When the Prodigal Father Returns Bringing Light, Love, and Art

At some point in June 2015, apparently, my life became a constant mad rush of art. It’s a good problem to have: a life filled with non-stop art and love and creativity and connection and family and friends–and friends who are my family. Bliss. All. But this poor little blog suffers neglect as my determination to document, document, document wanes. How to fill in the details now? A chronological account? Alas, that method may have to suffice. I’ll throw in a few photos here and there to brighten it all up.


Since June 2015 I have been fortunate enough to curate and/or have my art featured in a variety of exhibitions including the DC Street Sticker Expo 2.0 at The Fridge in Washington, DC, Currents, Haunted, and More Than a Muse at Epicure Café, and Threshold and Baby Canvases Five at Olly Olly. I had the pleasure of being featured in Washingtonian Magazine and Northern Virginia Magazine. I was also grateful to be honored with the invitation to serve as a member of the Transformer 12th Annual Silent Auction and Benefit Party Auction Artist Nominating Committee. And I’ve been hard at work creating a one of a kind Moleskine Mailer for Tempus Projects Moleskine Mailer Collaboration opening January 9, 2016 in Tampa, Florida. Saying life has been a whirlwind would be beyond understatement. I love it, but I’m ready to slow down and look inward for a bit. This year was also wrought with its own certain sadnesses, but I’m not ready to write about them just yet. I’m ready now to be still for a moment and breathe.

As the Winter Solstice approaches, Yule, Christmas, and the New Year, we’re given all sorts of opportunities to make a fresh start. It’s a time to renew our light. I could make a resolution to be a better, more consistent blogger. I could and I may. Yet I see 2016 approaching with more abundant love and art bliss including three Olly Olly exhibitions already in the works and dates booked.



In conjunction with Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here DC 2016, Olly Olly will hold an exhibition entitled Embracing the Power of Artistic Practice. Featuring work by Lina Alattar, Eames Armstrong, Adrienne Gaither, Zofie Lang, Joseph Orzal, and Mojdeh Rezaeipour Embracing the Power of Artistic Practice will open at Olly Olly with a reception on January 23, 2016 from 7-10pm, include arts programming combining poetry and art, and will hold a closing reception on February 20, 2016 from 7pm-10pm, with performance by Eames Armstrong. Olly Olly’s second exhibition of 2016, Domestic Territories, curated by artist and curator Sarah Irvin, will be celebrated with an opening reception on March 5 from 7pm-10pm. Manifesto, a collaborative exhibition and event at Olly Olly, featuring art from all five members of The Bunnyman Bridge Collective, is scheduled for mid-May 2016.

Jessica Kallista_Another Year in Suburbia (an Excavation)_001

Another Year in Suburbia (an Excavation) by Jessica Kallista

I am also excited to share with you that my first SOLO exhibition, entitled Dear Suburbia (of course) opens Friday, March 18, 7pm-9pm at the Margaret W. and Joseph L. Fisher Art Gallery. Many thanks to Gallery Director Mary Welch Higgins and Juror Stacy Slaten. The Dear Suburbia SOLO exhibition is a bigger miracle than I can fully describe to you here. When I met my biological father for the very first time four years ago, he encouraged me to start a blog and to post my poems and art, as well as my experiences struggling with mindfulness and motherhood in suburbia. This blog, Dear Suburbia, became a way for the two of us to communicate our current situations after decades of separation. Dear Suburbia brought us closer over common loves and questions about writing, art making, meditation, love, loss, being-in-the-world. We learned from one another. Together we struggled with writing. We were tickled with excitement by the way the world works. We became friends. We started to become our own quirky and special version of family. Daddy and daughter. He passed away very suddenly just nine months after our first meeting. Still, with his help and inspiration, I had my art in an exhibition for the very first time six months after his passing. And now, nearly four years after starting this blog, I’m working on my first SOLO exhibition: Dear Suburbia, named after this blog, and the project of living life right where I am–right now, all the time to the fullest–that my biological father encouraged me to create and pursue.


Four years ago I was hiding out in suburbia, covering all of my light, wondering how to survive. Then I started writing letters of love to this strange land. Now my light is on fire for all the world to see. I’m so blessed and lucky to share it with you. Huge love and gratitude to my miraculous group of family and friends and friends who are my family. I couldn’t do any of this without you. You make my light shine brighter every single day. I love you. I wish you a multitude of light and blessings now and always.

Stay happy.


New and Continuing Must-See Art Exhibitions in Fairfax, Virginia

I am thrilled to see and be a part of so much local art happening in Northern Virginia. Suburbia is fast becoming the place to see and experience a fascinating variety of thoughtful, innovative, edgy, and avant-garde art. This weekend Fairfax will have two engaging art exhibitions on view as Ephemeral continues at Olly Olly and CAPTIVE opens Saturday, June 27, at Epicure Café.

Ephemeral, inspired by the elusive here and now, and the role of delicate forms of reality at play in the understanding of emotion, life, and meaning making, features work by Bita Ghavami, Jay Hendrick, Samantha Sethi, and Lisa Marie Thalhammer. The artists of Ephemeral create situations of opportunity for the viewer to experience the fragile and temporary nature of art and life. Destruction becomes a powerful mode of creation through processes that utilize objects of the everyday. Wood, metal, ice, concrete, paper, paint, band-aids, memory, and the performance of bodies embrace and transform fleeting moments of existence in order to call into question systems, functions, and transitory relationships of space, place, and time. In case you missed our opening or just want another peek at Ephemeral at Olly Olly, here’s a video snapshot of the reception. Stop by Olly Olly soon to see it for yourself.

CAPTIVE marks the 3rd collection of local art curated by The Bunnyman Bridge Collective in 2015. It also happens to be the 6th exhibition I’ve curated or co-curated this year so far. Featuring work by artists Jason Davis, Toni Hitchcock, Nathan Jones, Jessica Kallista, KeyHan Lee, Alejandro Padilla (Atomic Blowfish), Javier Padilla, Matt Riegner, Mojdeh Rezaeipour, and Kelli Sincock, CAPTIVE investigates multiple modes of capturing a moment, being bound, feeling trapped, experiencing oppression, finding oneself captivated by emotion, beauty, lust, or otherwise subdued, and also contemplates forms of breaking free from the ties that hold us against our will. The opening party for CAPTIVE at Epicure Café will also include live music by Basswood, a local acoustic duo whose style combines punk, folk, bluegrass and rock.

I’ve also been working on a new series of collages, and a few of them will be on view for CAPTIVE. Oh, and yes, I’m still dropping free art around Northern Virginia, so keep an eye out. I’ve been super busy with all of these art endeavors–and I love it! I have no plans to slow down. I’ll be at Olly Olly Saturday, June 27, from 11am-4pm and then at Epicure Café from 8pm-midnight. My life is non-stop art. I feel extremely blessed, lucky, and grateful to have a life filled with fabulous art and brilliant artists. Thank you. Hope to see you this Saturday.


Olly Olly, located at 10417 Main Street, 2nd Floor, in Fairfax, VA, is open Mondays 10am-4pm, Tuesdays 6pm-9pm, Wednesdays 10am-4pm, Thursdays 6pm-9pm, Saturdays 11am-4pm, and by appointment. Ephemeral will be on view at Olly Olly through July 18, 2015.

Epicure Café, located at 11104 Lee Highway in Fairfax, VA, is open 7 days a week from 5 – midnight. CAPTIVE will be on view at Epicure Café from June 27, 2015 through August 15, 2015.

Make Local Art Happen with Olly Olly

Big, big love and gratitude to everyone who helped make our first month at Olly Olly such a huge success! Thank you! Together we can make local art happen in really big ways!

Olly Olly opened on January 1, 2015. We hit the ground running by hosting Art Gym Studio Nights and providing full time studio spaces for three local artists – Diana AdamsDavid Barr, and myself. Seeing all of the art being created at Olly Olly is a constant inspiration. The open collaborative atmosphere is often electric and overflowing with ideas, and with artists spurring each other on towards new projects and creations.

Our first major event of the year, the opening reception for the art exhibition Bodylore on January 24, 2015 was packed with amazing art, artists, and art lovers. I am so very grateful for everyone’s support, encouragement, enthusiasm, and generosity! Olly Olly is a dream being realized with every artist and art lover who comes through the door!

For more opportunities to support local art and Olly Olly, from purchasing Art Gym memberships, jumpstarting your art collection with incredible local art bundles, to booking private dinner party events hosted by local artists, or even if you’re just feeling particularly philanthropic, please visit the Support Olly Olly page on our website. Thank you! xoxo

“Bodylore” Opening Reception at Olly Olly January 24

Olly Olly, a new alternative art space in Fairfax, VA, is pleased to present its inaugural pop-up art exhibition, Bodylore, an exploration of the human figure and an investigation into the body as social construct, tradition, myth, and fairytale.  On Saturday, January 24, 2015, from 7pm to 10pm, spend an evening with the artists:

Eames Armstrong

Jackie Hoysted

Carolina Seth

Robert C. Yi

Bodylore features a variety of work dealing with the body, the interaction of bodies, embodiment, the folklore of bodies, play, and the role of the body in our everyday experience, dream-life, and cultural imagination.

Olly Olly wants to nourish the body and the community as well. We will be collecting healthy non-perishable food items for the Food Bridge Program at Our Daily Bread, which provides short-term emergency food assistance to Fairfax County area residents who are in crisis. We encourage you to bring a healthy non-perishable food item to donate. The Food Bridge Program is most in need of cooking oil, brown rice, dried beans, canned fruit in its own juices, and pasta sauce.

Olly Olly Logo

Olly Olly, located at 10417 Main Street, 2nd Floor in Fairfax, VA, is open Mondays from 10am-4pm, Tuesdays from 6pm-9pm, Saturdays 11am-4pm, and by appointment. Bodylore will be on view at Olly Olly from January 24, 2015 through February 6, 2015.

Sneak Peek of Bodylore. Image Credit: Javier Padilla

Olly Olly Curator and Art Instigator, Jessica Kallista, with a sneak peek of Bodylore. Image Credit: Javier Padilla

Olly Olly, a New Alternative Art Space, Opens in Old Town Fairfax

Happy New Year! Get ready to flex your art muscles in 2015! Olly Olly, a new alternative art space, is now open in Old Town Fairfax, Virginia. Dedicate time to your art and we’ll dedicate space for you to create it. Bring your latest artwork and create alongside other local artists in our open studios. Join us January 6 and January 13 from 6pm-9pm for free drop-in Art Gym open studio nights for artists 18 and older. Art Gym open studio nights are hosted by local artists Jason Davis, Jessica Kallista, Javier Padilla, and more. Space is limited. You can also sign up for special new membership rates for the Olly Olly Art Gym while supplies last. Visit our Support Olly Olly page for details about Art Gym memberships, plus tons of other super cool opportunities to get your hands on incredible local art!

Olly Olly Logo

Experimentation and exploration are at the core of every thriving arts community. We know that the artists we need in order to have a thriving arts community in Old Town Fairfax City are already here, but are often hidden away in their own separate studios and homes. Exceptional local and regional artists working in disciplines of painting, sculpture, photography, mixed media, collage, appropriation art, performance art, installation art, conceptual art, street art, video art, and other bleeding edge media and practices need a dedicated home base that supports and challenges them to experiment and explore together.

Olly Olly is a call for local artists to come out from their hiding places to make and show their art in a nurturing, creative, community art space. Olly Olly is also a call to the community to come out, support, and benefit from an art scene that will help our community prosper and help to provide an authentic sense of community. Olly Olly will promote collaboration rather than competition and provide studios, an incubator space, and art gym for local artists, as well as a gallery, open studio, and event space.

We’re gearing up for a full year of exceptional arts programming in 2015. Create with us at Olly Olly, and make local art happen!

Olly Olly Curators --photo by Gopi Raghu

Olly Olly is located at 10417 Main St., 2nd Floor, Fairfax, VA 22030. We are currently open Tuesdays from 6pm-9pm, Saturdays from 11am-4pm, and by appointment.

Special thanks to Gopi Raghu for taking these fabulous photos of our open studio night this past November!