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If you don’t get out of the District much, you might not have visited Columbia Pike, a Virginia state highway known especially for its commercial heart in South Arlington. That strip has long been a multicultural hotbed, but recently, it’s begun to transform into something like Clarendon Part Deux. So for about the last five years, the Columbia Pike Documentary Project has been creating a record of the community through a variety of mediums, especially photography. “The Pike was not seen as an individual neighborhood until the last several years,” says project co-founder and photographer Lloyd Wolf, who’s logged countless hours taking photos of the neighborhood’s goings-on, buildings, and residents. Starting today, select photos from the project will be on display at the Founders Art Gallery in an exhibit titled “From Pupusas to Microbrews,” which will jump right into the fray with a conversation about gentrification along the pike. “We’re using the photos to spark community involvement,” Wolf says. “Our idea is to make strong, meaningful, engaging photos, with all the integrity we can bring to them as artists…and to help create community identity.” The exhibit has potential to be one of those rare, valuable moments when art sparks a real change in public policy, but until then, just admire the images.
The exhibit is on view to Oct. 27 at the Founders Art Gallery at George Mason University, 3351 Fairfax Drive, Arlington. Free. Opening exhibition tonight at 5 p.m. Free. artsmanagement.gmu.edu. (703) 993-8926.