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AOB Reveals New ‘Knee Wall’ in Montgomery County

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County Executive Ike Leggett’s team and Arts on the Block staff and student apprentices unveil one of twenty mosaic designs on knee walls across the county. This one’s at the corner of Hungerford Drive and Jefferson Avenue in Rockville. Students from Rockville, Wheaton, and Richard Montgomery high schools competed to have their mosaics chosen.

“It definitely helped me out with team bonding, which was something I previously lacked in. So, getting an opportunity to work with others helped me out a lot,” sad Joanna Vigil-Coello, the student apprentice behind the newly designed knee wall called “Furry Ball.”

There are more than 400 knee walls in the county. They are designed to keep wheelchairs from rolling into busy streets.

Arts on the Block receives a $10,000 NEA Challenge America Award

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Arts on the Block receives a $10,000 NEA Challenge America Award  

Will fund a Wheaton High School project

 KENSINGTON, MD.   February 4, 2016 — Arts on the Block (AOB) is proud to receive a $10,000 Challenge America grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).  The grant will help underserved students in Montgomery County develop their passion for art and gain valuable workforce skills to help them achieve career goals.

NEA’s Challenge America awards support projects that extend the reach of the arts to underserved populations whose opportunities to experience the arts are limited by geography, ethnicity, economics, or disability. NEA Chairman Jane Chu said, “The arts are part of our everyday lives – no matter who you are or where you live – they have the power to transform individuals, spark economic vibrancy in communities, and transcend the boundaries across diverse sectors of society. Supporting projects like the one from Arts on the Block offers more opportunities to engage in the arts every day.”

AOB will use the grant to launch the “Claiming the Courtyard” project within its flagship Pour Your ART Out (PYAO) program where teen apprentices artists will design seven mosaic tile inserts for courtyard benches that are part of the new Wheaton High School campus construction.   The benches will reflect the school’s cultural diversity, openness and spirit.  The nine-month project will complement Wheaton High’s project-based teaching and learning that is a core component of the school’s curriculum. Two of these mosaic tile designs will be fully constructed by August of 2016.

Jan Goldstein, Arts on the Block Founder and Executive Director said, “We’re very excited to receive the NEA’s Challenge Award.  It’s going to help our young artists develop their talents, learn more about the intersection of art and business and give back to their communities.” PYAO apprentices have created 150 commissioned artworks that are on display in government buildings, businesses, homes and neighborhoods throughout the DC-Metro area.

AOB is a 501(c)3 non-profit serving local Maryland communities for the past 13 years. For more details about AOB and/or this project, please contact us at 240-645-0730, aob@artsontheblock.com, www.artsontheblock.com,  or Facebook http://facebook.com/artsontheblock.

To join the Twitter conversation about this announcement, please use #NEAFall15. For more information on projects included in the NEA grant announcement, go to arts.gov.

 

 

March 2014 Newsletter

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Telling stories, crossing cultures!

DSC_0322Small hands comb through piles of buttons, fabric, and trimmings to find just the right addition to their story.  One of AOB’s classes with Excel Beyond the Bell at Roberto Clemente Middle School debuted a new partnership during its second session. We teamed up with Art & Remembrance and award-winning storyteller Noa Baum to teach the importance of stories and how to translate them into art!

The students viewed the documentary, “Through the Eye of the Needle: the Art of Esther Nisenthal Krinitz,” about the woman who inspired the founding of Art & Remembrance.  Krinitz was a Holocaust survivor who created works of art out of fabric and embellishments to tell her story.  Students were guided by teaching artist Carien Quiroga in telling their own stories using similar materials.

Thank you to Art & Remembrance founder Bernice Steinhardt and Ms. Baum for  giving our students such a unique and rewarding experience.

Lighting ceremony to shine on Common Ground!

Frozen was the name of the game this winter.  But don’t worry, snow won’t freeze the arts!  “Lighting the Way Home,” the celebration for Common Ground‘s achievements in the Carroll Avenue Quebec Terrace community, will take place at 7:30 p.m. on April 24.  The special event, filled with art, community, and light, was rescheduled due to inclement weather!  The collaborative team of “Common Ground” – Arts on the Block, YMCA Youth and Family Services, Imagination Stage, and Gandhi Brigade – are eager to share the accomplishments of the middle and high school participants including the beautifully crafted beautiful illuminated mosaic address signs that will make their debut at the event. Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett will be among the speakers commending Common Ground for its important work in building community and growing creative young leaders!

For more information about “Lighting the Way Home” and Common Ground, please visit the Common Ground Blog.

Trading in the studio for a Baltimore art day!

On a cloudy Saturday in March, AOB’s apprentices went on a field trip to Baltimore and sampled the art the city has to offer!  One of our clients, United Therapeutics, sent our passionate young people on this excursion for the unique opportunity to see where their materials come from.  Our apprentices visited Maryland Mosaics, a mosaic supply company, and American Visionary Art Museum with Teaching Artist Sonal Sheth and her assistant Danielle Hedquist.  They saw tiles of all shapes, sizes, and materials and were able to engage with art in a new way.

“It was great to see the apprentices discover such interesting ways of creating art forms,” Danielle, herself a former PYAO apprentice, recalled.  “They got excited to see the different materials and maybe create something at home!”  Thank you to United Therapeutics, one of our clients, for sponsoring this educational and fun trip.

 Guess who’s expanding to DC!

AOB is expanding its signature program, Pour Your ART Out, to Washington, DC!  From July 8 – August 15, the Pepco Edison Place Gallery. will be transformed into a dynamic space where visitors can see a retrospective of AOB’s work over the past ten years and watch the creation of new works by apprentice artists for major sponsors.

PYAO-DC is in need of sponsors!  For more information about investing in creative young peopleplease email Jan Goldstein and watch our website for more information.

Staff farewell and welcome

With sadness we bid farewell to Mary Ngo, our steadfast operations director, whose efforts helped keep our ship afloat for the last two years.  Mary, who has been a friend and colleague for all 10+ years of our existence, is looking forward to staying closer to home and being available to her two (adorable) children while her husband is deployed overseas.  Our gratitude and best wishes to you, Mary!!!

And so we  welcome new office manager, Erin Murray, to the team!  Erin has her B.S. in Art History from Towson University and will begin earning her M.A. in Museum Studies at George Washington University this fall.  Additionally, we will be availing ourselves of Erin’s event planning and gallery operations experience for our Pour Your ART Out-DC program.  Welcome aboard, Erin!

Board transitions

At our board retreat earlier this month we welcomed three new members:  Chris Barclay, recent past president and current member of the Montgomery County Board of Education (and candidate for County Council); Montgomery College Instructor and AOB parent Francisco Orantes; and last but not least, returning board member/entrepreneur Debra Bowes.  We are thrilled to have such talented, dedicated, and enthusiastic new members providing leadership for the organization at this important time!

At our October meeting, we said goodbye to members John Barnes, who stood by AOB and guided our financial operations for over six years including several years as Board Treasurer; Kay Abrams, who shared her many talents with us including playing a pivotal role in our fundraiser last year; and Terry Roberts, who helped us navigate all things relating to our operations.  We thank each of you for your dedication and for so generously sharing yourselves with us!

From Apprentice to Artist to Businesswoman

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After uploading a teaser of photos from a recent engagement shoot to her Facebook page, Evelyn Alas checks another five star review for her business.  Evelyn is making her mark on the commercial photography world, but she made her mark on the Arts on the Block family first.
evelyn

Evelyn was one of the apprentice artists during AOB’s very first year.  While an apprentice, Evelyn learned job skills through the arts and worked on commissions for real clients.  Evelyn worked on a project called “Unsung Heroes” that depicted real and metaphoric figures pertinent to the development of Silver Spring in life-sized mosaic forms.  Evelyn learned from AOB lead artist Carien Quiroga to appreciate the nuances of creating public art.

Evelyn also enjoyed the field trips to local art studios and museums that exposed her to different mediums and styles.  “Not everyone’s going to be a fine art painter and stay with it.  There’s public art, graphic design, poetry,” Evelyn explains, “It’s not just creating your own art, it’s creating art for other people.”  This philosophy guided Evelyn well as she built her business.  Evelyn Alas Photography specializes in weddings, engagement shoots, and special events.  When asked what draws her to photography, Evelyn answers, “The ability to tell a story with an image without using words.” Evelyn’s passion fueled her drive to pursue a future and business in art.

Evelyn used what she learned from AOB to succeed at the University of Delaware, where she earned her BFA in Photography and minor in art history.  There, Evelyn strengthened her ability to articulate her artistic process. It can be difficult to stand out in a field where customers are driven by budget and not necessarily quality.  To showcase her assets, Evelyn utilizes those same skills she developed with AOB.  “I try to explain [to clients] the background to my art.  I don’t have a cookie cutter formula for their wedding or event. I take into consideration who they are and how they want to be represented,” Evelyn says confidently.

“I can be very creative in wedding portraits, that’s something that’s caught people’s attention when they see that I do things a little different.”

Evelyn’s work has indeed been turning heads, like at a recent Peter Pan inspired wedding, featured on Style Me Pretty.

AOB often hires Evelyn to photograph some of their ongoing projects and finished products.  “It’s been amazing that Arts on the Block continues to help and support me.  It’s kind of full circle, this relationship that we have,” Evelyn reflected.  She has these words of wisdom for our current apprentices and all young people looking to pursue a career in the arts: “Any learning experience, either work related or in general, is valuable and you should treasure that. “Don’t be trapped or single minded, be open to exploring other mediums. Soak in what other people teach you.”

You can find Evelyn Alas Photography on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and the company website.

There isn’t much of 2013 left, so we ask that you make a donation before the new year to guarantee that Arts on the Block will be able to keep making a difference in the lives of young artists, just like Evelyn.

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