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Photo: Paul Kim/Washington Nationals
Photo: Paul Kim/Washington Nationals

Play-by-Play Voice Charlie Slowes Expects Nats to Heat Up with Weather

Cable television is a luxury for many people these days. That means that Nationals fans who wish to follow their team could have trouble accessing MASN, the Nats’ home broadcasting network. Hence, the importance of radio.

“Sometimes all it takes is a comeback like this to turn your fate around,” an authoritative voice crooned over the airwaves.

That was Charlie Slowes, the play-by-play announcer for the Nationals’ radio affiliate 106.7 FM The Fan, speaking on April 16 during a tight game between the Mets and the Nats. A few pitches later, Michael A. Taylor, who entered the game with a .193 batting average, walked to force in the go-ahead run, and the Nats went on to win 8-6.

Taylor’s go-ahead walk came at a critical juncture early in the season. The Nats lost eight of their previous 11 games entering the series against the Mets, who stormed out of the gates to a 12-2 record. The Nationals ended up taking two of three games in the series to stop their early season skid.

For all 14 seasons that Nats baseball has existed in DC, Slowes has been the voice calling the games, engaging fans through the airwaves. When we got a chance to chat with Slowes off-air, he noted that it’s important not to sound the alarms just because of a slow start.

“You’re talking about a tenth of a season,” Slowes told On Tap the morning after the April 16 game, adding that there’s reason to keep the faith in a reigning first-place team. “I’m always excited at the start of a season. They’ve got Scherzer and Strasburg at the top of the rotation. They’ve got a backend of the bullpen that they didn’t really have last year, with a track record of success. Bryce [Harper] looks like he’s primed for a big, big year.”

Slowes noted that this April was abnormally cold and dismal, hardly the kind of weather that wakes Major League hitters out of their offseason slumbers – even the cherry blossoms stayed in their beds a few weeks longer than expected.

“Hell, let’s see the weather get warm,” Slowes said. “It hasn’t really been baseball weather. But you figure by May, it will be.”

Any baseball fan worth his weight in pine tar knows that warm weather and hitting go together like spaghetti and meatballs. Moreover, key pieces in the Nats’ lineup were missing at the start of the April 16 game. Adam Eaton, Anthony Rendon and Daniel Murphy – essential pieces in the Nationals’ batting order – spent time out of the lineup in April because of injury.

The Nationals entered the April 16 game with MLB ranks of 13th in runs scored, 19th in team batting average and 15th in team on-base plus slugging. At the end of 2017, the Nats ranked fifth, fourth and fourth in those categories, respectively. With a fully loaded lineup, one would expect the numbers to more closely resemble last season’s.

But unlike last season, when the Nats finished 20 games ahead of the second-place Marlins, our team has more to worry about than just their own performance. The National League East has vastly improved.

For example, the Mets welcomed back their young pitching phenom Noah “Thor” Syndergaard and potent hitters Michael Conforto and Yoenis Céspedes, all of whom missed significant time in 2017. Meanwhile, the Braves and Phillies have started to reap the benefits of their “rebuilding” phases. For both teams, a talented crop of young prospects has finally begun to arrive at the Major League level.

But maybe a little competition isn’t so bad.

“Maybe that will be a good thing,” Slowes said. “When you are a runaway winner in the division, and you don’t play any meaningful games, then September becomes a little bit more like spring training. Then you’ve got to flip a switch [when the playoffs begin].”

After a shaky performance coming out of this year’s spring training, the Nationals needed to search hard to flip that proverbial switch. If nothing else, the Nats – to invoke another idiom – have gotten a wake-up call to start the season.

For more info on the Nats’ 2018 season, go to www.mlb.com/nationals.

Nationals Park: 1500 South Capitol St. SE, DC; 202-675-6287; www.mlb.com/nationals

Photo: Valeria Villarroel
Photo: Valeria Villarroel

Instagramming For a Cause: We the Dogs DC

Is there any other city besides the nation’s capital with such a thriving dog culture? The minute the temperatures reach the mid-60s and the sun beats out the clouds, all the dogs suddenly come out of hiding from hibernation and join their owners at every patio and park throughout the area. Each moment of puppy play dates, brews and bones, puppies and pints, snuggles and sunbathing, and tongue and tail wags is documented on Instagram thanks to @wethedogsdc.

We The Dogs DC was born like many modern connections: on Instagram. A DM slide here, a DM slide there, and suddenly, five local women and their beloved pups found themselves members of a brand new pack. Renee Arellano is dog mom to Kingston; Kat Calvitti hangs out with her pup Stella; Marissa Dimino enjoys yappy hours with Teddy; Shannon DiMartino snuggles up with Ruby; and Amber Duggan gets mani-pedis with Izzy.

Locals following @wethedogsdc get to catch a glimpse at a day in the life of a local pup (much in the same vein of the @wethepeopledc Instagram account), where DC area dog owners get to hold the handle for a day and take photos of their canine companions at Fido-friendly spots around the city. We The Dogs’ Insta also features local rescue pups up for adoption. The cuteness factor is off the charts, and it’s all for a good cause.

More than just an Instagram handle, We The Dogs DC connects local dog lovers to help support animal rescue organizations and local dog-friendly businesses.

“With every dog story comes a human story, and it’s a great way to connect with people,” DiMartino says. “I think by having the handle and showing people who have pit bulls and other dogs that are often times restricted from apartments and other areas, people get to see they are really sweet dogs and just want to be loved.”

Last spring, the ladies of We The Dogs had an idea to bring together people from different political and ideological backgrounds to march for a common cause: their pets. What started as an idea for a small gathering of several dozen people swiftly became the Bipawtisan March; the June 4 event raised more than $10,000 for the Humane Rescue Alliance and Rural Dog Rescue.

“People were just really excited about coming together,” says Duggan, the organization’s executive director.

Since the march, We The Dogs’ Instagram account has grown to over 6,000 followers. Over 1,600 toys, leashes, beds, food and other essential pet items have been donated to help out rescue organizations such as Rural Dog Rescue, the Puppy Rescue Mission and Worthy Dog Rescue. An additional $2,000 was raised for local dog charities at smaller events, and plans are already underway for a second Bipawtisan March in September – an impressive feat for an organization that’s only been around for less than a year.

The pack is also working on a photobook, set to come out this fall. All proceeds from the sale of book will benefit four local animal rescue organizations: OBG Cocker Spaniel Rescue, Lucky Dog Animal Rescue, K-9 Lifesavers and Operation Paws for Homes. Nearly 30 charities were nominated, and the local community took a vote to whittle the list down to four. Ruby the Bulldog selected the final charity.

“Ruby has a hide-and-seek toy, so we taped the charity names underneath the little cups on the toys and put treats in all of those cups, and let her pick the fourth charity,” DiMartino says.

The book will highlight different dog breeds visiting iconic DC locations and dog-friendly neighborhood gems around the DMV, and will be available on the organization’s website, via Amazon, and at local booksellers and dog-friendly publishing sponsors.

We The Dogs also hosts dog-friendly social gatherings on a regular basis. Thanks to their Instagram community of dog lovers and their social events, dog owners throughout the area have formed local pack walk groups (you can catch Calvitti and Stella at the Meridian Hill one). Pup parents have a place to turn to for advice and support whenever a furry loved one gets sick or injured, and a sympathetic ear when they need to vent about the pitfalls of dog ownership in the DMV, such as breed restrictions in housing and the fact that dogs aren’t allowed on the Metro (take note, WMATA!)

While We The Dogs DC isn’t an advocacy organization, just by virtue of highlighting dogs of different breeds and sizes throughout the area – including those looking for their forever homes – the 501(c)(3) manages to bring visibility and awareness about maligned dog breeds by letting followers glimpse at life through literal puppy dog eyes.

“The community that we’ve built and encountered through our dogs is absolutely amazing,” Calvitti says. “My life revolves around Stella’s plans now. I don’t have a social life – my dog does.”

Don’t miss We The Dogs’ next Yappy Hour on Sunday, May 13. Learn more about We The Dogs DC at www.wethedogsdc.org and follow them on Instagram at @wethedogsdc.


DC Dog Rescues

Animal Welfare Institute
www.awionline.org
“Since its founding in 1951, AWI has sought to alleviate the suffering inflicted on animals by people. Today, one of our greatest areas of emphasis is cruel animal factories, which raise and slaughter pigs, cows, chickens and other animals.”

DC PAWS Rescue
www.dcpawsrescue.org
“DC PAWS Rescue is an all-volunteer, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in DC, committed to rescuing homeless animals from high-kill animal control facilities that are often under-resourced and underfunded.”

Howl to the Chief
www.howltothechief.com
“The place to pamper Capitol Hill pets: premium pet foods for all budgets, delivery, grooming, dog walking, dog wash and adoption events.”

Lost Dog & Cat Rescue Foundation
www.lostdogrescue.org
“Lost Dog & Cat Rescue Foundation helps homeless pets find their way to loving homes through rescue and adoption.”

Mutts Matter Rescue
www.muttsmatterrescue.org
“We work in conjunction with shelters and other organizations to help save animals on death row, the strays on the streets or ones in unsafe living conditions.”

Operation Paws for Homes
www.ophrescue.org
“Operation Paws for Homes is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization devoted to the rescue, rehabilitation and placement of dogs who have overcome great odds and deserve wonderful, caring forever homes.”

Worthy Dog Rescue
www.worthydog.org
“Worthy Dog Rescue is an all-volunteer 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to helping dogs in distress, especially those living on chains, in pens, or in neglectful and abusive situations.”

Photo: Courtesy of Bottled Up
Photo: Courtesy of Bottled Up

Bottled Up’s Niko Rao Removes the Lid

The members of Bottled Up didn’t exactly know what their band name meant when they first considered it.

Instead of asking 29-year-old singer-songwriter Niko Rao why he suggested it, they instead floated out numerous explanations – emotions being held back only to be revealed in songs or music that starts off slow thus bottling up energy released in an explosive conclusion, among others. Rao simply nodded along as his band members each tossed worthy theories at him, all different than the real reason he suggested the phrase.

“It comes from a Devo song called ‘Bottled Up,’” Rao says, laughing. “I didn’t tell the band why I wanted to name it that and they came up with all these elaborate other meanings, which were interesting.”

Yes, the name – like so many others – started as an homage to his favorite band, but the California native has since ceded that the name has evolved past a simple reference, transforming into an apt description for what Bottled Up is as a unit.

“I’ve grown to like the name more than just as a reference,” Rao says. “I think it embodies our songwriting, and I definitely write things I keep bottled up.”

A DMV Collective

It didn’t take Rao long to find people to jam with after moving to the District in 2016. Like an elaborate domino effect, the musician went to a studio so he could bang on some drums to relieve frustration. Afterward, he badgered the guy at the front desk, Alex Dahms, to join him for a jam session. Alex (drums) brought eventual bassist Colin Kelly to the jam sesh, and during this meetup, lead guitarist Mikey Mastrangelo overheard the trio and asked to join in on the next one.

“I kind of pressured [Alex] into jamming with me, because I had a bunch of riffs I wanted to toy around with from [my time in] L.A.,” Rao says. “We really had great chemistry. I didn’t interact with other people very well. Actually, I mostly played all of the stuff myself. I was very controlling over my music. With this band, I’m just happy to play with others who bring things out of our songs.”

The group instantly formed a bond and has spent the past two years constantly jamming, writing music and evolving. Their self-titled record contains seven songs of new wave and garage-style surf rock delivered in speedy, two- or three-minute doses. If you’re thinking to yourself, “Wow, that’s a lot of genres in one sentence describing seven songs,” it’s probably because these guys define their genre as “¯\_(ツ)_/¯.”

“Well, I would definitely….oh man,” Rao says as he begins to try and describe their sounds for people who may not have heard them yet. “We’re totally new wave. Talking Heads, Devo, B-52s – that stuff is woven into my muscles at this point. I have a very angular, new wave guitar-playing style.”

The Constant of Music

One thing about the LP is that Rao’s up-and-down history is the emotional through line present in every track. Growing up on the West Coast, he dipped his toe in music after hearing the score of “Final Fantasy VII.” This prompted him to pick up a violin and study classical music, which he kept up with until his grandmother purchased him an electric guitar.

“Until that point, I was going to study classical music and play tennis,” he says. “Once I got a guitar and skateboard, all I wanted to do was play rock music, skate and smoke weed. I was 14, and that was a big year for me because I got into all this rock, indie and punk music – all of the stuff you hear in the background of skate videos.”

From then on, music was Rao’s life. After high school, he went to college for sound design, where he would formulate music for TV and video games. He also developed numerous drug addictions there, eventually leading to rehab and various group meetings. He ultimately decided to move to the DC area so he could be closer to family, and all the while he continued penning music.

“I definitely channeled that in my songwriting. It’s weird when you move to a city because no one really knows your past, and you’re this new, fresh person. You can choose all the colors you want to present. It wasn’t tough for me in the beginning, even now, because I feel like it’s nice to get out. My music deals with the aftermath of that – the emotions in dealing with those overwhelming topics, the things I was locking out. I use music to process this stuff.”

A Repackaged Bottle

“We don’t play anything off the old LP anymore,” Rao says of the band’s current shows.

Since the release of Bottled Up last year, the group has morphed, changing up how they write songs and even the pacing of their tracks. Rao says while the first release featured fast, compact narratives, the follow-up allows for a little more breathing room and is a tad less aggressive, though still energetic.

“I was just conditioned to play and think that way,” Rao says. “I don’t like bands that go on too long, and there’s always a point where a song will go on for too long. I think I can sense and feel when a song loses meaning, and I want to stop there.”

Rao no longer formulates the chorus, bridge and structure before bringing it to his bandmates; sometimes, he even approaches them with just an inkling of an idea.

“I was so stuck in my head with controlling everything. Now working with these guys, I bring something small and they take it to a place I didn’t know was possible.”

Before their May 11 show at DC9, the group plans to release two new songs digitally. But even if you miss those or are weary you won’t be able to sing along, Rao made a tongue-in-cheek pun to get you pumped for the concert.

“We have a lot bottled up, and we’re ready to explode and show everyone what we’re about,” Rao says, laughing. “We’re going to be theatrical, and we always try to change it up.”

Rao and his bandmates are set to take the stage at DC9 on Friday, May 11, opening for Olden Yolk. Doors open at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $12 and available at www.dc9.club. Learn more about Bottled Up at www.bottledup.bandcamp.com.

DC9: 1940 9th St. NW, DC; 202-483-5000; www.dc9.club

Photo: Courtesy of Bold Rock
Photo: Courtesy of Bold Rock

Bold Rock Unveils Spring Seasonal Rosé Cider

Drink aficionados can be a fickle bunch, often resulting in cliques for beer enthusiasts, wine connoisseurs and spirit experts. Stepping outside of your comfort zone can be difficult, but Bold Rock Cider is used to bending norms to introduce folks to the wonders of hard cider. Earlier this year, the cidery released its new rosé hard cider. To get some insight on the latest and greatest beverage of Bold Rock, we talked to head cider maker Ian Niblock about the spring seasonal.

On Tap: How long had you workshopped a rosé cider? Why did you decide to develop this drink?
Ian Niblock: We’ve had our eye on a rosé-style cider for quite some time now. Like how our IPA (India Pressed Apple) is a gateway cider for beer drinkers, we wanted a style that would entice wine drinkers to give us a chance. We hear all the time from beer drinkers that they had no idea cider could taste that good, but they never would have tried it if not for the connectivity to beer. We saw that same opportunity in rosé cider, and we think many wine drinkers are going to be surprised by the great taste of Bold Rock Rosé.

OT: What are some similarities between your rosé hard cider and rosé wine?
IN: What anyone will notice first is the color. Bold Rock Rosé has a deep, rich pink hue immediately recognizable as rosé. Bold Rock Rosé is the driest cider we have ever released in a six-pack, with just enough sweetness to accentuate the strawberry [and] raspberry notes reminiscent of a Gewürztraminer rosé.

OT: Do you think cider drinkers might hesitate to try the cider because of its name?
IN: There has certainly been a need to educate the consumer on what rosé cider is, but rosé is such a popular wine style that there is plenty of awareness out there already. Our version is just a little bit of a twist that only uses apples, but still has a taste profile very similar to that of a rosé wine.

OT: What were your thoughts upon first tasting the cider? Did you guys nail it right away or did it take a while to get the recipe down?
IN: Bold Rock Rosé went through all sorts of trials and iterations, but when you hit the right recipe, you know. We had a moment when we were tasting some trial recipes and we all honed in on one in particular and said, “That’s the one!” It was pretty rewarding.

OT: What has the response been like so far? Do you guys plan to keep it as part of your seasonal rotation?
IN: The response has honestly been tremendous. The sheer amount of excitement surrounding the announcement followed by the subsequent success of Bold Rock Rosé in the marketplace has exceeded all expectations. We feel blessed to have such loyal customers who look forward to our seasonal releases, but the rosé has been embraced by longtime Bold Rockers and new entrants to the cider category alike.

OT: What’s next on the horizon for Bold Rock? Are there any strange or unusual drinks that you’re excited about?
IN: I can’t give away too much, but the rest of the year will not disappoint. As far as “strange and unusual” goes, we recently renovated our original cider barn into the Barrel Barn, which serves as both a small batch crafting facility and intimate tap room. The Barrel Barn will be our test bed of cider innovation, exploring the depths of cider, from yeast experiments to barrel aging and beyond. Guests can look forward to plenty of limited-run cider styles – some in kegs, some in cork and caged bottles. However, you’ll have to make the trek to our Nellysford Cidery to experience those styles as they will only be available at the Barrel Barn for now.

For more information on Bold Rock and where to pick it up locally, visit www.boldrock.com.

Photo: Courtesy of Sababa
Photo: Courtesy of Sababa

New and Notable: May 2018

On Tap keeps locals in the know about the hottest new food and drink spots around town and the top culinary happenings of the month. Read on to get the inside scoop on what’s new and notable in the DC area.

NEW

Fancy Radish (Photo - Courtesy of Fancy Radish)

Fancy Radish
Open: March 20
Location: H Street
Lowdown: Vegans and omnivores alike rejoiced when Vedge Restaurant Group out of Philadelphia planted their first restaurant in DC. While everything on the menu is completely vegan, owners Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby aren’t trying to push an agenda. They’re just serving vegetables. It’s the way they serve them that makes a splash. Each dish takes a humble piece of produce – like a radish – and elevates it with artful techniques and vibrant flavors. Digging in to small plates like the Chioggia beet picnic, the trumpet mushroom “fazzoletti” and the spicy dan dan noodles, I would have easily believed they were laden with butter and cheese. The menu strikes a balance between the refined cuisine at their Philly flagship, Vedge, and the edgy street food at V Street. The restaurant’s namesake fancy radishes are adapted from the menu at Vedge. At the bar, vegetables also shine in drinks like the Peridot Meteor with gin, celery and olive oil or the Raphanus Shade with rye, radish, black vin and amaro ferro-kina. There are also a variety of natural wines and a handful of draft beers. The space has an industrial vibe, which is softened by earth tones and a mural spanning the restaurant that depicts a vegetable’s life cycle from seed to sprout. 600 H St. NE, DC; www.fancyradishdc.com

Kaliwa (Photo - Courtesy of Kaliwa)

Kaliwa
Open: March 28
Location: The Wharf
Lowdown: Restaurateur power couple Cathal and Meshelle Armstrong, known for Alexandria hot spots Society Fair, Hummingbird and more, opened their latest restaurant at The Wharf. The pair are serving three Asian cuisines that are near and dear to their hearts: Filipino, honoring Meshelle’s heritage; Korean, as an ode to Chef Cathal’s Taekwondo training; and Thai, because it’s their family’s food of choice. The menu is divided into sections for each country, with milder flavors in Filipino dishes like Kalderetang Cordero, slightly spicier funky notes in Korean Jae Yuk Gui and super hot spice levels in Thai Nuer Pad Prik. Most dishes are heavily sauced and meant to be eaten with rice, but there are also a few noodle dishes, hearth-roasted proteins and other classics like lumpiang. With minimal descriptions on the menu, the restaurant provides a glossary of commonly used terms (gochujang, calamansi) and servers are always available to elaborate. The pamphlet also offers some conversational phrases in Tagalog, Korean and Thai. The name Kaliwa means left, which Cathal promises is not a political statement, but rather a nod to his left-handedness and to the restaurant’s departure from the norm. Meshelle designed the space, featuring woven basket light fixtures, rope netting and bright blue hues to emulate a night street market. 751 Wharf St. SW, DC; www.kaliwadc.com

Sababa (Photo - Courtesy of Sababa)

Sababa
Open: March 15
Location: Cleveland Park
Lowdown: After a quick set change, Ashok Bajaj opened Sababa in the space formerly occupied by Ardeo. The new restaurant’s menu focuses on modern Israeli cuisine, which has roots in both Jewish and Arab traditions. Dishes display influences from the Middle East, Turkey and Greece. Meals often start with salatim – small portions of salads and spreads to share – and then progress into hummus and small plates. I couldn’t get enough of the vegetarian dishes, from charred eggplant and roasted halumi to fried cauliflower and Israeli salad. Kebabs and large plates are also available, like sumac- and onion-marinated steak, shakshuka and braised lamb shank. The restaurant’s name comes from the Hebrew slang for cool, and the design reflects this, evoking the port of Tel Aviv with Mediterranean tiles, canvas sails on the ceiling and wood paneling to represent a grape arbor adorned with string lights. The beverage program consists of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean wines, plus house cocktails that showcase Israeli spices and flavors.  3311 Connecticut Ave. NW, DC; www.sababauptown.com

Spoken English (Photo - Courtesy of Spoken English)

Spoken English
Open: March 30
Location: Adams Morgan
Lowdown: Erik Bruner Yang’s second project within the LINE Hotel is now open for business, and it’s unlike any restaurant you’ve visited in DC. Spoken English is modeled after the Japanese Tachinomiya – a standing-room only restaurant where people stop by for snacks and drinks after work. The casual, communal concept is situated in the kitchen with two counters facing a wood-fired Grillworks oven. It can only accommodate between 12 to 16 people at a time, and the close quarters encourage guests to socialize with their dining companions and strangers. The menu provides a choice between having a few bites, like skewers and small plates, or enjoying a full meal of whole roast duck and chicken yakitori. The whole chicken yakitori consists of eight courses, each a different cut of the bird such as thighs, stuffed wings, crispy skin, bone broth, liver mousse and more. To drink, there’s a selection of sake and beer, as well as a few cocktails. Reservations are not accepted. 1770 Euclid St. NW; www.thelinehotel.com/dc

NOTABLE

Truckeroo (Photo - Courtesy of Georgetown Events)

Truckeroo
Dates: May 11, June 15, July 13, August 10, September 14
Location: The Bullpen
Lowdown: Once a month throughout the summer, a flock of food trucks converges at The Bullpen fairgrounds in Navy Yard for a massive festival. The event offers live music, cold drinks, games and a full lineup of food trucks to choose from. At the May event, guests can enjoy mac and cheese from CapMac, crêpes from Crepe Love, empanadas from DC Empanadas, frozen custard from Goodies, lobster rolls from Red Hook, and more. It’s open to all ages until 9 p.m., at which point it shifts to 21 and over. Admission is free. 1201 Half St. SE, DC; www.thebullpendc.com/truckeroo

Wines Over Washington
Dates: May 17, June 21, July 19, August 16, September 20
Location: BLT Steak
Lowdown: The rooftop of this downtown steakhouse has stunning views of the city, the Potomac River, the Washington Monument and the White House. This makes it a prime location to enjoy a glass of wine while watching the sunset. BLT Steak’s Wines Over Washington gives winos a chance to explore new wine varietals al fresco paired with classic fare by Chef de Cuisine Michael Bonk, as well as live music. The series takes place one evening per month through the summer. The first event will feature selections from Lanterna Wines. Tickets are $65 per event, or $275 for the entire series. 1625 I St. NW, DC; www.bltrestaurants.com/blt-steak/washington-d-c/winesoverwashington

Photo: Haley McKey
Photo: Haley McKey

Good Booze and Good Boys: A Dog’s View of DMV Watering Holes

Ziggy the Labrador as told (barked?) to Haley McKey

I love people. I love it when they rub my belly, I love it when they tell me I’m cute and I especially love it when they give me food. And that’s why I also love bars. I don’t quite understand why, but it seems that after a few drinks, the belly rubs, compliments and cookies are extra abundant. It’s great! So, when my friend Haley asked me to come with her to visit some dog-friendly spots around the DC area, of course I went along. And reader, I was not disappointed.


DACHA BEER GARDEN in Shaw
People Perks: Serves beer, cocktails, wine and food
Pup Perks: Open rain or shine thanks to a giant canopy and heaters for cooler days

Haley took me to Dacha on a Sunday afternoon. I liked the place right away. We got caught in the rain earlier, so Haley and I walked in looking like wet rats (though I confess, I’ve never seen one of those) and really appreciated the heat lamps. There was plenty of water and (free!) cookies for all.

It wasn’t too crowded – maybe due to the rain – so I had plenty of room to stand in the way and wag my tail at people. Haley informed me that this is not usually the case, and sure enough, after awhile things got busy and she told me to lie down under our table and quit being a fire hazard (whatever that means). I obliged, and in a moment of weakness she slipped me a few of her friend Sam’s French fries. I met another dog too! She was a puppy. I forget how exhausting children can be.

Haley ordered a fancy bourbon cocktail called a Shawny and a cup of coffee, and Sam got a beer. Sam is a talented artist and drew a picture of me. Someone looked at his drawing and told me I had beautiful eyes. I wanted to kiss her, but I settled for enthusiastic wagging. It’s more polite. 1600 7th St. NW, DC; www.dachadc.com

NORTHSIDE SOCIAL in Arlington, VA
People Perks: Serves wine, coffee, beer and food
Pup Perks: Dogs allowed on the outdoor patio

Haley took me here with her friend Courtney and Courtney’s dog Remy for a “work wine.” Haley tells me that Courtney is also a writer for On Tap, but to be honest with you, I have absolutely no clue what any of those words mean. Like, at all.

Anyway, the four of us got a table around the side of the building so Remy and I could relax in the shade. Courtney brought us some water and homemade dog treats, which are sold for 35 cents each. They were delicious, but I have been known to eat things I find in the woods, so maybe I’m not the best judge.

Haley and Courtney each had a glass of wine while they worked on their laptops, and I greatly enjoyed the buttery smell of the croissant they shared. Remy fell in love with a beautiful bloodhound we met and, being a bluetick hound himself, he had a lot to say about it. Halfway through, Haley took me to a nice grassy area across the street, which I deeply appreciated (Remy and I drank a lot of water). People walking by, patted our heads and called us good boys. I was overjoyed. 3211 Wilson Blvd. Arlington, VA; www.northsidesocialarlington.com

ONE EIGHT DISTILLING in Ivy City
People Perks: Serves gin, vodka, bourbon and rye whiskey, plus a rotating menu of thoughtful cocktails; bottles of One Eight’s housemade liquors are for sale at the bar
Pup Perks: Dogs are allowed in the tasting room, but not on distillery tours

My first impression was that this was a loud place. But then I realized it was loud because the people inside were having fun! Everyone was very happy to see me – even more so than usual. Haley said this was a side effect of something called “liquor.” Whatever the cause, I had a great time. People were fawning over me all night.

The best part of this outing was that Haley brought her dad Bill along! (I love her dad so much that sometimes I whine when I see him. It’s really embarrassing.) He got a flight of three different bourbons and Haley got a gin cocktail called a Detroit Radler. It smelled like grapefruit and had what I thought was a meatball at the bottom but alas, it was only a cherry.

Again, both the staff and patrons were very nice not only to me, but to Haley and Bill too! They had such a good time meeting new friends that they got another round. Haley ordered Untitled Whiskey #3, a bourbon made in coffee barrels, and Bill ordered an Old Fashioned.

Meanwhile, I set my sights on the giant pretzel people were eating at a nearby table. I tried to get Haley to order one for me, but she told me she’s supposed to be watching my weight. I tried to explain that she could still watch my weight while I eat a soft, delicious pretzel, but she said I was missing the point.

At the end of the night, we said goodbye and the folks behind the bar gave me my very own bowl of water for one last drink before the ride home. I felt fancy and important. 1135 Okie St. NE, DC; www.oneeightdistilling.com


People here love dogs, and my adventures with Haley prove that in almost every part of town, there’s a place to get a drink with your best friend. I hope she takes me out again sometime. And if she does, I really hope she buys me a pretzel. Check out some of our other favorite pup-friendly watering holes below.

Cotton and Reed: 1330 5th St. NE, DC; www.cottonandreed.com
Just across the street from Union Market, this distillery allows dogs in the tasting room.

Liberty Tavern: 3195 Wilson Blvd. Arlington, VA; www.thelibertytavern.com
This Clarendon-based bar and restaurant allows dogs in its outdoor patio area.

Vola’s Dockside Grill and Hi-Tide Lounge: 101 N Union St. Alexandria, VA; www.volasdockside.com
This seafood restaurant and bar has a dog-friendly patio overlooking the Potomacin the heart of Old Town.

Artwork: www.billfick.com
Artwork: www.billfick.com

Outlaw Artists Take Printmaking on the Road

Outlaw printmaking. Those two words are not some sort of statement. I’m not standing on a step ladder in a free speech zone protesting the medium because a) Why would anyone do that? and b) I don’t know enough about printmaking to stand in front of random strangers on the street discussing the art form.

No, outlaw printmaking is a genre within the medium. Just as rock and rap provide a certain aesthetic in music, so does outlaw printmaking in the fine arts. Bill Fick is one of the members in the movement.

“I’m very comic-y and cartoonish,” Fick says about his work. “It can be just an iconic image. It’s not really telling a story, but people can form their own narrative from the images. Outlaw printmaking is not particularly defined. It’s a lot of artists working in print with a general rock vibe: sometimes satirical, sometimes edgy.”

The renowned artist and veteran teacher is currently on the Speedball Roadshow – U.S. Printmaking Tour. Joined by fellow printmaker Carlos Hernandez, the show is designed to ignite a fervor in people willing to learn about their styles and journeys. The Lee Arts Center in Arlington is set to host the duo on May 12 for a free, six-hour session.

“It’s an educational process,” Hernandez says. “We teach and show our audience the spirit of printmaking. You get your fingers dirty and you create something that people aren’t familiar with. We’re spreading the gospel, if you will.”

Though the art form doesn’t classify as a religion, these two live and breathe the process. Both began their printmaking journeys in college, and though they each approach the medium with a different background – Hernandez with typography and Fick with block carving – each exudes passion for their shared profession.

“When I was in college, I used to do a lot of gig posters with Xerox,” Hernandez says. “It had a punk rock quality to it, and all the great gig posters that were made in the 60s and 70s served as great inspiration. Graphic design and printmaking go hand in hand; it lets me use those [same] techniques.”

Fick adds, “[Printmaking] naturally became a medium I work with. I love the carving process when you transfer the block onto a piece of paper, and I love the history of graphic art.”

A combined offering of these radically different perspectives and approaches is a colossal component of the tour, as each stop includes a modified itinerary pending the wants and desires of the venue. The Lee Center sequences aren’t quite nailed down as of yet, but Fick and Hernandez are up for whatever is necessary.

“A lot of it is media-specific, so we’ll focus on screen printing and get technical,” Fick says. “At the same time, we’ll be working on the release print and take turns on the special piece. By the end, we’ll have a mash-up or [the students] will do a totally separate process.”

Hernandez continues, saying that sometimes the students want something different, and each artist has their own vision.

“We can introduce different styles, and we try to add to their existing programs,” he says.

The duo collaborates on pieces throughout the workshops, each taking turns like friends playing a single-player video game. The pair have worked in tandem on countless pieces at previous trade shows, conventions and tours, so stepping on and off on at different points has become second nature to them.

“[When] we started working together, we’d always have crowds wherever we were,” Hernandez says. “We’ve had universities and other centers interested in the way we present printmaking. There’s a mystery to the work we do. People want to know how to cut a block and burn a screen.”

Most of the time, Fick and Hernadez produce posters, which requires Fick to carve out an image on a block to be printed. Hernandez follows up with printed text.

“It’s all about recognizable imagery,” Fick says.

Join the printmaking outlaws on Saturday, May 12 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Lee Arts Center. The session is free, but registration is required. Learn more about the event at here, and about the individual artists at www.billfick.com and www.carloshernandezprints.com.

Photos: Amanda Weisbrod
Photos: Amanda Weisbrod

Behind the Bar: May 2018

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo the right way at brand new tequila bar Cortez and trendy mezcal mainstay Espita Mezcaleria, both located in Shaw, or at recently opened Mayahuel Cocina Mexicana in Woodley Park. Find out what the bartenders at these hip spots have to say about their mezcal- and tequila-based creations.


Cortez's Sam Helfstein (Photo - Amanda Weisbrod)

Sam Helfstein
Bartender, Cortez

On Tap: What would you say is your most popular tequila cocktail?
Sam Helfstein: The passion fruit margarita. It’s made with El Jimador Blanco tequila, lime juice, a little bit of agave, triple sec and passion fruit puree. You get the choice of a salt or sugar rim.

OT: What first attracted you to Cortez?
SH: It seemed festive, bright and fun, and I wanted to try something different. I’m used to working in whiskey bars, so this is a definite change.

OT: Do you think DC is lacking in tequila bars? Is Cortez filling that space?
SH: I think that the style of Cortez brings something different to the table because there’s fast, casual dining on the lower level and there’s not really food upstairs – it’s more for just drinking frozen margaritas and fun stuff like that. You don’t find a lot of that in the city.

OT: What do you love most about the atmosphere here?
SH: Everything. Everyone has a really positive, happy vibe. When you walk in, you see how vibrant and bright the murals are. It’s really fun. People get excited and they’re always taking pictures.

Cortez (Photo - Amanda Weisbrod)

Sam’s Pick
Classic Margarita
El Jimador Blanco tequila
Triple sec
Lime juice
Agave

Cortez: 1905 9th St. NW, DC; www.cortezbardc.com


[Pictured Above]

Jordan Utz
Bartender, Espita Mezcaleria

On Tap: Has working at Espita made you more passionate about mezcal?
Jordan Utz: Absolutely. Coming here, I got to develop a passion. I learned all of the nuances about the individual varieties. Every bottle up there has its own characteristics and I think because my background was initially more wine-focused, I can apply a lot of that to mezcal because it’s very terroir-based. Each village and each specific agave is going to have its own expression, and produce unique and specific flavors.

OT: What is Espita’s take on being authentic rather than traditional?
JU: Every ingredient, sauce and spice is made from scratch using largely authentic ingredients. As for the mezcals, we only sell responsibly sourced, traditionally made mezcals here. It’s becoming trendy, but mezcal is just not that kind of spirit. The agave takes a long time to grow. A single agave plant takes at a minimum about eight years to mature, so you can’t rush it. Mezcal shows when it’s cheaply made.

OT: Why do you think mezcal is so popular right now?
JU: Because it’s uncharted territory for a lot of people, there’s an element of curiosity. With mezcal, the reward is really high. If you can really take the time to get to know it, there’s so much depth and nuance about it.

Espita (Photo - Amanda Weisbrod)

Jordan’s Pick
Tehuana Girl (Created by Robin Miller)
Yellow chartreuse
Espadin mezcal
Wheat beer
Elderflower
Honey
Lemon

Espita Mezcaleria: 1250 9th St. NW, DC; www.espitadc.com


Mayahuel's Walter Fuentes (left) and Mynor Martin (right) (Photo - Amanda Weisbrod)

Walter Fuentes & Mynor Martin
Bartenders, Mayahuel Cocina Mexicana

On Tap: What inspired Mayahuel’s opening?
Walter Fuentes: We want to bring something new. Mezcal is something that’s going to get more and more popular like tequila did. We’re seeing a lot of people like the smokiness of the mezcal and the different layers of flavors that mezcal brings. We like mezcal because it brings you different parts of Mexico.

OT: What’s your most popular mezcal cocktail?
Mynor Martin: The Chingon is mezcal, scotch, Cocchi vermouth and Angostura bitters. It’s like a Manhattan, but Mexicana-style. The other one is the Smoked Mayahuel. It’s like an Old Fashioned with tequila, mezcal, cinnamon, simple syrup and bitters with mesquite cherry wood on fire.

OT: What makes Mayahuel’s cocktails stand out?
MM: We use only fresh fruit. We don’t use any sour mix or fake stuff. We care about perfect drinks.
WF: We try to keep good quality house tequila and mezcal. We don’t want to use bad quality [liquor]. We want you to come back the next day and drink again, not be hung over!

Mayahuel (Photo - Amanda Weisbrod)

Walter and Mynor’s Pick
Smoked Mayahuel
Mesquite cherry wood on fire
El Silencio mezcal
Milagro tequila
Simple syrup
Cinnamon

Mayahuel Cocina Mexicana: 2609 24th St. NW, DC; www.mayahueldc.com

Photo: Trent Johnson
Photo: Trent Johnson

What’s On Tap: May 2018

Greetings, beer nerds! As you likely know, there are a number of fantastic spots in the DMV where you can grab a pint, and their menus are always evolving and adapting to your tastes. If you’d rather avoid the guessing game, check out what’s coming up at a few of these fine establishments.

WEDNESDAY, MAY 2

Dacha Beer Club
Join Dacha for New Belgium Brewing Company’s release of the self-proclaimed “World’s Dankest Ale” Hemperor HPA release party. Come learn about what makes up the Hemp IPA and play plinko for some New Belgium swag. Also on tap: the Tartastic Strawberry Lemon Ale and Citradelic Tangerine IPA. 4-10:30 p.m. Free to attend. Dacha Beer Garden: 1600 7th St. NW, DC; www.dachadc.com

FRIDAY, MAY 4

Tröegs Beer and Victory Beer Craft Beer Party
Join for the first Craft Beer Garden Party on Kingbird Terrace to celebrate the opening of this new beer garden. From 5-7 p.m., enjoy bottomless draft pints from Tröegs Independent Brewing and Victory Brewing Company. After 7 p.m., drinks will be available for purchase by the glass. Tickets are $25. The Watergate Hotel: 2650 Virginia Ave. NW, DC; www.thewatergatehotel.com

SUNDAY, MAY 6 and MAY 20

Sun, Salutations and Suds
Who can resist the combination of sun, salutations, and suds? Denizens Brewing Co. is taking its monthly yoga series back outside in the beer garden so you can enjoy all three! Join for an all-levels yoga class in the sunshine, followed by a pint (or three) in the beer garden. No previous experience necessary. Class will be led by Stephanie Nale of Gingerbean Health & Wellness. Starts at 10:30 a.m. Tickets are $18. Denizens Brewing Co.: 1115 East-West Hwy. Silver Spring, MD; www.denizensbrewingco.com

TUESDAY, MAY 8

Beer Dinner with DC Brau
Craft beer is a passion, an obsession and a journey. Join the team at DC Brau for a beer dinner. From hoppy to malty to sour, take a trip through all the flavors. You’ll enjoy a welcome reception with passed bites and a glass of Brau Pils before moving to a seated dinner featuring four brews and four courses from Executive Chef Stuart Ameter. 6-8:30 p.m. Tickets are $65. Matchbox Vintage Pizza Bistro: 521 8th St. SE, DC; www.matchboxrestaurants.com

WEDNESDAY, MAY 9

The Allagash Brewing Coolship Bash
Join The Sovereign as they welcome the fine folks from Allagash Brewing Company. On this night, they’ll showcase 20 different beers from the Portland, Maine brewery, including rare kegs of Coolship Red, Belfius and Saison Gratis. Back in 2007, Allagash became the first American craft brewery to install their very own Coolship. This unique fermentation vessel – shaped like a wide, shallow brownie pan – is most famously used to produce the legendary Lambics of Belgium. 5-11 p.m. Free to attend. The Sovereign: 1206 Wisconsin Ave. NW, DC; www.thesovereigndc.com

Bell’s Brewery Presents Hops, Hops and More Hops
Join Rustico Ballston as they host the team from Bell’s Brewery. On this night, they’ll pour 10 different drafts from their good friends from Michigan, including rare kegs of Double Two Hearted and Hopsolution. Headlining the list is Double Two Hearted Ale. Don’t miss this intensely hoppy brew, bursting with notes of grapefruit and pine. 5-11 p.m. Free to attend. Rustico Ballston: 4075 Wilson Blvd. Arlington, VA; www.rusticorestuarant.com

THURSDAY, MAY 10

The Founders Brewing Beast Feast
Join B Side and Red Apron Butcher as they celebrate their partnership with the North Carolina Hog Grower’s Association and their beautiful Berkshire Hogs with a no-holds-barred Beast Feast. The party kicks off at 6:30 p.m. with a live butchering demo and cocktail hour featuring Red Apron charcuterie and Founders Solid Gold. Afterward, guests will sit down with a four-course meal showcasing the different cuts of the pig paired with Founders Brewing Company beers. 6:30-8:30 p.m. Tickets are $60. B Side: 8298 Glass Alley, Farifax, VA; www.bsidecuts.com

THURSDAY, MAY 10 and MAY 24

Beer and Board Games at Sugar Shack
A little beer, a little sugar, classic board games and a few friends – it’s the perfect casual weeknight hang every Thursday at Sugar Shack Arlington. On alternating Thursdays, they’ll have a new craft brewery in-house to talk beer and take over three taps for two weeks. Enjoy flights, pints, beer-glazed donut hole pairings and more. 4:30-9 p.m. Free to attend. Sugar Shack Donuts and Coffee: 1014 S Glebe Rd. Arlington, VA; www.sugarshackdonuts.com

SATURDAY, MAY 12

Bleu & Brew Festival
Don’t miss the Bleu & Brew Festival, where you can drink beers paired with gourmet cheeses specially selected by the Culpeper Cheese Company. The event features over 18 breweries and cideries with more than 44 beers on tap. Come for the beer and stay for the music, as live bands are set to perform throughout the day. Food trucks will also be onsite. 12-6 p.m. $60-$70. Old Bust Head Brewing Company: 7134 Farm Station Rd. Warrenton, VA; www.oldbusthead.com

Eat Your Pizza Four Seasons Beer Festival
Spring Fest will be hosted at Pizzeria Paradiso’s location in Hyattsville, Maryland with a mobile pizza oven, local vendors and independent breweries. All proceeds from Spring Fest will benefit the local Hyattsville nonprofit ArtWorks Now. Beverage Director Drew McCormick has selected Mid-Atlantic breweries including local breweries DC Brau and Right Proper Brewing Company to pour at Spring Fest. 12-5 p.m. Tickets are $20-$25. Pizzeria Paradiso Hyattsville: 2034, 4800 Rhode Island Ave. Hyattsville, MD;
www.eatyourpizza.com

FRIDAY, MAY 18

Port City Debut of Ideaal Tripel
Port City is unveiling its latest addition to their lineup of Belgian-style ales: the Ideaal Tripel. Honey gold with a thick cap of mousse-like foam, Ideaal Tripel’s deceptively dry body provides a perfect playground for spicy Belgian yeast character, marrying complexity and approachability. Ideaal will be available on draft and in six packs to take home. 3-11 p.m. Free to attend. Port City Brewery: 3950 Wheeler Ave. Alexandria, VA; www.portcitybrewing.com

SATURDAY, MAY 19

Sour Mania Beer Festival at Mad Fox
Pucker up and come help Mad Fox celebrate all things sour at the brewing company’s first-ever sour beer festival at Market Square in the City of Falls Church. Mad Fox’s team is searching high and low for an excellent selection of sour beers. They will be grilling some awesome food and will have live go-go band music too. 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. Tickets are $25-$65. Mad Fox Brewing Company: 444 West Broad St. Falls Church, VA; www.madfoxbrewing.com


A Destination Worth Visiting: Farm Brew Live

Farm Brew LIVE is an immersive experience for anyone in search of a catch-all outdoor hangout spot. At the center of this 10-acre operation in Manassas, Virginia is 2 Silos Brewing Company, a local brewery specializing in delectable beers that are exclusively found at Farm Brew. 2 Silos is accompanied by Yard Stage, where local musicians play in front of folks enjoying food and beer from The Pit BBQ or treats from the La Gringa food truck.

“Every part of this whole campus is the experience,” says Meredith Arnest, Villaglo Hospitality Group’s Director of Brand Development. “We want to bring people here, whether they’re coming for the live music and they get a beer or they’re here to drink and they see the music. Our shows are free, so you can come enjoy the music while enjoying the craft beer or craft food and make a real experience out of it. It’s a great place to hang out. Pets are welcome as well.”

The brewery has been thriving since its October 2017 opening, and is even expanding. With added equipment in the form of tanks and barrels, 2 Silos is set to unveil more beer varieties and quantities.

“The response has been absolutely wonderful,” Arnest says.

Another feature set to debut later this year is The Black Sheep Whiskey + Wine + Noshery, which is the now-renovated original Thomasson Barn, including exposed-beam vaulted ceilings. The vintage locale will also serve as an additional space for entertainment and provide private dining rooms.

“We’re bringing it back to life,” Arnest says. “We took pictures of everything to make sure we preserved the integrity of the building. There will be locally sourced whiskeys, and it’ll feature a great wine menu as well.”

The barn itself served as a major draw when scouting locations for the campus, Arnest says. Despite its distance from the District, cofounders Forrest Morgan and Marcus Silva were confident that people would make the trek if they knew quality awaited them.

“It’s a great location and is very visible,” Arnest says. “A lot of the vision was that this would be a true destination. We have to make people want to come out here to see live music and have craft beer. Every time you come here, it’s something unique.”

Cohesion is a big part of the experience that Farm Brew LIVE is creating, with brew styles meant to accentuate the food menus and vice versa. Because all the meats are smoked in-house, and all of the brews are executed in the neighboring building, collaboration between the creatives lends itself to memorable mixtures.

“There are so many options,” Arnest says. “[We] have a full-service restaurant, barbecue and a food truck all right here in the backyard.”

She says the response for the beer in particular has been very positive.

“Our flagships (Virginia Cream Ale, Commonwealth Black IPA, NOVA White Belgian and Old Dominion Imperial Stout) provide a good array in levels of ABV, taste and flavor. All of our bartenders are well-versed in beer and are excited to talk about it.”

Virginia Cream Ale is Arnest’s favorite, but like everything else at Farm Brew LIVE, there are numerous options so you have the ability to choose more than one aspect to enjoy.
For more information about Farm Brew LIVE’s beers, music calendar and upcoming additions, visit www.farmbrewlive.com.

Farm Brew LIVE: 9901 Discovery Blvd. Manassas, VA; 703-420-2264; www.farmbrewlive.com

Photo: Chris Thomas
Photo: Chris Thomas

An Art Lover’s Oasis: NOVA Fine Arts Festival

A treasure trove of unique artifacts and unexplored creations awaits each visitor at the annual Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival at Reston Town Center this spring. From May 18-20, visitors can connect with over 200 artists and experience the beauty of handmade wares while simultaneously supporting the festival host, Greater Reston Arts Center (GRACE).

Bring $5 as a donation to GRACE and receive a 52-page booklet including information on all participating artists and coupons for Reston Town Center restaurants, retailers and businesses. Festival director and GRACE’s associate curator, Erica Harrison, says many new and exciting changes are coming to the festival this year, including an entire extra day to explore.

By adding Friday to the schedule, Harrison hopes more people will be able to come out to the festival and the artists will have more time to showcase their work. In addition, the 2018 Awards of Excellence ceremony, which honors the best artists of the festival selected by a three-judge panel, is moving to Saturday night during the festival party.

GRACE supporters and contributing artists will mingle, drink and be merry at the party as they celebrate and discuss this year’s works of art. Harrison says the best part about the night will be a live performance from Baltimore-based artist Laure Drogoul.

“I think what’s really interesting about this year is that it’s a party for our sponsors and supporters, but we’re also trying to do this whole new creative performance art,” Harrison says. “Laure has a giant sculpture called the ‘Illuminated Fountain of Extinction,’ and it highlights a lot of the animals and species that have already or are in the process of going extinct, and I’m super excited about it.”

Although the party is by invitation only, you can sign up as a GRACE contributing supporter on their website to get the invite. Festivalgoers who are more interested in daytime activities can look forward to perusing a variety of handcrafted, supremely unique works of art including furniture, jewelry, ceramics, glasswork, paintings, house wares and much more.

To artists like Christina Boy, a German-American residing in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Madison, Virginia, the festival is a great way to connect with fellow artisans and reach out to potential clients.

“Everyone has their own artistic voice, and I believe that free events such as [this festival] are important for people to be exposed to a variety of different and unique work,” says Boy, who specializes in furniture design. “In a world that is becoming more and more homogenized, festivals like this keep it fresh and different, and help individuals find their own style instead of going for the mainstream.”

This is Boy’s second time participating in the festival, and she’s looking forward to displaying her handcrafted furniture including her signature piece, “Stool 33,” as well as benches, barstools with Danish cord seats, fun side tables and more – all designed with the spirit of spring in mind.

“Shows are a great way for people to see my work in person, as I believe it is crucial with furniture for them to be able to sit and touch the actual items,” she says.

The festival also serves as GRACE’s largest fundraiser of the year, providing the arts center with over half of its annual budget of $500,000 so that it may continue opening exhibits and offering programs at no cost to locals.

“We’re trying to bring more attention to the mission of the gallery by encouraging participation and making sure everything is accessible to the whole community, regardless of income,” Harrison says. “It’s really helpful to have the festival as a starting point; hopefully, people will come back and check out GRACE’s other programs and exhibitions.”

The festival is still going strong in its 27th year, and thanks to Harrison and her team, it’s growing even stronger. She looks forward to the festival’s bright future and many improvements over the next several years so that GRACE may continue to support artists and encourage artistic engagement in an even greater way.

“What I really hope people get out of the festival is that they make a connection – either with a specific artist or by responding to a piece of work that attracts them and becomes special to them. That’s something that you can’t really do with anything but art.”

The Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival runs Friday, May 18 to Sunday, May 20 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily. The festival party on Saturday, May 19 runs from 7-10 p.m. and is invite only. For more information about the festival’s participating artists and details on how to receive a party invite, visit www.restonarts.org/fineartsfestival.

Reston Town Center: 11900 Market St. Reston, VA; 703-471-9242; www.restonarts.org/fineartsfestival