Happy New Year!

I write this while in Mystic, Connecticut enjoying the holidays with my family. Sitting here this morning listening to the wind howl as it moves through the natural and constructed landscape outside my window, I think about my family of origin and my AAG family, and the impact of both on my life.  Reflecting on the year that is ending and contemplating the one about to begin, I find myself proud of what we have accomplished and excited by what lay ahead.

2016 was an expansive year. We opened the door to partnership with other arts organizations, strengthened our administrative and organizational structure, refined our website and increased our social media presence. Membership is on the rise – but more important, so is member involvement- more members are participating in guild events! That tells me we are on the right path and you like what we are doing.

Working with the Arizona Arts Commission we are expanding our outreach program. Karen Wintergartner, David Bradley, and I are participating in their Creative Aging/Generations Lab program. We recently met with the Commission to review our already impactful Outreach Programs and plan our expansion. Working closely with the Commission we are building partnerships to assist us in reaching our goals. We expect to have a working plan in place by May.  Stay tuned for more details!

Following Art Smith’s brilliant instruction on mandalas, I led an impromptu calligraphy session at the first StreetlightsUSA class. The girls left the class equally uplifted and ignited. True to form, we had more volunteers than students, speaking volumes to the heart of our community.

Our Veterans Program continues in its vibrancy under the helm of David Bradley, Art Smith, Lisa Wyman, and Mark Woehrle.  Entering its fourth year the Veterans have established a community within AAG that supports, nourishes, and inspires. Giving back to those who have generously given of themselves is rewarding and humbling.

With Karen Wintergartner, Art Smith launched a class for non-English-speaking refugees at an adult day center. This program is positively impacting the lives of adult immigrants who are often overlooked as they are no longer in the work force and are isolated from regular community building experiences.

Many AAG members exhibited in the Arizona State Fair, with several winning awards. What few people may know is that David Bradley worked closely with Fair Director, Chi Isiogu to improve the quality of the exhibit.  Among the work they did together was to rewrite the prospectus,  review the juror selection process, and create the veterans art exhibit.

The Fine Arts Fiesta in Spring and Fall were hugely successful not only in money raised, but also in attendance and increased fun! Expanding the event, the Artstravaganza as it has been renamed is on March 10, 2017.  Save the date!!

Speaking of fundraising, the Art Supply Exchange continues to thrive as one of AAG’s most successful fundraising program.  Alicia Plogman and Alice Pelchat work tirelessly to fill the shelves with materials to foster our creative experimentation.

With the closure of Gallery Glendale we are forging new relationships with other venues for next year’s Statewide Exhibition. In doing so we are increasing community awareness to a broader audience.

These are just some of the past and future highlights that come to me in this morning’s reverie. Please pardon if I overlooked anything.  As I look toward the upcoming year, I see it full of transformative and creative possibilities for all.

On a personal note, may the new year treat you kindly, inspire you wildly, and fill you with unexpected and welcomed experiences.

Tess

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