ECA News Briefs

Newly Dedicated Arlington Sculpture Luminous Bodies by Cliff Garten Honors COVID-19 Frontline Workers

Marking a major milestone in the completion of the Corridor of Light, a 13-year effort to create a vibrant gateway for Rosslyn’s central corridor, the installation of Luminous Bodies by Cliff Garten is set to conclude on Monday, June 1, 2020. Located at the Esplanade Bridge, North Lynn Street and Lee Highway (above I-66 and adjoining the approach to Key Bridge), these monumental sculptures mark a major entrance into Arlington from Washington DC.

In honor of America’s essential workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Luminous Bodies sculptures initially will be illuminated with a changing array of blue to blue-green light each evening (8 -10 p.m.). This #LightItBlue display will continue until the pandemic allows the artist to travel for the final programming and dedication of the sculptures.

“This installation will not only serve as a welcoming gateway to Rosslyn, but to the entire region,” said Rosslyn BID President Mary-Claire Burick. “Illuminating these sculptures blue in honor of essential workers is an inspiring example of our Arlington community’s continued resilience and unity.”

Luminous Bodies by Cliff Garten (Tom Hutchings for use by Arlington Arts/Arlington County)

The four, 26-foot tall sculptures, comprised of formed stainless steel rods intersecting to define both exterior and interior surfaces, are enhanced with LED lights which will be programmed by the artist. On the underside of the dome of each structure, passersby will see splashes of light that the stainless steel rods then fracture into a multitude of visual effects.

Pedestrians will notice an enhanced design for the fencing along the length of the east side of the new bridge, which was also developed by artist Cliff Garten to complement the Luminous Bodies sculptures. Garten, Director of Cliff Garten Studio, is an advocate for transforming the often generic quality of urban infrastructure into something that is beautiful and provides a positive impact on American cities.

“This process can be long and difficult, but the payoffs can be tremendous, changing how we experience the city on a daily basis,” said Garten.

Luminous Bodies are funded by private development public art fund contributions from B. F. Saul Company & Affiliates, JBG SMITH, and 1881 Rosslyn Associates, LLC.

Luminous Bodies by Cliff Garten (Tom Hutchings for use by Arlington Arts/Arlington County)

Frederick J. Lindstrom, Assistant Secretary for the US Commission of Fine Arts, commended Arlington’s effort towards an enhanced urban vision: “These gleaming monumental sculptures will provide a welcome entryway into the area and undoubtedly will add a vibrant dynamic to the streetscape, both day and night, for the enjoyment of everyone that lives in, works in, and visits Rosslyn. Arlington County’s excellent public art program, and its partners, collaborators, and supporters should all be congratulated on their commitment to this multi-year effort, and to their quest to enhance their urban environment with such high-quality public art. Luminous Bodies will be an excellent example of that commitment to creating good public art that enriches all of our lives.”

Luminous Bodies is the second of three planned public art installations by Cliff Garten Studio, collectively entitled Corridor of Light, marking three major access points between Arlington, Washington D.C. and Alexandria, Virginia. Garten’s Gravity and Grace (2018), the first phase of Corridor of Light, is a site-specific large-scale LED public artwork integrated into the architecture of Central Place Plaza. It is envisioned that these two projects will be joined by a corresponding installation of Luminous Bodies at the Meade Street Bridge. As a family of site-specific, infrastructure-as-art installations, these three projects provide iconic identification of entry points to Arlington and establish a shared language and 21st century identity for Rosslyn’s infrastructure.

About the Lynn Street Esplanade & Custis Trail Improvements

Installation of Luminous Bodies is a signature component of the Lynn Street Esplanade and Custis Trail Improvements. The project reached completion this spring after approximately two years of construction and transforms the public space along North Lynn Street and Lee Highway in Rosslyn.

The project, a joint effort between Arlington County and the Virginia Department of Transportation, created wider sidewalks — some up to 20 feet wide — and a new on-street bike lane along North Lynn Street. It also significantly widened a section of the Custis Trail to 16 feet from 10 feet, created a wider grass buffer between the trail and Lee Highway, installed landscaping, and upgraded crosswalks, curb ramps, streetlights and traffic signals. The changes have created a safer and more accessible space for people walking or biking in this heavily traveled area.

About Arlington Arts/Arlington Cultural Affairs

Arlington Arts is the presenting arm of Arlington Cultural Affairs, a division of Arlington Economic Development charged with fostering a creative environment that encourages collaboration, innovation and community participation. We do this by providing material support to artists and arts organizations in the form of grants, facilities and theater technology, through a commitment to integrating award-winning public art into our built environment, and by presenting high-quality performing, literary, visual and new media programs across the County.

Today, Arlington is home to more than seventy permanent public art projects. Projects are directly commissioned to be integrated into various County capital improvement projects, commissioned by developers as part of the site plan process, and initiated by community groups. Arlington’s history of developer-funded public art projects stemming from County planning objectives began in 1979 with the commission of Nancy Holt’s Dark Star Park in Rosslyn. The program also partners with local arts organizations, artists and community organizations to develop and present interpretative projects, temporary works, exhibitions and more. Arlington Public Art is a program of Arlington Arts/Arlington Cultural Affairs.

About Rosslyn Business Improvement District

The Rosslyn Business Improvement District (BID) is a designated 17-block mixed-use, urban center in the heart of Rosslyn, Virginia. Through a public/private partnership with Arlington County, the Rosslyn BID provides services for our 25,000 employees, 15,000 residents and 1.2 million visitors a year to enhance, grow, and connect the neighborhood.

About Cliff Garten Studio

Cliff Garten is an internationally recognized sculptor and founder of Cliff Garten Studio in Venice, CA. He advocates for a way to help cities see the potential of infrastructure as the expression of the beauty and vitality of our public life, by using sculpture to form our everyday experience of the city. Garten is the recipient of two Individual Artist Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, two Bush Foundation Fellowships, and the Jerome Foundation Travelling Artist Grant. His civic sculptures have consistently been named best in the nation by the Americans for the Arts Public Art Network and have been cited for design excellence by the American Society of Landscape Architects. Garten received a Master of Fine Arts from the Rhode Island School of Design and a Master of Landscape Architecture with Distinction from the Harvard Graduate School of Design.