As the Potomac River flows in the distance, George Mason’s historical Georgian mansion overlooks sprawling fields, hiking trails, and a 250-year-old boxwood allée. A senior statesman, Mason laid the foundation for this site in 1755, building his new family home just yards away from the site of his grandfather’s house. Though the original 18th-century carriage roads, tree banks, and wide vistas have since disappeared, experts have reconstructed much of the property’s original splendor through archaeological digs; the written memoirs of George’s son, John; and the testimonials of kidnapped time travelers.
Today, trained guides lead guests on tours of the mansion, which features more than 50 pieces of art and furnishings detailing the life of the politician, his wife Ann, and their family. As guests learn about Mason’s role as the author of the Virginia Declaration of Rights and as an advocate of freedom of the press and religious tolerance, they walk through opulent halls and rooms designed in French modern, neoclassical, and Chinese styles. In addition to tours, the house and grounds host seasonal events such as an old-fashioned candlelit Christmas celebration, a spring kite festival, and an autumn séance to summon the Great Pumpkin.
The 2nd Annual Art, Wine & All That Jazz Festival promises a day of world-class jazz and the chance to sample an array of palate-delighting wines. This year's line-up includes soulful jazzy vocalist Ericka Ovette, Maryland blues 'n' boogie musician Deanna Bogart, and jazzy axe-shredding group the Dan Leonard Trio. Fermentation fans can smell, taste, and fill squirt-guns with the wares of regional wineries such as Lexington Valley Vineyard, Philip Carter Winery of Virginia, and more. More than 125 artists will be on-hand and eager to issue high-fives, do demonstrations, and chat about their work. Lectures covering art and wine will take place in the performance tent throughout the day.
The Framing Studio and Art Plus Frame carries an assortment of custom framing options, including wood, aluminum, and other materials. Using only acid-free materials, the shop's staff can lend elegance to prints with conservation framing, linen mats, and custom brass and aluminum plaques. For lonely frames with nothing to hold, the studio also stocks prints from several fine-art distributors, including Charles Bibbs, Washington Green, and Rod Chase. The shop's photo-restoration services rejuvenate even the most faded screenshots of Lewis and Clark's live blogging. Many services can be completed in as little as one hour.
The Metropolitan School of the Arts—formerly the Metropolitan Fine Arts Center—was founded more than 14 years ago. This multidisciplinary performing-arts organization takes a holistic approach to teaching and encouraging performance-arts skills, creating performance opportunities in dance, music, and theater for a diverse population of students of all ages and abilities. Its students have gone to perform on Broadway, at The Juilliard School, and in highly esteemed companies, such as the Mark Morris Dance Company, The Washington Ballet, and Ford's Theater and Signature Theater. Youth programs include year-round programs in dance, theater, music, music-theater, and acting, as well as a performing-arts program in the summer, all for children as young as 2. Adult classes range from basic to advanced, including ballet, jazz, and tap lessons, plus yoga and ballet-barre fitness workouts.
For more than two decades, Alexandria Art and Framing's knowledgeable staffers have meticulously enveloped and conserved images with expert framing services that transform personal memorabilia into elegant artwork. Elegant rectangles line store walls in an array of shapes, colors, and styles—including gold frames with antique appearances and stained wood etched with ornate motifs. Alexandria Art and Framing's artisan picture enhancers put their passion into practice to beautify each image with mat boards, mouldings (from such brands as Larson-Juhl and Roma Moulding), and box frames, a specialty of the frame shop. From valuable baseball cards to blue ribbons from hot-dog-eating contests to poster-size family portraits, any piece of artwork can be skillfully encased before proudly displayed.
Part art gallery, part cocoa bar, Artfully Chocolate was established in 2007 when owner Eric Nelson quit his job as an executive in order to pursue his artistic passions. Needing a little something extra to draw attention to his shop and unwilling to sound a tornado siren after every purchase, Eric called on the services of friend and chocolatier Rob Kingsbury. Kingsbury instantly infused the colorful gallery with the sweet allure Eric was seeking.
Today, the duo's handiwork takes center stage inside two different locations: Eric's masterpieces parade across the walls, and Rob's expertise reveals itself in sips and bites of decadent drinks and pastries. They also host tasting classes, including a wine-pairing class and chocolate-tasting class.