The Artists Among Us

In addition to the culinary arts demonstrated with in the Open Kitchen Bistro, we are pleased to have amongst us a number of creative talents of varying avenues of art.

Luu Dat ~ Mosaic Artist

Mosaic artist, Luu Dat creates one-of-a-kind, contemporary mosaics for gallery, architectural, business, and home settings. Each mosaic is created using the finest materials gathered from sources around the world: smalti, marble, vitreous glass [Sicis glass tiles], ceramic etc.

His artistic design process is completely intuitive, integrating technique and vision. Everything is created by hand using a variety of nippers, cutters and hammers to control each tessera & glass tile’ s shape and scale. He creates all the fine artworks himself, laying each tessera & tile into the cement [versabond], while managing its relationship to the next piece and the one before, all the time considering the work as a whole. Luu Dat is delighted to create the 8 by 8 ft mosaic bas-relief mural welcoming you to the Bistro. Named Open Kitchen, the vintage pieces of pots and pans intertwined with in the design were handpicked by his daughter and son-in-law, Hue-Chan and John Karels.

A second mosaic veneer, The Green Waves, can be found inserted on the front of the 21 ft chef’s counter within the Bistro. Hopefully, after seeing his artworks, viewers will look at the environment around them with different eyes, blending fascination with holistic happiness.  His unique artwork is also featured among the terrace and market.

An artist his entire life, this latest creation is just one of many. In 1975 Luu Dat, along with the help from two US Marines, sculpted the “Hand of Hope”, a 12-foot-high sculpture at the entrance to Camp Pendleton, CA. At a Vietnamese reunion in 1985, family after family patiently took turns posing in front of the beautiful sculpture.

While not being an artist, Dr. Luu Dat also taught French Literature at Michigan State University, Education at University of Michigan, and practiced law in Vietnam. More recently, he served as President of Alpha Title & Settlement Company, Virginia Bar, and President of International Legal Aid Center, Fairfax, VA, in junction with the law office of H.M. Sawyer, Falls Church, VA.

John Potter - Photographer

When not working on specific commissions, John is experimenting and testing his photography and Photoshop skills at his studios in Arlington and Fairfax. His award-winning work has been featured in both local and out of town shows, in solo and juried gallery exhibits. His online galleries are frequently rated by his peers among the ten most popular on

He is part of a network of well known European photographers who meet annually in Venice, Italy to photograph Carnevale and to compare work completed over the last year.  He has published a book with Dutch photographer, Peter Kemp, on Carnevale 2008.  He was asked by renowned ballet photographer Richard Calmes to document a shoot he had arranged with the Washington Ballet in August 2009 ( and became interested in dance photography.  Since then he has worked with dancers from the Washington Ballet ( and Oltre la Danza ( in Venice, to which this display is dedicated.

John makes his home in Arlington with his wife, Joan Goodman. Three of their children are also photographers. Sacha Potter has been published by Juniata College ( Tristan Potter is a gold and silver award-winning photographer in the National Scholastic Competition. David Goodman ( typically uses black and white film and has done considerable work in Peru and Brazil.

In his other life, John is the Headmaster of The New School of Northern Virginia in Fairfax (

John has participated in and photographed Culinary Events at Open Kitchen.  He shares his works for use on our web-site.

Gary Mester - Photographer

Gary Mester began his photography in Carteret, New Jersey being tutored by his father using a twin reflex camera shooting 120 film. He now photographs in Northern Virginia. His photography spans 45 years’ work in 35mm color, black and white, in both film and digital formats. His photography reveals a natural interest in the world around him and displays a critical understanding of light and composition. His earliest work, done in the 1960s, shows photos of family and friends, his travels, military career and social and sporting events. Not formally trained, he learned by doing. The 1970′s photos show a clearly traceable development from the quick product of chance to the refined compositions of traditional fine art photography.

In Mr. Mester’s photos of nature, sport and portraits, the play of light and the details of shape, lines and contours enhance the image. Subjects are allowed to display their own uniqueness. His persistence and keen sense of timing captures the image where the moment is transfixed by the photo.  Whether the images are poignant, humor or historical, each composition becomes a sentimental memory to be cherished.

Mr. Mester has been published in local papers, sports magazines and web sites. He has also been juried in such competitions such as Meadowlark and the Freedom Museum at the Manassas Airport, as well as performing several one-man exhibits. Through his photography, Mr. Mester supports the Tinner Hill Foundation, Relay for Life, Westie Rescue and other local charities.

Gary has photographed Culinary Events at Open Kitchen as well as Team Member portraits.  He shares his works for use on our web-site.