UPDATED, Oct. 2: A initiative called Live Arts Arlington brought performances to public places in or near the Center through September -- thanks to the volunteer activists on the Programs & Festivals Committee, formed by the Arlington Commission for Arts and Culture (ArtsArlington.org). acac logo 200 2718

Live Arts is the committee’s first project, a pilot effort in partnership with artists designed to encourage public performance and creation in the town. Here's the latest interactive public art project, "The Vita Project":

 A temporary public artwork that explores cultural vitality as a form of physical fitness.  Vita Project offers a playful interpretation of the existing Vita Course -- a series of exercise stations located along the walking trails in historic Menotomy Rocks Park.  Free and family friendly. Vita Project

Katherine Shozawa, Artist
Co-presented by Arlington Public Art
Interested?  Learn more. Get involved.

Held Saturday, Oct. 5, noon to 4 p.m., Menotomy Rocks Park

Project along Minuteman concludes Sept. 22

The Arlington Commission for Arts and Culture celebrates this season’s temporary public-art installations along the Minuteman Bikeway from 3 to 6 p.m. Pathways dudes

Activities include a walking tour with four participating artists (Freedom BairdResa Blatman, Christopher Frost, Johnny Lapham) and live music at Spy Pond Park, featuring The Revolutionary Snake Ensemble, at right, a group of musicians who play the sometimes soulful, sometimes rollicking, music of New Orleans Mardi Gras as well as originals by bandleader Ken Field.

See more here >>

July features musical performances, art workshops, public art installations along the Minuteman Bikeway and more. See what is coming here >>

Pick up your copy of the new Explore pamphlet 

Welcome to the dog days of summer: As the beautiful New England summer weather starts racing along its steady course toward fall, there are lots of arts events to look forward to. Make sure to meander down the Minuteman Bikeway and enjoy the public art exhibits in their natural states alongside the trees, flowers and traffic of the trail. Take some time out in the cool of the evening to enjoy musical performances on the lawn at the Robbins Library with the family.


And explored Arlington's thriving cultural district and all it has to offer.

Stay cool, and check out the latest news on the arts from your friends on the Arlington Commission for Arts and Culture. 

Explore features listings of cultural opportunities all along the Mass Ave corridor, as well as locations for exciting cuisine and a detailed map of all that Arlington has to offer seekers of arts & culture! 

Produced by the Arlington Cultural District. You can find EXPLORE at these locations:

  • Arlington Center for the Arts
  • Robbins Library
  • The Book Rack   
  • Fox Library
  • Maxima Gift Center
  • Regent Theater

and many other businesses in town.

cover art: Gail McCormick
mural: James Weinberg

Visit artist Freedom Baird

Arlington Public Art’s first artist-in-residence, Freedom Baird, will be on the Minuteman Bikeway tending her installation ROOM TO GROW for 6 Sundays in August and September. We hope you will stop by to visit with her. Room To Grow is composed of salvaged furniture and growing plants; a third key ingredient is conversation! The work is activated when neighbors and visitors contribute their ideas and perspective.

“The Minuteman Bikeway is an ideal place to spend time in the world of green growing things and to consider issues of environmental health and sustainability, as well as how humans and nature interact," explains Baird "I’m inviting people to visit and talk with me about how human habitat and nature intertwine, literally!”

Please join Baird on Aug. 18 and 25 and September 8, 15 and 22, weather permitting, from 3 to 6 p.m.

Travelling Dots Dance Down the Minuteman

We invited local artist Johnny Lapham to “recycle” the 80+ colourfully painted plywood discs originally created for our BRT Pilot Public Art Project. He’s responded to the challenge, siting them in a playful pattern inspired by flowers and musical rhythms from Linwood to Lake Street along the Bikeway. His goal is that surprise jolts of color and a game of hide and seek will inspire joy! Look for them peeking out of heavy foliage or grouped together having a conversation.

ExtraOrdinary New Birds Join the Flock http://artsarlington.org/public-art-2/pathways-art-on-the-minuteman-bikeway/birds/

Artist Resa Blatman, local bird champion Ellen Reed, and curator Cecily Miller cooked up the idea of creating a series of cards celebrating the common – but still special and much loved – birds that live in Arlington or migrate through. The cards have tips on how to help local birds survive, as even these familiar creatures will become endangered with habitat loss and climate change. Pick up one card or collect them all at our installation on the Minuteman Bikeway between the Kickstand Café and Linwood Street, and read about this project on the ArtsArlington site. 

SamenfeldArtLinks Featured Artist: Scott Samenfeld

Read about Scott Samenfeld on the ArtsArlington page.

"Improvisation requires that you be in the moment, fully present and an open vessel. Performance challenges me to bring that state of being into the public space." 

Block party held in Center

Saturday, June 29: Center block party, 1 to 7 p.m. (indoors after 4): It took place from the first block of Medford Street up to the entrance of a municipal lot / Park Terrace. The stage  faced Medford, and vendors set up along the street Town Day style, Regent co-owner Leland Stein reports.  

1 p.m.:

Odaiko New England (ONEwas formed in 1994 and is one of the premiere Taiko groups on the East Coast. By combining Japanese aesthetic sensibility with the American spirit, ONE has forged its own distinctive style and voice. In Japan, the sounds of Taiko are infused into various aspects of daily life.

From Shinto and Buddhist rituals to celebratory festivals, Taiko is said to be the voice and spirit of the Japanese. Its rhythms reflect the sounds of nature, the changing of the seasons, a mother’s heartbeat.

The sound of Taiko is palpable and its language is universal. It speaks across boundaries of race, class, culture and religion, and appeals to people of all ages and gender. 

1:30 p.m.:

Zhen Ren Chuan Martial Arts is Arlington’s premier martial-arts facility, teaching life skills through the martial arts. Zhen Ren is an ancient Chinese Taoist term used to refer to a person of virtue or high moral standing.

It also describes someone who is “natural,” “unchanged” or “true” in the face of disruptive circumstances. Chuan most often translates to “fist” or “physical manifestation”. Used in this specific context it means “art”. Hence, the three characters of Zhen Ren Chuan translate to: The Art Of The True Human Being. 

2 p.m.: 

Vance Gilbert  -- The longtime Arlington resident burst onto the singer/songwriter scene in the early '90s when buzz started spreading in the folk clubs of Boston about an ex-multicultural arts teacher who was knocking 'em dead at open mics. Born and raised in the Philadelphia area, Vance started out hoping to be a jazz singer, and then discovered his affinity for the storytelling sensibilities of acoustic folk music.

Once word got out about Gilbert's stage-owning singing and playing, Shawn Colvin invited him to be special guest on her Fat City tour. Noted not only for being the ever consummate performer, Gilbert has recorded 13 albums, including 5 for Philo/Rounder Records.  Along with being opener of choice for artists as varied as Aretha Franklin, Arlo Guthrie, the Milk Carton Kids, and Anita Baker, 2006 and 2007 found Gilbert opening 140+ shows for comedian George Carlin.

Most recently he’s the opener of choice for Paul Reiser, and the Subdudes, along with his own acoustic music touring schedule. Currently Vance is but inches away from releasing his latest entitled Good, Good, Man  - an eclectic assemblage of tunes with guests ranging from Celtic harpist Aine Minough to rock star Mike Posner to bluesman Chris Smither. An integral part of the national folk scene, Gilbert's approach to the acoustic singer songwriter idiom is significant. Gilbert's compositions, while frequently employing sophisticated melodies and harmonies that attest to his jazz roots, remain sublime attestations to the storyteller's craft. He even has a tune on a Grammy Nominated children’s album. How rounded is that? 

3 p.m.:

Deborah Henson-Conant, also a longtime Arlingtonian, is a Grammy-nominated singer and electric harpist. She's known for her on-stage image, her humor, passion and innovation, wearing the electric body-harp she invented.

She uses a looper pedal to layer melodies and guitar effects on her harp -- and plays solo or in collaboration with symphonies and chamber ensembles -- always mixing music, story & movement.

This is a feel-good, outside-the-box, bring-the-folks-you-love kind of show for audiences of all genders and ages -- folks who want to celebrate what it means to passionately follow your own creative path. See her TEDx talk at TEDxDHC.com

4 p.m., indoors at Regent:

The Band That Time Forgot began in 1985 and maintain the same members to this day:

BTF4Peter “Head West” Hoffman on Guitar, Arlington's Larry "Sonny California” Luddecke on keyboards, Richard “Rainbow” Gates on bass and Tim “Stash” Jackson on drums.  They won an instant “Best of Boston” Award for their impeccably played renditions of lesser-known songs from the late 1960s.

The four have worked together in other various bands through the years and individually with the likes of John Hammond, Robin Lane and the Chartbusters, Willy Nile, Suzanne Vega, Dennis Brennen, LaVern Baker,  Ellis Paul, Tom Rush, Vance Gilbert, Vas Deferens and many more.

Their many years together has only increased the fun they have playing the quirky musical chestnuts that make up their substantial playlist. (Expect to hear some selections for the soundtrack to the film "Easy Rider," having a 50th-anniversary screening at 8 p.m. at the Regent, immediately following the festival.)  

5 p.m. indoors at Regent: TonyWilsonPointing

Tony Wilson's Soul Explosion! is a sizzling tribute to the R&B icons of the '60s and '70s, including James Brown, Sly & the Family Stone, Stevie Wonder and many others -- an electrifying, dance-inducing soul revue. Featuring the incredible and incomparable Tony Wilson, from Chicago, accompanied by the Brothers Walk Band.

Wilson was James Brown's protege and current front man for the official James Brown Band. He was Michael Jackson's decoy during the Jackson's "Victory" tour, his understudy for "The Wiz" film musical, and chosen best Michael Jackson impersonator by Oprah on the "Oprah Winfrey Show." Recently, Wilson has made Boston / Arlington his home away from home having performed several concerts at the Regent Theatre, Menotomy Grill and Town Tavern. 

    • June 22: From 10 to noon, Kimberley Harding will take the stage on Broadway Plaza, to demonstrate another ancient art -- basketweaving. She will share her techniques for weaving reed baskets. Come see and touch!

Arlington Alive! LogoA former special education teacher, Girl Scout leader, loom weaver, and fiber artist, Harding learned the craft at Snow Farm, a residential crafts school near the Berkshire Mountains, where she used paper to construct baskets.

But it was a Girl Scout clean-up project about three years ago, pulling up English ivy, an invasive plant, that led to her first basket made with natural materials she harvested herself. “I felt like I’d done this in a previous life,” she said.

While construction of baskets has changed little over the course of human history, appreciation for the process has waxed and waned. Native cultures honored baskets as sacred objects; modern ones have undervalued basketweaving, saying it is nothing more than busywork. 

“Baskets are one of the few things that can’t be made mechanically,” said Harding, a town resident for more than 30 years and the mother of two young adults whom she home-schooled. “If you buy a basket at Target for $12, made in Southeast Asia by someone earning pennies, it was made by hand. The actual weaving has to be done by humans.” 

It’s for these reasons that the artist is intent on passing on her craft to future generations. 

And she’s bound to get a head start on June 22 at Broadway Plaza from 10 a.m. to noon. 

“One of my fantasies is to get into the schools and teach kids basic baskets or get them to be aware of baskets as art or craft,” she said. “Getting younger people to keep the craft alive is really important.”

Noon to 2 p.m. Saturday Rock out with Grüvmeiners, a local brass band that brings exuberant arrangements of 1980s rock and pop tunes we all know and love. Come join the fun! 

  • Held June 8, Arlington Service Station, 6 to 8 p.m. School of HONK! and the Bittersweet Band

Garage Band is a pop-up dance party, a celebration of community, a gathering in an unusual venue, the Arlington Global Service Station, a classic auto service station that has become, thanks to input from neighborhood artist Johnny Lapham, a public art landmark in the heart of Arlington’s Cultural District.

The service station’s owner Abe Salhi was inspired to bring art to his establishment when he heard about his neighborhood’s designation as Arlington’s first Cultural District. He cooked up a design with Lapham, an artist and longtime client who lived just down the street, and now the station’s canopy and upper walls are embellished with colorful circles and stripes out of a Dr. Seuss story.

Now the vibrant service station will also serve as host to a celebratory dance free-for-all, sponsored by the newly established Arlington Commission for Arts and Culture along with Porchfest promoters, the Arlington Center for the Arts

Garage Band is the musical culmination of all the tonalities generated by the participants in this year’s Porchfest. Bringing the party to the Arlington Global Service Station will be the highly acclaimed old school funk and R&B Bittersweet Band, along with the 100-member community street band School of HONK. The latter has been exciting audiences since its creation as an inclusive community street band, welcoming people of all ages and abilities to play music and have fun. The diverse musicians of this ensemble bring joy and outrageous energy to the streets every time they appear in their distinctive thrifted polka dotted costuming.

  • Bittersweet Band, 7 p.m. plays an irresistible blend of funk, soul, and classic R&B guaranteed to get people up on their dancing feet. With members drawn from Philadelphia, Virginia, New York and elsewhere, these talented players know how to lock in the groove. Drummer and leader Greg “PoPPa’G” Baker built up his chops backing up the Village People, touring with them during the height of their popularity. Bittersweet’s singer Tracy Howerton consistently knocks it out of the park with his outstanding lead vocals.
    Garage Band is organized with assistance from the Arlington Commission for Arts and Culture’s Programs and Festivals Committee, an activist group of local arts leaders. “We launched Live Arts Arlington as a new program to bring music, dance and visual arts to public spaces in Arlington this year,” explains chair Tom Davison. “Garage Band will be our signature event.”“Believe me, on Saturday, June 8, this dance party will be THE place to be in Arlington,” added committee member Lidia Kenig-Scher.

Live Arts Arlington Launches

The following is from Livearts: "Arlington has had a street performance – or busking – ordinance on the books for several years, but it has been tough going for performers who put out a hat.

“'We are trying to identify the spaces in town where artists will attract supportive audiences,'” explained Cristin Canterbury Bagnall. In her day job, Bagnall is a freelance producer, collaborating with artists such as Yo-Yo Ma, the MusiCorps Wounded Warrior Band and the Silkroad Ensemble.

"As an ACAC commissioner, her focus returns to her local community, where she and her husband are raising a daughter.

“'The P&F committee was inspired by a vision of our neighborhoods becoming more vibrant; imagine if local artists played regularly in our busy spaces, making brunch, ice cream, even errands so much more interesting. So we launched Live Arts Arlington to experiment with activating key spaces to see what works and what doesn’t.'”

Lidia Kenig-Scher, another member of the committee and the cochair of the Arlington artists’ networking group ArtLinks, is excited about the diversity of Live Arts. “It was really important to us to include ALL artists” she said, “so you might find someone out painting a portrait or weaving a complicated basket. We want poets, dancers, theater people – we’re not restricting busking to musicians. That’s innovative and unusual!”

P&F Committee Chair Tom Davison, the founder of the Arlington Alive Arts Festival and active in Arlington’s arts community, added that the group envisions a future when artists take initiative in running Live Arts.

“We want the program to become self-sustaining,” he explained. “Once we have identified the best times and locations, and given the program an identity, we plan to create a place on the artsarlington.org website where artists can sign up for opportunities that work for them. We hope the public will embrace this initiative and show their support by leaving something in the artists’ hats.”

Members of the public can also support art and performances in public spaces in Arlington by making a tax-deductible donation to the Public Art Fund on the town website – just note your contribution is for Live Arts on the form.

“It’s great that Live Arts will complement art installations I organize for Arlington Public Art,” said curator Cecily Miller. “I’ve loved getting to know the talented P&F Committee members, and they are helping me to expand the annual Fox Festival Parade this year. There is a lot of collaboration and synergy in the arts in Arlington now, it’s very exciting!”

On June 8, Live Arts Arlington will feature Garage Band, a dance party hosted by the colorfully painted Arlington Service Station on Mass. Ave. in Arlington Center.

Linda Shoemaker, the retiring director of the Arlington Center for the Arts also serves on the Programs and Festivals Committee. She is most excited about this event, which coincides with the end of Porchfest on June 8.

“I’m looking forward to taking off my manager’s hat and putting on my dancing shoes. We’ve booked a great funk band, the leader played with the Village People and these guys know how to bring the party. Plus the wonderful School of HONK! will close Porchfest and open Garage Band, linking everything together with their joyful noise and trademark polka dots!”

This news announcement was published Friday, May 17, 2019, and updated Oct. 2.