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Crowds Turn Out for Art in the Park

Nice weather draws huge crowd to MPA's sixth annual Artfest

For 50 years the McLean Project for the Arts has been bringing art to the local community. Sunday was just another example of MPA’s dedication to its mission. Thousands of art lovers, students, artists and residents joined the fun at McLean Central Park for the MPA Artfest. 

The annual Artfest, now in its sixth year, is an increasingly popular event for those who love art, or those who just want to enjoy the feeling of a community festival. 

This year’s Artfest featured the works of 50 juried artists, live music, food from local restaurants including Greenberry’s, J Gilberts, Lebanese Taverna, Lost Dog Café, Mama’s Donut Bites, Nourish Market, and new this year, a wine café featuring wines from Chain Bridge Cellars. Patrons strolled through the Children’s Art Walk, where they could view works by local school students, or tried their hand at the Open Studio, which featured live models.

First-grader Ruby Barone was meticulously detailing her live figure drawing at the Open Studio.  “I draw this picture to make me feel happy,” Barone said.  “I think that it’s fun to do.” 

Amy Swaak, MPA Artfest Director, said, “One facet of MPA’s mission is to connect art with the communities.  That really is the specific goal of the event.  People are coming out and enjoying an amazing day of all things art-related.  It really is the fact that we obviously have a community of art lovers.  I think that’s the best part.” 

Each year the Artfest offers an Innovation Station, which provides an opportunity for festival-goers to create their own art.  This year, for the first time, the Innovation Station incorporated the community art into a piece which will be displayed in the MPA gallery from Nov. 12-15. 

“It’s called a Doodle Garden,” said MPA volunteer, Anne Marie Marenburg.  “The art is the process where all of these people have come together and have taken a few minutes to express themselves and make a mark.  That’s a really powerful thing,” she said.

Marenburg, along with fellow volunteers, Sandra Lafrate and Jennifer Hammond, ran the Innovation Station, and were pleased with the fact that often parents and adults spent as much time, if not more, than the children on creating leaves which will go onto the community tree art piece. 

The Lurton family, from McLean, has attended the MPA Artfest for four years now.  “We always buy something,” said Allison Lurton.  “We’ve got three generations from my family that come here.  We’ve been here when it’s raining, when it’s sunny.  It’s always great.” 

“It gets better every year, and it seems this year like a place you’d come and spend the whole day,” Lurton added, “which we hadn’t really planned on.  But we’ve already been here for three hours, and I don’t know when we’re leaving.  I can’t say enough good things about it.”

This year’s MPA Artfest was sponsored by event partners, McLean Community Center, and Fairfax County Park Authority, and event co-sponsor Capital One.  MPA’s 50th Anniversary sponsors are Cortina Productions, and Lola C. Reinsch & J. Almont Pierce for Dorchester Apartments & Towers on Columbia Pike, Arlington.

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