Tuesday, March 19, 2013

DA+AH: Torpedo Factory Art Center

Besides the many fine museums and art galleries in Washington, D.C. there are many talented artists living and working in the Northern Virginia, DC, and Maryland area. It can feel overwhelming trying to see them all. It seems like there are show openings every week and there are as many types of art available for sale as there are interns working on the Hill.

Last week I spent the afternoon browsing the artists at the Torpedo Factory Art Center in Alexandria, Virginia. The factory is located on the waterfront in a building that was used to make torpedoes between the World Wars. In the 1970s it was retrofitted as art studios and finally properly renovated in 1983 with new walls, floors, and heating and air conditioning. What's cool about the space, besides its historical significance, is that there are 106 artists represented and 82 working studios. Meaning 82 artists actually work there and you can see them creating when you visit. You can chat with the artists, browse their work, and even buy it right from their studio! It was really inspiring to see so much creativity in one place and mediums ranged from oil painting to ceramics to jewelry and sculpture. It was almost voyeuristic to be walking around peering into windows and studios, as the artists were deep in concentration or taking little breaks to drink coffee with fellow creators. There’s a coffee shop in the building if you too need a pick me up. Upstairs, there is also an art school for children, The Art League School, and the Alexandria Archeology Museum.

It is a unique experience to talk to artists first hand about their work as they are covered in paint or deep in thought about their next project. I enjoyed being able to see so much in one visit and to walk away soaked up with the creative energy of so many people working in one space. I highly recommend a visit here. What would be a better souvenir from your trip to DC than the artwork of an artist you spent the afternoon chatting with?

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