Archive for the ‘Public Art’ Category

Uplifting Movements for Change

Monday, October 28th, 2019

Dear Colleagues,

Last month, I had the pleasure of touring Montgomery County’s Agricultural Reserve with Leadership Montgomery colleagues and Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County Board Member Dana Pauly. We had a blast! Learning about the dedication of farmers county-wide; the process of milking cows with robotic milking machines, and the commitment these farms have made to implementing sustainable practices in order to protect the environment, animal welfare, and public health was eye-opening and uplifting. In case you are unfamiliar, in 1980 Montgomery County Council created the Agricultural Reserve to protect the county’s farmland and agriculture. This was one of the most significant land-use decisions in county history and now, the Agricultural Reserve encompasses 93,000 acres and retains more than 500 farms that contribute millions of dollars annually to the local economy. As we toured various locations I began to wonder, what more can the arts and humanities do to support our rural community and the county’s environmental policies? How can we increase our efforts to bring attention to these important issues in a way that encourages behavioral changes toward a bright and healthy future for Montgomery County?

Throughout history, the arts and humanities have inspired and uplifted movements for change. From photography and storytelling to pop culture music and sitcoms, the creative sector has provided “emotionally resonate experiences that lead to measurable shifts in power“. The Center for Artistic Activism speculates that this occurs because people will adjust their minds and behavior when they are personally moved by an emotionally powerful stimuli – and therein lies the power of art and culture to enact social change! When it comes to encouraging sustainable behavioral changes, creatives have been at the forefront for decades. Working to augment the messaging of pro-environmental education, policy, and research, while simultaneously helping society “grapple with the challenges to our values that environmental issues present in a way that education, policy, and research efforts cannot.”

A wonderful example of this occurred in right here in Montgomery County. In April of this year, Bethesda based artist Keira Hart-Mendoza used funding received by the Arts and Humanities Council to design an environmental art exhibit showcasing how much trash is created in the county and its impact on nature at Brookside Gardens. During peak season when everything is bloom, visitors encountered the juxtaposition of this beautiful garden filled with lots of plastic waste. The feedback received was a mixed bag. Some were inspired to make changes while others were disgruntled by having to confront the harsh reality of the negative impact our actions have on the environment. Either way, Keira Hart-Mendoza achieved her goal of causing people to “stop and look”.

As luck would have it, AHCMC was approached around the time I took the agricultural tour with an opportunity to cultivate public artworks with an Environmental Artistic Focus – one of six focuses identified in our Public Art Roadmap. The goal of this focus is to discover key opportunities for projects that could create excitement and energy for public art, as well as bring attention to the urgency of environmental issues. Through a collaboration between AHCMC and the County’s Department of Environmental Protection we have an opportunity to support the work of local artists creating temporary artworks that engage the community around the state of our environment, particularly as it relates to climate change, waste reduction and water quality. We look forward to working together to stimulate higher civic engagement, greater social cohesion, and to spark residents into action towards a more sustainable future.


Montgomery County Contemporary Works on Paper Collection – Call for Art 2018

Wednesday, March 28th, 2018

 Montgomery County Contemporary Works on Paper Collection Call for Art 2018

Deadline: Friday, April 20 by 11:59PM

Download the Call for Art

Apply Now

The Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County (AHCMC) and the Montgomery County Public Art Trust are issuing a call for art to reactivate The Contemporary Works on Paper Collection with new acquisitions from artists living in Montgomery County and the Greater Washington area. Artwork in this collection is owned by Montgomery County under the County’s Public Art Trust program and loaned to County agencies for display in public buildings.

This call is specifically for the purchase of original and unframed two-dimensional works of art that are contemporary and modern in style. These works may include but are not limited to paintings in various media, drawings in various media, photographs, mixed media, and limited edition prints.  These artworks should help create inspiring spaces that foster innovation, creative excellence and personal reflection. The Public Art Trust is especially interested in artworks that reflect the unique and diverse character of Montgomery County.

Required Application Materials

  • Artist Information: full name, current address, contact information, Artist Information: full name, current address, contact information
  • Artist Statement: 1 page maximum
  • Artist Resume: 1 page maximum
  • Images: High quality JPEG image files are preferred; professionally taken photographs of the artwork may be submitted.
  • Exhibition List: a document that includes the title, year, medium, dimension, price and edition number (if applicable) for each uploaded work of art. Listed price shall reflect a 20% discount.

AHCMC joins the global #GivingTuesday movement!

Friday, November 24th, 2017

The Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County has joined #GivingTuesday, a global day of giving that harnesses the collective power of individuals, communities and organizations to encourage philanthropy and to celebrate humanity worldwide. Celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season, and one of the best ways to get involved is in your own community.

#GivingTuesday donations will provide significant assistance to AHCMC as we work to keep the arts and humanities alive in communities across Montgomery County. The Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County is asking for you to support us in our goal of raising $10,000 by December 31st by donating on #GivingTuesday (November 28) at

In Montgomery County, we are truly fortunate to have a robust arts and humanities community that offers rich cultural experiences and drives our local economy. Our programs help advance this economic and cultural growth!

  • Arts in Education – Partnering with local teaching artists to bring unique arts education programs to 9 Montgomery County Public Schools, one library and one senior care facility focusing on underserved students and community members.
  • CultureSpotMC – Montgomery County’s premiere online cultural calendar and only dedicated arts and culture publication.
  • The Public Art Trust – Managing the county’s public art collection and placemaking initiatives in partnership with the county and developers.

We know that #MontgomeryCountyGives! So, how will you support on #GivingTuesday?

Your contribution of $10, $20, $50 or $100 will help us reach our $10,000 goal!  These funds will be used to support our operations, drive our programs, and help us build a new! A contribution of any amount is greatly appreciated.

Thank you for supporting the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County!

Support AHCMC this #GivingTuesday.

Our 2016 Highschool Visual Art Award Winner Shares Her Story

Thursday, May 12th, 2016

Every year, AHCMC awards the Ida F. Haimovicz Visual Arts Award to a highschool student who posesses an extraordinary gift for the visual arts.  The honor includes an opportunity to mount a solo exhibition at the Betty Mae Kramer Gallery & Music Room as well as a cash prize of $3,000 to support the advancement of a career in the visual arts.

Below, our 2016 award recipient Zoe Hall discusses her inspirations and shares her experience as this year’s winner.


Social Justice and the Visual Arts

Monday, November 2nd, 2015

Raised by parents who emigrated from Liberia, West Africa as foreign exchange students in 1978, Lendeh finds inspiration from her African heritage and explores themes of identity in landscape, portraiture and pattern design. She was compelled to initiate her most recent series of painted and printed portraits on silk in response to the public discourse surrounding the highly publicized Mike Brown and Trayvon Martin shootings. Below, Lendeh discusses social justice and activism through the visual arts and the origins of her current project, the “Pain Portrait Series”.

Lendeh Sherman:

Feeling enraged from the Trayvon Martin case and other high profile cases of police violence against unarmed African American men and women was really the starting point of several automatic drawings, a combination of portraits and textural marks.

Try On My Grief (Lesley McSpadden). Pigment Dye on Silk Crepe de Chine (16mm), Glass Beads, Thread. 2015.

Portraiture has always been a subject I enjoyed and I wanted to focus on the emotional turmoil of the parents because they are the ones left to suffer. More than capturing a likeness, the heavy toxic emotions they expressed is where I found my heart open and yet felt others completely closed.

“I wanted to create something that would totally confront you. I enjoy art that confronts social injustices because of the opportunity to engage in conversations on difficult issues with strangers where perceptions, opinions and beliefs can be challenged. I feel a sense of responsibility to focus on what disturbs me personally.”

I’ve had a mix of reactions to the Pain series. Most people are intrigued by the scale, materials, and are interested in the process. Quite a few people have mentioned feeling strong emotions from the images without even knowing the stories behind each portrait. I plan to continue working on the Pain portrait series as well as a series of portraits based on Ebola survivors which I have already started.

rise + fall: new works by Adjoa Burrowes and Lendeh Sherman” will remain on view through December 4th, 2015 at the Betty Mae Kramer Gallery.  Lendeh has worked in the field of graphic design and has exhibited her artwork in many galleries and festivals including the International African Arts Festival, Artdc Gallery at Lustine Center, the Embassy of Liberia in D.C., Artomatic, A.I.R. Gallery and FestAfrica. To view more of Lendeh’s work, visit

Transforming the Cardboard Box for “rise + fall”

Friday, October 30th, 2015

Recently, mixed-media artist Adjoa Burrowes created an installation for the Kramer Gallery exhibition”rise + fall” composed of cardboard boxes and recycled paper-based  materials.  Below, Adjoa discusses her installation at Kramer Gallery and interest in working with repurposed materials.

Adjoa Burrowes:

In the past, my artistic practice consisted of primarily working in 2-D collage. My current work with cardboard boxes, however, was sparked by a cross media class I took at the Corcoran/GWU while working on my Masters. The professor encouraged us to experiment with a variety of media and to fully explore the true nature and meaning of materials. I was drawn to cardboard because it is so commonplace, yet the multiple layers consist of smooth and textured board that intrigued me, as well as the variety of natural tones inherent in the plain boxes.

“A box is basically a geometric shape with the ability to hold, house or conceal something – or not. Initially, my main concern was to transform these plain cardboard boxes into something else and at the same time draw attention to questions of our consumer habits and larger environmental issues.”

One aspect of my installation consist of large floor sculptures created from basic brown cardboard boxes that have been torn, twisted, folded and peeled to reveal multiple layers.My intent was to examine my consumer spending and draw attention to issues of consumerism and waste in western culture. Many questions came to mind as I worked on these pieces including: what do the items you value and consume on a regular basis say about who you are, the society you live in, and our culture? Also as an artist, how can I transform a fairly mundane object into something else?

Each of these brown artifacts was produced from a single cardboard box with the exception of one bright orange floor construction that was made from multiple shoe boxes. The colorful wall-hung sculptures were produced from primarily shoe boxes, either cut or torn into linear constructions. In many, several boxes were combined. Shadows play on the wall behind them. Many have a skeletal feel, reminiscent of an excavation. I tried to maintain the integrity of the object by refraining from using adhesives and fasteners as much as possible.

I worked as a packaging designer for large corporations across the country, including Mattel Toys, Campbell Soup and at one point even Barnum and Bailey Circus. I spent so many years designing detailed, elaborate packaging for a variety of foods and objects of play. I think it’s interesting that now I’m focusing on the opposite – the deconstruction of consumer packaging in my art practice.

rise + fall: new works by Adjoa Burrowes and Lendeh Sherman” will remain on view through December 4th, 2015 at the Betty Mae Kramer Gallery.

Public Art as Intervention

Wednesday, August 19th, 2015

With the development of the Public Art Roadmap and the recent announcement of our  NEA Our Town award, we’ve been having many thought-provoking conversations about public art, urban design and our role as a local arts agency in activating County spaces through creative placemaking and social engagement.

"The Silver Pass" Mural by Byron Peck

Montgomery County initiated the commissioning of public art in 1983 and since that time, this collection has grown to include more than 800 works that are embedded in the fabric of our community.  With the soon-to-be-released Public Art Roadmap, we will now have a tool that will allow us to evaluate exactly how, over the last thirty years, public art has articulated and reflected the County’s neighborhoods as well as help us determine which communities lack these cultural assets.

This project is very much connected to the amazing public art project we are spearheading in Wheaton. In our community convenings in Wheaton, we asked residents and other members of the arts community how could public art best support their neighborhoods.  We learned of the community’s hopes that our work would do more than just place a shiny object in their town center.  They described a host of pressing community issues, including the absence of the lack of performance and exhibition venues despite the abundance of vacant, underutilized spaces and a lack of interactive, socially engaging creative work in the community.  These conversations helped us quickly realize that a public art project similar to those historically commissioned in the County wouldn’t be appropriate.

"A Brushstroke of Discovery" by Narcissus Quagliata

The emerging interest in public art that engages communities and seeks to address social issues is a departure from what has traditionally comprised the public art commissioning process, but at AHCMC we’re not shy about stepping into new territory. We asked Matthew Mazzotta, a conceptual artist known for integrating community voice into his projects, to design a public art project for Wheaton.  Matthew traveled to Wheaton in May and over the course of a week, met with dozens of residents, artists, and policy makers who shared with him their reflections and vision for Wheaton.

Matthew (center) in May with community organizers in Downtown Wheaton

Since his visit, Matthew has spoken to us about how his experiences in Wheaton will inform his creative process and include considerations such as, “what kind of intervention will serve the community the best?” Matthew describes his work as “participatory public interventions”, noting that he hopes to trigger conversations and actions within the community where his work is sited that will help create solutions to real issues.  As a local arts agency approaching 40 years of supporting the arts and humanities in this community, we know that the arts and humanities have the power to create solutions to social and community issues, and that is exactly what we aspire to do in Wheaton.  With the support of the National Endowment for the Arts and Montgomery County we are truly excited about the next phase of this project and look forward to staying in touch!

To learn more about this project, contact us at

Public Art as a Catalyst for Community Engagement

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015

Michele Cohen, Ph.D is an public art expert who has been working with AHCMC and the Montgomery County Public Art Trust to manage the commissioning and conservation of the County’s broad collection of outdoor sculpture and two-dimensional works.  Below, she blogs about our most recent public art initiative: The Wheaton Outdoor Living Room:

In tune with contemporary public art trends which emphasize social engagement, the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County recently launched an innovative public art initiative in Wheaton’s Arts & Entertainment District (AED).  MIT-trained public artist Matthew Mazzotta, widely known  for his award winning project “Open House“, visited Wheaton and met with residents, business owners, and elected officials over the course of a week to gain a sense of Wheaton’s past, present, and future – from the community’s perspective.

At the end of his visit, Matthew staged an “Outdoor Living Room” in the middle of  Wheaton Veteran’s Park, located in the convergence of Downtown, the Wheaton AED and Central Business District.  The sight of rugs, sofas, and lamps in the middle of this public space helped spark an incredible dialogue about public art amongst a diverse cross section of community members.

Matthew’s projects grow from the inside out; not only do they provide visual interest, they act as sounding boards and community catalysts.

Before Matthew’s arrival, we collected ideas and feedback from Wheaton residents and policy-makers about how our new “Wheaton Cultural Grants” funding opportunity could help support local creative placemaking activities and promote Wheaton’s relatively young Arts & Entertainment District.  We held several charrettes to hear directly from residents how they envisioned the arts and humanities playing a transformative role in their community.  What we learned was that Wheaton’s cultural and creative community wanted more places to display expressions of culture that embodied the spirit and diversity of their community and that would have the potential to transform Wheaton into a cultural and creative destination.

These outreach and research activities culminated in Matthew’s “Outdoor Living Room” which was an inspiring convening of community members truly invested in Wheaton’s future.  Matthew is developing a proposal for a public art design informed by his observations and the feedback he received.  We all look forward to seeing the next stages of this incredible project take shape!

A “Red Orchard Wall” for Silver Spring’s Fenton Street Urban Park

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014

A Rendering of "Red Orchard Wall", designed by sculptor Michael Enn Sirvet

After issuing a Request for Design Qualifications to the public in October, The Public Arts Trust and the Arts & Humanities Council of Montgomery County are pleased to announce the selection of an outstanding public art proposal for the Silver Spring/Takoma Park community.

Red Orchard Wall by DC-based artist Michael Enn Sirvet is a contemporary outdoor sculpture whose design is inspired by the history of the Fenton Street Urban Park’s as a former apple orchard.  The “curving wall” sculpture, approximately ten feet in height and twelve in length, is expected to be installed at the intersection of Fenton Street and Philadelphia Avenue in summer 2015.

The Arts and Humanities Council and The Public Art Trust issued Request for Design Qualifications to the public, inviting local artists to submit their design qualifications to be considered for creating the public artwork that would replace Criss Cross, by artist Albert Paley.

On December 4, three Semifinalists who successfully responded to the RFQ presented their proposals to the community and a panel of judges during a public hearing in Downtown Silver Spring.  Sirvet’s proposal – with its references to the history of the site and the creative engagement that the sculpture creates between its environment, viewers, and landscape – was selected as the winning design.

Sirvet is a full-time artist whose professional experience includes a successful career as a structural engineer.  He has executed similar public art projects in several prominent public/private spaces, including the US Embassy in Malta, the US Embassy in Dubai, and Bowie State University.

Sirvet hopes Red Orchard Wall will reflect the growth and future of the Silver Spring/Takoma Park community:

“In choosing to tell the story of the long-gone apple orchard, we have decided to interpret the idea of an apple orchard in a contemporary way,” he said. “We do this to compliment the new, vibrant and modern nature of downtown Silver Spring, with its many newly constructed buildings and public areas. Modern Silver Spring demands cutting-edge contemporary sculpture to match its contemporary growth.”

AHCMC congratulates Sirvet on his innovative and engaging design, and thank all of the artists who submitted proposals.  For more information, read our official press release.

Community Meeting on Dec. 4 for Fenton Street Public Art Proposals

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

The public is invited to attend the presentation of proposals for the Fenton Street Urban Park Public Art Replacement Project on December 4, 2014 from 6:30pm – 8:30pm in the Betty Mae Kramer Gallery of the Silver Spring Civic Building, 1 Veterans Plaza, Silver Spring, Maryland, 20910.

Semifinalists will present their proposals to the Selection Committee and the public and they will answer questions at this public meeting. Semi finalists will have 20 minutes to present their proposal individually and discretely; semi finalists will not be presenting in front of each other.

This public art project is intended to replace Criss Cross, a sculpture that was removed from the public road right-of-way on Fenton Street. The project area for consideration includes road rights-of-ways along Fenton Street, Philadelphia Avenue and Burlington Avenue, as well as the existing Fenton Street Urban Park. There are plans to expand and completely redevelop this area in the future, so the artwork should not be considered a permanent feature to remain in place over the long term. The project will be a site-specific artwork that is reflective of the community and potentially incorporates a neighborhood or local theme. The artwork could be a site furnishing element that may be relocated or re-used when the Fenton Street Urban Park is redeveloped, or it could be a temporary project that would be removed from the site when future development occurs in the area.

The Public Arts Trust (PAT) of Montgomery County, MD, administered by the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County (AHCMC), invited artists to submit Statements of Qualifications to design, fabricate and install artwork on publicly-owned land between a residential neighborhood and an industrial district with auto repair shops in Silver Spring, Maryland in August, 2014. A Selection Committee comprised of members of the East Silver Spring Civic Association, Montgomery Parks, Montgomery College, the Public Arts Trust, The Montgomery County Departments of Recreation and Transportation was convened to review the submissions and three semifinalists were chosen.

For more information contact or call 301-565-3805