Within the first moments I visited Arts on the Block and saw it in action I realized I had entered an extraordinary space. By the time I left an hour later I knew I wanted to be involved with this organization.
What had got me through AOB’s front door that first time? I had known Jan Goldstein, founder of Arts on the Block, for about a year, bumping into her at assorted art events; she always encouraged me to come visit AOB. As I got to know more about the organization that year I finally became intrigued enough to make that first visit. It was not to be my last.
Why was I so blown away by AOB during that first visit? It was all about the students, or apprentices as they are called at AOB. Jan did a very smart thing when I first entered AOB’s studio. She immediately introduced me to an apprentice who was to be my AOB tour guide, as it were. So we set off on the tour, and I was immediately impressed with my young guide as he told about AOB what apprentices do. He was very outgoing, confident and full of enthusiasm and that enthusiasm was catching. Our first stop was a room where several of the mosaics which apprentices had created were laid out on tables. They were really, really nice mosaics.
The next stop was to the AOB workroom where 15 or so apprentices, were diligently creating mosaics. Although some were more shy than others, every apprentice to whom I asked a question responded with a smile and ready answer. So much for sullen teenagers who don’t particularly fancy interaction with unknown adults. It was the amazing positive vibration in that room which overwhelmed me. As the apprentices, a visible rainbow of backgrounds, were working they filled the room with talk, laughter, collaboration, enthusiasm and good will. I thought to myself, “An extracurricular art program could have this much of a positive effect on a group of teenagers?” It was pretty obvious that the answer was Yes!!! That’s where and how I lost my heart to AOB and its apprentices.
Jan had an ulterior motive in urging me to visit AOB. She knew I was on the board of directors of two regional visual arts, but would leaving one of the boards in the not-too-distant future. When I walked out of AOB’s studio after that first visit, I knew that I would join Arts on the Block’s board, and with gusto.
Throughout spring, Arts on the Block will highlight the people, places and programs we love. Our goal is to #AOBHitRefresh on all of the relationships that make up our creative community. It’s spring, what better time to reconnect? Tell us your #AOBHitRefresh story!