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Promoting the Arts in Medford: Featuring Medford Arts Center, Inc. and Artworks in2shades

By Kristen Bosse

Today we turn to a topic that has caused quite a debate recently among educators and community advocates. There is so much talk right now in the education world about the importance of the arts. Many people, even politicians, believe that funds should be taken away from the arts and focused more on math, science, English, and other educational initiatives. This has created a huge backlash within each community, with parents and children imploring that participating in various arts activities is imperative for each child and adult. Not only does this make each person a more well-rounded individual, but it provides an outlet for emotional expression.

In fact, a recent article by Elizabeth Segran titled "Why Top Tech CEOs Want Employees with Liberal Arts Degrees", explained why tech companies are now veering elsewhere, stepping away from the normal math major and looking for those that are more in tune with humanities and the arts. This proves that arts initiatives must be sustained and made as accessible as possible for the community. But where is the practice? We can talk all we want, but if we don't put money where our mouths are, we are still saying the arts are unimportant. Two organizations in Medford are stepping up and providing some amazing art programs to their town. Lets take a look.

Medford Arts Center

The Medford Arts Center, Inc. is a non-profit geared to encourage and promote an appreciation of the arts in Medford and provide a vehicle in support of Medford artists. Over the years, MACI has offered opportunities for artists to exhibit their work in various venues and by holding artist events and shows.

Perhaps their most popular and widely attended event was their Doc Kountze Arts Festival, a month long festival featuring a variety of artistic genres- music, poetry, art exhibits and film. The event eventually morphed into the Doc Kountze Film Festival, which ran for five years until 2012. The festival was named after Mabray Kountze, a local newspaper columnist also known affectionately as "Doc", and began over ten years ago when artist Adele Travisano originated the group Medford Arts and Artists and planned the first window art displays in West Medford Square (Adele's portrait of Doc pictured below). The town, and especially Adele, hold a special place for Doc and loved holding an event to share his memory and promote the arts. Other events include their "Off the Square Screening" Room, held at Hyatt Place, the "Spoken Word Salon" held monthly at the town library, and their newest program "Making Art Together", which consists of classes for children and their parents.

Mike Oliver, President of MACI, has been a strong community advocate of the arts from some time. His involvement with the MACI organization, as well as other art programs in Medford has been astounding. "The arts are an important part of every community", Oliver claims. "It helps to foster creativity, communication, and learning in each and every town." Although Oliver and his team have already done an amazing job in promoting art, their goals for the near future are even more inspiring: 1) Establishment of an arts center as a community resource for the arts, 2) Providing a space through the Medford Arts Center for exhibitions, classes, etc., 3) Implementing activities to exhibit and encourage artistic growth, and much more. The Medford Arts Center will always strive to provide a forum where artists can come together to create, exchange ideas and grow in their art. For more information please contact medfordartscenter@gmail.com.

Artworks in2shades

Originally opening its doors in 1990, Artworks in2Shades caters to children and adults alike, providing fine art classes for a range of ages. Their teaching structure focuses on art fundamentals by using a variety of art materials to help students express themselves and create the way that each individual is meant to create. One of the great things about their studio is that although its appearance mirrors a professional studio, the classes are more nurturing in nature, which encourages children and adults to express themselves creatively.

Owner and Director Maryellen Conway commented further on what really makes her studio something special. "What differentiates us from many other art schools is that we combine master teaching of fine art with love and laughter so our students have fun and are excited to come back again and again." Whether you're a beginner or expert, the instructors make each class fun with simple step-by-step painting classes, some of your favorite music, and a fun environment. No experience necessary! Classes are available for young artists, older teens, and adults. Too nervous to join the hustle and bustle of a lively classroom? Feel free to try out their private art lessons with one-on-one instruction.

As a member of CACHE (Coalition for the Arts, Culture and a Healthy Economy), a Medford non-profit organization, in2shades takes part in three annual community based events sponsored by CACHE: "Circle the Square" which takes place in Medford Square on the third Thursday during the summer months, "Arts Across Medford" every October, and the "Mystic River Celebration" where they offer free Fine Art classes all day at the events.

Another one of the amazing things about in2shades is the true passion their staff members feel about the power of art and what it can do for those who choose to practice it. Art allows others to express themselves in a non-verbal way, and interpret the world in their own unique way- with a brush! "The arts also teach us that there is often more than one solution to a problem", Conway states. This statement, and the overall philosophy of in2shades, encourages their artists to explore their own vision of things and paint, sculpt, or draw it as they see fit!

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Kristen has written impressive content including press releases and feature stories...

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