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.”

School group visits ACA’s “Stereotypes” show

“[The photos] were all very powerful and eye-opening and they sum up all of the prejudices that people have about certain people,” said an Arlington High School student upon visiting ACA’s recent photography exhibit, “Stereotypes: A Conscious Look at Race, Faith, Gender and Sexual Identity.”



An AHS  school group visits ACA’s “Stereotypes” exhibit

The above student was just one of 14 students from Arlington High School to view this powerful exhibit at the Arlington Center for the Arts. The school trip, which visited ACA’s Gibbs Gallery on Monday, April 11, was led by Melanie Konstandakis, teacher of Race, Society and Identity at Arlington High School. Students were encouraged to view the exhibit and write down how viewing the provocative and challenging images impacted them.


The exhibit, presented by Arlington Center for the Arts and the Vision 20/20 Diversity Task Group, consisted of 15 black-and-white portraits of everyday people within and across the categories of race, faith, gender and sexual identity and was a personal project for photographer Kevin J. Briggs.


Kevin J. Briggs, Muslim Woman

Image by Kevin J. Briggs

Briggs, who is black, was inspired to create the collection after his own experiences with racial discrimination and bias. One instance in particular shaped his thinking about the exhibit; just a few years ago, while leaving his former office in Boston’s Financial District one night, he recounts being harassed by building security for appearing “lost.” Briggs, shocked, asserted that he worked in that office – but the not-so-subtle implication of the guard’s words, that he did not belong there, stung. It was further emphasized to Briggs that, despite how he perceived himself, the color of his skin meant that he was perceived, and treated, differently by others.

Each of the 15 photographs pictures a person or persons who are in some may marginalized or stereotyped by society at large because of their identity. Seated before a deep black backdrop, Briggs’ subjects gaze directly out at the viewer, while projections of derogatory slurs and stereotypes wrap around their bodies and hover around them, asking us all to consider the power and effect of these words on the daily lives of these individuals, groups, and, ultimately, on all of us as a community and society.  Comments by the subjects in question accompany each portrait, adding to the power and complexity of the narrative Briggs creates with this exhibition.


Kevin J. Briggs, Transgender

Image by Kevin J. Briggs

The photo exhibit offered powerfully personal narratives to underscore what students have been learning about and discussing in the classroom – namely, the intersection of identity and society, and how we treat those of differing backgrounds and identities than our own.



Students view the work on display and write down their reactions.

Below are some of the thought-provoking and moving responses offered by students who came to view the exhibit, explaining which photo was the most difficult to view and why:


“The photo with the African American Woman. I am an African American female and the words printed across the image are words I hear all the time.”


“The hardest photo to view is the one of the black man because I have been called some of the things on this photo and it angers me.”


“The photo of the black woman labeled ‘bitch, tramp, stupid’ because I feel associated with black women…” 


“The photos about the women because I hear those words frequently and it affects me and saddens me to know I could be stereotyped that way.”


“Stereotypes: A Conscious Look at Race, Faith, Gender and Sexual Identity” was on display in the Gibbs Gallery at the Arlington Center for the Arts from March 7 – April 15.


The exhibit was co-sponsored by: Arlington Board of Selectmen, Arlington Commission on Disability, Arlington Council on Aging, Arlington Human Rights Commission , Arlington International Film Festival, Arlington Police Department, Arlington Public Schools, Arlington Youth Counseling Center, Arlington Youth Health & Safety Coalition, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, The First Church in Belmont Unitarian Universalist Social Action Committee, First Parish Unitarian Universalist of Arlington, Highrock Covenant Church, Housing Corporation of Arlington, ManKind Project of New England, Mystic LGBTQ+ Youth Support Network, Martin Luther King, Jr., Birthday Observance Committee of Arlington, St. Agnes Parish, Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is in Arlington


For more info, visit:!gallery/c8q5


Grenader to lend her creative gifts to ACA this spring

“I really enjoy the communal and friendly spirit of ACA,” says Luba Grenader, now entering her second semester this spring as one of ACA’s amazing art teachers.  “Between the students, teachers and staff, there is a great sense of creative aspiration and appreciation of art and the artists who make it.”

Photo on 11-9-12 at 3.01 PM

Grenader, an accomplished artist as well as a seasoned teacher, is once again teaching “Afterschool Artists Club” for children in grades 3 – 5 as well as two hue-enhancing classes this spring: “Color Study” for adults and “Homeschool Class: Color Blast!” for children ages 5 – 8.

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Work by Luba Grenader

In “Color Study,” which Grenader characterizes as her “long-time favorite class,” she will help students to deepen their understanding and exploration of color through a variety of paints, watercolors, and/or pastels.  “I feel that understanding how color works and an ability to mix a variety of colors is essential for any painter working in any color medium,” says Grenader.  “Resolving this color mystery through knowing the basics but most importantly, through experience, allows one to relax and enjoy painting much more.”

In “Homeschool Class: Color Blast!,” students will experiment with endless combinations of colors using just a few paints – painting their memories, imagined worlds, and more. And in “Afterschool Artists Club,” students will spend their Tuesday afternoons drawing, painting, sculpting, and exploring – all the while learning about color, line, and texture. Grenader notes: “I believe in teaching kids how to draw, paint and create but also in the importance of expressing their imagination and ideas through art… In the end, it’s great to see the kids being engrossed in the creative process and leaving the class with their own original work of art, and smiles and paint on their faces!”

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Work by Luba Grenader

Grenader, whose journey to become a fine artist began with her love of fashion design and illustration, firmly believes in the transformative power of the arts – something ACA has long held as one of its core values. “Being an artist is not just something you do in your studio and then leave behind closed doors,” she says.  “It is something that defines you and your way of life because it is how you perceive the world, both inner and outer and it’s about a constant interaction with colors, forms, structures, ideas, concerns – everything really – that triggers your thinking, imagination, compassion and you just have to share it on canvas, in clay or in any other way.”

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Work by Luba Grenader

Her advice for her future students as well as aspiring artists? “Keep making art, continue to experiment, learn, explore and inspire your teachers!  There is quite a variety of exciting classes in the spring catalog. This community is lucky to have ACA in their neighborhood.”

Join Grenader for one of these creative arts courses this spring – we can’t wait to see what you create. To find out more about any of the classes mentioned above and/or to register, visit

Michael Clark Wonson to lead art explorations this winter

“The town of Arlington has been my home for over three years. In this time I have grown to fall in love with the community and the landscape. I wanted to give back on some level to the town, which has held me so closely and allowed me to fly creatively.”

So says Michael Clark Wonson, a creative new addition to ACA’s teaching faculty, starting his first semester as one of our amazing art teachers. Wonson, who is teaching “Budding Artists” for kids in grades K – 2 and “Drawing For Theatre: Rendering Scenes” and “Drawing For Theatre: Rendering Costumes” for adults, is eager to lead a number of art explorations at ACA this winter. “In my classes, I look forward to coaxing every artist out of their shell and equipping then with the tools to express theatrical ideas,” he says.

In “Budding Artists,” which began this past Saturday, students are learning about color and composition as they create their own fun and interesting art projects. “I’m looking forward to seeing my group grow in skill level every week,” Wonson says. “My projects challenge the student to learn and take risks.”


Wonson’s lighting work for a production of “Bat Boy.”

In “Drawing for Theatre: Rendering Scenes,” which began on January 19, students are learning how to design scenery and convey their unique artistic visions for a theatrical production. Wonson, a self-described “theatrical artist” with over 10 years of professional experience, is excited to delve further into a medium he loves: theatre design. “I’ve worked all over the country and 100,000’s of people have been entertained by my part in many creations,” he says. “There is a joy in creating temporary art which needs to be experienced to be understood. Art is something that we can share together in an experience.”


Wonson’s scenery design sketches.

Wonson will also be offering a course starting in March – “Drawing For Theatre: Rendering Costumes.” Running for 3 Tuesdays, from March 8 – 22, students will learn how to depict different types of fabric and clothing on a person’s form. Wonson notes that he’s eager to share his long-held passion for costume design with interested students. “I’ve always loved clothes. I find fabric fascinating and I love drawing. It was a perfect marriage.”

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Wonson’s costume design sketches.

Join Wonson and ACA for one of these creative arts courses this winter – we can’t wait to see what you create! For more info about any of the programs mentioned above or to register, visit our website at

ACA’s McClennen Award Honors Teen Video Contest Founders

In December, Arlington Center for the Arts proudly presented the Alan McClennen Community Arts Award to the organizers of the ATown Teen Video Contest: Eric Segal, Norm McLeod and Leland Stein. Over the past three years, they have created an annual event that encourages young artists and inspires a new generation of filmmakers. The Alan McClennen Community Arts award is presented annually to Arlington individuals and organizations that bring to life ACA’s mission of “transforming lives and building community through the arts.” In turn, it also honors Alan McClennen, former Arlington Town Planner, who was a driving force behind the creation of the Arlington Center for the Arts, now an invaluable community resource.


Eric Segal, Norm McLeod, and Leland Stein accepting the 2015 Alan McClennen Community Arts Award

Local business owner and father, Eric Segal first conceived of the A-Town Teen Video Contest when his own middle school children and their friends became interested in filmmaking and animation. Despite their interest, there was no opportunity to show their finished work and share their creativity with the community. In response, Eric, along with Norm McLeod of Arlington Community Media, Inc and Leland Stein of the Regent Theatre, founded the A-Town Teen Video Contest to create opportunities for Arlington teens to develop skills in filmmaking, to show their work on the big screen at the Regent Theatre, and to be publicly celebrated for their creative accomplishments.


Eric Segal, left, with Linda Shoemaker, middle, and Ella Bengtson, right, ACA’s Volunteer of the Year

Leland Stein says, “I have often felt that Teenagers are an underserved community / age group when it comes to creative activities and things to do in and around Arlington, including at the Regent Theatre, so I welcomed the opportunity to help produce and present the A-Town Teen Video Contest on an annual basis.”


Leland Stein, left, with Linda Shoemaker, middle, and Senator Ken Donnelly, right, at ACA’s Annual Meeting & Arts Party

Each year the festival showcases 10-12 short films written, directed, and acted in by Arlington teens, who are cheered on by a crowd of hundreds at the historic Regent Theatre. Local Arlington cultural and political leaders present awards in different categories, including best acting, best picture and audience favorite. Together with the support of, ACMi, the Regent Theatre and Arlington Center for the Arts, the festival is now in its third year and is growing to include more and more young filmmakers annually.

A-Town Teen Video contest, 2015

2015’s ATown Teen Video Filmmakers

Sponsor Norm McLeod of ACMi is particularly pleased with the growth of the festival: “It has truly been most gratifying to participate as a sponsor in the ATown teen Video contest. The quality of the student submissions is very impressive and the contest has become a focal point of student activity each year. A-Town is a wonderful way in which to showcase the creative talents of the next generation of movie makers.” The 2016 ATown Teen Video Contest is now accepting submissions! View contest details at and attend the screening at the Regent Theatre on March 4, to support young filmmakers in our community.

Thumati to lead art adventures this winter

“The most rewarding and enjoyable part of teaching at ACA is the liberty to teach creatively, to be given the opportunity of exploring one’s subject and sharing one’s knowledge and skills with freedom,” says Sri Thumati, a member of ACA’s teaching faculty. Thumati will be teaching two fun and creative photography classes this winter – Photography For Teens for students in grades 6 – 10 and Homeschool Class: Photography Without Cameras for children ages 5 – 8.

Thumati, who started with ACA one year ago, is grateful for the opportunity to combine her interest in the arts and science this semester. “I am excited to see how students in both classes perceive photography after exploring it as an art form,” she says. “I am looking forward to watching them embrace art and science as one entity, allowing them, in turn, to express themselves.”

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Heart and Soul, Sri Thumati

In Photography For Teens, students will learn to create, document and explore fine art photography. Topics will include; composition, lighting, narrative photography and how to get the most out of one’s camera. “I hope for the students to stop and look keenly around them, to choose the objects that they want to highlight, to think about placement of objects and how framing an image changes its appeal,” says Thumati.

Sunset Over Cat

Sunset Over Cat, Sri Thumati

In her Homeschool Class, students will have the opportunity to experiment with cyanotypes, photograms and alternative photo methods to create their very own photography book. Using safe, non-toxic chemicals, students will create camera-less photographs to cherish and enjoy. Thumati says: “The mystery of the final work is quite enticing! I hope for the students to be enamored by the process and I hope to give them the tools to learn another form of expression.”

Winter Lights

Winter Lights, Sri Thumati

Thumati, who has had a life-long passion for photography and has been taking photos professionally for 20 years, says that her interest in the arts compelled her to begin teaching. “My love for photography, its simplicity and the joy of magnifying everything I see around me made me want to impart my knowledge to children,” she says. “Children are inherently curious and have a keen sense of observation. I want to teach them my skills in the field, and have them hone in on that curiosity and observation. When I create my artwork, I am taking what I have learned and I let my heart do the rest. It is a way of expression, and an outlet of sorts. After I complete any art work, I feel a sense of relief.”


Thumati with her children

Her advice for aspiring artists and arts lovers: “The only advice I have for students and aspiring artists, especially the ones taking my classes, is to keep an open mind about all the different ways art can be explored, photography being one of the most important ways.”

Dusky Geese

Dusky Geese, Sri Thumati

Explore your inner creativity this winter with Thumati in one of her creative photography classes. For more info or to register for one of her classes, visit our website at

Pottle to light creative way this winter

“You don’t have to be a professional to express your inner voice,” says Jill Pottle, one of ACA’s amazing art teachers and an accomplished artist in her own right.


Pottle, hard at work.

Pottle, who has been with ACA for two years now, is grateful to have found a home for her artistic talents and her interest in arts education; she is quick to note that ACA “is a small place, [with] personal attention, nice staff, very interested and excited students.” She also understands the importance of creating and making the arts accessible to the community at large. “It is not about having years of experience,” she says. “It is about process, growth and getting to understand your materials, colors, composition and relationships of forms. I like to see the search for understanding the subject matter, the struggle.”


Jill Pottle, Untitled

Pottle, who will be teaching an “Acrylic and Oil Painting” class and “Bold and Brilliant Pastel Workshop” this winter, always knew she wanted to be an artist. She tells me that it was “no decision, I just was that way…always painted and drew.” As for teaching, Pottle realized that often the best art is made by learning from and teaching others. “Teaching seemed like a logical way to make a living and keep me learning new things,” she says. “Students don’t realize how much they educate the teachers.”

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Jill Pottle, Untitled

Pottle will also jury an upcoming gallery exhibit at ACA: “Darkness Into Light: Paintings Juried by Jill Pottle,” which will be on display in the Gibbs Gallery from January 22 to February 26. Subject matter will concern the slow return of light as the winter season comes to a close. “I’d like to see the artists apply their skills, so quality is important,” says Pottle of what she’s looking for in this year’s submissions. “And to be proud of your artwork at any level…The frames don’t need to be expensive but just clean and well presented. Always sign your artwork as well. I look for originality in their thinking. Surprise me with an interesting interpretation of the subject matter. Get into the meaning of what it means to you.” Submission dates are as follows: January 9, 11:00 am – 1:00 pm & January 11 – 15, 9:00 am – 6:00 pm.

With two courses and a gallery exhibit impending, Pottle has a busy semester ahead of her at ACA. However, as she’s quick to remind me, the students make her seemingly tireless work worth it. “Most rewarding is the gratitude my students express at the end of a session,” she says of what enjoys most about teaching at ACA. “It is always a treat and a surprise. They say how much they have learned. I love to give my students challenges that will help them problem solve in their own creative time.” Her advice for aspiring artists and arts lovers: “It’s not bad to break the rules, doing something just a little different in approach or in subject matter.”


Jill Pottle, Untitled

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. For more info about Jill’s classes this winter or about ACA’s “Darkness Into Light” painting show, visit our website at

Dunn to lend a little creativity to your Fall

Linda Branch Dunn, one of ACA’s veteran art teachers and a consummate artist whose work traverses a wide cross-section of artistic mediums, has a busy Fall ahead of her. Teaching two workshops and one 4-week class just this Fall semester, Dunn has her work cut out for her – and couldn’t be more excited.
“The students are the best,” she says. “They come after work, put down their troubles and give their full energy. I encourage them to experiment. Their creativity amazes me.”

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Image credit: Steve Errat

Dunn, who has been working with ACA for close to 5 years, will bring her boundless enthusiasm for the arts to ACA this Fall for another semester of arts-filled fun. In “Gelli Plates & Monoprints,” which started on October 1st and runs through to October 22nd, students have the opportunity to stamp with found objects, make stencils from everyday materials, and use Gelli Plates to create layered images.
In her “Art to Mail: Holiday Cards” workshop, running on November 14th from 12:30 – 4:30 pm, students will create vibrant, expressive collage cards for loved ones to share and enjoy. It’s the perfect place to create some wild and wonderful gifts just in time for the holiday season. And in “Collage Workshop,” taking place on November 21st from 12:30 – 4:30 pm, Dunn will guide students as they bring together found materials and original imagery to create amazing collage artwork.

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                 Image credit: Steve Errat

Dunn is eager to teach such a wide variety of cutting-edge arts courses. “Each of my classes is a small meditation: time to recharge, relax and play,” says Dunn. But she especially notes her excitement in being able to devote 4 weeks to the Gelli Plate and Monoprint process. “It is a simple technique with infinite possibilities,” says Dunn. “I hope some students will bring their work to my collage class in the spring!”
A long-time lover of and advocate for the arts, ACA has a special place in Dunn’s heart. “A community art center feels like home. I grew up around artists, and always preferred a controlled, creative mess. I think most jobs leave us hungry for the chance to create.”

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       Image credit: Nancy Dapkiewicz

Advice for artists? “Take heart from the artists you admire,” she notes. “Look at Nature. Study what catches your eye. Go wild, then knoll your workspace. Reread Corita Kent’s Art Department rules. Ask a piece what it wants. Keep going. And enjoy the trip.”
If you’re interested in any of Dunn’s upcoming workshops this Fall, visit our website at for more info or to register. We can’t wait to see what you create this Fall!

Ronni Komarow brings book arts (and more) to ACA

“The arts have always been at the center of my life and my identity,” admits Ronni Komarow, a graphic designer by trade and, starting for the first time this Fall, one of ACA’s amazing art teachers. “I don’t have a formula for my work; mostly I try to remain true to my own identity and personal viewpoint.”

Komarow's amazing book arts

              Komarow’s amazing book arts

Komarow will bring this creative personal viewpoint to three arts workshops at ACA this Fall, allowing students to delve headfirst into the unique and unconventional mediums of book arts and textiles. For adults, Komarow will be offering two innovative and creative workshops for arts lovers. In “Uncommon Threads,” running on October 31 from 12:30 – 3:30 pm, students will cut, combine, and reconfigure textiles to create amazing decorative pillows with embroidery, applique and a touch of creative magic. In “The Art of the Book,” running on November 7th from 12:30 – 3:30 pm, students will curate a collection of their favorite papers, images and memories into a unique artists’ book to share with friends and loved ones.
For kids looking for a creative outlet, Komarow’s “Kids’ Book Arts” workshop is sure to be the perfect place to imagine, innovate, and create. Running on November 21st from 12:30 – 2:30 pm, this fun and engaging kids’ workshop will allow students to learn a couple of basic book-art techniques while reconfiguring recyclables in new and creative ways to create something totally new.

"The Plan Spread" by Ronni Komarow

    “The Plan Spread” by Ronni Komarow

Komarow has always loved the idea of using recyclables and found objects to create something wild, wooly, and wholly original. “I’m always excited to work with book arts and recycled materials — I love the idea of taking a second look at materials that we might otherwise discard,” says Komarow.

More of Komarow's amazing book arts

  More of Komarow’s amazing book arts

Her advice for aspiring artists and arts lovers: “Just remember that art-making is a journey (as opposed to a destination)…while it’s wonderful when students can take joy and pride in the finished product, my focus is on guiding students through the depth and breadth of their individual creative process.”

Join Komarow for this transformative artistic process this Fall for any of her fun and engaging arts workshops. For more info about these workshops or any other of ACA’s Fall 2015 classes, visit our website at – or call our office at (781)-648-6220.