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,,,  or Facebook

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



Second Annual Wine Tasting A Success!

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_DSC1703Our second annual Wine Tasting Gala went off with a bang this past Saturday, October 18 at John Hopkins University’s Rockville Campus. With the rich rhythms of Charlie Plunkett in the background, more than 100 of our closest friends and family enjoyed the flavorful wines, delectable foods and delightful conversation. Many thanks to our event sponsors whose generosity made the evening possible: Rex Smith of Hearts & Homes for Youth, Apex Home Loans, Kathy Lally, Gordon Architects, GPN Titles, June Linowitz and Howard Eisner, and Cady Susswein.

Our Silent Auction was also fully stocked with items ranging from mosaic light boxes to multi-media paintings, jewelry, sports paraphernalia, weekend getaways, self-pampering and more. A big thank you to our donors who provided these enticing array of prizes: AOB Art Apprentices, Total Wine, Elaj Aveda Day Spa, Homestead Bed and Breakfast, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Beer, Wine & Co., Westwood Aquarium, Sandi Cave, Nancy Weisser, Richard Dana, June Linowitz, Joan Samworth, Elizabeth Casqueiro, Gary Rosenthal, AOB Apprentices, Brodhead Flyfishers, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Wolfe Hockey, Imagination Stage, Pyramid Atlantic Art, Washington Nationals, Washington Redskins, Washington Capitals, Baltimore Orioles, SPAGnVOLA, Headlines Hair Design, Plaza Art, Gail Kaplan, Bethesda Dog, Cleverdog and Petsmart. And a big thank you to all who attended.

How to Find Inspiration for Art in Your Surroundings

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By: Apprentice Laura

Taking advantage of what’s around you is the best way to find inspiration.  Whether you have a piece of art you want to complete or a project that needs to get done, sitting staring at a blank sheet of paper isn’t always the right decision.  I have spent so much more time trying to think about what to draw, than actually drawing, and I have spent a lot of time looking for artistic inspiration.

Composition VIII by Wassily Kandinsky, 1923.  Picture courtesy of

Composition VIII by Wassily Kandinsky, 1923. Picture courtesy of

The easiest thing to do is to look at what’s around you.  Even if that means just looking around the room, this especially helps me when designing something. Find an object, or look at a poster or painting and think about why that artist chose to make it look the way it looks, and what you personally would have done differently (color, shape, size, etc).  This could help you come up with your own ideas and designs. You could go even further and go somewhere.   Traveling and the places I have been make such a difference in my artwork.  Going to a museum and seeing collections by different artists, like seeing Kandinsky’s work at the Guggenheim, or seeing Monet’s paintings at the Louvre, can give you that boost and even help you decide what kind of artist style you have by comparing work by other artists.

Park Güell in Barecelona, Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí.  Picture courtesy of

Park Güell in Barcelona, Spain, designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí. Picture courtesy of

Personally, I find inspiration in architecture.  It might sound strange, but one of my favorite things to do is stare at buildings; everything is so thought out and precise. It has a function but can also be beautiful, such as homes designed by Victor Horta or Frank Lloyd Wright, or a whole park created by Gaudí.  They all have the same task at hand, but each person manages to create something unique.  Either way, it always manages to give me some kind of idea.

Another way to use your surroundings is to find people.  Find someone to talk to and ask them about their artwork and what they think of your artwork.  Everyone sees art differently and getting a different perspective or opinion will always help.  I think young artists should go out, see as much as they can, talk to people, and continue to build an inner archive of impressions.  Ultimately, we are a reflection of this around us, but artists hopefully can reflect that vision to create art.

photo (2)Laura is a Winter/Spring 2014 Pour Your ART Out apprentice.  Laura has been surrounded by art and architecture ever since her parents forced her on endless family vacations to see historic buildings.  As she grew older, she started to resent them less for taking her to these places and actually started enjoying these trips to castles and fortresses. While not busy, she likes to read and mindlessly watch TV.  She also has a bad habit of drawing all over everything.  Laura is originally from Glasgow, Scotland, but currently lives in Maryland.


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!