Kick Off Arlington Public Art's 40th Anniversary at Dark Star Park

Published on July 31, 2023

dark star park

An Arlington tradition for four decades, the public is invited to participate in Dark Star Park Day, on Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2023, and watch the shadow alignment that the iconic sculpture was designed to capture.

Dark Star Park is located at 1655 N. Fort Myer Drive (at the convergence of N. Fort Myer Drive and N. Lynn Street, just off of Route 50/Arlington Boulevard, in Arlington’s Rosslyn neighborhood).

Every August 1, at precisely 9:32 a.m., Nancy Holt’s Dark Star Park (1984) aligns with the sun. Shadows cast by the spheres and poles of this landmark outdoor sculpture align with their permanent forms on the ground, marking the moment of Rosslyn’s founding. The community is invited to celebrate with light refreshments provided by the Rosslyn Business Improvement District.

The work of pioneering land-art artist Nancy Holt, Dark Star Park is one of the first major examples of "integrated public art" in the nation, and Arlington’s first major commissioned public art project. It also marks the anniversary of the day in 1860 that William Henry Ross purchased the land that later became Rosslyn, where the park is located. As many of Nancy Holt’s site-specific artworks were purposely built in remote areas, Dark Star Park is also extraordinary in that it is among the late artist’s few major artworks in an accessible urban area.

In addition to being a regional landmark, Nancy Holt’s sculptural park is the cornerstone of Arlington’s internationally acclaimed Public Art collection. This year's shadow alignment will launch Arlington Public Art’s 40th anniversary observance, with a series of events and activations highlighting the entire collection planned throughout the year, including the dedication of several artworks new to the collection.

About Arlington Public Art

Arlington County, Virginia, is home to more than eighty permanent public works of art. Arlington Public Art directly commissions artworks integrated into County capital improvement projects, coordinates artworks commissioned by real estate developers as part of the site plan process and assists community groups to initiate public art projects on public property. We also partner with local arts and community organizations, artists and businesses to present interpretative projects, temporary artworks, exhibitions and more.

Arlington’s history of commissioning public art stemming from County planning objectives began in 1984, with the dedication of Nancy Holt’s Dark Star Park in Rosslyn, which features a community-celebrated annual shadow alignment. Arlington Public Art is a program of Arlington Arts/Arlington Cultural Affairs.

About Arlington Cultural Affairs

Arlington Cultural Affairs, a division of Arlington Economic Development, delivers public activities and programs as Arlington Arts. Our mission is to create, support, and promote the arts, connecting artists and community to reflect the diversity of Arlington. We do this by: providing material support to artists and arts organizations in the form of grants, facilities and theater technology; integrating award-winning public art into our built environment; and presenting high quality performing, literary, visual and new media programs across the County.

About Rosslyn Business Improvement District

The Rosslyn BID provides high-quality, customer-oriented services designed to define, enhance and continually improve Rosslyn for those who work, live, visit and do business here. As a resourceful and collaborative organization, we work in partnership with our key stakeholders and Arlington County to create a welcoming, creative, thriving environment that supports Rosslyn’s residents and a wide range of business types, from innovative start-ups to established Fortune 500 companies and international associations. We take an active leadership role in all that we do, serving as a collaborator, community builder and agent of positive change.

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