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June 10, 2009 > Arts website fosters creativity and connection

Arts website fosters creativity and connection

By Julie Grabowski

The Art Association of the East Bay (AAEB) continues their quest for community connection through the arts with the launching of their new website Begun in conjunction with the now dissolved Union City Friends, AAEB was officially launched in March 2007 as a non-profit organization focused and committed to the arts. "AAEB wants to nurture artistic and cultural activities, but also promote economic opportunities for local artists and arts organizations through events and grants," says President and founder Diane LaMountaine. "We believe the arts are essential, having a vital and necessary impact on individuals, starting with our youth, organizations, businesses and civic leaders."

Addition of a website helps to expand that desired impact, providing widespread access for the community to get involved in a number of ways. The site offers information on classes and events, invites artists to submit examples of their work and businesses to learn about opportunities to host custom art shows, as well as listing background and contact information for current AAEB Art Member artists.

Along with their established annual events, AAEB continues to introduce new opportunities for artists to share their talents with the community. Current support includes Logan High School's recent art show in the lobby of Century 25 Theatre in Union Landing. Hoping to be one of many student showcases, the two-week event allowed over 60 students the opportunity to present their art projects to the public. Ladies Xpress is a new program for young women attending Conely Carballo High School which hopes to empower and unify young women through creative art and self-expression. Led by Lilia Reynosa, the girls will create a mural whose theme is "rising above hate, violence, and abuse." AAEB will fund materials and provide artistic assistance, as well as help find a public location for presentation and permanent home.

July through September, individual artists are featured in a 30-day show presenting diverse art at all levels. "We are amazed at the artists that come our way," says LaMountaine. "It has been exciting and an honor to explore the best way to position each one and support them." Exhibits will be held within local businesses and high traffic areas. Dr. Nejad of Chirosports USA in Union City will host the first show Saturday, June 13 which will include appetizers, wine tasting, and chocolate along with a silent action to benefit AAEB. The show runs through July 10 featuring local artists Liz Chavoor, Charls Fosterwhite, Angie Villegas, Ann-Marie Haley, Debra Collins, and Kate Lipman.

An annual favorite, Union City's Fall Festival of the Arts takes a hiatus this year to make room for the celebration of the city's 50th anniversary but will return for its 6th year in 2010. The event is expected to be bigger and better with a new location in Union Landing offering diverse and individual art, including oil, watercolor, pottery, sculpture, jewelry, recycled redwood planters, refined graffiti art, and rock fountains set to the music of local bands and dance groups. It is followed by the second appearance of the Fall Holiday Art Show, running November through December in Niles Gallery.

In keeping with their desire to grow the arts, AAEB awards a Young Artist Grant each year for applicants 14-21 years old, providing the selected artist with funds for materials, and showcasing their work in a 30-day show. An Art Teacher/Mentor Grant is also given.

Founding member and Senior Advisor Bob Swartz says "incubation" is a key word in the aims of AAEB, to foster new ideas and give people a good start for their creative endeavors. The Website provides a necessary tool to keep up communication, helping people discover AAEB and what they're trying to accomplish. "Art is great for the community, an avenue of expression across all ages and groups," says Swartz. "It gives everybody a chance to get involved."

AAEB Vice President Linda Fernandes agrees. "Art doesn't know race, age, or background, it just connects and facilitates. It's ageless, timeless." As an avid self-proclaimed patron of the arts, Fernandes sees AAEB as a core group responsible for making sure local talent gets the exposure and support they need. She stresses the importance of art being visible and highlighted, even in difficult economic times, of providing showcase opportunities and sponsoring, attending, and purchasing where possible.

Join AAEB in their commitment to grow and enrich the community through the arts and visit

Saturday, June 13
4 p.m. (please RSVP)
Show runs through July 10
Chirosports USA
1780 Whipple Road, Suite 105, Union City
(510) 475-1858

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