Commissions, exhibitions, outdoor shows: autumn news from Torpedo Factory artists

As autumn decides whether or not to settle over Old Town Alexandria, the Torpedo Factory is as busy as ever, as are our artists. When you’re part of an arts community—which includes collectors, fans, and friends as well—the creativity never stops; we’re proud to share some of our artists’ latest honors, accomplishments, exhibitions, and events.

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Ceramicist and raku artist Marcia Jestaedt will soon help set a very high-profile scene. She sold four archival prints of her Oriental Ceramic Robes (including “Birds in Space,” the gorgeous work shown here) to the television production company Eye Productions.

On November 15, the prints will appear in the recently revived Hawaii Five-0, in an episode with a Japanese theme. 

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Earlier this month, just as she prepared to teach plein air painting at the Art League, Sara Linda Poly finished two large commissions for the new Salamander Resort and Spa in Middleburg, Virginia. 

In October, Poly’s work will be featured in “Luminous Terrain,” a two-person show at Warm Springs Gallery in Charlottesville, and in November she’ll have a show in Easton, Maryland, at the South Street Art Gallery, “the house filled with fine art.”

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The September-October 2013 issue of Home & Design magazine has a wonderful feature story about Torpedo Factory associate artist Jessica Beels, who creates versatile and beguiling work in a variety of media, including paper, beads, and steel:

About half of Beels’s recent work is based on scientific themes. The largest piece, “Pass It On,” covered a 10-foot-wide wall at “Pulse: Art & Medicine,” a recent exhibition at Strathmore Mansion in Rockville. The group of five spidery mobiles, ornamented with gold leaf and mirrors, was inspired by neurons related to Alzheimer’s. In the staggered, suspended row, moving parts cast dancing shadows and reflections across the white wall.

In her ongoing quest, Beels has landed on a convergence of method and meaning. “The beauty of science is both its incredible complexity and its incredible simplicity,” the artist observes.

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News from Maine! Sissy Cutchen won three blue ribbons for her art at the Litchfield Fair: one for “Summer Day,” made from pieces salvaged from an old clock case, another for a depiction of a red, white, and blue rooster, and a third for the delightful “Fish Market Anchovies”—which will hang in the Maine State Capitol Building in Augusta. 

(see Cutchen’s website for more of her folk-art-inspired depictions of fish and food!)
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Lori Katz also had an interesting summer: Two groupings of her wall were purchased by Amazon Web Services, a branch of, for their new office in Herndon, Virginia. The “AWSome Call for Art” was run by Artspace Herndon, and Katz says the process was like nothing she’s seen before.

“The employees got to choose the art,” she explains. “They culled 300 pieces from 1,000 submissions. Each employee got 100 raffle tickets as votes to choose the art they want to see hanging at AWS. Starting with the piece that had the most votes, Amazon purchased in order of ranking until they ran out of money to spend!”


Ceramicist Rebecca Ravenal, who uses a traditional Italian “maiolica” technique, will be showing off her love of color and fanciful design at MPAartfest, the annual outdoor event in McLean Central Park in McLean, Virginia, on October 6, 2013
You’ll also find Ravenal at the Academy Art Museum Craft Show in Easton, Maryland, during the weekend of October 19 and 20. Keep an eye out for some of her recent mosaic work, from small mirrors to large installations.


In August, Diana Chamberlain was named Connecticut Sculptor of the Year by the Minnesota arts-and-culture magazine TOSCA. The magazine spotlighted her work in porcelain, especially her Custom Wedding Dress Vases. 

“Before firing, the clay resembles fabric and lends itself particularly well to the dress form,” the magazine points out. “They become beloved keepsakes long after the original dress has been packed away for safe keeping.”

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Once in a while, we spot early-morning visitors to the Torpedo Factory who roll their luggage into the building and wait for their favorite artist’s studio to open. We love that that we’re an essential stop for art fans rushing to the airport—so we were delighted when Washington Flyer magazine stopped by to chat.

Check out the report on their YouTube channel, which includes interviews with Matthew Johnston, David Cochran, and Allen Levy. We’re grateful to the magazine’s Emma Beck for pointing a new wave of travelers in our direction. If you haven’t visited us in a while, why not follow their lead?

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