I'm still finding my way around Arlington, and every once in a while I discover something great. Arlington reminds me of Wellington, New Zealand, a city I lived in for about 8 months in 2003. Wellington was a well-behaved small city, respectable and suburban, but also willing to embrace its urban side. When I was there Wellington had put out an open call to the hip and cool: new coffee shops and pop-up galleries were sprouting all over the city, breaking up the more sedate facades of a bureaucratic capitol. The hipsters--as hipsters will--were studiously avoiding the bland office buildings built to tempt international do-gooders and businesses, instead seizing on whatever remained of Wellington's even older, frontier past. A bank built to protect gold-rush bonanzas became an amazing new restaurant. Peter Jackson revived the old movie theatre for the world premieres of The Lord of the Rings movies. So, too, in Arlington, VA. Traces of the 1950s and 60s stand fast next to stands of fast-growing office space, sometimes embraced and celebrated by the art crowd, sometimes ignored by everyone.
An amazing example of this--manifestly celebrated--is Ben Fehrmann's installation at the Clarendon's power substation.
More about this project can be found at the Arlington Arts site: