Art Newz & Eventz

The Art Scene Around Town: Parties Are Aplenty

Rose-scented Flirtations (Rebirth) by Maggie Lemak ~ part of the exhibit spotlighting the sumptuously illustrated Art Novel version of The Secret Garden revisited published by Bond & Grace. (Photo Maggie Lemak)

Alexandria, VA – The biggest complaint about life in Alexandria is all the more prevalent this spring: So MANY events. Too LITTLE time! The art scene leads the Port City pARTy with celebrations from the Potomac to the West End.

On March 22, the Principle Gallery kickstarted the spring celebratory season with a 30th-anniversary soiree at its Old Town gallery. Many of their longtime exhibiting artists were among the 40 invited to participate. Michael T. Davis was in the gallery painting a portrait of famed salon owner and TV celebrity Monty Durhan to the diverting live Jazz/Funk/New-Soul and Pop stylings of DeJay Sax.

pARTy Time ~ Excellent! The new exhibit on view at the Gallery at Canal Place celebrates Alexandria’s 275th anniversary. The theme is “What Does Alexandria Mean to Me? (Photo Kelly MacConomy)

April brought lots of showers and the second annual Party for the Arts, held at the Canal Center Plaza on the Potomac in the North Old Town Arts District. This year, the pARTay, organized by the indefatigable Pat Miller, celebrated Alexandria’s 275th anniversary. In conjunction with this auspicious occasion, the Gallery at Canal Place is hosting an exhibit of Alexandria-based artists and art spaces whose work is inspired by the theme “What Alexandria Means to Me.”

Galleries across the City, such as Del Ray Artisans, Kyo Gallery, Galactic Panther, Nepenthe, Principle Gallery, and the Torpedo Factory Art Center, submitted artwork for consideration. The exhibit spotlights traditional landscapes and portraiture and expressive abstracts in all mediums representing the meaning of place.

All the art on exhibit is created by local and nationally known artists who show their work in Alexandria. This city anniversary homage exhibit, organized by the Alexandria Arts Alliance, is spearheaded by Pat Miller and Jason Longfellow, the Alliance president and manager of Kyo Gallery. The exhibit runs from the April 27 Party for the Arts Kickoff through June 30. The gallery is at 11 Canal Plaza in Old Town. Check the website for exhibit hours.

Across town in the West End, Brett Johnson, Curator of Artistic Advancement for the City of Alexandria, and Jason Longfellow have organized a citywide gallery and art space exhibit hosted by the Mark Center Hilton. In addition to the art spaces represented in the exhibit, the Canal Center artists from the following creative spaces and galleries are on exhibit: The Athenaeum, Discover Graphics Atelier, Enamelists Gallery, Fire On – Studio 22, Multiple Exposures Gallery, Potomac Fiber Arts Gallery, Printmaker’s, Inc., Scope Gallery, The Art League Gallery, and the Van Landingham Gallery. The eclectic artwork is exhibited in the hotel lobby through July 14. A reception will be hosted by Hilton, TBD.

This month is the last of the National Gallery’s East Building after-hours art soirées. NGA Nights are held on the second Thursday of the month in spring and fall from 6:00 until 9 pm. The May theme is called Art Prom. If you missed your high-school prom, this is your do-over opportunity to dress up (formal or fun attire encouraged), join the prom court wearing your DIY crown created during the makers activity, and then pose for your prom pic. After that, it’s time to perambulate as Kings and Queens of the DMV art scene, ending the pARTy by dancing the night away to DJ Heat’s jam.

A lottery to get free tickets to enter the building is held one week before the event. The May lottery opened Monday, April 29, at 10 am and closed on May 2 at noon. If you missed entering or didn’t win, you can ask any staffer about day-of walkup tickets. There will also be music, dancing, artful activities, and pARTying outside across the 4th Street Plaza. Come for the art. Stay for the prom. Maybe you’ll get invited to an “after” after-hours prom pARTay!

May means flowers brought on by all those April Showers. At Nepenthe Gallery, it’s a garden pARTy. On May 2 from 6 to 7:30 pm, Nepenthe celebrates the 75th anniversary of the Hollin Hills House and Garden Tour. Floral works are paired with Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired art, just as the historic 362-acre planned community was when built between 1949 and 1971.

It’s an eclectic group of Nepenthe’s fine artists on exhibit, kicking off the diamond anniversary house and garden tour: Barbara Januszkiewicz, Romero Britto, Pamela and Patrick White, William R. Sutton, Kim Smith, Hunt Slonem, Alma Ramirez, Anne Meagher-Cook, Jennifer Liam, and Kim Yourick. Barbara Januszkiewicz has also worked on an exhibit at the Canal Center gallery.

Gallery assistant Sierra Koker celebrates the 30th anniversary of the Principle Gallery in Old Town with Director Thomas Provost. (Photo Kelly MacConomy)

If you can’t make it for the WINE + CHEESE + ART on May 2 and missed the garden tour but are a floral art and classic literature aficionado, don’t despair. On May 30, Nepenthe welcomes Bond and Grace, a women-owned publishing and art house, presenting a special program, “The Secret Garden Rebloomed,” based on their art novel reboot of The Secret Garden.

Bond and Grace has published the original text from the classic novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett, complemented with new, original art from 12 diverse artists, replete with a clamshell presentation box and a vegan leather spine. All the original artwork illustrating the “Art Novel” is available for purchase. The evening promises to be an indoor garden pARTy with Secret Garden artists and garden-inspired artwork, celebrating a great good read while elevating the artful palette of a fantasy garden and the magic of childhood imagination.

Garden and tea pARTies aren’t exactly everyone’s cup of, well, you know, tea. Or ARE they?

Portrait of iconic actor/comedian Bill Murray by Sanchez McGrath, part of the Americulture Exhibit on view at Galactic Panther. (Photo Sanchez McGrath)

Over at Galactic Panther, the pARTy goes on weekly with intergalactic open-mic night, rap/poetry/comedy workshops, live music, and dance parties for charitable causes such as Gaza relief. Local Indie band Color School, started by Alexandrian Bill Kalish and Jerry Hergenreder, even performed last month in a Spring2ACTion fundraiser for Together We Bake, the nonprofit founded by Virginia State Delegate and former Alexandria Councilmember Elizabeth Bennett-Parker.

But on May 7 from 6:00 – 9:00 pm, the first of a series at the gallery serves up The Art of Sipping Tea with artist and expert tea sommelier Erik Muendel of ESP Tea and Coffee. It’s a deep dive beyond the proper cup of tea into the diverse world of tea-totaling, as well as cultivation. Given there are 220 varieties of the tea plant, with Eric presenting 3-6 blends per tasting, it might take almost a year to sample and savor them all!

What’s more social, culturally significant, and ceremonial than tea time? The event fee is $22 and includes, in addition to the tea tasting, a creative exercise inspired by the love of tea, instructed by Erik and Galactic Panther artist See Ellauri.

Floral Infusion by Susan Ok Shumate, co-curator of The Art of Tea with Sue Shunate at the Del Ray Artisans Gallery. (Photo Susan Ok Shumate)

Speaking of tea pARTying and the intersection of tea and creativity, the new exhibit at Del Ray Artisans is coincidentally The Art of Tea. The May exhibit, curated by artists Suzan Ok Shumate and her mother-in-law Sue Shumate opens Friday, May 3, and runs through June 2. From Alice’s Mad Hatter tea party in Wonderland to the Boston Tea Party of Paul Revere’s teapot making, this exhibit explores the ancient art of tea time and its influences throughout art history.

Portrait of Old Town Salon Owner and TV Personality Monte Durham from Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta, painted by Michael T. Davis. (Photo Kelly MacConomy)

Not only will there be an opening reception on May 3 from 7-9 pm (free and open to the public), but on Saturday, May 25, from 10 am – 12 pm, the gallery hosts Morning Tea. Fasten those fashionable fascinators and don your fancy frocks – or come as you are in jeans and a fun TEE shirt. A selection of teas, tea-time savories, and sweets will be served while you sip and slip into sweet serenity now. Tickets are $35 for Del Ray Artisans members and $45 for non-members.

Tickets may be purchased at

Whatever you plan to do this spring, be it tea pARTying, touring garden pARTies, or going to an after-prom pARTy, be sure to visit the Gallery at the Canal Center on the Potomac. Discover what Alexandria means to our local art-scene talent. Just please don’t toss tea in the river.

Happy 275th anniversary Alexandria. pARTy on and on and ON!

ICYMI: Don’t Miss Alexandria’s Second Annual FREE Party for the Arts, Saturday, April 27, 11 am to 7 pm


Kelly MacConomy

Kelly MacConomy is the Arts Editor for The Zebra Press.

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