Posts Tagged ‘Fairfax’

Bridge work will clog Arlington for years; Stun gun use stopped at Fairfax County jail

Slain American hostage, Warren Weinstein, remembered for helping the world’s poorest
(The Washington Post)

Virginians near I-66 wary of state’s plan for HOT lanes
(The Washington Post)

Bridge work will clog Arlington for years

Stun gun use temporarily stopped at Fairfax County jail

Union, Metro Management Disagree Over ‘Safety Culture’ At WMATA

Sex Parties sink DEA chief; Fairfax pays 2.95M for John Geer killing

Fairfax pays $2.95M to settle suit in John Geer police killing
(The Washington Post)

Embattled DEA chief to resign following ‘sex parties’ scandal
(The Washington Post)

Vance staying with NBC Washington, but won’t co-anchor 11 p.m. news

Chipotle’s Carnitas crisis could rock on for months

Hanna Andersson opens at Fair Oaks Mall

Hanna Andersson

Photo courtesy of Dave Dugdale/

By Micaela Williamson

On a trip back to her childhood home of Sweden, Gun Denhart discovered vibrant and soft cotton children’s clothes that were a striking contrast to the uncomfortable children’s attire in the United States.

After bringing a case home to share with her friends and receiving an overwhelming response, she started Hanna Andersson in her Portland garage with her husband, Tom. Since 1983, the brand has grown to become an impressive worldwide children’s retailer with shopping available through catalog, Internet and retail locations.

Hanna Andersson’s newest store just opened in Northern Virginia at the Fair Oaks Mall.

Hanna Andersson

Photo courtesy of Meghan Shea.

“Fair Oaks Mall is a terrific addition to our existing stores in the D.C. market. It is located where many of our customers live. We have a wonderful location within the mall too. Hanna takes great care when selecting a store location, and this one meets all our requirements,” says Jessica Polonsky, vice president of stores.

Customers expect quality, durability and bright colors from Hanna Andersson clothing, which make it a favorite among parents and kids. Besides kids’ clothes and accessories, Hanna Andersson also continues to be a premier brand with a women’s line called Love Hanna and home decor brand named HannaHome.

“Here at Hanna Andersson, we let kids be kids,” explains Bonnie Choruby, senior vice president of merchandising and retail. She adds, “Our clothing and products are made from pure organic cotton and eco-friendly fabrics, and when you pair those qualities with functional pieces, you help kids be adventurous and carefree.”

The newest Fair Oaks Mall store, located on the upper level, is fully stocked with merchandise and ready for business. With a social media RSVP list of nearly 900 people for opening day, the store already proves to be a welcome, popular addition to the community, and the team hopes to get involved in local events.

“Now that we have a store at Fair Oaks, we will be sure to include those customers in future VIP events, as well as all store promotions such as our HannaSale in June and our popular Hanna-me-downs event in September,” says Meghan Shea, brand marketing coordinator.

The new Hanna Andersson location is between JCPenney and Forever 21 in Fair Oaks Mall in Fairfax.


Courtesy of Tiffany Brown, Mamaratzy Photography

Micaela Williamson is a coauthor of local travel guide Kid Trips Northern Virginia, an extraordinary resource that provides descriptions, useful information and insider tips for hundreds of local destinations. Micaela is also an award-winning blogger who enjoys supporting area businesses and scouting out family-friendly venues with her two young sons.

Arts on the Rise in Fairfax

Posted by Editorial / Wednesday, April 15th, 2015

Jessica Kallista, one of the Olly Olly Art Gallery

Jessica Kallista, one of the Olly Olly Art Gallery. Photo courtesy of Javier Padilla.

Old Town Fairfax is becoming a new hotbed for the arts.

With a label like Old Town, you can be forgiven for overlooking it, but a quick walk down Main Street reveals something new is happening within the historic blocks of Fairfax. In the past year a number of shops and galleries have opened their doors and are serving as the foundation for an emerging arts community in Northern Virginia.

Among the area’s new residents are Mobius Records, which opened last August and sells new and vintage vinyl records, De Clieu Coffee, which is connected to Mobius and opened last October, and Olly Olly Art Gallery, which opened its doors this past January.

Dempsey Hamilton, a former live sound engineer for bands Thao & The Get Down Stay Down and Blonde Redhead, opened up Mobius because he saw a resurgence in vinyl records.

“Whenever I would finish sound check I would find a local record store for my own habitual needs,” says Hamilton. “Then I started noticing there were more and more people the more I would go … something is happening here.”

Hamilton, who lives with his family just three blocks from Old Town Fairfax, landed with his location because De Clieu Coffee was already scheduled to open in the adjacent building, and the two businesses quickly saw an opportunity to integrate.

“We are kind of a cohesive thing regardless of the fact that we’re two separate businesses,” says Hamilton. “We can cross promote and help each other out all the time.”

That’s just one example of the supportive artist community Jessica Kallista, one of the Olly Olly Art Gallery founders, set out to create when she opened the studio.

“The name Olly Olly comes from when we were kids and playing hide and seek,” says Kallista. “It’s Olly Olly oxen free; it’s like a call to artists to come back into the game or come out from hiding from their homes and studios and have a home base to be collaborating and creating together.”

One element of Olly Olly that facilitates collaboration is a weekly art gym. People of all artistic ranges can buy a membership and come to Olly Olly on Tuesday or Thursday nights to work out their art muscles by creating and sharing pieces.

Why is Old Town Fairfax becoming a hotbed for arts all of a sudden? The answer may be George Mason University.

Mason is now one of the largest universities in the state, with enrollment larger than Virginia Tech, University of Virginia and James Madison University. The influx of youth has brought fresh life to Old Town Fairfax.

“Once they embraced we were a college town, more stuff has been happening,” says Hamilton, who certainly has seen the influence of college kids; nearly 60 percent of Mobius’ customers are high school- or college-aged.

With redevelopment going on since 2006 and culminating with Old Town Square, a park set to open April 18 on Main Street and University Drive, Old Town Fairfax has a whole new look.

“It’s growing really, really quickly,” says Kallista. “A lot of stuff is happening down here.”

“I’ve lived here since ’08,” says Hamilton, “and it’s taken quite some time for things to happen, but I think this kick-start has finally pushed [Fairfax] into the mainstream where people are paying attention.” —Michael Balderston

(April 2015)

Mobile bakery becomes brick-and-mortar: Sweetbites Cafe and Bakery expected this month

Posted by Editorial / Wednesday, April 15th, 2015

Photo Courtesy of Laura Davidson Photography

Photo courtesy of Laura Davidson Photography

By Susannah Black 

Environmental policy analyst-turned-dessert caterer-turned-food truck operator Sandra Panetta expands once more to open Sweetbites Cafe and Bakery in McLean, expected to open at the end of this month. 

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Beyond the Supermarket

Posted by Editorial / Thursday, April 9th, 2015

Brassicas Farm Fresh Market & Cafe

Photo courtesy of Brassicas Farm Fresh Market & Cafe.

Before most farmers markets reopen in May, here’s where to find local produce, pantry items and provisions. —Susannah Black

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George Mason dancers debut 3 innovative pieces for annual concert

Posted by Editorial / Thursday, March 19th, 2015

George Mason School of Dance

Photo Courtesy of Tim Coburn.

By Victoria Gaffney

Mason students are taking the stage with a set of three eclectic, contemporary works for this year’s Dance Gala Performances at the George Mason University School of Dance. Technically challenging, these pieces showcase the students’ sophisticated style, professional poise and advanced skill level.

What makes this year’s set of performances particularly unique is a Gala Dinner Celebration. Dr. Victoria Salmon, associate dean emeritus, relates that it all began at a meeting last year. At this conference, faculty member Christopher d’Amboise expressed that his dad, Jacques d’Amboise, had suggested they turn the whole event into a “full-blown gala.”

Susan Shields, director of the School of Dance at George Mason, is thrilled with this year’s repertoire. “It’s just phenomenal that we’re being given permission to dance these works,” she explains.

The show will open with the lively, upbeat “Pupil Suite,” by Andrea Miller, who is the founder, artistic director and choreographer of Gallim Dance, a New York company. With the Israeli band Balkan Beat Box providing the musical backdrop for the piece, the animated choreography is paired with edgy, trendy costumes, what Shields refers to as “Williamsburg Brooklyn” style. “It’s just so high energy, so quirky. So smart and fun,” Shields claims of Miller’s work.

Following this energetic and dynamic performance will be a work that the school is honored to perform by Alejandro Cerrudo, Hubbard Street Dance’s first resident choreographer. Shields explains that this company artistically fuses ballet and modern, which is similar to George Mason’s approach. Three couples will perform Cerrudo’s “Lickety Split” set to Devendra Banhart’s indie-rock music. Shields refers to the dance as a series of “intimate duets”—not romantic in nature, but evoking a more general lifelong journey. “It’s just very subtle and sensuous partnering,” says Shields, who feels that this work particularly illustrates the talent and maturity of these dancers.

The evening will close with the compelling, intense “Vespers” by legendary choreographer Ulysses Dove. The students had the privilege of working with Alvin Ailey dancers on this piece when they visited the Kennedy Center earlier this year. Alvin Ailey dancers, having also performed this piece, worked one on one with Mason students dancing the same parts. The experience was incredible for the students. “Nothing can make you happier as someone who’s lived her life in dance to see things passed on hands-on like that,” says Shields.

When putting together this dance program, Shields is always looking for works that will accomplish two goals. The first is to ensure the routines are not only engaging but that they also expose audiences to great artistic pieces and the advanced skill level of Mason dancers. The second goal is to make sure the works will open doors for the dancers, possibly leading to networking opportunities and the ability to learn from the dances themselves.

George Mason School of Dance

Photo Courtesy of Tim Coburn

The level of sophistication in these performances reflects the rigor and high standards of the dance program.  Salmon explains that she’s seen “a new sense of energy and willingness to explore different avenues of the arts” at Mason. She points to a collaboration and synergy between faculty and students across art programs, which has contributed to this new dynamic feel.

Mason dancers go on to pursue various careers in the dance world, whether that be performing in a professional company, writing for a dance magazine or becoming involved in events management or arts administration. “We want educated, smart dancers working in the dance field bringing that special intelligence that they have to our field,” Shields says. Salmon describes their approach as an ideal combination of the professional and academic.

The gala, which will raise funds for student scholarships to the School of Dance, will be held before the March 28 performance with Jacques d’Ambroise, the Gala Concert’s honorary chair, in attendance. Performances will be held this year at George Mason University’s Center for the Arts on March 27 and March 28 and, for the first time, at the Hylton Performing Arts Center on March 29. The gala before the March 28 performances will feature cocktails and dinner and there will be champagne toasts with the dancers following the program.

Gala Concert and Dinner Schedule:

Saturday, March 28
Reception: 5:30 p.m.
Dinner & program: 6 p.m.
Gala performance: 8 p.m.
Meet the Mason Dance Company and champagne toast: following the performance

Ticket Information:

Performance only: $25 for adults, $15 for seniors & Mason students
Gala Concert and Dinner on March 28: starts at $150 per person
Contact Kara Huneycutt at (703) 993-4749 or 


March 27 and March 28 performances
Center for the Arts at Mason
4400 University Drive, MS 2F5
Fairfax, VA 22030

March 29 performance
10960 George Mason Circle
Manassas, VA 20110

18 new and almost opened restaurants, breweries and coffee shops in Northern Virginia

Posted by Editorial / Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

New and Almost Open restaurants in Northern Virginia

Photo courtesy of 360b/

Need a new spot to nosh? Here is a list of new restaurants now open or opening soon.

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Fairfax cartoonist Matt Dembicki brings comics to the classroom

Posted by Editorial / Tuesday, March 10th, 2015

Matt Dembicki

Smudge! Comics Arts Expo founder Matt Dembicki giving a talk on using comics in the classroom. Photo courtesy of Matt Dembicki.

By Matthew Tracy

Most people hear the word comic and picture caped crusaders jumping from buildings and using superpowers to defeat villains. But comics are much more than that for Fairfax’s Matt Dembicki, the Eisner and Harvey Award-nominated cartoonist.

Many of Dembicki’s comics are nature-oriented and are used to teach children and young adults around the country about the environment. His recent works such as “Trickster: Native American Tales,” a collection of creature folktales as told by Native storytellers, and the Ignatz Award-nominated “Xoc,” the tale of a great white shark, are perfect examples.

“I’ve always had this kind of thing with nature,” Dembicki says. “I can see different stories when I go for a walk in the woods. I see a certain type of animal, a squirrel or a bird, and can imagine perhaps what that animal might go through or what it’s thinking.”

Smudge! Comic Arts Expo

Image courtesy of Matt Dembicki.

Many of Dembicki’s nature-based comics have found their way into classrooms and libraries where they’re used as teaching tools. “You want kids to learn something. Whether you use a textbook or a video or an iPad or comics, it doesn’t matter,” Dembicki says. “Whatever it is that they get a connection with to understand what you’re teaching is great—you’ve succeeded.”

In 2014 Dembicki founded the Smudge! Comics Arts Expo to promote the educational value of comics. Entering its second year this Saturday, the free convention showcases local comic creators and features an array of comic workshops and panels for children and adults. A special theme this year is the use of comics in schools.

“We have one panel comprised of local teachers that use comics in their classroom,” Dembicki says. “(They’ll) educate other teachers on how they’re integrating comics into the classroom, into their curriculum and into their lesson plans.”

The educational value of comics means a lot to Dembicki. He moved to the U.S. at a young age and had trouble understanding English in school. Then one day his mom read about schools that used comics to teach kids to read. After she bought him some from a local convenience store, everything changed.

“I just got hooked, I wasn’t intimidated anymore. I could look for visual clues in the drawings to help me understand what was being said,” he says. “It also was a springboard to actually love to read, to help me appreciate art in a broader sense.”

Among the other features of this year’s expo is a panel focusing on diversity in comics. This will feature a local publisher who publishes stories based on race and gender diversity. “Comics aren’t just for white guys in shorts,” Dembicki says.


Smudge! Comics Arts Expo
March 14, noon to 6 p.m.
1101 Wilson Boulevard
Arlington, 22209
Tickets: Free


Sweet Briar College to close its doors; Winter storm moves in Wednesday

By Matthew Tracy

Sweet Briar College to close its doors for good

DOJ: Ferguson police officially found racially-biased in actions
(Washington Post)

Winter storm warning goes into effect at 7 p.m. Wednesday

Fairfax forms commission to review police procedures
(Fairfax Times)

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