About East Arlington Story Project

About East Arlington Story Project

Arington Public Art's next project in East Arlington will explore the neighborhood's character and diversity through portraits of local independent small businesses.  APA is working with a collaborative team of artists -- led by Cedric Douglas, Julia Roth and Nilou Moochhala -- to collect the stories of some of the owners, employees and customers that make East Arlington so interesting.  This fall, look for giant portraits -- temporary murals made of wheatpasted paper -- to appear on walls along Massachusetts Avenue in Capitol Square.

GET INVOLVED - BE THE PUBLIC IN PUBLIC ART!

We invite you -- whether you live or work in Arlington or just like to visit -- to nominate a favorite businesses for a portrait by sharing a story.  We want to understand WHY these businesses are important to you.  What are some of your memorable moments from time spent in the restaurants, cafes, bakeries, shops, artmaking spaces, and other storefronts in East Arlington?

WHY STOREFRONT BUSINESSES?

Ask someone from East Arlington what they love about their community, and they will talk about the feeling of living in a small town, knowing their neighbors, running into friends wherever they go.  They might next add being near nature -- Spy Pond, the Bike Path.  Keep them talking a little more, and they will for sure mention a favorite restaurant or store, one of the diverse small businesse which give East Arlington a "village center" along the edges of fast moving Massachusetts Avenue. In a compact area, you will find places to buy birthday cupcakes, make art, learn African drumming, or drink coffee with friends.  An art gallery, a typewriter repair store, barbershops and salons, countless places to eat. 

We are guessing that some of these places have been in a family for generations and are run with a strong sense of tradition.  Others storefronts represent someone's imagination, a place they had dreamed of owning while working for others, and finally succeeded in making real. Some owners are recent immigrants, and their hair salons or restaurants bear traces of faraway places just as their voices carry the accents of another language.  Other owners were raised close by, and decided to stay in the town where they grew up.

In East Arlington, storefronts provide an intriguing "in-between" place. We often know the owners and employees well -- we might even see some of them every day.  Their establishments are not quite public spaces, but community life does unfold inside their walls. Of course, business owners need to earn money to survive, but this is Main Street not Wall Street, and customers can often tell that creativity, self-expression, and pride matter as much as profit.  And we value what they contribute to the quality of life in the neighborhood.  The Storefront Stories project seeks to discover:  who are the people who have shaped the local businesses in East Arlington, and what are their stories? 

Project artists Nilou Moochhala, Julia Roth and Cedric Douglas with stories shared during Feast of the East.

Read about East Arlington Story Project in the Arlington Advocate!

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