If you think all the artists are in a loft in New York, they’re not; they’re at the Torpedo Factory Art Center in Alexandria.
This renovated munitions plant is home to more working artists’ studios than any other U.S. building — 82! But wait, there’s more! The center also houses seven galleries, workshops, a school and a café.
Current exhibits include an event called I Wish to Stay, at which artist Sheryl Oring invites visitors in to write postcards on a manual typewriter to send to the president. Oring wants to bring attention to the fragile state of freedom of speech in the United States today, as well as urge people to make their thoughts, fears and wishes for the political climate known.
It’s always fun to buy a piece of art, but how about buying a portrait of your baby? Or a watercolor of your beach house? You can do it at the Torpedo Factory, where a number of artists work on commission, producing paintings, drawings, sculptures and even jewelry to your specifications.
If you can’t help but become inspired after your visit, the center’s Art League School has classes for all ages and abilities in subjects such as figure drawing, portrait painting and photographic lighting tools.
The Torpedo Factory is also a favorite for hipster weddings. Industrial décor is all the rage these days, but this is no décor — it’s actual industry: pipes, ductwork, a smokestack. The three-story building has different spaces to accommodate groups and parties of varying sizes.
Set aside some time this spring to visit this primordial soup of art!
Torpedo Factory Art Center, 105 N. Union St., Alexandria, Virginia; Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, open until 9 p.m. Thursdays; free.