Metro Weekly

Artistic in Arlington

Arlington officially opens Artisphere, an ''arts space for everyone''

”Artisphere is the kind of place where you come and hang out, bring your friends, find new friends,” says Norma Kaplan, division chief of Arlington Cultural Affairs. ”There will be two or three or more different things happening at any given time.”

This weekend, Arlington county will officially open Artisphere, meant to be a Metro-accessible ”arts space for everyone.” Housed in the original Newseum space in Rosslyn, the building’s owner offered the county the location rent-free for 17 years in exchange for concessions at another property.

Among the gay or gay-popular events on tap: a dance party co-hosted by Brightest Young Things and co-DJ’ed by house music singer Ultra Nate on Saturday, Oct. 9, and performances by J.S. Adams’s BLK w/Bear queer experimental music group and gender-blurring performance artist Mamoru Iriguchi, both on Sunday, Oct. 10. In the coming months, the complex will feature up-and-coming New York queer band Rad Pony, a theatrical satire about homophobe Fred Phelps and more experimental queer music from Sonic Circuits. In addition, the Washington Shakespeare Company and the National Chamber Ensemble will serve as resident companies in the complex, which encompasses four theater/performance venues, three galleries, a ballroom and an Artisan Center of Virginia retail outlet. Beginning next year, there will also be a restaurant.

”I doubt that anybody can look at our program and not find something that’s going to fit their interest,” says Kaplan, joking that the complex is striving for a ”shocks and awe” approach to presenting all types of art and culture.

Artisphere’s opening weekend festivities include a free, two-day open house beginning Sunday, Oct. 10, at 10 a.m., at 1101 Wilson Blvd. Arlington. Call 703-875-1100 or visit for more details.

Doug Rule covers the arts, theater, music, food, nightlife and culture as contributing editor for Metro Weekly.