This last saturday I had the pleasure of hanging out with all the cool kids at Pinkline Project and BYT’s BURST extravaganza, at the newly opened Artisphere in Arlington. I’ve been hearing rumblings about this Artlington Arts venture, none of which prepared me for what was in store. A two story video wall, cafe and bar, ballroom and 3,000 square foot dance floor, 5,000 square foot terrace, 125 seat black box theatre, 220 seat Dome theatre, and 4,000 square feet of gallery space. The place is truly amazing.
It was a bit hectic getting there that evening, simply because, true to form, wmata was creating holiday craziness. I was volunteering for Pinkline for the first part of the event so I needed to be there before the ultra cool school bus from Dupont Circle began its rounds. As I made my way off the Rosslyn Metro I was a bit turned around, as one who rarely ventures out of DC proper and traveling to Virginia was a brand new experience. Approaching the intersection of Wilson Blvd. I first looked to my right, and saw nothing, then looked to my left. Half a block away, in all it’s spherical glory, stood a multi-colored dome, on a normal day the dome is a normal white color, but for the evening’s festivities a magnificent light show of splendor was revolving around the Artisphere.
Once inside I decided to take a self-guided tour before the guests got there. I took a walk through the Terrace Gallery where Skateboard Side Effects is currently showing. Along the walls we see an eclectic collection of photography, 3d drawings and much more. In the center of the room a distorted half-pipe stands. Exiting the gallery, I was deposited into a hallway where I could peer down into what appeared to be the Black Box Theatre. The place is massive, and one giant circle. Next was the ballroom, complete with stage and giant totem-style balloon eagle? Did I mention that the BURST party’s running theme was Balloons. They were everywhere.
Balloon artists Katie Balloons and Addi spent the evening wandering around the party in their balloon creations.
The first few hours I was bartending, so I missed BYT’s The Family Hemerlein concert. But once I was finished with my shift it was all play for the rest of the evening. This party was by far the most rockin’ art’s party I’ve been to yet in DC. In one of the Artist Lab’s skatboarder/artist Sean Greene was giving demonstrations. He creates abstract pieces by first laying down a solid sheet of paint on visqueen, laying down the canvas, and then skateboarding across the covered space. The result is a physical, visual representation of the movements of the board and rider, and it was super fun to watch.
The Ballroom was hopping and you can bet I spent a little time on the dance floor as did the the amazing balloon flower basket. Once we had our fill of the dance floor we wandered around some more to do a bit more exploring, venturing into one of their 2 movie theaters to watch a short film on skateboarding. In the end we came full circle to the front of the sphere. A bit more mingling and before I knew it, it was 12:30 and time for this old lady to get home and into her warm and cozy bed. As we all said our goodbyes and headed to yellow school bus pick-up point I couldn’t help but be impressed, both by Pinkline and BYT for pulling off such a fantastic party, but also by the possibilities that Artisphere presents to the arts community. Creating a multi-disciplinary space for people to experience the arts on an epic scale. The building itself is impressive in and of itself. I’m excited to see what Artisphere has in store for us in the future.