Welcome Julia Thacker

Arlington Center for the Arts is pleased to welcome Julia Thacker as a new studio artist.   We look forward to the exciting, multidisciplinary dimension she will add to the dynamic community at ACA.


Julia Thacker first came to Massachusetts as a Writing Fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. The work she produced there was subsequently awarded a National Endowment For the Arts Fellowship and a Bunting Fellowship at Radcliffe.

The granddaughter of a Harlan County coal miner, Julia sets much of her fiction against the backdrop of a vanishing Appalachian culture. Her stories have been published in Antaeus, The Boston Globe Magazine, The Massachusetts Review, New Directions, and The Pushcart Prize Anthology.

An excerpt from her novella, The Funeral of the Man Who Wasn’t Dead Yet, appeared in AGNI Magazine, where it won the John Cheever Award for Short Fiction.

She has taught creative writing at Tufts University, Harvard University Summer School, and the Radcliffe Seminars, and currently conducts private seminars in fiction and memoir writing. She holds a Master of Arts from Brown University.  And now, Julia can be found writing at Arlington Center for the Arts!

Featured Artist: Gloria Calderón-Sáenz

There is an environmental meaning in what I do, but there is also a metaphor about the river:  the impermanent place where our collective dreams merge and embrace transformation.                                                                                                                                                                                                                   –Gloria Calderón-Sáenz 


Patterns of Creation by Gloria Calderón Saenz

Patterns of Creation by Gloria Calderón-Sáenz

It is easy to see Calderón-Sáenz’s deep attachment to the landscapes and dreams that she depicts.  The deeply detailed and organic carved patterns of her two dimensional work are elegant and meandering, at the same time that her painting is bold and expressive.

In the work, Patterns of Creation, the viewer has to lean close to see what marks are brushstrokes and which are carved from the panel.  A bird’s eye view, it’s easy to feel as if one is sweeping over a landscape in a dream.  The work is delicate and the stylized scene seems completely removed from human error or footprint, adding to the perception of a dreamlike ideal.

Rivers of Blood by Gloria Calderon Saenz

Rivers of Blood by Gloria Calderón-Sáenz

Rivers of Blood is also surreal, but entirely different.  Very abstract, the piece seems more rooted in reality, or at least, in another type of dream than Patterns of Creation.  Whereas that is a Utopian ideal without humans or animals, Rivers of Blood is entirely of this world.  Though the piece is not a print, it has the graphic composition and linear quality often seen in woodblock prints, where the color sits above the carved lines in the block.  Because of this quality, the artist’s hand and human interaction is much more present.

The Source by Gloria Caleron Saenz

The Source by Gloria Caleron-Saenz

The Source is currently on view in the Gibbs Gallery.  It began its life as part of huge tree in Arlington Heights.  When the tree was damaged by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, Calderón-Sáenz brought home a segment of a hollow branch.  The tree was left to dry until the artist returned from hiking in the Andes where she saw a place where a small lake feeds a river and that spot inspired the carving.

Calderón Sáenz is an Arlington-based artist; her studio is located at Arlington Center for the Arts.  Her work will be on view in the Gibbs Gallery in the Elements: Images of Arlington until May 16, 2014.

You can see more of her work at http://www.gloriacalderonsaenz.com/index.php

ACA Welcomes New Studio Artist: Photographer Paul Marotta

Please join us in welcoming new studio artist Paul Marotta!

ACA is delighted to announce that Arlington photographer Paul Marotta has joined ACA’s community of studio artists.

Paul has exhibited his photographs at Arlington Open Studios for the past several years, and when a rare studio space opened up at ACA this fall, Paul jumped on the opportunity to bring his studio to the Arts Center.

“I’m delighted to be a part of the extremely creative collection of artists in Arlington and part of this community at the Arlington Center for the Arts,” said Marotta. “I grew up in the area and worked at performing arts institutions across the country for so many years and to be back here in Arlington is terrific. It is my goal to offer creative and artistic photography at very reasonable prices to the entire community, including families, businesses, pet owners, visual and performing artists and more. I work with performing artists and major arts institutions throughout the New England region and hope to bring that creative energy to the Arlington community.”

Paul Marotta, Barn 2, Upstate NY

Paul Marotta formed Perfect Bokeh Photography three years ago along with a communications consultancy after being let go from an executive position during the economic downturn. With a varied portfolio of stock photography and clients, Perfect Bokeh Photography serves non-profit performing and visual arts and corporate clients alike throughout the New England region. Specializing in event coverage, as well as studio people and pet portraits, current and recent clients include Arlington restaurant Flora, First Night Boston, WBUR-FM, Huntington Theatre, Berklee College of Music, NPR, ArtsEmerson, SpeakEasy Stage at the Boston Center for the Arts, Sol y Canto, Mystic River Watershed Association, Waltham Symphony Orchestra and numerous others. His work has appeared around the world including in such publications and companies as the US Fish and Wildlife Service, GAP Clothing, Car and Driver Magazine, New England Conservatory, Variety, The Boston Globe, WHYY, and more.

Paul's recent portrait work included this wonderful image of the popular Arlington-based duo, Sol y Canto.

Paul Marotta’s work is also represented worldwide by Getty Images, National Geographic Stock Images, Saatchi Online, and numerous other stock photo agencies. He is also a curator/editor for Getty Images Worldwide, responsible for searching for and recommending images for their stock photography collection. He also serves as a judge for the Boston Globe’s RAW Photography contests.

Paul has recently branched out into Pet Portraits - here's Australian Shepherd Mac

Paul Marotta Communications also represents clients around the globe, including in London, Toronto, Philadelphia, New York, Boston and more. Recent and past clients and projects include the Luminato Festival in Toronto, Aspen Music Festival and School, the Glenn Gould School in Toronto, The Royal Conservatory of Music, Sound Space Design in London, Ticket Philadelphia, WHYY, The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, WGBH/NOVA, New England Conservatory, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, New England Conservatory, Detroit Symphony Orchestra and numerous others.

Paul Marotta, Cape Cod Abandoned Pier

Paul Marotta shoots with a Nikon D700 and a variety of Nikon film cameras, and uses both Nikon lenses and Zeiss ZF manual focus lenses.

Paul Marotta can be reached at 201-346-5399 and his work can be seen online at www.perfectbokehphotography.com

“Regeneration” Opening Reception & Awards Night

A great crowd turned out for the Opening Reception for “Regeneration” ACA’s 2011 Member Exhibit, juried by Sand T Kalloch.  The Gibbs Gallery was packed to overflowing as the artists and art-lovers enjoyed the festivities, which also included live music by jazz players from Dan Fox’s Morningside Studio, and ACA’s Open Studios Holiday Sale.

A festive night in the Gibbs Gallery for the Opening Reception of "Regeneration" ACA Members Exhibit, juried by Sand T Kalloch.

Juror’s Awards were presented to five artists: Margaret Demille (Arlington), Adrian Johnston (Malden), Ruth Lieberherr (Winchester), Karen McCarthy (Arlington), and Lorraine Sullivan (Arlington).

Margaret Demille (right) received a Juror's Award for her sculpture/assemblage entitled "Propagation (Even in the Most Unlikely Circumstances.)"

Adrian Johnston received a Juror's Award for his paintings, "Nine Schools," "Pick Up Your Mat," and Untitled.

Painter Ruth Lieberherr received a Juror's Award for her work in "Regeneration."

Karen McCarthy received a Juror's Award for her handprinting pieces, "Shades of Autumn #1 and #2"

Lorraine Sullivan (right), received a Juror's Award for her assemblabes. Lorraine and husband Phil Young had just arrived from the Cambridge Art Association "Red" Show, where Lorraine had also won an award!

More photos from the Opening are posted on Flickr:

Meet ACA Studio Musician Matt Jenson and “Rebel Tumbao”

Have you ever stepped into the Arlington Center for the Arts and been swept up in an Afro-Caribbean beat emanating from behind the closed doors of ACA’s music studios…?  That’s Matt Jenson, ACA’s ubercool keyboard player, bandleader and arranger – a man who is on a mission with his music.

ACA Studio Musician Matt Jenson

Matt has traveled the country and the world with his music. He’s played and toured with blues guitar great Ronnie Earl, Latin pianist and composer Eddie Palmieri, and Reggae legends Judy Mowatt and Rita Marley.  On the piano faculty of the Berklee College of Music, Matt teaches a ground-breaking course on the Life and Music of Bob Marley, and leads the College’s select Reggae performance ensemble.  Trips to Jamaica and West Africa have allowed Jenson to delve deeply into the music of the African diaspora, which permeates his playing and outlook on music, and the world.

“Kickstarting” a new CD with Rebel Tumbao
We recently caught up with Matt, who is charged up about his most recent project – creating a CD of his 10-piece Afro/Latin/Roots/Reggae band, “Rebel Tumbao.”

First we had to ask: REBEL TUMBAO – what’s it mean?

“The word ‘tumbao’ in Spanish slang means “groove,” they explain, “so what we are is ‘Rebel Groove‘!”

See Rebel Tumbao in action in their awesome Video


Tell us about Kickstarter…?

“Kickstarter is an online fundraising platform especially for creative independent projects,” according Matt.  “The way it works is that once you’ve been accepted, you pick the amount you want to raise and the deadline (up to 60 days).  If you do not reach your goal, no money changes hands.  Kickstarter does not do any actual fundraising for you but the platform offers a very concise presentation and anyone in the world with an Amazon account can contribute. (They take 5%.) In return you, as the artist, offer incentives at different tiers. If you have a project that is well organized, it’s a GREAT platform to use.”

As of this writing, Matt and his band have 78 backers who have pledged a total of $6826.  They have 29 days to go to meet their $10,000 by December 1, which will launch them on their way.  Good Luck, Rebel Tumbao!!

If you’d like to support Rebel Tubmao’s recording project, visit their Kickstarter page for how to contribute, and see all the great benefits you’ll get in return for your support!


So how does a nice boy from the back woods of New Hampshire become an Afro/Caribbean groovemaster?
Growing up in the back woods of New Hampshire injected Matt with a deep spiritual connection communicated by the simplicity, beauty and truth of nature. As a child he had the opportunity to visit extended family in Boston and with that cultural exposure, he fell in love with the musical styles of the African diaspora:  Jazz, Blues, Reggae & Afro-Latin Music.  Later as a young man with a penchant for seeking the deeper understanding of life, he became extremely interested in the spiritual-socio-political-economic conditions of human kind, always wondering why we couldn’t do better. This, combined with his intense creative drive, provides the bedrock for nearly all of Matt’s artistic output as a talented keyboardist, composer, arranger and educator.

Back just before the turn of the century, Matt completed a masters degree in Jazz studies at the New England Conservatory of Music and then began his professional career playing keyboards in the various Boston music scenes. Quickly noticed for his groove and ability to get funky as well as his arrangement chops, Matt soon headed out on worldwide tours, most notably with the great blues guitarist Ronnie Earl.  After making his mark on that scene, the maestro of New Orleans soul, singer Johnny Adams came knocking and Matt was again out on the road.  The double barreled Blues and Soul Ph.D he got from those two on the bandstand and on the road (as well as the steady bread), allowed Jenson to settle back in Boston and flush out some ideas he’d been having regarding his love of Caribbean music, especially his simmering love for Bob Marley and the extensive repertoire and styles of the iconic Latin pianist and composer Eddie Palmieri. The universe came with an answer to Matt’s musical loves and almost simultaneously he had the opportunity to study piano with Mr. Palmieri and to dive deeply into the music of Bob Marley. Regarding the latter, Matt joined the piano faculty at the Berklee College of Music and created a smash hit performance studies class entitled “The Music and Life of Bob Marley.”   Each semester he directs a select ensemble of talented young musicians and teaches them about the socio-policital circumstances around Bob’s life. This class has given Matt many opportunities to plumb the depths of Marley’s life and music, including numerous trips to Jamaica where he has connected with many who were in Marley’s inner circle. Most notably Matt has performed with Judy Mowatt and worked with Rita Marley taking part in the “Africa Unite” event in Ghana, West Africa in 2007.

Matt is a multi/culti/genre musician with an unbridled passion and drive to positively transform humanity for the better, just as he himself has been transformed by the music, humanity and socio-political message of his own mentors. He wishes to do the same for others through his own music and pass the message on, not just to fellow musicians but, to the people. His arrangements and original compositions (including some very powerful lyrics) for Rebel Tumbao mark just one launching point for his artistic contribution to the long line of musical rebels who have helped to break barriers and spearhead essential resistance to destructive mind sets, policies and institutions.

Introducing Rebel Tumbao:

Rebel Tumbao is the merging of the earth shattering rhythms of Afro-Cuban soul and the conscious-raising mission of Reggae. At the center of this creative endeavor is its brain-soul-child, pianist/arranger Matt Jenson and José Claussell, world-renowned timbalero with Maestro Eddie Palmieri for the past 18 years. José and Matt are two inspired musicians who have naturally come together because of a calling to play deep, soul nourishing music and a genuine concern for the well being of the planet and the people who live on it. This supercharged music is much more than just music because it carries the power to raise consciousness and transform lives.

This 10 piece group presents deep Latin-soul arrangements of Bob Marley’s music and Matt Jenson’s consciousness raising compositions, leading the way towards the global paradigm shift so desperately needed today. The sound of the group is squarely based in the sonic depths of the 1960-70’s soul, reggae and Afro-Cuban eruption yet arrives in the early 21st century creatively merging these styles with a depth of understanding and subtle use of electronic textures.

Based in New York City and Boston, it is a multi-cultural group consisting of the traditional Afro-Cuban rhythm section of congas, timbales and bongo/hand percussion, then add two trombones, 2 back up singers (with vocal work in both English and Spanish), piano and bass. The lead vocal chair is occupied by the inspired powerhouse vocalist, Toussaint Yeshua (Soulive, Wyclef Jean, Damien Marley), son of a Baptist preacher and devoted gospel, soul and reggae singer. He delivers THE MESSAGE like no other.

Says Jenson, “It’s taking to heart Marley’s intention to fight down ignorance, greed and fear, to speak the truth and to free the people with music! It’s bringing forward the transcendent Afro-Caribbean message born out of our African ancestry and the subsequent struggle to live in peace and unity. Rebel Tumbao is a groove and feeling that emanates from the core of Mother Earth, the earth that we now so desperately need to take care of, and then shoots upward bypassing the foibles of mankind delivering us to the joyous heights of what ultimately we are all working towards; TRUE FREEDOM, enlightenment.”

Go Deeper:
to learn more about Matt and his music, visit www.mattjenson.com