Futral gears up for fun, creative fall

“I love seeing the joy my students experience as they realize their own creativity and capabilities,” says Karen Futral, one of ACA’s amazing art teachers, looking forward to the fall semester ahead.  “And I am happy to contribute to this process and witness their artistic abilities and confidence grow.”

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Futral gears up for a creative fall semester.


This fall, Futral will have plenty of opportunities to do just that – she’s teaching two ceramics courses at ACA (“Explorations in Clay” and “Forms in Clay”), each intended to ignite and inspire her students’ creative spirits. This semester will mark three creative years that Futral has been with the Arlington Center for the Arts – and she wouldn’t have it any other way. “I love the diversity of creative venues at ACA and seeing work in progress, whether it’s an exhibition being set up, individual artists in their studios, or theatre props in the making,” she exclaims.


Futral on the boardwalk at Plum Island, her “favorite spot for inspiration”

Futral will be bringing her own bit of artistic magic to ACA this fall, with ceramics courses that will encourage students to approach clay work with a fresh eye and an expanded set of creative capabilities. “I love the feel of clay and how malleable it is,” Futral says. “You can make just about anything you can conceptualize, with enough skill and patience of course.  Clay also seems to have a mind of its own sometimes, and often surprises you with what turns up as you work with it, and when it emerges from the kiln. Sometimes it can be pure serendipity!”


In “Explorations in Clay,” Saturdays from 12-3 pm, students will create work that expresses personal images, using line, color and form, working on soft clay, paper and bisque-fired pieces. “I am really looking forward to being back in the clay room with my students and seeing what inspires them,” Futral says. “I’ll be bringing some concepts to use as a base for exploration…each term there is something new.  In the past we’ve used ‘Edges’, ‘Embedded’, ‘Aerial Landscapes’, and ‘Plankton’, to name just a few, as jumping off points. We’ve really had a lot of fun!”


Original work by Futral


In “Forms in Clay,” Saturdays from 3:30-5:30 pm, students will use centuries old techniques of clay slabs and coils to form vessels, platters, vases and tiles.  A 3-week workshop, Futral says the course is “perfect for beginners as well as students with some experience.”


Futral, an experienced ceramics teacher and artist, notes that she’s been teaching pottery for over twenty years, no small feat. “I ran the pottery studio at Cambridge Center for Adult Education and taught classes there for seventeen years until it was shut down for a building project,” she says. “I also had my own gallery and studio in Cambridge, Fresh Pond Clay Works, for several years and sold my work there and at other locations.”


Today, Futral is a psychotherapist and art therapist with a private practice in Arlington. “Teaching is a nice complement to my therapeutic work in which I am also a witness to my clients’ growth on a deeper emotional level. It is all very satisfying work.”


Original work by Futral

“I’ve always been creative and visual and was introduced to art and design at an early age,” Futral notes.  “My mother was a painter and very creative overall, and my father was an architect. I had a wonderful education which included 2-D and 3-D arts in high school, college, graduate school, and on my own throughout the years, and I worked in the design field early on in my career.  I’ve enjoyed being a painter, printmaker and photographer as well as a ceramics artist.”


Her wish for this fall semester? “I would hope to impart to my students the lessons of openness and flexibility with their creative visions and expectations, so that they can enjoy the journey of working with clay and not fret if the final product doesn’t match their vision. Clay is a great metaphor for ‘going with the flow’ in life.”

We couldn’t have said it any better ourselves. Make sure to check out one of Futral’s creative arts courses this fall – for more info or to register, visit www.acarts.org.

Thibaut to add some creative edge to your Fall

“For some…students, making art can enrich their lives forever – but for others, making art will open up a means of creative expression, a consolation, a source of strength in life,” wrote Connie Thibaut, one of ACA’s veteran art teachers, while preparing her art teacher certification many moons ago. “In this way, studying art – like the study of literature and philosophy – can empower and save lives.”


Thibaut with original paintings




And Thibaut has done just that – teaching countless arts classes over the course of her many years here at ACA, each prioritizing individual expression and creative modes of self-reflection.

Thibaut, who has been with the Arlington Center for the Arts as far back as 2001, has had a lifelong interest in the arts. “As a child, I identified with the role of artist at a very early age,” says. “It was a way of accessing non-ordinary reality…Those were very happy, even ecstatic hours – drawing, painting, dreaming, illustrating and writing little books.”

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Artwork by Connie Thibaut


Now she’s happy to share her love of creating with her students. “I would like to help students learn to transform personal reflections and observations into individual styles of expression,” Thibaut says.

Her student-oriented teaching style has inspired many – including Sharon Gadonniex, who went on to help Thibaut design this semester’s workshop, “Renaissance Art & Shamanism.”


A snapshot from Thibaut’s “Luminous Oil Painting” class

The two-day workshop, which will be co-taught by Whispering Deer, an experienced shamanic practitioner, will allow students to use techniques of shamanic journeying to access their inspiration and experiment with drawings or paintings to chronicle their experiences. It will also capitalize on Thibaut’s creative approach to arts instruction. She has taught numerous renaissance painting classes at ACA in the past, but the marriage of renaissance painting techniques and the principles of shamanism will add a new dimension, and creative edge, to this dynamic arts course.


Artwork by Connie Thibaut


Shamanic journeying is an ancient practice that involves reaching altered states of consciousness – allowing one to get past the linear mind, which places limits on what one can do. Thibaut is intent on allowing students to push past their creative boundaries – to “think outside of the commercial, corporate, and impersonal takeover of our culture.”

And Thibaut is excited to once again delve into the styles and swatches of Renaissance Painting. “What fascinates me about the Renaissance technique is the mystery that it creates,” she says. “The effect of mystery.  The repetition of glaze upon glaze over some areas of scumbling – creates a great illusion of depth.”

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A snapshot from Thibaut’s “Luminous Oil Painting” class


“I appreciate the way we, the teachers, are respected and trusted to teach according to our own teaching philosophy [at ACA],” she notes. “I’ve also enjoyed the camaraderie with other artists, teachers, and art lovers.  There was an eccentric 19th century Oxford don, named Walter Pater, who wrote a book, which became famous, called The Renaissance.  It’s a very short opus and simple in its message in a way.  He was always writing about ‘that liberty of the heart and mind,’ and I feel the presence of that liberty working here at the ACA.”

To learn more about Thibaut’s “Renaissance Art & Shamanism” workshop this fall, or about any of our other arts classes or workshops, visit www.acarts.org.

Paret to lead art adventures this fall

“I want to help people of all ages find a connection to a medium and a creative process,” says Vicki Paret, one of ACA’s amazing art teachers, fresh off a successful spring semester and looking forward to a creative fall ahead. “I can’t imagine a life without participating in making things, and hope through teaching classes I can help others find the same joy in creating.”



A self-described “life-long” artist, Paret will be offering four classes at ACA this fall, each intended to spark this very “joy in creating” that she mentions above.

In “Paint with Gouache,” Tuesdays from 1:00 3:00 pm, students will work from resource photographs as they explore and experiment with the medium of Gouache – a versatile, non-toxic, opaque, water-based paint. “I am looking forward to sharing this wonderful medium for painting,” Paret says. “The color is beautiful, and because it is nontoxic and water soluble it is can be used in many settings.”


Goldfish, Vicki Paret

In “Drawing Studio,” Tuesdays from 9:30 am – 12:00 pm, students will utilize black and white media to explore elements in the art toolbox:  line, value, shape, space, texture. Paret stresses how important she believes drawing classes like “Drawing Studio” to be: “I believe everyone can draw; and learning to see and capture things in the world in two dimensions is profoundly exciting.”


Eggs, Vicki Paret

In “Wheel Work,” Wednesdays from 6:30 – 9:00 pm, students will create functional works in clay using the potter’s wheel. “I get great joy in creating functional objects that can be enjoyed by the user in the day-to-day, and hope to help others develop the skills on the pottery wheel to feel the same satisfaction,” Paret notes.


Vase, Vicki Paret

In “Clay Studio for Teens,” Wednesdays from 4:00 – 6:00 pm, students in grades 6 and above will learn to throw bowls, vases and mugs on the pottery wheel – and how to build vessels using hand-building as time allows.


Bowls, Vicki Paret

Paret is also quick to note her desire to help and support students and aspiring artists of all ages. “In the studio, I enjoy teenagers for their energy and openness, and in seeing adults, find satisfaction in developing new skills and engaging with creative process,” she says.


Provincetown, Vicki Paret

Having just retired from a full-time job as a middle and high school art teacher, Paret came to ACA last spring in search of a creative community – and was pleased to find an organization as grateful for her creative skills as she was for its boundless opportunities for self-expression and creative learning. “ACA offers a wonderful range of classes, and I liked the idea of becoming part of a community art center – a place that offers an accessible venue for people to engage with art and the creative process,” she says.


Plates & Bowls, Vicki Paret

“Making my own art grounds me; the process has provided me with a life-long challenge that allows me to have focus and internal quiet while I am working, and to express things I seem to be unable to express through words,” Paret says. “It is rewarding to help others in their journey with creative process. I love what I do, and love to share with others. It is exciting to be involved with ACA classes, and I look forward to working with returning and new students in the world of art.”

For more info about any of Vicki’s creative arts courses this fall, or to register, visit www.acarts.org.

Community mural created by local artist, LGBTQ+ youth

Through a generous grant from the Arlington Cultural Council and the Arlington Center for the Arts,  the Mystic LGBTQ+ Youth Support Network (Queer Mystic), an organization dedicated to providing services and support to the area’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer/questioning youth, and Bren Bataclan created a mural for the Housing Corporation of Arlington to display at the Arlington Food Pantry at 117 Broadway.

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Anticipation is high as youth from the Mystic LGBTQ+ Youth Support Network prepare to unveil this new community mural

A public unveiling on Friday, June 3rd at the Arlington Food Pantry at 7:00 pm allowed community members to celebrate this piece of community-minded artwork.

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The mural is unveiled!

Local artist Bren Bataclan,  who is known for his “Project Smile,” a series of public-art installations encouraging people to smile at one another more often, and the gorgeous murals he has painted in several schools around the world, held two workshops with LGBTQ+ youth to design the mural together.

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Bren Bataclan, in the early stages of painting.

The portable mural’s theme is “A Sharing Community” and was developed by the youth who attend a drop-in night every Friday at Arlington Center for the Arts.

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Youth prepare ideas and sketches during one the Mystic LGBTQ+ Youth Support Network’s Friday Night Drop-In sessions!

Bataclan used the ideas and sketches that the youth created to make the layout for the final design. Elements of the design include a giant rainbow, happy carrots holding hands and pretzel love.

Jeannette, Bren, Mykael at mural unveiling

Bren Bataclan with Jeannette and Mykael Hawley, members of the Steering Committee for the Mystic LGBTQ Youth Support Network.


Thanks to everyone who made this community-minded mural possible – especially the Arlington Cultural Council, Bren Bataclan, and the wonderful youth of the Mystic LGBTQ+ Youth Support Network.

View Bataclan’s Project Smile here >> 

See his video blog “Beanie and Bren,” which teaches painting techniques, here >>

Developing Perspectives in Moshi, TZ

I arrived in Moshi, TZ last March for a much-anticipated visit with my sister. I was greeted by her smile, hugs, and a blast of heat, the extreme of which challenged every fiber of my Bostonian being.


My sister, Meritt, is spending a year working in Moshi working with Building a Caring Community (BCC). One of the first projects that she conceptualized when she got the position was for me to come and run a basic photography lesson for the older children and  to produce subsequent exhibit. With love for all aspects of such a venture, I was thrilled.

After a mere 36 hours to recover from jetlag and adjust to my new surroundings, Meritt, job coach Patrick Mangowi, and I found ourselves standing in front of some very excited kids with boxes of disposable cameras. The young adults of BCC are the most engaging and endearing group one could ever meet.

The stigma of their intellectual disabilities has historically kept them apart from society. But with the advent of BCC and its Young Adult program, they have found a wonderfully supportive community. They spend their days playing and learning together. Some days they make recycle paper to make beautiful handmade cards. Others, they work in their vegetable garden, growing food to feed the other children in the BCC program and for profit. With these vocational training programs, they are contributing financially to their families for the first time.


These kids love photos and cameras. A digital camera or smart phone means hours of entertainment for them. So for each of them to have their own camera and the chance to take their own photos brought each of them true joy. I instructed each of them to begin by thinking of things that made them happy, or made them sad, things that are important to them. Then they each chose their favorite place around the center to be the subject of their first photo. From there we walked through the village and visited one of the students’ homes.

They were so excited by the simple cameras that in an effort to slow them down we decided not to show them how to wind the film. They ran to us after each picture in order to have it reset so they could snap another. The basis of my ‘lesson’ was trying to help them to hold still before taking the photo.


After everyone had exhausted their film, and themselves we walked back to the BCC center. I had a child holding both of my hands the entire way. Mostly our conversations were one or two word exchanges and involved lots of hand gestures.  They taught me animal names in Swahili and they smiled and giggled encouragingly as I learned to pronounce the words. One of the boys pointed to himself and then to me and with a huge grin, repeated,“African”, “American.” And then he would point at both of us again and say “rafiki” (friend), with an equally big grin.

My sister tells me that the kids cannot fully understand the nature of this exhibit. But they are very proud and pleased that people are looking at their pictures in America and I am so very proud to be sharing their photos!


You can preview the Developing Perspectives exhibition here.  Please contact me at sarah@acarts.org if you would like to purchase a photo remotely.  All proceeds from Developing Perspectives will go directly to Building a Caring Community.  The funds raised here will support physical therapy programs, medical care and outreach in the Moshi Community.  They will purchase much needed supplies, like orthopedic shoes, nutritional supplements, books, and school supplies for BCC students.


ACA visits the State House

State Representatives, artists, and community members alike gathered last Wednesday, July 20th, at the Massachusetts State House to celebrate the work of 11 Arlington artists, currently on display at the State House.


ACA and our amazing artists, along with Senator Ken Donnelly and State Representative Sean Garballey, at the Massachusetts State House.

The show was initiated, in part, by Senator Ken Donnelly, who contacted Linda Shoemaker, ACA’s Executive Director, about a special opportunity to exhibit work by local artists – and Shoemaker jumped at the chance.


ACA and artists touring the beautiful Massachusetts State House!

11 Arlington artists were featured in the exhibition: Adrienne Landry, Marjorie Glick, Pamela Shanley, Vicki Paret, Olga Yakovleva, Nilou Moochhala, Connie Chamberlain, Al Hiltz, Philip Young, Lorraine Sullivan, and Jessica Young.


From left: Al Hiltz, Pamela Shanley, Olga Yakovleva, in front of work by Connie Chamberlain

During the reception, we received a tour of the beautiful State House by State Representative Sean Garballey, enjoyed a surprise visit by the President of the Senate, Mr. Stanley Rosenberg, and celebrated the work of these amazing Arlington artists.


From left: Adrienne Landry, Stanley Rosenberg, Linda Shoemaker, Ken Donnelly, Sean Garballey

               Additionally, we would like to thank Hannah Buntich and Debra Woodman again for their continual efforts in encouraging and supporting ACA.


Hannah receiving a handmade card by local 5th grade student and ACA camper Keziah Schober


Debra receiving an ACA t-shirt as a show of gratitude!


Nilou Moochhala pictured in front of her work

The show is up until August 9th, so make sure to check out this dynamic and expressive artwork while it’s still on display!

Thanks to everyone who made this exhibit possible!

Behind the Scenes: ACA hangs Arlington art exhibit at the State House

We had a great honor and a great time this morning – hanging an exhibit of artwork in the Senate Gallery at the Massachusetts State House.  The exhibit showcases work by ACA studio artists, teachers and friends, and will be on display through the end of July.  A reception for the artists is planned & we’ll post the date as soon as we have it.

Artists in the exhibit include: Connie Chamberlain, Marjorie Glick, Al Hiltz, Adrienne Landry, Nilou Moochhala, Vicki Paret, Pam Shanley, Lorraine Sullivan, Olga Yakovleva, Jessie Young and Phil Young.

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Sarah Buyer and Pam Shanley labeling the artwork

ACA is honored to have been invited into the Senate Gallery by Senator Ken Donnelly, and couldn’t have done it without the fabulous Debra Woodman,Director of Administration at the Senate Office of Administration and

Pam Shanley, Debra Woodman and Sarah Buyer - what a great team!

Pam Shanley, Debra Woodman and Sarah Buyer – what a great team!

Finance, who runs the gallery program.  Our thanks also to Hannah Buntich for her help and good humor (and coffee!).  We’ll see her again later this month for ACA’s annual “Kids Images of Arlington” exhibit hosted by Senator Donnelly.



We thought you might enjoy some behind-the-scenes photos from the hanging…

The hanging crew was terrific and good-humored - even when we couldn't agree whether the paintings were hanging straight. Thanks guys!

The hanging crew was terrific and good-humored – even when we couldn’t agree whether the paintings were hanging straight. Thanks guys!

Pam Shanley, ACA Operations Director, seated beneath her own piece, "Ice Plant."

Pam Shanley, ACA Operations Director, seated beneath her own piece, “Ice Plant.”