May 8, 2013

Imagining the Gourd Palace

In the coming weeks, you might notice some construction taking place on the grounds of AAC. But instead of noisy bulldozers and endless orange cones, expect to see fresh, tilled soil and stacks of bamboo and metal rods. This weekend, the Arlington Arts Center and Baltimore-based artist Doug Retzler, in collaboration with Arlington Public Art, will begin building the skeleton of what will eventually become the Gourd Palace.

The winning design for AAC’s Gourd Palace was inspired from a model made by Chloe F. of Arlington’s H-B Woodlawn Secondary School. Earlier this spring, Retzler and AAC’s Exhibitions Coordinator, Catherine Satterlee, visited both H-B Woodlawn and Tuckahoe Elementary School to recruit the designs and ideas of over 150 students. The students were challenged to create a structure that was both aesthetically pleasing as well as architecturally durable and secure. After all, the numerous gourds that will eventually grow and hang from the structure will weigh up to 30 pounds each!  The students tackled the project with enthusiasm and unparalleled creativity, and some of their work can be seen in AAC’s Jenkins gallery.

H.B. Woodlawn students work on their designs using pipe cleaners and foam board for the Arlington Arts Center Green Acres Exhibition Summer 2013
H-B Woodlawn students sketch their designs before using pipe cleaners and foam board to build a model.

Retzler’s vision for the Gourd Palace is to create a living sculpture that illustrates our connection to nature and the important place it has in the lives of children and adults alike, particularly in an urban environment. Through community involvement, the Gourd Palace will serve as a common meeting place for both neighbors and visitors of this Arlington neighborhood. It will be a place to share stories, relax to music in the cool shade, and partake in workshops related to agriculture and environmental stewardship.

Artist Doug Retzler high atop his Gourd Palace Spirit House frame at Arlington Arts Center for the Green Acres site-projects Summer 2013
Artist Doug Retzler

Be sure to keep up to date with AAC’s programming throughout the summer.  In conjunction with Doug Retzler’s Gourd Palace, AAC will also be hosting our summer exhibition GREEN ACRES, an interactive art venture focused on the topics of food, agriculture, urban farming and livability. Read all about it here!

The Arlington Arts Center would like to thank Faylinda Kodis, Nancy Libson, Sarah Archer and the fourth grade teachers at Tuckahoe Elementary school for their help and guidance in the design phase of The Gourd Palace.

We need volunteers! Over the summer, we’ll need lots of help “tendril training” the gourds. If you’d be interested in helping as a tendril twirler, raising a gourd seedling, or other general gardening duties, shoot us an email at information [at]

– Written by Jenni Myung, AAC GREEN ACRES Marketing Intern

This exhibition is made possible by an Emily Hall Tremaine Exhibition Award. The Exhibition Award program was founded in 1998 to honor Emily Hall Tremaine. It rewards innovation and experimentation among curators by supporting thematic exhibitions that challenge audiences and expand the boundaries of contemporary art.

Emily Hall Tremaine Exhibition Award


Artist Talks with Andrew Barco and Elliot Doughtie

Saturday / October 21 / 1pm-3pm

Join artists Andrew Barco and Elliot Doughtie for conversations about their solo exhibitions currently on view at MoCA Arlington.

Neon Nights: Gala & Silent Auction

Wednesday / September 27 / 7pm

Join us on Wednesday, September 27 for a special gala and silent auction to benefit the Museum of Contemporary Art Arlington. Tickets range from $250 to $500 and include a 3-course dinner, silent auction, and the joy you’ll feel knowing you’re supporting the museum! Can’t attend? Consider sponsoring an artist to attend in your place!

MoCA on the Move at Met Park

Sundays 10am-12pm

MoCA Arlington at Met Park
Fun for the whole family! No Experience Required offers playful art making activities for children (and their curious adults) every Sunday morning. There will be collaborative, community-built art works, and opportunities to “make and take” works, too.