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Public Art Comes to the Movies in Reston

posted Nov 6, 2011, 2:18 PM by Rudy Guernica
National Gallery of Art's film director to introduce extraordinary films at
CenterStage Reston Community Center Hunters Woods​

Margaret Parsons, founder and head of the film program at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and the recipient of the DC Independent Film Festival’s 2004 Lifetime Achievement Award, will present the next two films in the Initiative for Public Art - Reston’s series about exceptional public art projects.


Parsons, who heads an advisory committee of internationally recognized film scholars that meets annually to review and recommend film exhibition topics for the National Gallery, selected the two award-winning films.  She will introduce “Sol LeWitt: Wall Drawings” (2010) and “Studio Gang Architects: Aqua Tower” (2009) on Tuesday, Nov. 15, at 7:30 p.m. at CenterStage Reston Community Center Hunters Woods, 2310 Colts Neck Road, Reston.


Co-sponsored by the RCC, the series, which continues on Dec. 13 with an Oscar-winning documentary, is free and open to the public. The series’ intent is to stimulate a community conversation about public art, the environment, and architecture as Reston stands at the turning point of finalizing an updated Master Plan and the coming of the Metro in 2013. A Q&A session will follow the film screenings.


“We are extremely fortunate to have Ms. Parsons come to Reston to host a community dialog about public art and architecture,” said Joe Ritchey, founder and president of IPAR. “These extraordinary movies and her comments will be stimulating and thought-provoking,” Ritchey said. 


Parsons said she chose the film about Sol LeWitt, a pioneer of conceptual art, because of his interest in the artistic process. LeWitt, who produced more than 1,200 wall drawings of intense complexity using lines and other geometric shapes, created 105 large-scale drawings for the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, a 27,000 square-foot, three-story historic factory in North Adams.  Reviewed in the Los Angeles Times, the critic commented: “This may be the most perfect union of contemporary art and architecture in the United Sates. It’s our Sistine.” 


The second film features the Aqua Tower; an 82-story skyscraper referred to as “the wave.”  New Yorker magazine architecture critic, Paul Goldberger, said Aqua Tower “is most compelling as an example of architecture that is practical and affordable enough to please real-estate developers and stirring enough to please critics.”


Jeanne Gang, founding architect of Studio Gang Design in Chicago and the Aqua Tower designer, was awarded a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship last month. She will receive $500,000 to use at her own discretion over the next five years. Informally dubbed the “genius grant,” the fellowship awards individuals with exceptional creativity and promise. Gang was cited for “integrating conventional materials, bold yet functional designs and ecological technology in a wide range of striking structures.” 


The film program at the National Gallery, which Parson directs, is an exhibition program as well as an archive of documentary film material about artists. In addition, Parsons has served as a trustee of The Flaherty Seminar, editorial advisor for the Getty Trust’s Program for Art on Film, and board member for the Environmental Film Festival, the Victorian Society in America, Interact Theater Company, and the Cooperstown Graduate Association in Museum Studies.


Moreover, Parsons has served on international film festival juries and, besides film reviews and notes, writes about outsider and self-taught artists. And she has held positions at the Smithsonian Institution, The National Trust for Historic Preservation, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and The Children’s Museum, Boston. Among her awards is the Chevalier de L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres awarded to her by the French government in 2008.


The series’ next film on Dec. 13, “Maya Lin:  Strong, Clear Vision,” captures the genius of architect Maya Lin, who vaulted to fame at age 21 when her sparse, modern and controversial design was chosen to memorialize the Vietnam War in Washington, D.C. This film in particular relates to IPAR’s intention to establish a memorial garden in Reston. An IPAR task force is currently studying how to move forward on this project.


IPAR was founded in 2007 by a group of civic leaders who represent Reston’s key community organizations.  Reston Community Center is one of IPAR’s founding organizational members.  IPAR seeks to inspire a new commitment to public art that builds on Reston’s tradition of supporting community arts and culture. 


All screenings are free and open to the public and are presented at CenterStage Reston Community Center Hunters Woods, 2310 Colts Neck Road, Reston, VA. For more information, contact the CenterStage Box Office at Reston Community Center Hunters Woods by calling 703-476-4500 x3. Screenings will start at 7:30 p.m.