Arlington Arts Center (AAC) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit contemporary visual arts center dedicated to presenting and supporting new work by regional artists in the Mid-Atlantic states. Through exhibitions, educational programs, and subsidized studio spaces, AAC serves as a bridge between artists and the public. The goal is to increase awareness, appreciation of, and involvement in, the visual arts in Arlington County VA and the region. AAC was established in 1974 and has been housed since 1976 in the historic Maury School. Our facility includes nine exhibition galleries, working studios for thirteen artists, and three classrooms. At 17,000 square feet, we are one of the largest non-federal venues for contemporary art in the Washington metropolitan area.
The exhibitions program at AAC supports the work of emerging contemporary artists in the Mid-Atlantic region in our SOLOS exhibitions. Once a year, AAC announces a call for exhibition proposals. The submissions are reviewed by our exhibitions committee, which includes notable artists, critics, curators, and collectors. Our final roster of selected artists, hailing from the District of Columbia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia, is then featured in one or two SOLOS exhibitions. Each artist mounts a self-contained show in one of seven separate gallery spaces, resulting in a sampler of exceptional, cutting edge art in a variety of media.
AAC also features themed invitational shows organized either by our Director of Exhibitions or by prominent guest curators. These shows typically take on challenging topics of the moment, and bring an array of exciting avant-garde practitioners from the regional, national, and even international stage to Arlington. These shows and their attendant lectures, workshops, and panel discussions, offer opportunities for dialogue, and ultimately serve to illustrate the value of contemporary art—specifically, what it is, how it works, and why it matters in our daily lives.
Whether you are just beginning to pick up the paintbrush or you are a seasoned artist, you will find stimulating classes all year round at AAC. We offer classes for adults, teens, and children. Classes are small, scheduled to fit easily into the school day and work day, and tuition is very affordable. Our teachers are professional artists, many of whom have achieved the highest degrees in their field. We offer classes for home-schooled children, and some bilingual classes for students who wish to practice another language in an informal setting.
Classes for Children: Children can explore the world around them through art-making. Students learn techniques for a variety of art materials, like pen and pencil, paint, modeling clay and more, which inspire them to be both inventive and creative. Older students have the opportunity to interact with contemporary artists while they draw and paint at the easel.
Classes for Teens: Teens hone fundamental skills and learn to develop their artistic voice, and some even prepare for college in our Portfolio Development classes.
Classes for Adults: Both beginners and experienced artists will find worthwhile classes at AAC. We have a selection of offerings in drawing, painting, sculpture, and photography. All of our classes emphasize the work of contemporary artists.
To see our current course offerings, visit our registration site. Remember, AAC members at the Family Level and above receive discounts on class tuition. To become a member, visit https://www.arlingtonartscenter.org/supportus.
Studio Residency Program
The primary goal of the Resident Artist Program is to provide a space in which artists can work and grow, and to bring them together with the community in an environment that encourages interaction, dialogue, and exploration. Selection criteria include artistic merit, potential for collaborative outreach to the community, and diversity of artist representation.
Every emerging, professional artist in the Washington DC area is eligible to apply for a two-year residency in one of our subsidized studios. Artists can only renew twice, limiting the total residency to six years. We do this so that as many local artists as possible can benefit from our incubator program. Our studio artists have been granted international fellowships as well as exhibitions at esteemed galleries in Washington DC, New York, and beyond. Studio vacancies are announced when they occur on our website and through the AAC e-newsletter.
AAC offers subsidized studio space for 12 artists and one visiting artist on a rotating basis. Studios range from 300 square feet for a solo studio, to 600 square feet for a shared, 4-artist space. All have excellent sunlight, work sinks, and high ceilings with 365 day, 24-hour access. There is a lounge area, kitchen, and a shower. Artists are not required to keep studio doors open; instead, they open their studios to the public 5 times each year, in conjunction with opening receptions. Every artist has a solo or two-person exhibition every other year in AAC’s Wyatt Resident Artist Gallery.
Visiting artists: AAC hosts artists from across the US and abroad for periods from one week to six week residencies. Visiting artists work in one of our studios and often offer workshops for adults or children during the course of their stay.
About the Building
The Clarendon Elementary School was built in 1910 to serve the growing Clarendon neighborhood. The two-story symmetrical building was designed with a central hall and four classrooms on each floor. The school was renamed in 1944 to honor Matthew Fontaine Maury (1806-1873), known as the “pathfinder of the seas.” He was a native Virginian, naval officer, geographer, and oceanographer. Prior to the Civil War, he was head of the Naval Observatory. In 1861, he resigned from the US Navy to become a Commander in the Confederate Navy. The school closed in 1975. The building became home to the Arlington Arts Center in 1978. After an extensive renovation in 2005, it now boasts Tiffany Windows. The Maury School is a designated Arlington County Landmark and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places: for a detailed description of the school building and its history, read the Registration Form.