This weekend, I met up with two fellow Mid-Westerners and we went to my favorite place in DC, the Torpedo Factory. The Torpedo Factory used to be an actual factory that produced torpedoes, but after WWII, it was turned into storage, and then was purchased by the City of Alexandria and converted into studio and gallery space for local artists. Today, it houses 82 artist studios and a number of galleries.
I love the Torpedo Factory for many reasons. First, the artists often are in their studios. You are able to talk with them about their inspirations and how they created their artwork. Sometimes, you can even watch them paint, or sculpt, or do whatever it is they do. Second, there is a wide array of work to view. You will have an impressionist painter's studio next to an oriental sculptor, next to an abstract artist who recycles everyday material, next to someone who makes jewelry. It can be a little of a shock to your senses going from one studio with muted colors and an ethereal feel to a studio with pop art and bright colors and busy scenes, but it is so amazing to be able to see all the different work in one building. Third, since all the art on display is for sale, it is always changing. If I come back to the torpedo factory next year, there will be new pieces to view. Fourth, IT'S FREE! Need I say more?
Since I do not have rights to any of the artists' works, I will just direct you to their websites (and if you are in DC, go to the Torpedo Factory yourself and check them out).
1. Laurie A. Fields. Ms. Fields is hands down my favorite artist at the Torpedo Factory. I can just stand and stare at her work forever (which is a big accomplishment given my short attention span). I love that she uses different mediums (from ceramics to textiles, to acrylic paints) and brings them together to form a coherent end product. I also love her color pallete (browns, beige, grays, and then pops blues or reds depending on the work). Her studio is located on the third floor. Check her out here.
2. Robert Rosselle. This is one of those hidden treasures of the Torpedo Factory, literally. When you first enter Mr. Rosselle's studio, you are confronted with what appears to be random and rather plain spherical sculptures. But then you notice people up close to the spheres, staring at them. Upon closer examination, you realize there are little openings in the spheres, and inside each one, is an intricate scene. Some have pin holes on the outside, so that on the inside it looks like stars. Others have musicians, or fish in a coy pond. It is always a surprise and a delight. Mr. Rosselle, unfortunately, does not have a website (at least none that I could find in a cursory search), but here is a link to a picture of the inside of one of his works. His studio is also on the third floor.
3. Susan Makara. The Torpedo Factory has a gallery in which they showcase different artists. Currently, they are displaying a series by Ms. Makara entitled "Masks." I cannot adequately describe how amazing her work is, and pictures do not do it justice. I would advise everyone to go see it themselves if they can. The gallery runs until July 29th, after which time you will still be able to view her works in her studio on the third floor. If you cannot make it, you can still view her work here.
I hope I have convinced you all to check out my favorite place in DC. If you go, make a day of it. The Torpedo Factory is on the river, which provides for ample walking opportunities. Old Town Alexandria is full of quirky little shops that are fun to explore (even if you are an unpaid intern with no money to spend). And because of its proximity to the water, you can always find some fresh sea food at one of the restaurants (something the Mid West is definitely lacking)