Thirty years ago, a new initiative to provide public art that could stand the test of time and be a focal point for residents and visitors to Rosslyn began with the opening of Dark Star Park. The park, designed by artist Nancy Holt with a celestial themed, interactive approach, has become an internationally renowned work of unique public art. Orange Line Living has grown up with Dark Star Park as one of its community highlights. Commemorating not only the opening, an annual alignment of shadows off spheres and poles to ground markers has been the focal point of the anniversary for several years now. This year was a bit different, as the county and community residents also celebrated Arlington County’s commitment to public art.
Nancy Holt’s design was the first of many public art projects planned with public interaction and a vibrant urban life in mind. When the park first opened, it was the beginning of the county’s embracing of the National Endowment for the Arts program, Art in Public Places. The design of Dark Star Park offers a wonderful example of how the idea of public art has evolved in our country. The main features of the park were celestially inspired from Holt’s reflecting on fallen moons and the death of stars. The results were large spheres, poles, reflecting pools, and trees best viewed while walking. The placement of the spheres brings shadowy eclipses to the meandering stroll along the park, evoking thoughts of lunar and solar eclipses. There are also spheres revealed in tunnels that run along North Lynn Street, bringing to mind the birth of a new star from a black hole. The aligned shadow markers for August first were set up to commemorate the date the land, known as Rosslyn today, was originally acquired by William Henry Ross and his wife Carolyn, the neighborhood’s namesakes. The time chosen for the alignment was a “nice time of day” as stated once by Holt.
Since 1992, the park’s anniversary celebration of one of the area’s favorite public art works has centered on the timed alignment of shadows on markers, as a unique way to connect the art with the community. This connection to public art was at the forefront of this year’s celebration, where it was noted that Arlington has commissioned 60 permanent public art pieces in the 30 years since the opening of Dark Star Park. What started out as an interesting place to point out as one drove through the Rosslyn corridor has now become a place to have lunch, play with your kids, and take an evening stroll. The liveliness of the Rosslyn- Ballston corridor has not always been so. The changes in urban living along the Orange Line have been successful in part due to our love of public art. The fact that the Dark Star Park has been maintained and widely used as a gathering place speaks volumes to the appreciation of public art in our urban lifestyle.
Rosslyn is not just a place to pass through on your way to the capital or Arlington National Cemetery; it is a thriving, active, urban center, and our public art connects neighborhoods together. If you want to live surrounded by great public art in a thriving urban center, Rosslyn is waiting for you. Myself, and the Orange Line Living team are here to provide you with our unique and specialized services. To learn more about how we can help you, contact us directly at 571-969-7653 or at [email protected]