The Painting's on the Wall

With a flash of color and whimsy, you can’t miss this cultural hive.

It's on a busy street. In a semi-industrial section of Shirlington. Hidden by trees. Surrounded by car repair shops. Right next to the dog park. And not far from Arlington’s legendary hot dog stand Weenie Beenie. Those might well be the directions given many patrons over the years who are otherwise en route to Theatre on the Run for a performance or to Studio 3700 for classes and rehearsals. Determined supporters of the arts have long navigated the quirky trail, often winding up on interstate 395 or on one of several dead-end streets. No one would be surprised if bread crumbs have been considered.

Of course directional signs and GPS help, but a dedicated group of artists using spaces in the cultural hub at 3700 South Four Mile Run Drive was sure there was a more creative way to find their home of creativity. The cohort of building users known as the Left Bank Alliance (among them WSC Avant Bard, Jane Franklin Dance and Halau O’Aulani), approached County staff from Arlington Economic Development and the Department of Parks and Recreation to help bring visibility to the hidden gem.

With input from building users, community members and County staff, it was determined that a temporary exterior mural would be facilitated by Arlington Cultural Affairs to address the needs of the users and visitors. And not without fun. Local artist Ham Smith was identified to paint the building mural with icons that are as family friendly as they were edgy, multicultural, a little off beat and whimsical. Set on a background of saffron yellow, the artist reflects the vibrancy of the building’s daily activities with images that claim the creative identity.

Still not sure about the directions? Just look on the bright side.

Topic: Creative Economy