Arlington Center for the Arts Celebrates New Home

On Saturday evening, October 27th, hundreds of supporters and collaborators gathered throughout the evening to celebrate the re-opening of the Arlington Center for the Arts, at 20 Academy Street, in newly renovated space that places the ACA in the heart of Arlington’s recently designated Cultural District. ACA was established in 1988 by a visionary group of artists, writers, musicians and educators as a place where artists could share their work with the community through educational and outreach programs.

The ACA was located for 27 years in the Gibbs Building and there was a time when the organization did not know it would survive. Help came from every corner: the Town helped locate the new space and continues as landlord. The Massachusetts Cultural Council supported the project with a $187,000 Cultural Facilities Fund Grant. Hundreds of donors contributed funding, from campers donating their allowance, to three major anonymous match challenges that kept the fundraising thermometer rising. The Arlington School Department and the St. Paul’s Lutheran Church rented space to the ACA over the past two years to run the kids camp programs, ensuring that the ACA would to stay alive and continue to create meaningful creative summer camp experiences for hundreds of local kids.

ACA Executive Director Linda Shoemaker opened the celebratory evening stating, “Arlington now has a brand-new, beautiful cultural center befitting the recent surge of interest and involvement in the arts in Arlington. The ACA will serve as Arlington’s hub of creativity and community.” Joe Curro, Arlington Select Board Member, shared the organization’s history and integration with the town and ending his comments by capturing the spirit of the night remarking on the happiness that the arts bring to communities. Also present were Town Planner Jenny Raitt and Meri Jenkins, Arreen Andrew, Luis Cotto, and Diane Daily from the Mass Cultural Council.

Central to the speaking program was the dedication of The Shaira Ali Gallery + Performance Center with Mohamad, Kecia, Tariq and Saadia Ali present to eloquently share remembrance and vision for the large modern gallery that now houses exhibits of the work of local and regional artists and will serve as a performance space for intimate concerts, readings and performances of all kinds. The inaugural exhibition, I’m New Here, Perspectives on Migration features artwork by 33 artist and highlights diverse expressions of migration by groups of people, in the natural world, and in the small intricacies of daily life.  Guest juror: Boriana Kantcheva was present.

ACA Founder and Poet Jean Flanagan read from her work to the assembled guests before the program ended with a ribbon cutting.

The space feels at once rustic and modern, pairing historic 19th century wooden beams, exposed brick, and quirky roof angles, with sleek modern lighting, and pops of dramatic color. While the gallery was buzzing with wall-to-wall excitement, refreshment and conversations, some retreated to the “Loft 2” classroom, sat down at the art tables, pulled out some materials, and created some opening night artwork.

The Center includes five art classrooms including a dedicated pottery studio. ACA programs include classes and workshops in drawing, painting, fiber arts, jewelry making, and a new maker series as well as kids after school and Saturday classes. 6 individual private studios, ranging from 80 to 240 square feet, which will be rented as artist working space, plus an artists co-working space with workspace and locker storage for 12 member artists. Applications for studio spaces will be available in the coming weeks.

The ACA is grateful for the generous outpouring of support from our community. While a one million dollar fundraising goal seemed a high goal at first, the finish line is almost in sight, with $60,000 needed to finish the campaign. This last push will help to build the pottery studio and open the clay program next year.

ACA is a vibrant community arts center and a cornerstone for the creative community in Arlington offering opportunities for people of all ages to discover and express their own creativity and to
appreciate the creativity of others through a dynamic mix of classes, workshops, exhibits, performances and special events. The ACA invites people to come visit, see the gallery and classrooms, take in a performance, and dream together about how the new ACA can even better serve our community.

For more information: visit or contact Linda Shoemaker, Executive Director, at or 781-648-6220. For more information about studio space contact Pam Shanley at

This month, commuters taking the bus along Arlington’s Mass Avenue corridor are in for a treat! Arlington Public Art has enlisted five artists to transform five bus shelters into works of art. Each one is unique, reflecting the style and interests of each artist. Together, the bus shelters celebrate the Town’s initiative to improve bus service so people can leave their cars at home. Shared themes include protecting the environment, connecting with neighbors, and enlivening the experience of waiting for the bus.

Arlington’s Eileen deRosas, a ceramic artist known for her paintings of animals on plates and pitchers, has covered her shelter with portraits of neighborhood wildlife: a coyote, skunk, rabbit, and turtle make their way across the glass, reminding us that taking the bus helps protect the environment. Johnny Lapham, also from Arlington, was invited to expand a project he did to transform the Arlington Service Station with polka dots. Using 80 painted plywood discs, he has created an impression that the polka dots have jumped off the gas station canopy, traveled down the sidewalk, and landed on the bus shelter like something in a Dr. Seuss story.

Two artists visiting from neighboring Somerville designed graphics that were printed on transparent film. James Weinberg’s depiction of nature changing through the seasons features complex layered patterns and colors that glow when the sun comes through. Sneha Shrestha, who goes by Imagine when painting her colorful street art murals, has placed the names of local streets inside two intersecting circles; people are invited to mark their destination or the street where they live with a dot. She hopes to prompt conversationbetween strangers, and envisions that the dots will add up to create a visual map of activity in Arlington.

Boston artists Claudia Ravaschiere and Mike Moss brought their translucent Plexiglas butterflies to the Minuteman Bikeway last year. Continuing their interest in new materials and translucent effects they researched dichroic film and selected a version that transforms the light into unexpected and fugitive colors – blue, magenta, orange and purple – that are both transparent and reflective. The colors shift with your movement; the effect is magical, as if you’ve stepped into a soap bubble.

We invite you to take photos with your interpretation of the artwork and post with your comments to Facebook and Instagram with the hashtags #ARTBRT and #ARLBRT. Let us know your favorites!

Look for more art to roll out along the Mass Ave corridor in October, including wheat paste animals by Eileen deRosas, a painted utility box by Johnny Lapham, and murals by James Weinberg and Imagine. The project was curated by Cecily Miller, working in collaboration with Ali Carter, the Town’s Economic Development Coordinator, and funded by a generous grant from the Barr Foundation. Arlington Public Art, now a committee of the Arlington Commission for Art and Culture, is grateful to the Town’s Planning and Community Development Department and its Director Jenny Raitt for this opportunity to integrate art into an important initiative in improving transportation infrastructure and service. Our goal is to support the success of the BRT pilot and enhance the experience of thousands of bus riders!

Serving the morning commute of MBTA buses, the BRT pilot will create a dedicated bus lane on Mass. Avenue, eastbound, from Varnum Street to Alewife Brook Parkway, Monday through Friday, 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. for one month. October 9th – November 9th.

Additional BRT news coverage:
YourArlington article
-Arlington Advocate Podcast: LISTEN: A-Town: How was the first day of Arlington’s BRT pilot?
-Arlington Advocate: Arlington’s bus rapid transit shows minor improvements one week in
-Sampan: Arlington uses public art to boost the bus experience
-Mass Transit Magazine (republish of Arlington Advocate article): Arlington’s Bus Rapid Transit Shows Minor Improvements One Week In
-Metro Magazine: Mass. BRT pilot combines design, art to launch improved experience
-Arlington Advocate Podcast: LISTEN: A-Town: How is Arlington’s BRT pilot performing one week in?

Participating in two very successful events, Town Day and The Bikeway 25th Anniversary Celebration, both in September, was not only fun, but we are happy to announce that ArtLinks is now 125 artists strong!

Steering Committee member Laurie Bogdan spearheaded this year’s group project for the aforementioned Bikeway celebration. Many of our members joined in to create beautiful flowers made from non-returnable aluminum cans. Don’t they look awesome? We are selling the flowers as a fundraiser to cover the administrative costs of outreach and other special projects aimed to embellish and benefit our town.

Monthly meetings are held the first Wednesday of the month, alternating lunch gatherings with after dinner dessert get-togethers.

In August, we enjoyed a live puppet theatre by Margaret Moody. We got to play with her creations and learn the stories behind the marvelous characters she uses to teach and entertain.

In September, collage artist Karen McCarthy shared with us the intricate process of dyeing papers, transfers and pressing she uses to assemble her unique creations and how she achieves the soft leathery finishes and stitching to make the pieces look and feel like rare fabrics. She also discusses framing and shared her resources for best pricing and quality.

In October, Laurie Bogdan invited us to her studio to show us her distinct bird collages, the in-depth research into birding she undertakes and the intricacies of her backgrounds. She also shared her expertise in mounting pop-up art events, applying to galleries for representation, outdoors and indoors exhibits and the pros and cons of each venue. You can imagine the liveliness of the ensuing group discussion!

We look forward to November, when award winning Courtney Osgood of CKO PR, will spend a couple of hours teaching us how to make the best use of Instagram to boost our social media presence.

Artists Nancy Gray and Marina Strauss gather monthly on the 3rd Wednesday or Thursday of the month for Critique sessions. Dancers may offer a new piece, poets can read their latest poem, artists will bring works and musicians dare to perform snippets of a piece, all within a loving and supportive atmosphere where they receive knowledgeable and honest feedback, and whatever is needed to move forward, make changes or keep things as they are.

Visit to find out more or to join!

The Arlington International Film Festival is thrilled to announce that Theresa Okokon will serve as Master of Ceremony for the opening night of the 2018 Festival on November 1st at the Capitol Theatre. As a storyteller, social worker, and yoga teacher, Okokon embodies the spirit of the Festival through her multifaceted work building communities through art and self-expression.

It’s an honor for AIFF in its 8th year to have such a dynamic voice kick off this cinematic celebration of culture and story. A Wisconsin native, Okokon has been telling first-person, personal stories around Boston since 2012. She is the Co-Host of Stories from the Stage, a televised storytelling show that is a collaboration between Massmouth, WGBH & The World Channel, and filmed live at the WGBH studios in Boston.

Okokon’s talent has taken her far, as she has competed in the Massmouth Finals multiple times, and won 3rd place in Season V. She has been a featured teller with Massmouth, StorySpace, The Story Collider, and Suitcase Stories. She also served as a Board Member for Massmouth in 2015-16. Okokon has taught storytelling and coordinated storytelling shows for various organizations around Boston and NYC, and she shares the stories of other Bostonians as a Story Ambassador with Everyday Boston.

In addition to her storytelling feats, Okokon is the Founder of a small business called, where she provides trauma-informed yoga at Boston-area homeless shelters, low-income housing communities and alternative schools. She works part-time supporting the Development Team at the International Institute of New England, a nonprofit organization that provides resettlement and educational support to refugees.

We are so excited to have Theresa Okokon be a part of our AIFF team this year to help launch our four-day Festival of bringing people together, sharing stories, and celebrating our global culture.

About the Arlington International Film Festival:

The Arlington International Film Festival (AIFF) offers a unique opportunity for cross-cultural education by promoting understanding of the many cultures represented in our town and beyond. The Festival is a means for recognizing that such diversity enriches our community. We believe that our annual international film festival highlights core values and aspirations we share in common with our culturally diverse neighbors and with all members of the global human family. It is also our goal, through the annual production of the Festival to involve Arlington’s youth, artists, filmmakers and professionals in various fields as well as focus on promoting the history of Arlington and its local businesses.

The Festival invites documentary, narrative, animation and experimental shorts and feature film submissions and presents juried awards in each category. Also, we feature a special category of short submissions by high school filmmakers. The 2018 program will be available on-line in early October.

“Your days of struggling to find arts events in Arlington are over.”
Our new website was recently featured in the Arlington Advocate. Read the full text here!