Greenbelt in 2012

A photo blog about Greenbelt, Maryland in its 75th anniversary year

75th Anniversary Kick-off Event

with 2 comments

January 8

Artful Afternoon is an art program held on the first Sunday afternoon of every month at the Greenbelt Community Center. It is a Greenbelt tradition and usually includes hands-on art activities, open studios, and performances. The January 8, 2012 Artful Afternoon program also serves as the kick-off event for the city’s year-long 75th anniversary celebration, with a special address by the Mayor.

Signs in the Community Center hallway provide directions for an eventful Artful Afternoon program, including an exhibit of found-object sculptures and tapestries, an opera performance, tours at Greenbelt Museum, a free drawing, special 75th anniversary remarks by the Mayor, and a sale of 75th anniversary commemorative items.

The third floor of the Community Center houses studios used by several artists in residence. These artists usually teach hands-on workshops at Artful Afternoon programs, and this week Celestine Ranney-Howes, a fabric artist, is leading one on making wrist cuffs. Here she checks on the work of, from left to right, Caroline Casey (10), Yasmyn Switzer (10, Little Miss Greenbelt 2011), and Joseph Conaty (6), as Joseph’s mother Agnes Conaty of Laurel looks on. Below listen to a short interview with the artist Celestine Ranney-Howes.


Junior Miss Greenbelt 2011 Sarah Crank reaches for art supplies.

From left to right, Jonathan (8), Madelin (4), and Michelle Juarez (10) work on their wrist cuffs with the help of their mother Petra Sanchez.

Maggie Holland (6) and her father Matt Holland

On the third floor, artist in residence Tom Baker shows two visitors his studio which he shares with two other artists. Baker specializes in collage and mixed media and is one of the nine currently holding studios on the third floor of the Greenbelt Community Center.

Artist Tom Baker came to Greenbelt in 1991 and has been an art teacher at Gonzaga College High School in Washington, D.C. for 29 years. Below listen to him describe his career, the Reverse Pieta piece in front of him (which he made after his mother passed away), the unfinished collage painting behind him (based on Handel’s Messiah), and an animation project for Greenbelt’s 75th Anniversary (with George Kochell).


An artwork from a previous Artful Afternoon workshop is being dedicated at a gathering today in the Community Center. Here Mary Gawlik, a Greenbelt artist in residence who facilitated that workshop, is being acknowledged at the dedication.

Artist Mary Gawlik, right, and Diana Durkiewicz unveil the artwork as Greenbelt Mayor Judith Davis and Mayor Pro Tem Emmett Jordan watch on. It is a ceramic tile panel titled “Faces of Greenbelt” by participants in Gawlik’s workshop. Durkiewicz made one of tiles.

This dedication is part of Greenbelt’s 75th Anniversary celebration, and here Mayor Davis, center, leads Mayor Pro Tem Emmett Jordan, left, City Council Member Leta Mach, right, and others in a sparkling cider toast to Greenbelt. Below listen to audio from the dedication ceremony.


In the Community Center gym, the City Council appointed 75th Anniversary Committee has set up a table for commemorative items. A book of photographs from Greenbelt history has just been published in November in the “Images of America” series and sells for $18. A set of four commemorative tiles was designed by Mary Gawlik and Loraine DiPietro, both Greenbelt Resident Artists, and they feature the Old Greenbelt Theatre, a large tree in front of the library, Mother and Child statue at Roosevelt Center, and the Aquatic Center. A set of four costs $125 and an individual tile $35.

A large crowd has gathered in the Community Center gym, Greenbelt’s most important public meeting space since its founding, for the Mayor’s 75th anniversary address.

Mayor Judith F. Davis addresses the group: “Greenbelt began in October 1937 not only as a planned community under Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal program and the watchfulness of Eleanor Roosevelt but also as an incubator for social innovations. Cooperative housing and businesses, walkability with its underpasses and inner walkway system, a kindergarten, a recreation department, and a municipal pool—all of these first in the State of Maryland, environmental preservation, our beloved green belt, and improved quality of life for its residents. In addition, the Greenbelt project provided jobs, low-income housing, and a model for city planning. The ideals and philosophies planned back then are still in strong evidence today, much more so than the two other planned cities of that time. Because of this, Greenbelt is designated as a National Historic Landmark.”


Those who came to live in Greenbelt when the town was opened in 1937 have been called “pioneers,” and they are held in high regard in the city. Here Lee Shields, who came with his parents Bill and Nona Shields in November 1937 when he was three months old, is being acknowledged. Mr. Shields told me after this event that in 1942 he had his Sunday School debut right here in this room. He now lives with his wife in a GHI frame house.

Another pioneer child Bob Sommers is being acknowledged. Mr. Sommers came with his parents James and Anna Sommers, a family of four boys. He is now 88 and lives in College Park.

Mayor Davis shows the new Greenbelt photo book.

Mayor Davis calls on those 15 years and under to stand up: “You are our future pioneers. You are the ones who will carry on our city’s ideals and create an even better Greenbelt. We look forward to your ideas and your service.”

At the conclusion of her address, Mayor Davis leads everybody in a joyous chant, “Greenbelt is Great!”

This Artful Afternoon program concludes with a performance of a portion of Mozart’s “The Impresario (Der Schauspieldirektor)” by Bel Cantanti Opera.


Written by eric

January 9, 2012 at 1:19 am

Posted in Anniversary, Art, History

Tagged with , , , ,

2 Responses

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  1. […] For photos of January’s Artful Afternoon, see my earlier post. […]

  2. […] artists-in-residence Tom Baker and Gina Mai Denn. I visited Baker’s studio before during January 8’s Artful Afternoon and I will try to see Ms Denn in her studio at a future Artful Afternoon open house. Share […]

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