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Benefit Helps Lorton Arts

A Burke chiropractor is hosting more than local 20 artists for a benefit for the Lorton Arts Foundation and the new Arts Center in Lorton.

Although new to Northern Virginia, Sue Ann Lewine has big plans for bringing her new neighbors together.

"I felt the need to create community," said Lewine, a chiropractor whose practice is in the Burke II Shopping Center. "My practice is aimed at creating wellness and healing, not reducing symptoms, and the epitome of healing to me is being able to be in community."

Lewine — who moved to Virginia in 2001 from southeastern Pennsylvania — is hosting a benefit for the Lorton Arts Foundation on Saturday, Jan. 29, from 1-4 p.m., in several stores in the shopping center. More than 20 local artists will be displaying their artwork for sale, and all will donate the proceeds from at least one piece of art to the Foundation.

"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.

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 will be displaying several pieces at Saturday's benefit and will donate 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."

In addition to the art displays, Lewine will be offering several chiropractic services — stress evaluations, reflexology sessions or a chair massage — for $18 and donating the proceeds to the Foundation. Other Burke II merchants, including Burke Used Books, Khan's Martial Arts, Great Harvest Bakery and Mr. Pepperoni, will be displaying artwork, and some will be participating in a silent auction of goods and services.

The goal, said Lewine, is obviously raising money, but also enhancing community.

"This lifestyle in Northern Virginia doesn't support people connecting, getting together, unless it's for a soccer game or something."

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."