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Lorton Arts Continues To Raise Money

Weekend benefit offers art, health and fun.

Thanks to the efforts of Dr. Sue Ann Lewine, D.C., a few more dollars have gone into the kitty for the Lorton Arts Foundation Workhouse. Using Lewine’s office as their venue, about 20 artists gathered last weekend to display their works for sale, donating a portion of the proceeds to the Foundation.

In addition to the art show, Lewine and other practitioners of the healing arts offered attendees a sampling of techniques for an $18 donation to the Foundation: a full spinal stress evaluation, 18 minutes of reflexology, or an 18-minute chair message.

The event also featured a Chinese auction, offering some of the artwork, products and services from local merchants — from bird seed to yoga classes.

"We're delighted to have the community support what we're doing. We're very pleased that we came to her mind," said Sharon Mason, vice president for Visual Arts for the Lorton Arts Foundation.

Mason is not sure how many people came to the event but said that there was a crowd of people throughout the day taking advantage of the auction plus the other things offered. “Great Harvest Bread Co. served their delicious bread throughout the day to the guests,” Mason said. “There were 20 artists participating plus at least 15 businesses, maybe more. It was a very generous event. Tickets were sold at $2 each. They made approximately $1,401.”

THE FOUNDATION, formed in 2001, made its primary goal to "preserve, renovate and reuse" the former prison workhouse area, transforming it into the Workhouse Arts Center.

In July 2004, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved the Foundation's request to rezone a 56-acre portion of the former D.C. Correctional Facility in Lorton, to transform it into a mixed-use arts center. The center would contain art studios, display spaces, a theater, events center and other areas.

"I think many people haven't even heard of the project yet. They know the prison is gone, but they think it will be just townhouses. They don't understand the magnitude of what will be coming to that area," said Mara Burk, a professional artist working in stained and fused glass, who lives in Kingstowne. Burk displayed several pieces at Saturday's benefit and donated the proceeds from two pieces to the Foundation.

"Most of the artists are donating two or three items," said Burk. "My guess is there will be quite a bit available for raffle."

Mason said the Foundation's fund-raising efforts are still "in the infancy stages," since they have yet to complete the process leading up to signing the lease on the Lorton property. To date, only one other major fund-raiser — a raffle at Supervisor Gerry Hyland's (D-Mount Vernon) office — has taken place.

"We're still feeling strong support by the county," said Mason, who said she hoped the lease would be signed by May. "We're always welcoming money."

Burk said that she is most excited about the Foundation's plans to incorporate 160 artists' studios into the new Workhouse Arts Center, in addition to lower-income housing for visiting artists, and eight 10,000-square-foot classrooms. It will transform Fairfax County, she said.

"None of us are approaching this because we figure we're going to sell a lot of work. But we want to get the awareness out, because what was once a prison will be becoming this wonderful arts center."