Jazz Jam…That’s What Change Is All About

Generic Jazz Jam Flyer

Hey jazz fans, we’re  going through some changes in our ensemble. So while that happens, you’ll probably experience certain changes in our music and personnel. But that’s what change is all about. And I know how to deal with change. So make sure you plan on attending our next jazz jam on Wednesday, July 10th. We will not disappoint!

This past month our guest pianist graced us with some sounds for the evening along with congas, djembe and the strong bass sound of Charles Witherspoon. The night started slow.  As the evening grew,  so did the music. With the horns arriving it was off to the races. We had two young musicians in the audience seeing live music for the first time, something that I definitely promote. I even got a chance to meet them (what a charge). They were excited.

During the course of the night I couldn’t help but think about the next session and what it will consist of. So in saying that, I want all of my fellow musicians,  jazz fans, and listeners to stay tuned. The best is yet to come. Only one thing troubles me though…I haven’t seen your face in the place.                                        





Wow! International Women’s Day – Where Do We Even Begin?

Photo by Janet Mason

IWD Vintage Poster Backdrop
Photo by Janet Mason

It’s often difficult to re-cap such a whirlwind weekend. Yet, let me start here:

Thank you.

To all of the performers, attendees, and volunteers, you truly made last weekend’s celebration of International Women’s Day (IWD) an unforgettable one. Without your inspiring work and  participation, we wouldn’t have been able to spread the message of IWD in such style. So, we thank each and every one of you from the bottom of our hearts! In case you missed it, Friday’s event, “Outloud: A Celebration of Female Voices,” which showcased the music and poetry of eight incredible female performers in our city, was an absolute, standing-room only success. From ruby-flows, Trayvon Martin laments, folkie guitar riffs, heart-warming chorale collaborations, Anne Sexton throwbacks, and everything in-between, the evening will undeniably live on. More importantly, though, it will only further the progress of women throughout our beautiful city.

Yet, Saturday and Sunday followed with equal fervor. Cocktails were served and conversations ran deep. Slideshows of female artists became illuminated against our walls and discussions on the intersection of art and social change were undeniably front-and-center. On Sunday afternoon, during our conversation revolving around “Women in the Media & The Arts”, speakers and attendees shared familial history, personal struggles and triumphs, as well as strategies to further improve women’s progress.

Overall, all of these performers, speakers, and conversations are a testimonial of how far women have come throughout the ages. Yet, simultaneously, they are a reminder, a gentle nudge, for how much work still needs to be done.

As I said during the opening remarks on Friday night, we have an obligation to change our world for the better; yet we can’t do it alone. And, I believe, there’s no better way to do it than this: Care about each other. Care about each other, despite differences, and build a unified network that stretches across any boundary imaginable. Again, to illustrate this vital connection, I’d like to offer you a poem, written by Marge Piercy in 1980 and recently reiterated by spoken word artist Stacey Ann Chin.

Photo by Michael Albany

“Outloud: A Celebration of Female Voices”
Photo by Michael Albany

“The Low Road” 

What can they do
to you? Whatever they want.
They can set you up, they can
bust you, they can break
your fingers, they can
burn your brain with electricity,
blur you with drugs till you
can’t walk, can’t remember, they can
take your child, wall up
your lover. They can do anything
you can’t stop them
from doing. How can you stop
them? Alone, you can fight,
you can refuse, you can
take what revenge you can
but they roll over you.

But two people fighting
back to back can cut through
a mob, a snake-dancing file
can break a cordon, an army
can meet an army.

Photo by Michael Albany

Full House!
Photo by Michael Albany

Two people can keep each other
sane, can give support, conviction,
love, massage, hope, sex.
Three people are a delegation,
a committee, a wedge. With four
you can play bridge and start
an organization. With six
you can rent a whole house,
eat pie for dinner with no
seconds, and hold a fund raising party.
A dozen make a demonstration.
A hundred fill a hall.
A thousand have solidarity and your own newsletter;
ten thousand, power and your own paper;
a hundred thousand, your own media;
ten million, your own country.

It goes on one at a time,
it starts when you care
to act, it starts when you do
it again and they said no,
it starts when you say We
and know who you mean, and each
day you mean one more.

As these words remind us, women’s progress occurs step-by-step, one person at a time joining forces with another. It may seem tedious, but in reality, it’s the beauty of progress. We’ve got to keep building, keep pushing, keep creating the art that makes us whole again and advances social change. Because if we don’t, who will?

Last weekend, and everything it embodied, was a testament to this. Yet, let our final thought be this: Carry on the message of International Women’s Day for not just one day or weekend, but  for the entire year. Don’t let the inspiration and fervor of last weekend slip away. Don’t let these performances and conversations go (As my mother often said) – “in one ear and out the other.” Instead, embrace them without reservation and truly be a beacon of hope.

Now, on a lighter note, check out some photos!


Again, many thanks to all who made last weekend a reality!


Potluck Spectacular & Thank-You Celebration

2012 was an exciting and eventful year at MAAG. Just check out a few of the things we accomplished:
Potluck Spectacular

Without YOU, none of this would have happened! At MAAG, community is central to our mission. That’s why we want to show our deepest appreciation for our neighborhood ties and the people who help us to keep our doors open.

So, on Saturday, January 26th from 6-9PM, MAAG will host a potluck spectacular to thank all our members and supporters, and welcome any new faces to the crowd. Come browse the gallery, check out our new studios, mingle with fellow artists and art-lovers, and grab a bite to eat and drink. Join or renew your membership and receive exciting updates for 2013. Most importantly, just come and have a good time.

See you there!


RUST3…Advancing The Conversation On Sustainability, Art, And Urban Renewal

If nature was allowed to reclaim the land in the city, it would undoubtedly re-use humanity’s refuse and incorporate it into its new life. This sentiment is at the heart of RUST3. Though this multidimensional project, artists Andy Walker and Andy Heisey illustrate how materials found in Philadelphia can be recycled into a new structure that builds on the once-contaminated urban soil.

RUST is a wigwam-like structure that was first created out of recycled materials with the help of artists and local residents on the vacant lot at 313 S. Broad Street in Philadelphia in August 2012. A month later, the structure was recycled in a second version of RUST just across the street  and displayed the bones (wooden arches, living green roof, clay tiles with iron oxide prints of abandoned houses, and windows made from glass bottles) and skin (refuse mixed with slag cement creating collages) of the structure itself. The final version of this project, RUST3, has just been created at the Mt. Airy Art Garage at 11 West Mt. Airy Ave. This gallery exhibition also displays artists who created new work inside this studio, including Gary Reed; a new version of RUST, complete with a video of the entire process of the project; and a newly created special entrance and model. The opening for this installation occurs this Saturday, Nov. 10 from 6-8 pm.

The very next morning on Sunday, November 11th at 10 am, Andy Heisey and Andy Walker will host a workshop which will discuss the various ways one can recycle different types of materials in their artwork. From old bottles to CDS, from collages to cement, the Andy’s will guide you through a hands-on tutorial that is both fun and environmentally-friendly. Suggested donation is $10.

Following the morning workshop, a citywide panel entitled “Artists Taking Back Philadelphia – Brick by Brick” will take place at 2 pm. This panel will feature both Walker and Heisey; Gary Steuer, the Chief Cultural Officer for the City of Philadelphia; as well as Shari Hersh and Dre Urhahn from Philly Painting (a project of the MuralArts Program). In this panel, topics of urban renewal as well as how artists have and can continue to assist in the changes needed to preserve our collective future will be addressed. Admission is $10.

All these events combine to enhance the importance of community involvement in the ever-evolving process of reclaiming our city and creating beauty out of refuse. RUST3 opens on Saturday, November 10th at 6pm and continues until Friday, December 7. Gallery hours are: Thursday-Saturday, Noon till 6pm and Sunday, Noon till 5pm. For further information, call 215.242.5074 or visit www.mtairyartgarage.org.

6 Built..5 Rented!… 1 left!

We couldn’t believe it either. Not a few weeks after the “Artist in Residence”  studios were built, 5 artists have already signed their leases. Our talented tenants? Well…a master quilter, a master leathercrafter and painter, a Dumpster Diva,  a letterpress studio staffed by 2 book artists, and another painter. That means there is 1 studio left!

We’re renting to MAAG members only. Hey what better reason to join? 6 studios built, 1 left (#6)! And if 2 members want to share that studio (and it’s big enough!), depending on your discipline, it could happen. Get your application HERE!

Ready, Set, Rent!

It’s true! We’re building out the artists’ studios at the Mt. Airy Art Garage. And they’ll be ready for occupancy Nov. 1! We’re renting to MAAG members only. Hey what better reason to join? 6 studios built, 4 left! Get your application HERE!

Renewed Urban Studio Tent (RUST)…Innovative Design That Revitalizes Neighborhoods

If artists are to be relevant in today’s environmentally challenged world they have to acknowledge the world of refuse and abandonment in our community. Andy Walker and Andy Heisey have created a structure entitled Renewed Urban Studio Tent (RUST), which was built on the vacant lot (313 S. Broad Street) in Philadelphia. It was built from recycled materials such as old wood, glass bottles and much of the refuse that you find all around you. This was an actual artist studio which artists used to inspire them and create lively art. The purpose of this structure is to bring notice to the problems of urban renewal, pollution and abandoned housing.

Read on to hear from MAAG member artist, Andy Walker.

Hi Friends,

We hope you can attend our urban building project on the 313 S. Broad Street, right across from the Kimmel Center. This is a project that we are doing in association with the University of the Arts.

We are about to build our unique structure entitled the Renewed Urban Studio Tent (RUST). It will be created from recycled materials such as old wood and glass bottles. This structure will be an actual artist studio. There will be a show of work done in this structure at the Mt. Airy Art Garage in November. We are proud to announce the building dates, August 1-3rd, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm and opening date of RUST, Friday, August 3rd, 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm. We hope you bring small recyclables to the building dates and help us form the skin of the structure by placing the objects in slag cement.  On Friday, August 3rd at our opening please join us for food and drink as we celebrate our hard work.

This structure will help create awareness of such urban issues as pollution and abandoned houses. In November there will be a curated show of work done inside of RUST at The Mt. Airy Art Garage. This structure is to be recycled in this show at MAAG. The opening will be Saturday, November 10, 6 to 8pm. There will be a panel discussion on Sunday, November 11, 3 to 5pm on the topics of urban renewal, the role of artists in dealing with contemporary problems and how artists have already made positive changes in our world. We hope this discussion help bring out more artists interested in building our world and assisting in the changes that will be needed for the future.

On that same Sunday, November 11, we will be having a workshop, which will discuss the different ways you can recycle all different types of materials in your artwork. You can also use some of these strategies in decorating your home. We will be demonstrating how to reuse wood, old bottles and many other materials.  We also be discussing how to use photos and transfer them onto clay tiles. We hope you will join us for the workshop and later stay for the panel discussion.


Andy Walker & Andy Heisey



Quilters Club Launches at The Mt. Airy Art Garage

By Janet Meyers

I love quilts – I love to look at them, and I love to create them. But sometimes my sewing machine sits idle for weeks at a time. The demands of life can be so great that I have trouble finding the time or energy to be creative. I tried to find a local community of quilters for camaraderie and support but had limited success. Then I found the inspiration I needed at the Mt. Airy Art Garage (MAAG).

During Mt. Airy’s “Final-ly Friday,” MAAG hosted “Quiltapalooza” led by Sarah Bond, local quilter extraordinaire. Sarah taught us how to make “string quilts” using fabric scraps. I fell in love with this quick and easy technique which produces colorful quilt squares without the preplanning involved in a traditional quilt. What fun! I also found the community I was looking for. Many of the other quilters were also interested in meeting on a regular basis to share ideas and inspire each other. Thus the MAAG Quilt Club was born.

The first meeting of MAAG Quilt Club will be Saturday, June 30th from noon to 1:30. After that, our regular meeting time will be the 4th Saturday of each month. The group is free and open to all quilters – both members and nonmembers of MAAG.  Donations are always welcome. If you know other quilters who would be interested in joining us, please invite them.

We will have a “show and tell” at our 1st meeting (bring a quilt or one in progress) and will make plans for future meetings.  Also bring a snack to share.  For more information or to RSVP, contact Janet at 215-435-5977 or janmeyers@verizon.net.

MAAG Co-Founders Honored as DVLF “Wonder Women”

In celebration of Women’s History Month, the Delaware Valley Legacy Fund (DVLF) is recognizing some fierce female leaders in the Philadelphia LGBTQ community. To no surprise, on March 7th, MAAG Co-Founders Linda Slodki and Arleen Olshan were deemed as DVLF “Wonder Women.”

“Wonder Women” Screenshot from the DVLF Website

Zoe Strauss give Co-Founders a shout out

Still beaming with pride from their last public honor in WHYY’s Coming of Age this past June, Linda and Arleen had this to say, on MAAG’s Facebook site, in response to their recognition:

We are so proud and honored to have been chosen as Wonder Women and featured on today’s DVLF website. We are only as strong as the entire community that supports us. Many thanks again to everyone.

If Linda and Arleen are, indeed, only as strong as the community which supports them, then the Northwest has fostered the growth and cultivation of two truly inspirational individuals. Even photographer Zoe Strauss can’t resist taking time out of her busy schedule and current exhibition at the Philadelphia Art Museum to give them props!

Linda and Arleen, I think I speak for all of us when I say: May your dreams continue to evolve with the expansion of the Art Garage!

Breakfast Club This Thursday Feb. 16…It Just Keeps Getting Better

Breakfast Club Coordinator, Paula Mandel, fills you in:

Well, we had another stimulating Artists’ Breakfast! We had two local artists present their stories as well as some of their work. The first was Steve Segal, an editor, wordsmith, visual art director and designer of books in addition to being a writer. He combines form and function believing that “language is the art.” Steve currently works primarily with small book publishers of fantasy and fiction although previously he has run magazines. In his job at Quirk books, he edits books, designs book covers and serves as curator as he matches creators with projects (often using the online social gallery communities such as “deviantart.com”).

Steve shared several books that he had developed with the group. The absolute show-stopper was a stunning and creative boxed accordion book entitled “The Thorn and the Blossom” by Theodora Goss. It contains two stories utilizing the same characters. When read in one direction it conveys a love story;  the other, a murder mystery. This is modeled after one-of-a-kind books created by artists. It had just been published the day before and made a huge impression on the group.

Discussions about the costs of creating books and projects ensued along with marketing ideas. Many questions followed and ideas were percolating.

An equally impressive artist, Arleen Olshan (www.arleenolshan.com) has her studio set up in the Mt. Airy Art Garage. She proceeded to describe her training at Fleisher, PAFA, and PCA and multiple paths she had travelled in the art world which led her to creating custom hand-sewn hand-dyed leatherwork, utilizing gemstones and glass as decorative inclusions. It all began years ago when she needed a pair of sandals! Having recently retired from her day job as a drug and alcohol counselor with women and children in recovery, she set about working on her life-long dream to establish MAAG, a community-based center for the visual and performing arts. Arleen shared some of her accomplished representational portraits with the group and talked about utilizing our local shop PROFILES (www.profilesstudio.com), in Chestnut Hill to create huge digital scans of her work.

As necessary tools and suppliers become scarce for Arleen’s craft, she mentioned a need to replace a tool used for punching holes in the leather. Someone mentioned that there is a shop in or around Northern Liberties which utilizes digital drawings to create 3D tools from a hard plastic.

Our next MAAG Breakfast Club meeting will be as always, the third Thursday of the month 9-10:30 am. February’s date is this Thursday, February 16. See you then!