More and more Columbia Pike families are showing up at the “Art Swap” at Arlington Mill Community Center. In March, over 20 attendees swapped art pieces they had just created under the guidance of Jennifer Droblyen, Community Arts Programmer with Arlington County’s Parks and Recreation Department, Creative Resources Section. During the event, the room is abuzz with laughter and excited chattering.
The goal of the pilot program is to create an opportunity at Arlington Mill for community members to make art, socialize among themselves, and at the same time promote the arts in Arlington’s west end. Participants work in various mediums, from oils to water colors to collage, learning from one another in a safe, welcoming and fun space. When they finish their projects, Droblyen distributes raffle tickets and the art swap begins. It’s a chance to trade and network with other artists.
Droblyen has worked as an Arts Programmer for Arlington Parks and Recreation since 2008, after teaching stints at The Phillips Collection and St. John’s Community Services in Washington, D.C., as well as the Bruce Museum of Arts and Science in Greenwich, Connecticut. She also runs a small business, Art Engage LLC, which presents art appreciation and art-making programs to residents living in group homes. An accomplished mixed media artist herself, Jennifer’s work can be seen in current shows at Artomatic and Baked & Wired in Georgetown. She finds inspiration, she says, “taking a natural and ordinary object and making it extraordinary.”
Also inspired by a presentation at the National Art Educator’s Association annual convention, Droblyen collaborated last October with Susan Soroko, Director of Creative Economy for Arlington Economic Development (AED), to develop “Art Swap”. It’s a monthly pilot program that uses the gallery/retail space at the Arlington Mill Community Center. The event is free and open to all artists and crafters.
Soroko says blending cultural activity with a vibrant community was a perfect fit for Arlington Mill — “an easy ‘yes!’” She notes that AED’s partnerships with County Departments such as Parks and the Library have been essential to the economic development intent of enlivening the Arlington Mill retail space and attracting a tenant.
The next Art Swap at Arlington Mill Community Center is April 30 from 1:00 to 3:30 p.m.
1:00 – 2:00 p.m. Bring your own artwork or art supplies to create a piece to swap.
2:30 – 3:00 p.m. The swap begins! Raffle numbers are drawn, artwork is selected.
The Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization (CPRO) supports this event by providing light refreshments and volunteering the time of Nicole Watkins, who participates as Droblyen’s assistant.