Discover Arlington’s Award-winning Public Art on an Intriguing Walking Tour
See 14 fascinating works within just one square mile on your own self-guided tour!
Permanent & Temporary Public Art Installations
Just across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., and recently chosen as one of two new headquarters for Amazon, Arlington, Virginia is recognized as one of America’s most vibrant, walkable urban centers. What many people don’t know about Arlington is that it has an internationally renowned permanent collection of more than 60 public art projects, as well as periodic temporary projects.
Walking Tour of Rosslyn
Arlington’s Rosslyn neighborhood, conveniently accessible on Metro’s Orange, Blue and Silver Lines, offers rich opportunities for exploring a robust array of public art works within a relatively small area. Check out Arlington Arts’ self-guided walking tour and map for your first 12 stops (you can print it for your journey or follow along on your mobile device) then visit two new additions, Nos. 13 and 14, below.
As Spanish artist Eva Salmerón, whose work Meeting Bowls was featured as a recent temporary project here in Arlington, said in Washingtonian magazine, “Public art is for everybody, and it is shown in places where you are passing by,” Salmerón says. “It’s something that you find yourself with, not something you’re going to see. It’s a spontaneous encounter, no prejudice, no expectations, a surprise. Something new that changes the landscape of the city.”
Now, start walking!
1) NED KAHN, Liquid Pixels (1801 N. Lynn St.)
Liquid Pixels consists of six 42- by 25-foot vertical sections mounted on the north and west sides of this building.
The six panels are covered with 630,000 one-inch diameter disks affixed to low-friction pins.
The disks move freely on their pins in response to wind, thus revealing invisible natural patterns.
As light passes over the disks, the glittering effect mimics water cascading down the façade.
2) Y. DAVID CHUNG, Scenes of Rosslyn (Rosslyn Metro Station, Fort Myer Dr.)
Here you’ll discover a peaceful, climate-controlled space where you can take in three unique artworks:
6) KENDALL BUSTER, Untitled (1601 Wilson Blvd.)
Untitled is a suspended sculpture consisting of an intricate metal framework over which greenhouse shade cloth has been stretched.
The resulting forms flow between the courtyard columns and resemble low-lying, billowing clouds.
The semi-transparent membrane covering the sculpture is reminiscent of skin stretched over a skeletal form.
7) FOON SHAM, Aya (1601 Wilson Blvd.)
A 15-foot tall sculpture, Aya twists upward to resemble a faceted tower inspired in part by Sham’s exposure to Southwestern architecture.
By stacking and interlocking segments of cherry, walnut, and maple, Sham creates an intricate, three-dimensional composite sculpture.
8) WENDY ROSS, Radiolaria (1601 Wilson Blvd.)
Radiolaria, an open-armature sculpture, is part of a series inspired by tiny marine protozoa of the same name.
These minute marine protozoa possess filament-like pseudopodia, or protrusions that assist in locomotion, flotation, and gathering food.
The symmetrical structure endures beyond the organism’s demise as an intricate and delicate skeleton with a central capsule-like form.
9) JOHN DREYFUSS, Helix (1800 Wilson Blvd.)
Trained as an artist and architect, Washington, D.C. sculptor John Dreyfuss is interested in investigating small components that unite to form a large complex structure.
For Helix, Dreyfuss looked to the human skeleton and created a massive bronze pelvis.
10) CHRIS GARDNER, Cupid’s Garden (Wilson Blvd. & Clarendon Blvd. between Oak St. & Nash St.)
Chris Gardner imagines Cupid’s Garden as “the garden where Cupid grows his arrows.”
Here, the arrows also allude to signs that direct the busy flow of vehicles and pedestrians around this traffic island where several streets converge.
Cupid’s arrows become shiny directional counterparts for the traffic whizzing by.
11) BOAZ VAADIA, The Family: David, Haggit, and Adoniyya (1300 17th St.)
Although the simply posed figures of The Family: David, Haggit, and Adoniyya are biblical characters from the Old Testament: King David, his wife Haggit, and their child Adoniyya, the sculpture is representative of any family unit.
These figures were formed by stacking hand-carved layers of bluestone.
Vaadia’s layering of stone slabs mimics the stratification of the sedimentary rock and emphasizes the verticality of the structure.
12) NANCY HOLT, Dark Star Park (1655 Fort Myer Dr.)
Encompassing landscape architecture, sculpture, and astronomy, Dark Star Park is among the first major examples of “integrated public art” that is inseparable from its setting and creates a total environment to be experienced. The work also refers to the area’s history.
Each year, on August 1st, at 9:32 a.m., actual shadows cast by the poles and spheres align with permanent forms in the shape of the shadows on the ground beneath them.
The date marks the day that William Henry Ross purchased the land that later became Rosslyn.
13) CHRISTIAN MOELLER, Quill (N. Fort Myer Dr., N. 19th St. and N. Moore St.)
Quill is inspired by the successful return of the bald eagles to nesting along the banks of the Potomac River after years of being threatened with extinction.
It is rendered in a pattern created by the arrangement of nearly 20,000 3 ¼” reflective discs arranged in a field of slotted aluminum panels.
By day, the abstracted image appears to the viewer in motion in changing shades of pearlescent green.
At night, it glows with light charged during the daytime, enhanced by the reflected light of passing cars and ambient traffic lights.
14) CLIFF GARTEN, Gravity and Grace (1800 N Lynn St.)
Gravity and Grace is a large-scale LED public artwork integrated into the architecture of Central Place Plaza in Rosslyn.
The work is 150-feet long by 15-feet high and occupies the top two bays of the parking structure above the plaza.
Inspired by color field painting and open tuning on blues guitar, the ever-changing artwork incorporates real-time environmental data that organizes its spectral shifts of color.
15) CLIFF GARTEN, Luminous Bodies (N. Lynn Street and Langston Boulevard)
Luminous Bodies is a set of 26-foot-high illuminated sculptures which consist of formed stainless-steel rods intersecting to define both exterior and interior surfaces and volumes.
Marking each of the four corners of the Esplanade Bridge over I-66, these monumental sculptures create a memorable entry into Arlington County.
This Esplanade Bridge installation is the second phase of Cliff Garten’s Corridor of Light, which when complete will result in artwork marking three major entryways into Arlington.