MAAG in These Trying Times

Dear Members and Friends of MAAG,

We at Mt Airy Art Garage are reaching out to our members and friends to let you know how much you mean and have meant to us over the years. During this time of COVID-19 we are all experiencing a new reality that puts us all in unprecedented times.  

With jobs being lost and schools closed, our community is suffering in many ways. Our Community of Pride Mural & Literacy Project (COP) program at Emlen school is being reworked in hopes that the Board of Education can create online teaching for its students. We plan on continuing to pay our teachers as we seek to re-work our program in hopes of continuing to offer arts education to our children.

As a hub to the arts and culture community, MAAG is working on providing online arts outlets to keep the Arts world alive and well in NW Philadelphia. In order to do this we must ask our members and friends to consider keeping your membership current and friends donating where they can by using our PayPal account (via website) or mailing in contributions where possible.

We hope you and your families are keeping safe and healthy and look forward to seeing everyone on the other side of this pandemic reality. Please stay in touch through our website, email, and Facebook platforms and know that we are all in this together.

Wishing everyone safety and good health,

Board of Directors

Arleen Olshan, President
Patricia Smith, Vice President
Mary Ann Domanska, Secretary
Elayne Bender
Sarah Claxton
Rick Hock
Nicki Toizer
Larry West

Call for Member Volunteers

Dear MAAG Members,
We hope your summer has gone well. For the Mt. Airy Art Garage (MAAG), this is an extremely momentous time as we begin our transition into our new home at 7054 Germantown Avenue.  
I have been a long-time member and volunteer. I even painted the wooden entrance doors at our old Mt. Airy location. I joined the MAAG Board more than a year ago. Most recently, I have taken on the responsibility of being the Volunteer Coordinator. I want to take this opportunity to extend my heart-felt thanks to the dozens of you who have volunteered for MAAG in the past, in many different capacities.
We have a very important upcoming event that I’d like to strongly encourage you to volunteer for. MAAG Rocks Art! is a one-day arts festival to be held in the heart of Mt. Airy on Germantown Avenue between Mt. Pleasant Avenue and Sedgwick Street on Saturday, September 14, 2019 (rain date: Sunday, September 15) from 11 AM – 5 PM. This special event is to help us celebrate our 10th Anniversary and our new home and neighbors!  
If you are interested in assisting with the MAAG Rocks Art! event, please reach out to me, Rick Hock, at:
Dr. Rick S. Hock
MAAG Volunteer Coordinator
P.S. If you are not able to volunteer, please consider making a tax deductible donation to our local non-profit arts organization. Thank you!

The Future of The Mt. Airy Art Garage

The Mt. Airy Art Garage is a nonprofit member arts organization celebrating its tenth anniversary this year. We provide communal space for creativity, collaboration, and self-actualization, while utilizing creative expression as an instrument for social change. MAAG serves as an incubator for professional and emerging artists who work in creative partnerships with local adults and youth to spread the spirit of art, community, and sustainable living throughout Northwest Philadelphia. We foster civic engagement and community revitalization through the arts, while serving as a center for children and adults to learn, find safe space, and rejoice in the unique creativity that springs from us all.

We have established partnerships throughout the city that include City Hall, Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, Lovett Library, The Philadelphia Theatre Company located at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre, The Fabric Workshop Museum, La Salle University Museum, and other local organizations in our community.

Nonprofits like ours have been vulnerable to economic downturns. Trends for arts and culture nonprofits take the hardest hits whenever there is a recession. In our current climate, now more than ever, creativity is vital to underserved populations. Fortunately, over the last few years MAAG has survived and, looking towards the future, will continue to thrive! MAAG has been going through a time of major transition. After losing our home on Mt. Airy Avenue in 2016, we continued to grow in our small gallery space at 6622 Germantown Avenue.

For the past three years, another wonderful alliance has been the creation of the Community of Pride Mural and Literacy Project at the Eleanor C. Emlen Elementary School. This program provides a rich curriculum with opportunities for 4th and 5th grade students learning to draw and paint full-sized murals which have become permanent fixtures at the school.

These classes aim to provide a safe space to nurture creativity, self-esteem, teamwork, and a sense of accomplishment in seeing their original work on the walls.

Most recently, MAAG created a free After School Community Arts Project at the Mt. Airy Playground for children ages 10 to 14. The culminating mural design will be mounted on the three window panels outside of Jyoti’s Indian Bistro at Germantown Avenue and Nippon Street by the end of the school year.

We continue to hold our annual Holiday Arts Market, and for the second year in a row, we will be working with the Mayor’s Office of LGBT Affairs to host the Philly Family Pride Picnic and Arts Festival. This event will be held once again at Lovett Library Park located at 6945 Germantown Avenue on Saturday, June 22 from 11 am–5 pm with a rain date of Sunday, June 23rd, 2019. Admission will be free and open to all ages, families, and community members. This event will have family-specific entertainment, fine art and handcrafts, music, food trucks, and resource tables from a variety of organizations and nonprofits that provide services and support to LGBTQ families and youth.

In the coming months we plan on moving into a large space in Mt. Airy which will enable us to expand our programs, offer classes, rent out multiple artist studio spaces, hold events, continue our gift shop, and have a dedicated gallery space.

As we grow in size and offerings we need to expand our working board. In addition, we are seeking a grant writer who understands our mission, is an art-lover, and is supportive of our child-centered arts programs. This a paid position for a dedicated individual committed to helping the organization with funding for current programs, future projects, and for operating expenses.

This is an exciting time join us for the next ten years! Become a member. Donations of money, time, service, talent, and writing skills, are all welcome. Thank you, Northwest Philadelphia, Mt. Airy Neighbors, for all the support you have shown us. MAAG could only have been created in the Mt. Airy community.

For further information, or to inquire about becoming a board member, contact You may send resumes to: Mt. Airy Art Garage, 6622 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19119

The Mt. Airy Art Garage Salon Artist Talks Takes Off!

The artists’ presentations are open-ended; the speaker can do a demonstration of their art or craft, present examples of their work, or create a unique format specific to their topic. Arlene Olshan, MAAG’s co-founder and executive director presented the first Artist Talk in February. Arleen talked about her fulfilling lifetime as an artist, teacher and therapist. Her colorful story of learning leatherwork and becoming a master leatherworker charmed her audience and lead to numerous thoughtful questions. Arleen is a good storyteller and made a great introductory speaker for this new series. MAAG is Arleen’s dream come true and we are truly grateful for her dedication.

In Emic Rizzle Tinkerer, Mary Ann Domanska took her daughter’s imaginative childhood experiences and built a wonderful novel for elementary age readers. There are elements of mystery and intrigue, as Emic boldly and fearlessly tackles the challenges of per-adolescence. This is her first published novel. The next novel, a work in progress, The Grit of Cora Belle Delany emerges from Mary Ann’s childhood in which she lived with parents who fostered dozens of children in their home. Mary Ann presented to a highly engaged audience on March 2, with her vivid descriptions of the inner life of a teenage girl in the foster system. In Cora Bell’s life there was no end to what she could fear and worry about. Sharing this fictionalized child’s life Mary Ann reveals how resilient a child can be, day after day , when life is unfriendly and she doesn’t know what tomorrow will bring. She read from a working draft of this emerging novel. This excerpt of this poignant, eloquent description of a child in “emergency temporary placement” left one wanting to hear more, to know what would become of the vulnerable, yet intensely strong young character.

When asked, what was the writing experience like for her, Mary Ann said, “ Sometimes I am in control and sometimes the character is in control.” Her immersion in writing about character and place produces imagery that is compelling and irresistible. It was a pleasure and an honor to hear Mary Ann read her work in progress. We look forward to the completion and publication of this moving, insightful tale of survival.

Please join us for future Artist Talks on the first Saturday of the month, at MAAG, 4-6pm. Light refreshments are provided and donations are welcome.

The After School Community Arts Project

Parents & children, Please join us for The After School Community Arts Project at the Mt. Airy Playground 7001 Germantown Avenue

You’ll learn basic drawing & painting skills; applying them to painting outside murals in Mt. Airy. All children ages 10 -14 welcome. Free of charge and all art supplies will be furnished.

Classes Start January 15th and run til May 2019 every Tuesday & Thursday 3:30 – 5:30 PM.

This project is jointly sponsored by the Mt. Airy Playground, the Mt. Airy Art Garage, and the generous sponsorship of the Drumcliff Foundation.

Young Emlen COP Artists Visit the Fabric Workshop

It started with some of our COP teaching artists going to the Fabric Workshop for an exhibition. What should our eyes behold but Faith Ringgold’s Tar Beach 2 Quilt! And why would that be so amazing to us? Because our young Emlen artists read and learned from that same book by reknowned African American artist, Faith Ringgold! So we reached out to Fabric Workshop and became partners for a magical day at their museum. FW even supplied the bus! For many, if not all of the kids, this was their first time ever in a museum. They saw the quilt they had studied during the year, read from her book, toured the museum, and participated in a screen printing workshop. Thank you Fabric Workshop! It’s amazing what love for the arts and for kids without access can do.

Now feast your eyes on their amazing day. You tell me if they had a good time.





Mt. Airy Art Garage Announces Season-Long Partnership With Philadelphia Theatre Company

The Mt. Airy Art Garage (MAAG) is thrilled to announce our partnership with Philadelphia Theatre Company (PTC) for the 2018-2019 Season! You will have three opportunities to experience both theatre and fine art under one roof at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre (480 S. Broad)! So stay tuned for our city-wide call for artists!

PTC’s line up includes Pulitzer Prize-winner Sweat by Lynn Nottage, a World Premiere production from the Kilroys’ List with How To Catch Creation by Christina Anderson, and the Tony Award-winning musical The Bridges of Madison County. These complex and beautifully crafted stories from three award-winning female voices center around women and their experience — their relationships, their untold stories, their triumphs and their power. The accompanying fine art and handcraft exhibitions will build upon these themes.

America Undone will be the first MAAG show, accompanying Sweat, and will run Oct. 12 – Nov. 4, 2018. Sweat tells the story of a group of friends who have spent their lives sharing drinks, secrets, and laughs while working together on a factory floor in Reading, PA. However, when layoffs and picket lines begin to chip away at their trust, the friends find themselves pitted against each other in a heart-wrenching fight to stay afloat. “One of the hardest jobs anyone can have is the job of being poor,” said Lynn Nottage. “To survive from day to day is an epic struggle to find a way to feed yourself, clothe yourself, put a roof over your head. It is the most Herculean path when you have nothing.”

The season will continue with the Philadelphia premiere of The Bridges of Madison County, with the accompanying photography exhibition of The Road Not Taken. The show will run from Feb. 8 – March 3, 2019. In this soaring romance, Francesca Johnson, a beautiful Italian woman who married an American soldier to flee war-ravaged Italy, looks forward to a rare four days alone on her Iowa farm in 1965. However, her quiet escape is upended when ruggedly handsome National Geographic photographer Robert Kincaid pulls into her driveway seeking directions. What happens next in those four days may very well alter the course of Francesca’s life.

The conclusion of the season will feature the world premiere of How to Catch Creation, an inspirational story running March 22 – April 14, 2019.  In the mid-1960s, a black, queer, feminist writer’s life is changed when her girlfriend tells her some unexpected news. Fifty years later, the reverberations of that moment still echo in the lives of four individuals in the rapidly changing city of San Francisco. Christina Anderson’s stunning and complex examination of the universal act of creation—creation of life, of family, of art—spans space and time to inspire a new generation of makers and lovers. So it only makes sense that our final MAAG exhibition for the season is Makers and Lovers.

Stay tuned to our website, on FB, Twitter, and Instagram as we share more information on MAAGs Open Call for Artists — or just stop by our gallery at 6622 Germantown Ave.


Community of Pride…Pictures Speak Louder Than Words!

We’ve been busy at Emlen — talking about Faith Ringgold stories and art, learning art language and techniques, working on literacy through poetry and words, inviting guest artists (thank you Mikel Elam for being an artist role model and guest), filling portfolios and sketchbooks. Stay tuned as we fill you in on more details.

But for now, feast your eyes and enjoy… sometimes those pictures really can speak louder than words.

Teen Opera Prodigy Will Help Launch Emlen’s COP Mural Project Phase 2

Save the date! Emlen’s Back To School Night

Tuesday, Sept. 26, 5 pm

6501 Chew St. (19119)

Free admission and open to the public.

America’s Got Talent Semi Finalist, at the age of 11? Opera Prodigy? Arielle Baril is all that, except today she is a whopping 14 years old! Arielle and her brother, Joshua Dufour (who taught her to sing), will be special guests at Emlen’s “Back To School Night” Tuesday, Sept. 26. They’ll be telling their stories and singing for the entire school! And what better launch for this next phase of the Community of Pride (COP) Mural and Literacy Project than to continue empowering children with community awareness and commitment while teaching art techniques, literacy, skill building, art history, and confidence. Arielle and Joshua will perform and speak about their experience as performing artists. They will also speak to pride…in your family, yourself, your culture, and your community. Want to know more? Check out Arielle on YouTube.

Arielle Baril, America’s Got Talent “Golden Buzzer” Semifinalist

We, at the Mt. Airy Art Garage, see our partnership with Emlen, with Arielle and Joshua and their family, and a host of others, as yet another way to dream—to share and empower our children and the entire community to be inspired and motivated.

This event is free and open to the public. You won’t want to miss this.

Get to know our Guests!

Arielle Baril

Arielle Baril is a 14 yr. old classical opera singer who was recently seen on Season 10 of America’s Got Talent. Arielle is a Golden Buzzer Act who made it straight to Radio City Music Hall Live Shows. As the youngest performer that evening, Arielle was given the honor of closing a live telecast at Radio City for AGT where she was a semifinalist. Arielle has served as Master of Ceremony, sang at Madison Square Garden twice, competed as finalist in top Classical competitions, and several other events by invitation. 

She is represented by Headline Talent for television and film primarily, but her passion is classical/art music. Arielle Baril and her team plan on releasing a classical EP and especially a single which will lay the foundation for future live shows. 

Arielle will be in the 9th grade at Abington Jr. High School. Arielle is considered a child prodigy with a voice beyond her years. She was trained by her then 20-year old brother Joshua who recently graduated Ithaca College and will attending Columbia this fall. He continues to mentor her vocally.

Arielle now studies vocal performance with Dr. Barbara DiToro of Temple University. Arielle is currently working on a classical crossover EP with her brothers Christophe and Joshua who are talented musicians themselves. 

Arielle strives to empower underrepresented children everywhere with the idea that all genres of music are available to them. As an underrepresented image in the classical world and as young person who chose this genre over others, Arielle is looking to establish herself as an artist whose mission is to convey a message to her peers to dream beyond the glass ceiling. 

Joshua Dufour

Joshua Dufour was born on February 23, 1995, in Drexel Hill, PA. He is the son of two Haitian immigrants. From a young age, Joshua’s passion has always been in the arts. At the age of 8, he joined the Archdiocesan Boy Choir of Philadelphia and sang with them for five years. He was a member of his high school’s concert and chamber choirs, the concert band and wind ensemble, the marching band and the drumline, as well as his high school’s musical theatre productions, presented at their very own Upper Darby Performing Arts Center. For his work in theatre, Joshua was nominated for the Cappie Award for Best Male Vocalist in the Greater Philadelphia area, as well as Best Male Critic.

It was during his final years of high school that his younger sister Arielle was old enough to start mimicking his singing around the house and imitating his operatic sounds. Joshua quickly realized that Arielle had a natural gift for the vocal arts and proceeded to train her in operatic soprano songs. Arielle’s unprecedented vocal ability soon led her to the America’s Got Talent stage where she received Heidi Klum’s Golden Buzzer and finished as a Semi-Finalist.

Joshua received his Bachelors of Science degree in Cinema & Photography, with a Concentration in Cinema Production and a Minor in Music, from Ithaca College in 2017. He has worked on various student films as a director, writer, producer, editor, and production designer. During his undergraduate education, he was a member of the Martin Luther King Scholars Program, a dynamic learning community dedicated to developing future leaders and global citizens through Dr. King’s legacy of social justice and equality. He received the Ithaca College Inspiration Award for his work in the community and on campus. This fall, Joshua is attending Columbia University’s School of the Arts to receive his Masters of Arts degree in Film Studies.

As a first-generation Haitian-American, Joshua believes a sense of self and culture is extremely important and he makes an effort to keep his Haitian roots intact. He is a firm believer that diversity is crucial to human development and that people must share their experiences in order to gain awareness of others. He dreams of becoming a director, producer, actor, and singer. His hope is to use his artistic voice to shine light on the social injustices of the world, spread awareness of race, culture, and ethnicity through artistic mediums, and give back to his brothers and sisters in Haiti.


Past, Present, Future

A Message From Arleen Olshan

I had a difficult experience last night. For the first time in a year, Linda and I walked together on Mt. Airy Avenue past our former building for the Mt. Airy Art Garage. We witnessed the lights being on, our logo being removed from the glass front and people working in the space.

As I looked at the walls that were the gallery, the pod that our architect designed for the bathrooms, the studio walls that were 1/2 rippled plastic, seeing the light and openness of the space with the fans turning, I realized how my heart was broken when this lovely creation was taken from us. The move probably affected all the artists, art-loving neighbors, and supporters who helped us build out the location too. The six years we celebrated the arts in that space was beyond all of our dreams and expectations. We have moved forward and are rebuilding, but neither of us expected the emotion that poured out when seeing the property once again.

So, where are we now? How have we been doing during this period of transition? The Mt. Airy Art Garage is currently operating a fine art and handcraft gallery at 6622 Germantown Avenue, in partnership with Mt. Airy USA. We are waiting for the promised buildout of our new space (across the street) at 6651– 59 Germantown Ave. with the current proposal for completion being Fall 2018. This new location will be transformed into a multi-use space for MAAG with new apartments above our digs.

We have been very active this year in local public schools, working with children on murals, partnering in a variety of artistic endeavors and businesses in our area. We have partnered with Philadelphia Theater Company and will deepen that partnership in 2018. We continue to work with artists of all disciplines, spreading creativity into Pleasant Playground, showing work in City Hall, and, of course, highlighting the work of Northwest artists, from emerging to professional.

Next week, Saturday, August 26th, we will be hosting our first fundraiser at Summit Presbyterian Church with Never Gonna Give You Up (particularly appropriate today) 80s Dance Party with DJ Robert Drake. We have reduced the ticket price to $20 to make it more affordable for everyone. It will be a great night of dancing, making new friends, and enjoying donations from local businesses like Earth, Bread, and Brewery, McMennamins, Night Kitchen, High Point, and more. Remember, in supporting MAAG, you are supporting community artists — your friends, neighbors and family members.

Visit us at the Gift Shop. We are open Wednesday–Saturday, from 12–6 PM. All are welcome. Artists, continue to bring your work. We will make space to show and market your creations. And tell your friends.

See you this Saturday night where we’ll all come together for the 80s and for MAAG and “Rock The Casbah.”

— Arleen Olshan