Community News

“Interstellar Influencer,” the Latest Waterfront Park Art Installation, Is Out of This World

Coye, and detailed corner work being done by a team member. (All photo Patrick Coye, except where noted.)

Alexandria, VA – Patrick Coye, owner of Patrick’s Painting and his team have painted a lot of things and fixed a lot of things. Fresh coats for commercial buildings and private residences? Check. Pressure washing? Check. Restoring wood decking? Check. Wallpapering? Check. Home improvement and remodeling? Check.

Now Coye can add to his list of happy customers the City of Alexandria, a pair of internationally famous Brooklyn artists, and…an asteroid.

And, touchdown! (Photo: Liz Bastos)

Coye’s team painted the ground mural for the asteroid-starring Interstellar Influencer (Make An Impact), the sixth in the Site See temporary public art installations at Old Town’s Waterfront Park.

Created by the award-winning artist/architect duo Leslie Chang and Jason Klimoski of STUDIOKCA, Interstellar Influencer uses a 600-pound dramatically hand-hammered metal orb, strobing red LED lights, and mist to represent the fiery asteroid that left the “85-kilometer-wide, 1.5-kilometer-deep crater… that helped to shape the entire Chesapeake Bay watershed.”


Did you know this? This Zebra writer sure didn’t know that 35 million years ago an asteroid crashed near what today is Alexandria and created the Chesapeake Bay! What a gap in the education of a native DMV-er! Hooray for educational, municipal art!

Asked if he had also just learned about our (now favorite) asteroid and impact crater, Coye said, “Right? Wow! It’s fascinating to think about.” It puts Washington, DC in perspective and explains how this whole area fits into deep geologic time.

The site is transformed and finally ready for the delivery of the asteroid!
Painting inside the lines, so carefully.

Leslie Chang of STUDIOKCA explained for the city’s Site See webpage, “We want this representation of the asteroid and its impact to raise awareness of the fragility of our shared existence on this planet and the extraordinary (and sometimes extraterrestrial) foundation of our modern cities and waterways.” Klimoski added, “We all share this one planet and live within the history of events that shaped it. Sometimes you have to look at it from the point of view of an asteroid hurtling through space 35,000,000 years ago to appreciate just how incredible it is we’re here at all.”

It is incredible. Without that asteroid, some 35 million years later, we wouldn’t have a deep Potomac River port on which our nation’s capital was built. The city has cool, cosmic origins. Coye said, “I was so glad my team of guys were able to be a part of interpreting this.”

“Can you imagine the time-lapse on a time frame like that?” said Coye’s project manager Jose Belmonte, joking as he shared with Zebra the link to the time-lapse video of the team painting the mural.

It was a process.

The timing had to be perfect because – this time– the asteroid’s arrival was not a surprise. It had a set date to arrive in Alexandria from the STUDIOKCA fabrication studio in New York.

To start, Coye’s team had to prepare the space. The asphalt pad at the Waterfront Park was thickly layered with mud from the recent forever rains. It needed to be power washed and then allowed to dry, but of course, the weather had other plans. Finally, a dry spell, a perfectly cool and sunny spring day, and Coye’s team locked in.

On the ground, lines had to be drawn to visually represent the reverberation of impact, and a bullseye sketched where the asteroid would rest. Coye’s team had basic specs from the artists, but the specific site geometry was theirs to math and map out. “My team enjoyed being creative and precise with this,” Coye said. Coye’s teams of painters and handymen are working artists too.

Their medium? First, a specially formulated Sherwin Williams durable floor-coating paint (for the concentric circles of white and dark, stormy-blue). Later, metallic spray paints in gold and silver were added for accents; the spray cans were wielded with exactness by veteran Patrick’s Painting team member Nick Pickering.

It was not the work of a moment. It took a week, working from dawn to dusk, for the team of three painters to finish the mural to their artistic standards.

Coye’s team measuring to the artists’ specifications.

Diane Ruggiero, Deputy Director of the Recreation, Parks & Cultural Activities Department for the City of Alexandria Office of the Arts said, “Patrick and his team have been great to work with. They’ve been helping to paint the murals for Site See since 2021.” Each project’s role is different – each year, they paint the background, and some years, like this year, they paint more of the mural design.”

She continued, “They are very helpful in ensuring that we do everything correctly (using proper paint, using the right amount, and ensuring the color match). But we love that they are always up for something new, like helping to paint the concentric circles for Interstellar Influencer. They take great attention to detail, and the outcome is always wonderful.”

At the installation’s opening celebration on Saturday, March 23, from 1-4 p.m., meet Coye, his team, the STUDIOKCA artists, and Ultimate Influencer, the asteroid without which we would not have our wonderful waterfront.

(Follow the city’s Instagram for a rain check. Because: Forever rains in Alexandria.)

ICYMI: Nominate a Living Legend in Alexandria By April 30

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Back to top button