Maureen McAfee and Ziza Soares Receive ACA’s Community Arts Leadership Award

On Thursday, June 4th, ACA was fortunate to be a part of Arlington High School’s annual Senior Awards night, which served to recognize and honor the diverse accomplishments of AHS’s graduating class. ACA presented the 5th annual John Cinkala Community Arts Leadership Award to two graduating AHS seniors: Ziza Soares and Maureen McAfee. The John Cinkala Community Arts Leadership Award is generously supported by former President of the Board of Directors for the Arlington Center for the Arts John Cinkala and aims to recognize graduating seniors who have demonstrated creativity and leadership in building community relationships through the arts.

This year’s recipients couldn’t better exemplify the values of this most prestigious award. Ziza Soares, through her work with the Thompson Drama Project, successfully directed 25 children in a highly popular dramatic rendition of The Queen’s New Clothes. Originally brought on as the Assistant Director for what was planned to be one long play, Ziza skillfully transitioned into the role of principal director when the Thompson Drama Project announced it would instead be producing four shorter plays due to the unprecedented number of children who enrolled in the program.

Ziza Soares, center, directed 25 students in an immensely popular rendition of

Ziza Soares, center, directed 25 students in an immensely popular rendition of “The Queen’s New Clothes.”

Maureen McAfee, Thursday night’s second recipient of the John Cinkala Community Arts Leadership Award, was an integral member of a team of young artists who lead a mural-making project for the Fox Library. McAfee, an accomplished painter and artist, worked with a group of students to transform one of the meeting rooms at the Fox library from a drab basement into a lasting work of art for all to enjoy.

ACA was honored and proud to award these two accomplished community artists and continue John Cinkala’s important work of recognizing and empowering young emerging artists within the Arlington community!

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