If you’re thinking of buying real estate in Alexandria, Virginia, you should check out the Torpedo Factory in Old Town. It’s a bustling art center that was previously a naval munitions factory. Not only is it an incredible sightseeing opportunity, but you can actually buy art from there and decorate your home.
History of the Old Town Torpedo Factory
The factory was built a day after the end of World War I on November 12, 1918. It had been planned and debated for months before the building began. Ironically, right when it began building, the need for weapons had declined. Either way, the factory kept manufacturing arms.
Commissioned by the US Navy the Naval Torpedo Station built weapons for five years before becoming a munitions storage facility. The factory became active again in World War II. This time it made Mark III torpedoes for aircraft and Mark XIV torpedoes for submarines.
When the Second World War ended, the complex became a government storage facility for artifacts, congressional documents, and Nazi trial records. It also hosted artifacts from the Smithsonian. In 1969, the factory was officially bought by the City of Alexandria.
By 1974, the President of the Art League, Marian Van Landingham, proposed renovations for the factory. This included special plans for the Alexandria Bicentennial Project. However, the proposal included converting part of the factory into studio spaces for only 3 years. The renovation began in 1974. However, a few years after, the building would undergo a similar reconstruction or repairs.
The building underwent further renovations from 1982 to 1983. This was demanded by the City’s waterfront development plan. This resulted in the building being entirely gutted and rebuilt with a new ventilation system and central heating. This infrastructure was lacking before.
In 1985, the adjacent industrial facilities were all demolished. This was to build the Torpedo Factory Condominiums.
In the 1990s, the center began being managed by the Torpedo Factory Artist’s Association (TFAA) and has been a museum ever since. The Art League began to manage operations for the center since then. They did this in conjunction with the Friends of the Torpedo Factory. Today, there are about 275 juried visual artists in the community.
Past presidents of the community have included Tanya Davis and other artists. The current president is Rachel Kerwin. In 2018, the City of Alexandria formally took control of all the operations of the Torpedo Factory Art Center. Today, the center is as vibrant as ever and contains even more artwork than ever before.
What Art Can You Find at the Torpedo Factory Art Center?
You’ll find all sorts of artists and artworks here. There are seven galleries within the center that house the works of over 165 professional artists. They’re as varied in style as they are in medium. You can find paintings, ceramics, photographs, jewelry, sculptures, stained glass, and even printmaking here.
It’s the perfect place to buy art if you’re thinking of buying real estate in Alexandria, Virginia.
Hyun Jung Kim is an artist from Seoul, South Korea whose sculptures will transport you to the past. Rachel B. Collins’ paintings will give you an appreciation of the abstract forms of nature. Sheila Flanders’ beautiful acrylic watercolors will transport you to another world. You can find all these artists and more at the Torpedo Factory Art Center.
There are more than 80 artists’ studios at the center, so it’s basically become a center of creative energy. You can even buy some of the sculptures and paintings and other artworks for your collection.
There are lots of galleries at the Torpedo Factory Art Center where you can find different variations and types of art.
The Target Gallery displays the latest exhibits for you to see. You could see a sculpture, abstract art, or the hottest new trend in art today. It’s the contemporary exhibition space for the Torpedo Factory Art Center.
Every year 8 exhibitions are hosted for the public and media. The latest trends in contemporary art can be found here.
Art League Gallery
The Art League Gallery of course is one of the main galleries of the Torpedo Factory Art Center. It provides exhibiting artist members with several opportunities every year to show off their work and to be judged by esteemed professionals from the art world.
The gallery also hosts monthly juried shows as well as faculty shows and special exhibitions and fundraisers. You can even exhibit your art at the Gallery if you’re a member. The membership is open to everyone.
The enamelists gallery is for a community of artists who all indulge in the art of “True Enamel”. This is glass fired onto metal. Both traditional and modernist techniques are on display at the gallery. This includes cloisonne and several other modern art methods.
Enamel paintings, jewelry, bowls, boxes, sculptures, etc. are all created here. The Enamelists Gallery is one of the founding studios of the Torpedo Factory Art Center. That’s why it’s one of the most enchanting areas in the entire center.
Multiple Exposures Gallery
This gallery of the Art Center was founded in 1985. It’s the longest continuously operating fine art photography gallery in the Washington DC metropolitan area. The gallery promotes a lot of growth and development in fine art photography throughout the area. It also exhibits the work of some of the most highly recognized photographers in the US and in the world.
The Gallery also has several pieces on display for acquisition for first time buyers and art consultants and established collectors. Even corporate curators can come by and buy pieces.
Van Landingham Gallery
The Van Landingham Gallery was made to honor Marian Van Landingham. She was the leader of the development of the Torpedo Factory Art Center more than 40 years ago. The studio only recently opened up in January of 2015. It’s the newest gallery at the Torpedo Factory Art Center.
Potomac Fiber Arts Gallery
This is the first fiber arts gallery in Washington. It opened in 1974 as an original occupant of the newly reformed Torpedo Factory Art Center. The members of the gallery create very fine fiber art including wall hangings and accessories and wearables. They even create sculptures and greeting cards.
There are several skills on display at the Fiber Arts Gallery including quilting, jewelry, basket making, hand painting, etc.
The Scope Gallery was founded the year the Torpedo Factory Art Center opened. It showcases ceramics and functional artisan high-fire pottery. There are even examples of crystalline glazing, salt, raku and wood fired vessels, and horse-hair pottery.
More than 30 local Washington artists exhibited their work at Scope. It represents over a dozen regions and countries from around the world.
What Can You Do at the Torpedo Factory Art Center?
Once you’ve taken in the sights and sounds, you can go out for a bite to eat near the center. Did we mention it’s on the banks of the Potomac River? You can find a bit to eat at the Hard Times Café if you want some continental food. Or you can visit the Riverside Taco Company. You can even take in the great street performers that are always outside ready to entertain visitors.
There are street musicians, dancers, and performers each with their own set of skills. You can even take classes at the Torpedo Factory Art Center if you want. That’s one of the best things about buying real estate in Alexandria, Virginia, you can take advantage of the great classes here.
These classes include:
You can take classes for all artistic and basic skill levels which are offered at the Art League School. These classes are offered at a quarterly basis. The Art League school is non-accredited and open to everyone who wants to learn.
There is a full selection of day and evening and weekend courses. They are offered in virtually all of the fine arts and a wide variety of crafts. The Art League teachers are often credited as being outstanding and inspiring to students and practicing artists alike.
Children’s Classes and Courses
The Art League even has classes and courses for young children. As mentioned above, they can take anyone and everyone who is willing. Children aged 5 and up can learn cartooning and ceramics and clay animation. They can also be introduced to fine art.
There is also an Art Fundamentals class that takes children to explore all types of techniques including texture and line shape and color. They are also introduced to a lot of materials like pastels and charcoal and other materials they may be unfamiliar with.
Summer Art Camp
At the Torpedo Factory Art Center, you can even take a week long summer art camp or a teen workshop. These are offered every summer in June, July and August. The children are given opportunities to explore a new medium or to begin a new project every single day. They can focus on painting, drawing, printmaking, and sculpture, and anything else which interests them.
The syllabus changes each week the camp is offered since there is so much to cover. There are specialty camps available as well where children can concentrate on one specific aspect of art. This can be ceramics or cartooning or painting etc. There are even classes on jewelry making and arts and crafts.
If you’re interested in buying property in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, contact Michael Gailliot Homes. You’ll find the best houses at prime locations at the best prices.