Archive for the ‘Reflections’ Category

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The Art Garden is sending a big


to Phyllis Labanowski for all of her hard work and dedication in co-creating our ARTeens program. We wish Phyllis the best as she moves on from ARTeens to pursue new opportunities and challenges. Phyllis’ work, including her grant writing skills, will now help sustain the program, since ARTeens was recently awarded a Mass Cultural Council YouthReach grant!

Stepping in to co-direct the program starting this fall, is Laura Iveson. Laura is a long time Art Garden board member, director of The Hilltown Draw-Around, and set designer with Hilltown Youth Theater where she works with children and teens to create large artworks.


Check out this video about ARTeens created by graduating ARTeen Micah Goldstein last spring. Micah credits ARTeens with helping her realize that being an artist is possible, and ART is what she wants to do with her life. She is now studying Animation in Montreal.



Our 2018-2019 Pay-What-You-Can ARTeens after school program is now accepting APPLICATIONS! In our 7-week Fall 2018 session, there are two ARTeens’ groups that meet on Tuesdays OR Thursdays starting the week of October 23rd and ending the week of December 13th.

Applications are due on October 10, 2018. Downloadable application below.


Questions? Please email csartgarden@gmail.com or call 413-625-2782



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Our Draw-Around was so fabulous,
parents had to drag their children home!


From noon to midnight on April 28th, children, teens and adults filled 5000 square feet of paper
with intricate, whimsical, tender, poetic, hilarious, and exquisite drawings, scribbles, stories, patterns and marks.


Thank you Laura Iveson
and the many many volunteers
(including ARTeen Micah Goldstein, pictured here with Laura)
who made it all happen!


Bringing people together
to create and play and be community
is a BIG part of The Art Garden’s mission.


Please support our work
and creative community events like our Draw-Around
by making a donation
on Valley Gives Day   Today!   May 1st

Every donation, no matter the size, helps us qualify for random prizes
throughout this 24 hour Day of Giving!

Click HERE to go to our Valley Gives page!

Super Honey Bunny and other Art Garden friends
are matching donations to help make our intergenerational studio accessible to all!


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Photo by Anna Goldstein

Before summer’s abundance of creativity begins (in and outside The Art Garden),
I want to share some enchanting images from the third Fabulous Hilltown Draw-Around: our 12-hour creative community art-making extravaganza that local artist and Art Garden board member, Laura Iveson imagined, organized, coordinated and made happen with the help of over 50 volunteers.

First hour of the Draw-Around captured by James Smith

“Creativity is a force of Enchantment!”

                                                                    —from Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Photo by Emily Crehan

One of the most magical things about the Draw-Around, for me, is how it draws out (sorry for the pun) the creativity in everyone:

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Photo by Emily Crehan

The historic Cowell Gym (where the Draw-Around takes place) is big enough to get lost in; after 12 hours the floor and walls were covered with exquisite and humorous testaments to private musings and communal exchanges:

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Photo by Emily Crehan

This year, 400 people became a part of something ephemeral and enchanting and bigger than ourselves; something that encouraged us to be ourselves, which is essentially what it means to be IN community.

Photo of local artist Nancy Katz ‘having a blast’ by James Smith

ARTeen Micah drawing her dad while her sister Anna takes photos

Thank you! Thank you, LAURA IVESON!

Photo by Nancy Katz

Thank you to the core group of movers and shakers who met for weeks to help shape the event. Thank you to the volunteers who showed up to prepare the space and clean it up afterwards.

Photo by James Smith

Thank you to everyone who helped during the Draw-Around, the artists who led workshops and community members who donated healthy food. Thank you Janice Sorensen for organizing and managing our Cowell Café! Thank you Reed Arahood for creating the Draw-O-Saurus:

Photo by James Smith

Thank you Samantha Crawford for creating the elaborate drawings that we enlarged to become the walls of our 3D garden coloring book:

Photo by James Smith

We are so grateful and enchanted!

Thank you local businesses for your support and Suzanne Conway for your whimsical tribute to them (and 12-hour drawing performance!)

Thank you to the following Local Cultural Councils for your support: Ashfield, Buckland, Charlemont/Hawley, Colrain, Conway, Deerfield, Heath, Leyden, Plainfield, Rowe, and Shelburne!

Thank you Phyllis Labanowski and ARTeen volunteers for welcoming everyone!

Photo by Phyllis Labanowski

All proceeds from the Draw-Around help support our ARTeens program.

Here are our current spring session ARTeens after Valley Gives Day
(which also supported their program!)

All this is what community looks like!

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Photograph by Laura Iveson. Graphic design by Jane Beatrice Wegscheider.

Photograph by Laura Iveson. Graphic design by Jane Beatrice Wegscheider.

The Art Garden invites you to participate

in the Community Exhibit:


Here’s how it works:

Reflect on the theme! winterwindow4blog

What are some

of the small things

in your life


make a difference

in the quality

of that life?

The pragmatic in me thinks:

paper clips,

twist ties,



tape, staples and scissors

(all indispensable small things

to a group of self-directed

elementary-aged artists.)


What are some of the small things you care about?


My list includes my friend Elisabeth’s beautiful, almost 70 year-old hands with their stubby thumbs, the fan of laugh lines that emanate from Bob’s eyes and the sound of John’s “How are you, Dearie?” on the phone.


















Do you recycle?


your elderly neighbor’s


volunteer at a







Skylar, Jen and Delia with mittens they made (from re-purposed sweaters) to give to families in transition.

Skylar, Jen and Delia with mittens they made to give to families in transition.


Are you contributing

[something small]

to the larger battles

against poverty,


habitat loss,




species extinction,




or hatred?


The small things we do add up.

Which is partially why we are doing this exhibit NOW.


We invite you to make “small” art that reflects your ideas, feelings, and/or interpretation of the theme: “Small Things Matter”.

Write a small


Create a tiny book

from a short story.

Make a small


collage, sculpture,

drawing, print,



& & &

All work (even written pieces)

must have dimensions (height, width, depth)

under 5″

(that includes borders and frames!)


Because of this size restriction, you can also mail your submission[s] to us at:

The Art Garden
4 Union Street
Shelburne Falls, MA 01370

Please include a SASE for return of your work and an Artist Information Form
(see below to download) to be included in the exhibit folder.

Deadline for submissions is January 25, 2017
(if you would like your work to be part of our Winter HooPla event and the official opening on January 28.)

Participation is free and open to all ages and experience. Work will be accepted throughout February and added to the exhibit after the opening, until there is no space left on the walls. Show closes April 1.


Email Jane Wegscheider at csartgarden@gmail.com or call 413-625-2782.


Downloadable form to complete for each submission:


mccbirdsinging4blogThis exhibit is supported in part by
the following local cultural councils:










& Shelburne!

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Handmade paper with poem by Sappho, Jane Beatrice Wegscheider

Handmade paper by Jane Beatrice Wegscheider. Poem by Sappho.



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Seven years ago, I condensed all of my hopes and visions for The Art Garden into the following Mission Statement:

The Art Garden seeks to create a nurturing, non-judgmental and inspirational environment where people of all ages and experience can engage in the creative process and the exploration and exchange of ideas through individual and collaborative art-making.  Relationships between materials, images, ideas, self, and community are cultivated with questioning, poetic vision and social/ecological consciousness.

I am so delighted that this statement IS TRUE about our work AND that it can be seen in the tiny Art Garden Alphabet book that is part of our 2016 annual appeal mailing!


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Every end-of-the-year we send out a visually embellished envelope, collaboratively written letter and small visual ‘gift’ that reflects on what we have accomplished in the past year, and who we are. Our hope is that the ‘who we are’  is conveyed not only in the words and images, but also in the physical form and sensual experience of a mostly hand-made gesture.

Thank you Laura, John, Elisabeth, Cheryl, Ardath, Kristen, Sam, Kate, Cosima and Reed for helping cut and glue art-stamps and fold, score and hand-bind over 500 tiny alphabet books!


Thanks also to Honey Bunny for her patient supervising!


Thank you Art Garden board members Kate Bailey, Candace Bradbury-Carlin, John Hoffman, Laura Iveson and James Smith for your collaboration and commitment to The Art Garden and our good work.

Thank you also to all of our [over 200 and growing!] individual supporters!
We would not be here without you.


If you would like to receive our 2016 mailing please email your name and address to csartgarden@gmail.com.
If you would like to support The Art Garden’s work, you can make a secure contribution using our donate button on this website.
You can also send a check (made out to The Art Garden) to our mailing address:
The Art Garden, 4 Union St, Shelburne Falls, MA 01370.


Good work = Light in the world!

Do good work!

Be the light our world needs in 2017!


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photo by Elaine Boucher

“What the World Needs Now” performance by Phyllis Labanowski and a group of intrepid Art Garden volunteers, 2014. Photo by Elaine Boucher.

May 3, 2016 is The Art Garden’s 5-year 501c3 Anniversary!

WE made it!
WE painted, sculpted, sewed, drew and collaged it!
WE invented, designed, organized, coordinated, collaborated,
and fund-raised it!

WE = you + me + The Art Garden’s hard-working Board of Directors
+ hundreds of people supporting our work with so many GIFTS:
donations of supplies, money and time…
all of us coming together to make The Art Garden truly
a Community-Supported Art-making place!


As a happy coincidence,

May 3, 2016 is also Valley Gives Day here in western Massachusetts.

Our Valley Gives fund-raising this year is dedicated to supporting our
2016-2017 ARTeens program.


Your support will make a difference in the lives of rural creative teens!

Please help make another year of this amazing Teen Art program possible
by donating here on May 3rd:




A very special thank you goes to artist and non-profit attorney Peter Chadwick, who first suggested our becoming a non-profit in 2010. He all but held our hands as he shepherded us through the legal process with kindness, skill and lots of clarifying emails. We are so grateful, Peter!

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During our last Community Exhibit, the 6 year-old grandson of one of our volunteers visited The Art Garden for the first time. He walked thoughtfully around the studio, asking questions as he looked at everything: the different supplies, images, objects, and variety of art works in the exhibit.

photo by Rick Miller

photo by Rick Miller

One of the pieces, titled “My Shoeless Soul”, caught his attention, and I asked him if he knew what a soul was.

“It’s what makes you YOU!” he replied, without a moment’s hesitation.


I wrote that down…
so that each day…
when I come into The Art Garden…
I am reminded:

what we do is



And strengthens us for the work of making this world a better place.

“In a real sense all life is inter-related. All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be…This is the inter-related structure of reality.”

—from Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail, 1963


Because winter can be a time for ‘going inward’, I encourage you to carve out time and space in this season for exploring who you are through your creativity.
If it leads you to The Art Garden, we’ll be delighted to see you!


Happy New Year!


For more about creativity:




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