Archive for June, 2012

Public Art Conservation: Alba Rosa

Friday, June 29th, 2012

In the Spring of 2012, the Arts and Humanities Council launched an inventory of the County’s public art collection. Many of the County’s artworks require conservation–they need more than a simple hosing and cleaning.

To assist us in our effort to assess and treat the collection, Bethesda conservator Connie Stromberg examined several pieces, and with a team, treated the red granite disk fountain sculpture, Alba Rosa, or Red Morning. This simple granite piece by Seattle-based Joseph A. McDonnell provides a quiet place to enjoy shade and respite. Marking the entrance to the County garage on 1325 Fenwick Avenue, it is one of the first pieces in the collection to be commissioned as part of the County’s art in architecture program.

Salt and dirt accretions, coupled with damages caused by the annual removal and reinstallation of the internal pump, marred and destabilized this piece. Ms. Stromberg treated both the cosmetic and structural components of the sculptural fountain.

Here is a closer look:

To remove salts, the conservators had to apply poultices soaked in an aqueous acidic cleaner as well as use single edged razors to lightly scrape the surface.

Stainless steel stops were attached to the pool floor ¾” from the lower edge of the base, to prevent excessive outward slippage of the panel.

The access panel on the lower PR side was repaired using an epoxy material to fill losses and replace the deteriorated white material in the repaired cracks. The screen across the opening in the access panel was replaced with a stainless steel open mesh grid.

Now that the piece is conserved, the water filtration system needs to be tweaked so that mineral deposits and the harsh effects of chlorine are minimized.

AHCMC will be conserving numerous County artworks in the coming months. Let us know if artworks need attention in your neighborhood!

Non-Profit Energy Alliance on Montgomery Week in Review

Monday, June 25th, 2012

Our CEO, Suzan Jenkins, was on Montgomery Community Media’s Montgomery Week in Review program a couple of weeks ago to talk about why and how the Non-Profit Energy Alliance was founded. Check out the interview in the video below!

Clown Around this Summer at Camp

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

June 21, 2012 -  This week What to Do & Where to Go is sneaking a peek at a summer camp at the Round House Theatre Education Center in Silver Spring.

Do you have a budding Jerry Seinfeld at your dinner table? A too-funny Whoopi Goldberg in the bath tub? Are the knock-knock jokes driving you nuts? This may sound crazy, but maybe it’s time to send those petite comedians to camp, Clowning Around Camp that is, at Silver Spring’s Round House Theatre (RHT). (June 25 – June 29 click for more info)

I know, I know, you’re trying to iron out those kinks, help your son or daughter learn that essential lesson about timing. There’s a right time and a wrong time for humor. Invariably, my son gets those times mixed up, and while my inner Dolores Jane Umbridge is telling me to stifle that humor, Dr. Berry Brazelton and other Dumbledore-ish child development experts are suggesting just the opposite: support and nurture your child’s strengths. So, despite the appearance of “your Mama is so fat” jokes on the horizon, I bundled my son off to RHT’s comedy camp last summer. (More about that later.)
Clowning Around is just right for boys and girls in grades 5 – 8 who want to explore the art and fun of clowning and physical comedy. RHT Education and Outreach Program Manager, Jillian Levine-Sisson, says that campers will be introduced to classic clowning skills from Commedia dell’arte to pratfalls to stand-up. “Physical comedy uses the body. During these sessions, we’ll teach campers the classic techniques you might see in a Three Stooges gag, like pretending to trip or slipping on a banana peel. There’s a right way and a wrong way to fall, and we’ll teach the campers to do it safely.”

Another important feature of the camp is creating and becoming a theatrical character. “Respect the red nose,” says Levine-Sisson. “When you put that nose on, you become a clown. Clowns are the sweetest, most emotional, honest and straightforward characters there are.” And, clowns just don’t see the world the same way you or I do. No, ask a clown to sit in a chair (watch the embedded video for that one), and you’ll get every funny thing except sitting.

During the week-long camp, between pratfalling, red nose wearing and clowning around, the campers will have the opportunity to study with comédien Emma Jaster of Happenstance Theater, a wonderful band of local clowns who practice Commedia dell’arte, a form of humorous theater which began in Italy in the 16th century. Here’s what the DC City Paper has say about Happenstance: “These merry pranksters get it!…glorious nuggets of nonsense…and… belly-laugh humor.”

So what was the upshot of my son’s week at Clowning Around? Well, for one, he asked to go again this summer and, while the humor in my house persisted, it also became much more erudite. We now have a cheat sheet of 100 Shakespearean insults on the fridge which means: “Honey, you forgot to take out the garbage again.” Becomes: “Honey, you beslubbering, beef-witted, barnacle! You forgot to take out the garbage again.”
RHT’s summer camps where the whole family gets a laugh!

Find out more about Clowning Around at, your online culture calendar.

Shellie Williams writes about arts and culture in Montgomery County. DO & GO’s Behind the Scenes, offering you a titillating tidbit about upcoming cultural events in Montgomery County.

Kids + Cameras + Nature = Art

Friday, June 8th, 2012

Give a kid a camera, let ‘em loose in the woods or a field or along a creek and some very special things happen. Intense observation, concentration, creative problem solving: ART. Ansel Adams’ mother said that after being in nature, her ADHD son was calmer and more focused. Later, Adams took his focus and his camera into nature and photography has never been the same.

On Saturday, June 9th a very special exhibition of young Ansel Adamses opens across from Lilly Magilly’s Cupcakery at the Washingtonian Center in Gaithersburg. It’s a display of photographs and photo-collages by nearly 100 fourth graders from Gaithersburg Elementary School. Don’t miss the reception on Saturday from 1:30 to 2:30 PM at 217 Boardwalk Place (click here for directions).

The students are part of two very interesting eco-based photography programs led by AHCMC’s teaching artist Joanne Miller.  Joanne’s gotta thing for nature. She likes it. Lots. An art photographer focusing her camera lens on wildlife living at the edge of urban landscapes, Joanne is well known in the region for her hauntingly beautiful photographs. AHCMC was pleased to have her included in the inaugural exhibition, Three Visions of Nature, at the Kramer Gallery in 2010 (click here). We’re equally delighted to have Joanne bring her own special brand of ecology and art to AHCMC’s Arts Integrated Residencies. You can find Joanne here in our Teaching Artist Roster.

“Photography offers kids a creative opportunity to experience the wonder of nature through the eye of a camera,” Joanne told me. “As they master new skills and discover the simple beauty of the outdoor world, a change takes place in their art and personal expression.”

Working with the fourth grade teachers–Susan Knutson and Patricia Kennedy–Joanne led an in-school residency supported by a grant from AHCMC that integrated art, science and technology.  When Joanne works with kids, she gives them digital cameras to learn on. The students photographed the nature around their schools and made and photographed model ecosystems in the classroom. When they were done photographing the fun really began. Just because her students are in fourth grade doesn’t mean Joanne stints on learning. Nope, students learn how to upload and manipulate their photos on Macs and PCs. Using school computers, the printed photographs and created photo-collages.

“The fourth grade students thoroughly enjoyed linking nature, photography and the arts,” said Lisa Lewis, a teacher at Gaithersburg Elementary. “They truly have a new found respect for how nature plays an important part of our world.  This program was a great experience for our students and was a perfect match for our curriculum.”

What did the students think?

“I like the way we were able to look at nature inside and then go outside to take real photos,” says Raquel.  “You could compare and contrast environments.”

“Since March, I’ve noticed more changes in nature,” said Vanesa.

Gaithersburg Elementary School has a student body of almost 700 students ranging from Pre-K to Kindergarten with a large ESOL population. They’ve also got some great afterschool partners, like Linkages to Learning (LTL) and Identity. Together LTL and Identify worked with teaches and administrators to build a nature and photography after-school program. Fifteen students were selected to participate and Joanne was contracted to teach this program as well. Funding for the after-school program was community driven with a grant from the City of Gaithersburg, individual donors and some funding and in-kind help from Asbury Methodist Village.

In this 9-week after-school program, students learned about the visual language of art and photography and explored nature around the school, at a local farm and in the wildlife habitat of Asbury Methodist Village. Students created photographic hand-made books and exhibition prints, while developing positive self esteem and respect for the natural environment, and as Joanne believes, “ an understanding that they [the children] are an important part of the world around them.”

When I asked Joanne why bother with an exhibition, she said: “Building self esteem, it’s a valuable experience for children to be honored by their community for their creative vision. When a child points to their photograph in a public exhibition, immediately you see the pride in their eyes and smiles, and so valuable too, a sense of pride in their parents hearts.”

These two nature programs have done more than build knowledge and skill, they’re building awareness and pride in the students, the schools and the community. Local business The Peterson Companies stepped up to the plate and graciously offered and exhibition space for the exhibit at the Washingtonian Center. Joanne worked with GreenKids to plan the exhibition and host the reception.

It took a village to put these programs together and the village has succeeded tremendously. Kudos to you Gaithersburg!

The exhibition will be on display at the Washingtonian Center indefinitely. You can see if from the street at 217 Boardwalk 24/7.

Ruthie Prillaman: Passagio

Friday, June 8th, 2012

Congratulations to Ruthie Prillaman, the 2012 recipient of the Fran Abrams Creative Writing Award! Both she and the Haimovicz Visual Arts Award recipient, Samantha Ritchie, will be recognized at a special ceremony on June 12. Ruthie will also read a selection of her work. Join us next Tuesday for this free reception!

by Ruthie Prillaman

It sounds like the parting of the Red Sea
As portrayed by some Italian Renaissance painter.
One would never think that it’s nothing more
Then a couple of notes humming between strings
No thicker than an eyelid.

I never know where to wave my hands
When I’m walking the tightrope.
Sway too far to the left
And a gust of wind grinds the rope to tatters.
Sway too far to the right
And the air gets too thin to breathe.

Fibers get brittle over time
If you don’t feed them;
they turn to spider webs,
sticking to your cheeks
But breaking under your touch.

I never wanted to face it,
Knowing that it would be years
Before I could weave the threads
Into anything resembling a bridge
That might support half the weight of my foot.

You can’t make your passagio go away
But if you oil it enough
And let it grow,
You can forget that it’s there
And cross.

Book Review: The Mission Myth

Monday, June 4th, 2012

Sometimes I feel like a capitalist at my nonprofit.

Maybe it’s because I’m focused on results.  Maybe it’s because I’m a sales gal at heart, i.e. I’m used to having a “number on my head.”

Either way.  As a leader at a nonprofit, there are times when I feel out of sync with my colleagues and wonder if I’m too focused on revenue vs. mission.

That is why I LOVED The Mission Myth: Building Nonprofit Momentum Through Better Business by Deirdre Maloney.

Maloney is a veteran Executive Director, who spent seven years learning the ups and downs of institution-building, while leading the Colorado AIDS Project.  The Mission Myth is her excellent attempt to show that it takes much more than passion (i.e. mission) to run a successful, thriving nonprofit.  According to her, it takes passion and The Four Ms: Management, Money, Marketing and Measurement.

Whether you are an experienced nonprofit leader or new to the sector, you’ll appreciate Maloney’s honest and practical advice about about managing your board, getting real about fundraising, enhancing your communication, recruiting new talent, using data to make better decisions and more.  Use it to mitigate your own managerial mistakes.

I hope you will read the whole book but here are a few points that really resonated for me.

Your mission may inspire you to get up in the morning but it won’t make you or your team a success! Too many nonprofit leaders (you know who you are) are passionate about changing the world and that is a good thing.  But (and there is a big BUT here) if you don’t find a way to scale your passion through good leadership, efficient processes, stable funding, transparent policies and more you won’t be in business for long.  Don’t be fooled by the image of the charitable sector as a poster child for peace, love and happiness.  Running a nonprofit is running a business and it’s really hard work.

Be explicit (in your communication). This is one of the best pieces of advice I’ve heard lately.  Be explicit, i.e. say what you mean and mean what you say.  This is so hard for many of us as nonprofit leaders.  We don’t want to deal with hurt feelings. We long to be liked.  We’re nice people. (We work for nonprofits after all!)  Unfortunately, it’s not possible or reasonable to expect other people to read your mind (or mine).  To lessen the confusion, frustration and inefficiency at your nonprofit, strive to be clear, succinct and timely in your communication.

Fundraising is sales. “When you, as part of your organization, engage in fundraising, you engage in sales.  Good sales.  The money you bring in goes toward a cause that matters. You need to understand and embrace this.  If you are unwilling to believe your job is sales, if you think this is an organic process, one where the prospects merely need to hear about your great work and will hand over their hard-earned money, you are kidding yourself.”  Amen!

Thanks again to Deirdre Maloney for a solid book and for helping us all to do good well.



This blog was reprinted from Jocelyn Harmon’s blog spot, Marketing Nonprofits, with her permission.