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Home / Opinion / Old Town Monrovia report: MAFA-lous things to look forward to

Old Town Monrovia report: MAFA-lous things to look forward to

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By Shawn Spencer

Thanks to Ms. Mildred Lapson, a once longtime resident of Monrovia, our community has MAFA (Monrovia Association of Fine Arts). In the 1950’s Mildred, a renowned artist, saw that the fine arts were missing from the community. In an effort to enrich the lives of fellow Monrovians, she organized the first Monrovia Arts Festival in 1964. 

The festival led to the creation of the Monrovia Arts Festival Association, spearheaded by Mildred Lapson, and fellow Monrovians Harvey Brubaker and Ed & Katherine Ainsworth. As the association grew, adding more members and programs, the name was changed to Monrovia Association of Fine Arts.

Today, MAFA is an all-volunteer, non-profit organization that strives to carry on Mildred’s vision of enrichment through the fine arts. What a gift to our community! I cannot begin to list all that MAFA does, but I can share a few. MAFA brings art to underprivileged children by providing art workshops in partnership with Foothill Unity Center. They cultivate professional development for MHS and CalArts students and provide opportunities for their member-artists through the City’s Art in Public Places Committee. MAFA has developed its annual fine arts show to include the wildly popular Chalk Fest. 

During the pandemic, MAFA brought art to the community’s doorstep, literally, with two virtual chalk fests! They provided the chalk and families, students, children and professional artists brought all their talent to their front yards, drawing their art on their sidewalks and driveways.

MAFA will most certainly be enriching our community this week! They are sponsoring an arts and beautification program with Clifton Middle School. Thirty 5-foot square banners will be hung around portions of the school perimeter, featuring the artwork of our incredibly talented Clifton students. With the help of Lynch Sigh Co., these banners will be hung up for display this week! I live near Clifton and am so excited to see this every day.

MAFA has more in store for us. This summer there will be three Summer Art Walks in Old Town. The art walks take place on the last Saturday of the month in June, July and August, from 6 p.m. through 9 p.m., in the 400 block of Myrtle. On your way to or from dinner or a movie, you can stop by multiple stations and peruse a variety of paintings, sculptures, photographs, jewelry and more! Perfect for a post date-night stroll!

MAFA and the Community Center have teamed up to bring us the Artist Alley. It is a rotating gallery program that displays the artwork of four MAFA-member artists at a time. The artists are rotated every quarter and their work is hung for display and available for purchase. Join your community and fellow art enthusiasts on July 31, from 2 p.m. through 5 p.m., for the Artist Reception, featuring the newly rotating artists and their work. Delicious morsels will be served by Rivanis Baking Company, paired with a lovely selection from Wine of the Month Club all while Larry DiPeppe serenades us with his olive oil voice (points if you get the movie reference).

Whether you’re an artist, an art aficionado, if you just appreciate art or want to incorporate art into your life or your children’s, the Monrovia Fine Arts Association is a wonderful place to start. Keeping art in our community is so important. Art makes us flourish. It allows creative expression. It reflects cultural values and gives historical context. It chronicles our lives, experiences, and facilitates thoughtful discussions. 

If you are looking for a cause to donate to, MAFA is an excellent choice. Support the fine arts because art evokes harmonies in all of us. We fall in love with things of beauty. We try to engage with it in many different ways, be it music, poetry or art. What a splendid gift Mildred gave us all.

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