Reston Art Gallery & Studios: A place for art where you feel like family

Located at the first art space in Bob Simon’s master plan at Lake Anne, Reston Art Gallery & Studio is a hidden jewel, where you are surrounded by many forms of art that will delight all of your senses. From beautiful paintings in watercolor, oil, and acrylic by Pat Macintyre (owner), Dorothy Donahey, Joan Kelly, Gail Axtell-Erwin, Roberta Thole, Lassie Corbett, and Maggie Stewart; to innovative, three-dimensional “paintings with paper” by Ronni Jolles; to art jewel by Gail Axtell; and to the modern mobile sculptures of the newest member of the gallery, Wayne Schiffelbein, Reston Art Gallery & Studios, known as RAGS, is truly an exciting gallery.

Art activities for children

Long-term Reston resident and painter Pat Macintyre opens her gallery to people of all ages, and she is known as an art advocate for children. Every Saturday, from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon, Pat offers free crafts lessons to children at her studio, where children can enjoy themed activities and something different every Saturday. In May, children will have the opportunity to create a craft for Mother’s Day, and in June, they will make something for Father’s Day. July will feature 4th of July-themed crafts.

Children can get used to and develop a love for art through these and other activities at the gallery. Pat said that the galley has also been a place for birthday parties, where children can celebrate and paint or create an art piece.

Classes that awakens the artist inside of everyone

In addition, art lovers can also take lessons directly from artists. Ronni Jolles teaches her art form, “painting with paper,” to adults every Wednesday and Friday morning, and she will potentially open another class during evening hours. In the summer, she hopes to expand her classes to children 10 to 14 years old and she may teach other age groups as well.

“In order to teach students how to paint with paper, I teach the foundations of art through fun projects in drawing, painting, and printmaking,” explains Ronni.  “Although the cutting, ripping and gluing of papers are very important in my art form, many different skills are needed to learn painting with paper.”

Those who prefer painting with brushes also have the opportunity to learn from the experts: Lassie Corbett teaches “Advanced Watercolor and Oriental Brush painting” to small groups every Tuesday from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. People of all skill levels are welcome to join Lassie’s classes at any time. “I’ve done Chinese brush painting since the 1960s. In the evening, I hold a more advanced watercolor class,” she says.

Camaraderie and exhibits run year-round

Being at the Reston Art Gallery and surrounded by artists is like being with family. Everyone helps each other and works in such a harmonious environment that you feel the love in all that they do.“One of the charms and strengths of the gallery is that we all work in almost completely different ways, and since we have our new mobile 3-D, we’re an expanded group,” said Dorothy Donahey.

Artists also inspire each other and sometimes create artwork with the same theme or color.

“It used to be that one person started doing a painting in blue, and then all of a sudden, blue was showing up in [all of the other artists’] paintings,” added Roberta Thole. “And before you know it, someone is doing a red painting, and red starts showing up and becoming a dominant color in paintings. While that doesn’t always happen, it’s fun when it does.”

This spring, all of the artists ended up painting a beautiful cherry blossom tree that is growing in front of Lake Anne and was visible from the studio.

Dorothy explains that currently she is working on her new exhibit: “The title of that show is ‘Sunrise, Sunset’ from Fiddler on the Roof, and it will be about sunrises and sunsets,” she laughed.

On the walls, you can see Roberta’s paintings and her unique technique with metal additions.

“Sometimes the palette changes, and I don’t do a lot of red, black, and brown in the spring, probably because I’m influenced by the brighter, lighter colors of the season,” she said.

Joan Kelly’s paintings are always very colorful and vibrant. In her most recent exhibit “Joyful Color in Reston”, she featured Reston through colorful scenes of Lake Anne and Reston Town Center, as well as Restonians having fun. Sometimes she decides to write after she finishes painting. She said that her reflections on a painting called “Floating in a Dream” made her realize that the images said a lot about her life and the things that were important to her.

Additional exhibits this year will include Pat Macintyre and Gail Axtell-Erwin in May, Ronni Jolles in June, a group show in July, Lassie Corbett in August, Dorothy Donahey in September, Wayne Schiffelbein in October, Roberta Thole in November, and a group exhibit called “Holiday Sparkle” in December.


Wayne Schiffelbein: “This is artwork— not machine work”

A Restonian since 1965, Wayne Schiffelbein recently joined Reston Art Gallery’s roster, with his contemporary mobile sculptures that remind many of Alexander Calder, the renowned sculptor.

Made out of metal, wood, and other random objects, Wayne’s sculptures move softly with the wind or a finger’s touch, balancing in space and delivering a sense of peace and aesthetic harmony.

To make his mobile sculptures, Wayne uses leftover aluminum from a roofing company; rods from a welding supply house; fishing weights; and other items found at home, such as a lacrosse ball or a wooden alphabet block. Each piece has simple lines and pure shapes, such as circles, squares, cubes, and spheres.

To make his art pieces, Wayne uses basic metal-working tools and basic machinery to bend the aluminum, but he cuts some of the pieces by hand, including the circles.

“Are they perfectly round? No, but they’re close enough. This is artwork—not machine work,” says Wayne. “We’re not going to fly this thing to the moon; we just want to play with it a little bit.”Creativity and a lot of experimentation is what Wayne uses in each one of his pieces. He explains, “The process is a little bit structural, but mostly intuitive. You look for a balance point. I place it on my finger and think, ‘Oh well, that’s not what I want!’ and you have to do some more to move it. It never turns out to be what I started to make. It changes in the process.”

An architect as well as an artist, Wayne has worked as the architect representative for all of the train stations from Washington, D.C. to Boston. “Federal projects are required to feature one-half of one percent of artwork in the building or around it,” says Wayne. “I was involved with the artists who were installing artwork at all of the train stations, and now every single one of them has artwork in them. It was fun.”

Wayne’s mobile sculptures decorate both small and big spaces, including over desks and in cathedrals, living rooms, offices,
and lobbies.

To learn more about Reston Art Gallery & Studios, its exhibits and artists, please visit or call 703-481-8156.


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