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Old 01-26-2012, 10:05 AM
 
Location: Tysons Corner
2,772 posts, read 3,656,798 times
Reputation: 1495

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So I'll start this with a plug for my local information/news/editorial blog with an article I wrote recently about the changes coming to some of the denser parts of Fairfax in which the County is looking for more public art to be incorporated into typical streetscapes and developments.

Urban Design Part 3: Culture and Space | The Tysons Corner

When I have discussed this with people from as many sources as other developers/planners to the people at fairfaxunderground, regardless of the crudity of the response, the same essential response was given. NOVA has no culture.

I've lived in Northern Virginia my entire life, I've also traveled to lots of parts of the world as well as US/Canada and while I would say clearly we aren't on the forefront of innovative ideas and culture on par with New York, Paris, London, Montreal, (lesser degree Seattle, Vancouver, and LA) I would say we aren't just devoid of an original thought like some parts of America. Yes we are suburban but we are also a very well educated population who compared to the median is more knowledgable about other cultures, history, and art. Arlington has the Artisphere, there are several theater companies in NOVA including First Stage in Tysons (the newest), we have the State Theater which is a great music venue as well as wolftrap (only over the past 10 years has this become the 94.7 station music venue), and we have the torpedo factory and other art institutions support physical art as well.

So I guess my question is are we really dependent on DC to dictate to us what culture is? Or is DC taking hints from us sometimes too?

So if you know of any local artists, musicians, writers lets make this the thread to bring them up and get them some notoriety (atleast in the realm of NOVA) and I'll try to cover more about them on my own webpage as well. So lets post links to their pages, youtube videos, book synopsis on this thread and start supporting these creative types that get little credit
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Old 01-26-2012, 10:15 AM
 
Location: New-Dentist Colony
5,740 posts, read 8,982,977 times
Reputation: 3858
The suggestion that NOVA has no culture is ridiculous. We have Wolf Trap, the State Theater, the Birchmere, the Nissan Pavilion (haha-just kidding), numerous tiny community theaters (e.g., the Little Theater and As Was Written, both in Alexandria). The likes of Stewart Copeland and Dave Grohl came from NOVA. Jim Morrison even lived in Arlington for several years. Loudoun County was named for Loudoun Wainwright.*

But the larger point is that NOVA is just one part of the DC Metro area. I live closer to the Kennedy Center, the Warner Theater, and the National Theater than I do many venues in NOVA. (I refuse to use the pretentious British spelling of "theater." What, because someone is artsy, they're suddenly English? Come on.)

DC doesn't "dictate" what culture is, but its cultural attractions are one of the key attributes of living here. Does NOVA have its own, separate, distinct culture? Of course not! But then, neither do most suburbs. And yes, our respective jurisdictions are suburbs of DC. I embrace that. Being a suburb means all the convenience of the city with none (or few) of the problems and annoyances.

By the way, the Artisphere is a joke. I can't wait for it to disappear and stop eating up my tax dollars.

Last edited by Carlingtonian; 01-26-2012 at 10:23 AM.. Reason: *OK, I made that up.
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Old 01-26-2012, 11:05 AM
 
100 posts, read 145,260 times
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Arlington drafthouse often has some excellent comedians ... real comics' comics.
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Old 01-26-2012, 11:21 AM
 
Location: Virginia
18,717 posts, read 26,929,076 times
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LOL about Loudoun Wainwright.
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Old 01-26-2012, 11:33 AM
 
9,738 posts, read 8,069,520 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carlingtonian View Post
The suggestion that NOVA has no culture is ridiculous. We have Wolf Trap, the State Theater, the Birchmere, the Nissan Pavilion (haha-just kidding), numerous tiny community theaters (e.g., the Little Theater and As Was Written, both in Alexandria). The likes of Stewart Copeland and Dave Grohl came from NOVA. Jim Morrison even lived in Arlington for several years. Loudoun County was named for Loudoun Wainwright.*

But the larger point is that NOVA is just one part of the DC Metro area. I live closer to the Kennedy Center, the Warner Theater, and the National Theater than I do many venues in NOVA. (I refuse to use the pretentious British spelling of "theater." What, because someone is artsy, they're suddenly English? Come on.)

DC doesn't "dictate" what culture is, but its cultural attractions are one of the key attributes of living here. Does NOVA have its own, separate, distinct culture? Of course not! But then, neither do most suburbs. And yes, our respective jurisdictions are suburbs of DC. I embrace that. Being a suburb means all the convenience of the city with none (or few) of the problems and annoyances.

By the way, the Artisphere is a joke. I can't wait for it to disappear and stop eating up my tax dollars.

You are talking about "arts", not "culture". Culture is defined as a people's "way of life".
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Old 01-26-2012, 11:34 AM
 
Location: New-Dentist Colony
5,740 posts, read 8,982,977 times
Reputation: 3858
I guess I got a little sidetracked by the "NOVA has no culture" question and didn't address the question of public art. Generally, I'm not a big fan of public art, which (at least for the last 75 years) usually means sculpture and usually means not representational--i.e., "modern." When I hear "public art," I think of the stone spheres in Rosslyn or the like--large, solid objects placed willy-nilly amid some public plaza, representing nothing (or at least, nothing known to anyone but the artist).

About the only example of public art that I think really works is the Statue of Liberty. Because it actually represents something and was executed with enough skill to convey that representation to anyone who looks at it.

I rather like the statues of national heroes that pepper the region--e.g., the statue of Adm. David Farragut at Farragut Square. But there are so many of these statues, and many of them are of people who have become obscure. One could argue that this is all the more reason to have such statues--to spark inquisitiveness about the person represented.

Anyway, what would Tysons-specific public art look like? A giant, granite dollar sign? A big microchip, painted black to represent covert national security? Wait, I know--how about a wolf (Wolf Trap) with a car in his mouth, covered in dollar signs and wearing a federal ID lanyard around his neck! Or maybe he could be eating hundred-dollar bills, and ICBMs could be exiting his back end.
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Old 01-26-2012, 11:34 AM
 
33 posts, read 43,026 times
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The DC area isn't really any different than other large metro areas, in that the bulk of the cultural attractions, especially the fine arts, are in the central/downtown area. We can debate whether that's good or bad, but often it comes down to economics. An orchestra or ballet company needs to be able to draw from the entire metro area equally. A ballet fan living in Olney is much more likely to come downtown to see a performance than to schlepp out to Reston to do so, and vice versa.

I would also say there's an element of "glamour" involved. The arts are part of a night on the town, and as much as we might like NoVa, a "night on the town" in Reston doesn't carry quite the same weight as an evening built around a trip to the Kennedy Center.

There was a movement to have more arts in the suburbs over the last 20 years, but it has struggled to gain an audience.

If you're talking popular music, then things have changed dramatically in this region. It's a lot easier to open a music club in the suburbs than in DC, due to commercial real estate prices. Places like the new Fillmore in Silver Spring, or more established places like Jammin' Java, State Theatre, Jaxx, and the Birchmere have developed a nice market and fit well alongside the music clubs in DC.
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Old 01-26-2012, 11:46 AM
 
Location: Tysons Corner
2,772 posts, read 3,656,798 times
Reputation: 1495
@Carlingtonian Well my fear about the public art is that it will be corporate art, ie these abstract granite shapes that dont mean anything to anyone and is probably made in a factory by robots.

Hopefully by figuring out who makes real art, based on their background, life, and upbringing in this area, we can start giving this area a real identity instead of importing it in from corporate america.
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Old 01-26-2012, 12:10 PM
 
33 posts, read 43,026 times
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An area can't develop an artistic and cultural identity from the top down. It ultimately has to start with the artists and creators themselves. For example, Brooklyn developed an arts scene because all the artists and more cutting-edge arts spaces got priced out of lower Manhattan.

The increasing affluence of NoVa actually works against it becoming a cultural center. What advantage does an artist or musician have in living in NoVa? None. It's horribly overpriced and can't support the necessary "cluster" of artistic types to get things started. DC is overpriced too, but it has urban "funkiness" and gentrifying areas that are a little more affordable.

In the end, does NoVa really need a culture of its own? I'm not sure I agree that it does, but if it happens, it will do so organically and over time.
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Old 01-26-2012, 12:21 PM
 
Location: New-Dentist Colony
5,740 posts, read 8,982,977 times
Reputation: 3858
Quote:
Originally Posted by tysonsengineer View Post
@Carlingtonian Well my fear about the public art is that it will be corporate art, ie these abstract granite shapes that dont mean anything to anyone and is probably made in a factory by robots.

Hopefully by figuring out who makes real art, based on their background, life, and upbringing in this area, we can start giving this area a real identity instead of importing it in from corporate america.
I would think it'd be more important what the art represents than who creates it or where they're from. The difficulty is that Tysons Corner, as you may know, was nothing more than a little store at a rural intersection until 30 or 40 years ago. So I don't think there's anything unique to Tysons or even NOVA that could be evoked.

If they insist on ploinking down some giant sculptures of something in the new developments, then I'd suggest statues of notable unsung NOVA heroes, whoever they might be. (There's a topic for a new thread.)
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