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MPA Begins 50th Anniversary Celebration

Organization hosts "pop-up" party in downtown McLean.

Pete DiCenso of the Dead Cat Bounce Band presents Julie Lansaw Warrin with a hat commemorating the McLean Project for the Arts 50th anniversary Friday, Feb. 24. DiCenso and his band performed the music for the evening.

Pete DiCenso of the Dead Cat Bounce Band presents Julie Lansaw Warrin with a hat commemorating the McLean Project for the Arts 50th anniversary Friday, Feb. 24. DiCenso and his band performed the music for the evening. Photo by Alex McVeigh.

— Fifty years ago, the McLean Project for the Arts began as a way for local artists to get together, meet the local community and sell a few paintings while they are at it. The organization has undergone many changes since then, establishing a gallery at the McLean Community Center and putting on several signature events per year, but it remains the same at its core.

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From left, Julie Lansaw Warrin and Bari Livingston of the McLean Project for the Arts and Dan Smoot, owner of the Langley Shopping Center. The MPA hosted a "pop-up" party at an empty space in the shopping center to kick off their 50th anniversary celebrations Friday, Feb. 24.

To kick off the celebration of their 50th year, the MPA hosted a "pop-up" party, turning an empty spot in the Langley Shopping Center into downtown McLean’s hottest night spot.

"For our 50th anniversary, we wanted to do something fun, because that was the spirit that started everything," said Bari Levingston, one of the event’s chairs. "This is more of a friend-raiser than a fundraiser, we just want everyone to have a good time."

What had been a bare storefront in the shopping center was transformed with decorations, local art, lighting and more to create a club-like atmosphere.

Local businesses contributed a variety of food, drinks and dessert to the event. Smooth Ambler spirits provided a cocktail for the event, the vodka abstract, made up of vodka, lemon and rosemary. Nourish Market, J. Gilbert’s, McLean 1910 and 2941 also provided food and drinks for the party.

"Part of our challenge was to create something out of nothing," Livingston said. "Everybody involved really rolled up their sleeves to put this on, and we couldn’t have done it without so much help from local merchants. Even Lamps Unlimited next door helped, they ordered the lights that are all around."

The art was provided by MPA artists, who performed "Flash Art," creating their pieces in a short amount of time. The pieces were bid on by the more than 150 attendees.

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The Dead Cat Bounce Band performs at the McLean Project for the Arts "pop-up" party Friday, Feb. 24.

"This goes back to the MPA’s roots, where it was just a handful of women hosting informal events, bringing art to the people of McLean whenever they could," said Julie Lansaw Warrin, the event’s other co-chair. "We even did some dumpster diving, that’s where we got a lot of the wood we used to decorate."

Dan Smoot, owner of the Langley Shopping Center was the one who allowed the MPA to take over the vacant space.

"I’m always happy to participate in anything that brings the community together like this," he said. "And I’m very pleased with how the place looks, it turned out really well."

More information on the McLean Project for the Arts, including future 50th anniversary activities, can be found at www.mpaart.org.