray Artisans is a local nonprofit whose mission is to support new and emerging artists and artisans, develop and foster community-based arts activities, and make the arts accessible to the community.
“The Del Ray Artisans helped build Del Ray as a destination for the arts,” said Art on the Avenue founder and chair Pat Miller. “The tremendous growth and success of Art on the Avenue would not be possible without the creative foundation that Del Ray Artisans set in our community.”
To celebrate Del Ray Artisans’ 30th Anniversary, visit these past and present members of the Del Ray Artisans during Art on the Avenue on October 1:
Even before the pandemic, Michele Banks described herself as “a weird person who likes to paint viruses.” She was an artist in residence at a fruit-fly lab in Paris in 2018. One of her COVID-19 paintings now hangs in the National Academy of Sciences art collection. At this year’s Art on the Avenue, she’ll showcase watercolor and ink paintings inspired by science, ranging from microbiology to neuroscience to climate change.
A textile designer and painter, Alanna S. Graboyes’ work is a love letter to her hometown, New York City. “I find inspiration in the colors and energy in the world around me, from the great masters of painting, from the patterns found in nature, and from the universe of textiles,” said Graboyes. She co-authored the first book written about New York’s SoHo Art District. This project continues to influence her art, as she incorporates “the rhythm and movement of the streets” into her hand-painted silk, felted wraps, and paintings.
Beth Schwartz Studio
Whether working as a mixed-media artist or a pathologist, Beth Schwartz describes herself as a visual thinker. “Eclectic is an apt descriptor for my inspiration,” said Schwartz. “I have photographed building cranes in Manhattan and birds in Jaipur for my artwork. Random sticks and wasps nests from my hikes get used and snippets from mid-century modern ads.” Do good while shopping Schwartz’s mixed-media collage wooden boxes, art dolls, key hooks, and journals: the artist donates 15% of all sales to Health Care for the Homeless.
Blue Room Studio/DMV Matchbooks
blueroomstudio.com and dmvmatchbooks.com
During the pandemic, graphic designer Laurel Prucha Moran turned her oil and watercolor painting hobby into an art and stationery business. She also launched her popular DMV Matchbooks project, celebrating local restaurants as they recovered after COVID-19 shutdowns. “I am most inspired by evidence of society and how planned design adds to natural beauty: a landscape with a bridge, a bouquet of flowers in a glass mason jar, the intersecting lines on the underside of a contemporary bridge,” said Moran. “Even my DMV Matchbooks project is a celebration of society and the amazing local restaurants that are the sites of our joyous occasions and landmark events.”
Hillary Burkett views her background in biology as “a rather surprising foundation” for her pursuits in art. “Over the years, I’ve learned that art and science have more common ground than I once realized,” said Burkett. “They are both highly experimental and require an astute attention to detail and a persistence of creative and resourceful solutions to challenges or tasks.” Burkett is a former zookeeper whose artisan jewelry is “inspired by the natural beauty that appears to be shy, from underwater riverbed terrain, geode crystalline structures, and other often overlooked, underground, under-appreciated beauty.”
Corrin Pumphrey works as a firefighter but uses her days off for painting and illustrating. “My favorite thing ever is to visit new locations with my sketchbook or paints and just walk for hours,” said Pumphrey. “I spend days just wandering and painting. It’s my happy place.”
@ColorTellaVisions on Instagram
A creative at heart and social and public health scientist by training, Molly Fitzgerald brings a burst of color to her paintings, upcycled jewelry, and original t-shirts. “I see a potential for art and interactive design as transformative tools to envision, or reimagine, solutions to complex health and social challenges,” said Fitzgerald. “In my dreams — literally and figuratively! – I’m really interested in the opportunity to connect, create or transform ideas and visual concepts in a way that inspires optimism, joy, health, and social change.”
E.Y.A.Y.A. stands for Embrace Yourself As You Are – a philosophy Patti Durbin weaves into her prints, notecards, copper queens, and copper angels. “My images are diverse, just as we are, and I believe they express the joy and uniqueness found in embracing yourself as you are,” said Durbin. “I love it when my art can help provide a daily reminder for my collectors of the joy of expressing their true selves.”
Dick Ratcliff cared for trees as an arborist; now, in retirement, he transforms trees that had to be removed in the urban forest into tables, charcuterie boards, turned art pieces, and hanging wall art. “I have worked with wood all of my life. All of my pieces are one-of-a-kind, showing off nature at its best,” said Ratcliff.
Kellie Sansone Creates
Like any great teacher, Kellie Sansone says she is “forever a student.” “I find myself pushing the limits and trying new techniques and styles to allow myself to grow as an artist and person,” said Sansone. “I find inspiration everywhere, and my kids are a big part because they love helping me decide what subjects to choose to paint.” Not all statement pieces come on huge canvases; one of Sansone’s most popular items is her “itty bitties” – original paintings on tiny, 2×2” canvases.
KPO Custom Designs
Memories of Africa inspire Kathryn Olson. She has personally collected most of the materials in her jewelry from different parts of Africa. During this year’s Art on the Avenue, she will feature Sea Bean Art. “If a sea bean could tell you its story, you would hear about tall tropical forests, streams, and rivers; trips in ocean currents; time spent swirling in the ocean and sometimes traveling thousands of miles to distant shores,” said Olson.
K&S Wood Crafts
Nasredin Gasmalla creates kitchenware, home, and personal decor crafted from sustainably sourced, environmentally friendly, and food-safe North African Tunisia Olive Wood, made from trees that can no longer carry olives. “The artistically smooth and elegant grain of the olive wood renders it one of the most beautiful in the world, allowing us to create carvings that will easily last a lifetime and be enjoyed by generations to come,” said Gasmalla.
Julie Jernigan, a self-proclaimed “Rajin’ Cajun,” pulls experiences and memories from her Cajun upbringing to create hand-fabricated sterling and gemstone pieces. “My funky way with metals and media is an extrapolation of experiences and memories from my Cajun upbringing, translated into uniquely fabulous treasures, hand-fabricated in fine metals and gems, combining a flair for the fabulous with a classic sense of style,” said Jernigan. “I aim for my work to be fabulous, fun, luxurious, and accessible,”
While her background is in teaching Russian and Armenian, Diana Papazian followed in her family’s footsteps in pursuing art. “I find inspiration anywhere and everywhere –- nature, architecture, movies, my son and his amusing drawings,” said Papazian. Her enamel jewelry does double-duty – it is all reversible, making it a two-in-one work of art.
Stained Glass by Kib
A retired Air Force veteran, Ernest “Kib” Kibler is passionate about stained glass art. “I absolutely love using a vibrant array of color in my work,” said Kibler. “ I also enjoy incorporating a unique style of fused glass in my panels.” At this year’s Art on the Avenue, Kibler will feature various sessional glass works and modern and contemporary art; don’t miss his reclaimed illumination doors.
After putting aside her sketchbook for over 20 years to focus on her graphic design business, Stephanie Darlene rediscovered her love of drawing in 2018. “I create illustrations that capture the beauty and essence of living things to encourage others to take notice of their everyday surroundings,” said Darlene. “I make my art accessible by selling it as prints and on cards in my online shop. I also enjoy licensing my work on home decor, gift, and stationery items. I believe life feels lighter and brighter when surrounded by beautiful things.”
Stephen Lally Pottery
A Del Ray Vintage & Flea Market favorite, Stephen Lally’s pottery is influenced by the blended traditions of functional pottery from England and Japan. “My pots are influenced by the shapes I encounter in the natural world—the shape of a seed pod, a crevice in a rock, or bones protruding against skin,” said Lally. He encourages festival-goers to handle his stoneware and porcelain, which is wood-fired for more than 24 hours up to a temperature of 2,300F. “I am a strong believer that you need to pick up and hold the pots to see whether they fit for you,” said Lally. “Please try out the handles of my mugs or how the bourbon sippers feel in your hands.”
Syd Evans Art
A Virginia native, Syd Evans’ moody cloudscapes and seascapes reflect her experiences growing up on the east coast. Her Art on the Avenue debut will highlight her self-described “dichotomous personal styles.” While she is known for her high-contrast, oversized cloudscapes and still-life work in muted colors, acrylic, and oil, she also enjoys journal-style ink and watercolor fantasy illustrations. “Inspiration is flighty, and I chase it across subjects and media. I’m always experimenting with a new style,” said Evans.
Victoria Barnes Photography
A lifelong shutterbug, Victoria Barnes dove into photography professionally five years ago. “I find inspiration in all things nature,” said Barnes. “I often visit local gardens and spend hours among the flower beds. Watching the trees blow in the wind and the water lap at the edges of the shore brings me joy. Nature makes me calm, and I try to show that in my work. I love finding flowers that are not perfect or are withering. I often photograph them and then try to show them in a new way that makes them beautiful.” Her Art on the Avenue booth will feature framed photographic works, matted prints, note cards, and specialty items.
Yellow Dot Designs
Ellen Hamilton is a graphic designer, book designer, and writer on history who designs greeting cards, art prints, bags, and apparel. She also sews hats and purses using hand-printed fabrics. Scottish Walk fans, take note: her latest purses and hats are made with hand-woven tweed purchased in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides, plus the 2nd Edition of her book, A Scottish Migration to Alexandria, will be available this month.
Art on the Avenue takes place Saturday, October 1, 10 am to 6 pm, on Mount Vernon Avenue between Hume and Bellefonte Avenues in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria. Held each fall, Art on the Avenue strives to reflect the diversity of the Del Ray community through the artists and their work. The event, voted by Virginia Living readers as one of the top arts events in Northern Virginia, is volunteer-run, with support from the local business community. Learn more at artontheavenue.org.