Local, National and International Artists to Participate in

“Embrace the Future:  A Gala and Art Auction” to Benefit

the Clarkston Community Center, Friday-Saturday, July 14-15

ATLANTA – For the first time, artists from across Atlanta and around the world will contribute works for a silent and live auction of fine art paintings, sculpture, ceramics, jewelry and mixed-media works, along with handmade crafts including fiber art, baskets, metal works and more to benefit the Clarkston Community Center (www.clarkstoncommunitycenter.org). The two-part event, “Embrace the Future: A Gala and Art Auction”, will include an evening celebration and silent auction Friday, July 14 from 6-9 p.m., followed by a live auction Saturday, July 15 from 11 a.m.–5 p.m. Both will take place at Mason Fine Art and Events in Midtown, 415 Plasters Ave., Atlanta, Ga. 30324 (www.masonfineartandevents.com). Tickets to the Gala are $25 per person and will include international food, music, dancing, a silent auction and cash bar. Tickets may be purchased by emailing mark@masonfineartandevents.com. There is no charge to attend the live auction July 15. More details may be found at www.masonfineartauctions.com/events-1.

The art to be auctioned will be on display at Mason Fine Art and Events beginning July 1, 2017. A portion of the collection will be available for silent auction bidding during the Friday night Gala, with the majority of pieces to be auctioned the following day. Gala attendees may make early bids during the evening of July 14 for works included in the Saturday auction event. A special bazaar will be set up at the Gala by Sunavworld and will feature Nepalese artwork and bags.

Heval Kelli, M.D., Cardiology Fellow at Emory University School of Medicine, will be the guest speaker at the Friday night event, and will recount his journey from Syrian refugee to Emory doctor. Uhuru Dancers, a traditional African dance company, will entertain the guests. Food for the gala will be provided by Kushina Catering (Ethiopian), Surana Cuisine (Syrian), Rapid Gourmet (Caribbean), Teranga Catering Without Borders (Senegalese) and Chef Lernio Romero Prieto Private Catering (Venezuelan). Sponsors for the Gala and Art Auction include Pilgrims Pride Corporation, Stop & Save Group LLC and Asal Tax and Travel.

Mark Karelson, owner of Mason Fine Art and Events, and Cindy Bowden, executive director of the Clarkston Community Center, anticipate offering over 300 works for purchase. AMCgive will handle the auction. “We hope to assemble a wide-ranging collection from fine art to craft and folk art, with sale prices from many thousands of dollars to less than $100,” said Bowden, who has an extensive background in museum management and recently served as North American President of the World Craft Council, UNESCO. “Proceeds from the gala and auction will support a variety of programs offered by the Clarkston Community Center. In recent years, Clarkston has become a haven for families fleeing war, famine, poverty and disease. Our small community is currently home to people from more than 57 countries, many of whom need our help as they work to rebuild their lives here in the U.S.”

“Art can be a way to express thoughts and feelings that are difficult to verbalize,” said Karelson. “Through VSA Arts of Georgia, we created ‘Art as a Second Language’, an art project for a group of senior citizens including refugees as well as long-time Clarkston residents at the Clarkston Community Center. People who have experienced great trauma often find solace and healing through the creation of art. Working with the seniors led to the idea of hosting an art event to support the Center’s programs. We’ve assembled a committee to review the art submitted for the auction and are reaching out to a number of artists whose work is exciting, relevant and highly collectible.”

Alexi Torres and Shie Moreno head the artists’ committee, which will include works by many internationally known artists, some with strong Atlanta connections. Bowden is drawing on her many craft connections to involve world class craft makers. Photographer Shine Huang, a Chinese national and recent graduate of SCAD’s MFA program, is the featured artist on the event’s commemorative poster.


Registration is Now Open for STEAM-Plus Summer Camp

at the Clarkston Community Center, May 1, 2017

CLARKSTON, GA – Registrations are now being accepted for summer day camp at the Clarkston Community Center for children age 6-14.  STEAM-Plus is a dynamic, fun, day-long camp focused on improving literacy and academic performance and bolstering the confidence levels of low-income students, refugees, immigrants and native Georgians.  Camp will be offered Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. June 12-July 28, 2017, and includes daily breakfast, lunch and an afternoon snack.  The cost is $75 per week or $300 per student for a four-week session.  A limited number of DeKalb County vouchers will be accepted, but voucher holders must register for camp in person at the Clarkston Community Center by May 4.  For more information, call (404) 508-1050 or visit http://clarkstoncommunitycenter.org/the-steam-plus-summer-camp/.

“Here in Clarkston, our community faces extraordinary economic and cultural challenges,” says Cindy Bowden, executive director of the Clarkston Community Center.  “Nearly half of the children in our city live below the poverty line, plus 43 percent of our residents are refugees or immigrants who have arrived in the U.S. from over 57 different countries.  Our summer camp is designed to give these children the tools they need to succeed academically in a safe and enjoyable environment.  Plus, the camp experience builds stronger English language skills for those who are new to this country.”

The Clarkston Community Center’s STEAM-Plus camp emphasizes science, technology, art, math, English and social studies.  Core academic subjects are taught by certified teachers, and campers also will learn about 3D printing, computer programming and architectural design, strengthening their STEAM skills:  science, technology, engineering, art and math.  In addition to academic subjects, the students will have the opportunity to explore Eco-Art, painting, drama, dance, gardening, theatrical improvisation and movie-making.

“Clarkson has become a major refugee center, and is often referred to as ‘the most diverse square mile in America’,” said Bowden.  “Many of our community’s children are struggling to learn English, adjust to a new culture and succeed in school.  Some are lonely and isolated, and living in poverty.  Our summer camp, now in its fourth year, offers a safe and nurturing environment for about 82 low-income children and teenagers where they can learn important academic skills, explore their own creativity and have fun with kids their own age.  The camp also serves as a summer feeding site, ensuring these children receive nutritious meals and snacks during the summer school break.”

The STEAM-Plus Summer Day Camp is supported by Wells Fargo, BB&T, VisionFactory, The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, Something New and the City of Clarkson.


Fall Arts & Crafts Fair and Chili Cook-Off, Saturday Nov. 19, 2016

CLARKSTON, GA – The Clarkston Community Center will present two new fundraising events on Saturday, Nov. 19 beginning at noon. The Fall Arts & Crafts Fair and Chili Cook-Off will combine beautiful hand-made items with a tasty sampling of chili provided by businesses, restaurants, caterers and individual cooks. The Arts & Crafts Fair will begin at noon, and will feature jewelry, accessories, home décor and gift items created by international artisans, many of whom live in Clarkston. At 2 p.m., doors will open into the Center’s Angora Hall where ticket holders can sample various chili recipes, enjoy live music and win raffle prizes from 2-5 p.m. Members of the Atlanta Silverbacks professional soccer team will sign autographs and take pictures with attendees and the chili will be judged and prizes awarded. There is no charge to attend the Arts & Crafts Fair, but tickets are required for the Chili Cook-Off. Tickets are $10 in advance for adults and children age 6 and older, and $20 at the door for adults and $10 at the door for children age 6-12. Children age 5 and under will be admitted for free. Tickets may be purchased online at www.clarkstoncommunitycenter.org or at the Center, located at 3701 College Ave. in Clarkston.

Proceeds from the day’s events will benefit the Center, which serves over 40,000 people annually through educational offerings, recreational programs and community building. Those interested in participating in the Arts & Crafts Fair and/or competing in the Chili Cook-Off must register in advance and purchase a table to participate. “Many residents of Clarkston have relocated to DeKalb County from around the world, bringing with them their culture and their native arts and crafts. We thought it would be interesting to combine this international artistic showcase with the very Southern tradition of a chili cook-off. The day will literally be a blending of cultures and flavors, and should be a lot of fun,” said Cindy Bowden, executive director of the Clarkston Community Center. “I hope the local business community will generously support this event and families from all over the metro area will attend.”

The Clarkston Community Center Presents an International  Food & Wine Festival, Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016

International-food-and-wine-galaCLARKSTON, GA – The Clarkston Community Center will present an International Food & Wine Festival on Saturday, Sept. 10 in the Center’s Angora Hall.  The new event is designed to showcase the cuisine of many countries from which Clarkston’s international population hails, including Ethiopia, Nepal, India, the Caribbean, Thailand, Vietnam, Nigeria and more.  Guests will be invited to sample the various dishes, provided by area restaurants, as well as enjoy a collection of international wines.  The event is a fundraiser for the Center, which serves over 40,000 people annually through educational offerings, recreational programs and community building.  Tickets are $25 per person or $600 per table of eight, and may be purchased at the Center or online at www.clarkstoncommunitycenter.org.

“Clarkston is one of the most diverse small towns in the U.S., if not the most diverse,”CCD Dance (1) said Cindy Bowden, executive director of the Center.  “Our neighbors who have relocated to DeKalb County from around the world bring with them their culture, their language and their cuisine.  We thought it would be a lot of fun to host a fundraising dinner showcasing dishes from many countries now represented here in Clarkston, and hope to feature some chef demonstrations during the evening, too.  We won’t forget our roots, however, and will also offer several traditional Southern favorites!”

The International Food & Wine Festival will include music and dance performances.  A number of international dignitaries have been invited, including members of Atlanta’s Consular Corps.  Because the evening will include wine sampling, guests must be 21 years or older to attend.

“Seniors on the Go” at the

Clarkston Community Center, Aug. 18 2016

clarkston1CLARKSTON, GA – The Clarkston Community Center will host its first Senior Programs Showcase on Thursday, Aug. 18 from 10 a.m. – noon.  Seniors on the Go is a free event for adults age 55 and above to learn about the variety of programs, classes, workshops and social events available to older adults at the Clarkston Community Center, 3701 College Ave., Clarkston, Ga., 30021.  www.clarkstoncommunitycenter.org

“About 45 percent of Clarkston’s citizens are refugees,” said Cindy Bowden, executive director of the Clarkston Community Center.  “Children attend school, and many of the adults have jobs, but often older refugees sit at home.  If they don’t speak English or have access to transportation, they can become isolated and lonely.  The Clarkston Community Center provides many opportunities for seniors to learn, make friends and master new skills.  Our Senior Showcase will give seniors and their families a chance to see all of our programs at once and ask questions about them.”

During the event, instructors and program leaders will staff information tables detailing activities including English classes, cooking, sewing, art, music and computer skills, as well as life skills such as banking, handling legal issues and grocery shopping.  Attendees will be able to move from table to table, collecting information and learning what’s available.“We hope we will get a good response from the community and hope to make Seniors on the Go an annual event,” said Bowden.

Clarkston Community Center Shares “Best Practices” with Delegation from Portugual Seeking to Strengthen their Country’s Refugee Response


CLARKSTON, GA — Earlier this week (last week, yesterday), the Georgia Council for International Visitors and the U.S. State Department brought a delegation from Portugal to visit the Clarkston Community Center to meet with Executive Director Cindy Bowden, tour the Center and speak with the Center’s staff and local residents. This delegation is just the latest group of international dignitaries to visit the Center to discuss best practices to help manage the ever-increasing influx of refugees fleeing war, poverty and persecution in the homelands. “Over the past two decades, Clarkston, Georgia has become a refugee haven for people from over 57 countries,” said Bowden. “In fact, our community is often referred to as America’s most diverse square mile. The Clarkston Community Center was created to address some of the challenges that arise from bringing together people from different cultures, races and religions who speak different languages and have completed varying levels of formal education. We use the common themes of art, food and recreation to engage people, and offer specific educational programs for all ages including computer and technology training, English language, job skills, cooking, arts and crafts and performing arts. I am very pleased the State Department and Georgia Council for International Visitors have asked us to showcase our best practices to others who work with refugees.”

During their visit, the dignitaries dropped in on the Center’s summer camp, toured the athletic facilities, bicycle repair shop and community garden, and sat down with Bowden and her staff to discuss how the programs work, how they are funded and what type of government support is received. While in the U.S., the group will also visit Phoenix and Washington, D.C. The State Department’s goals for these international fact-finding missions are:

 To learn how central governments, states and municipalities develop policies regarding refugee resettlement and how this translates into implementation through procedures and best practices

 To observe how government and implementing agencies coordinate with each other throughout the relocation, reintegration and rehabilitation process

 To discuss why it is important to conduct assessments in health, psychology, language and cultural orientation

 To learn how central and municipal governments have shaped acceptance through public awareness and cultural sensitivity training campaigns

 To explore how the U.S. integrates security into the screening process

“Georgia welcomes between 2,500-3,000 refugees every year, many of whom become residents of Clarkston,” said Bowden. “They have gone through a lengthy legal process to be relocated to the U.S. and most seek to eventually become U.S. citizens. Each  refugee must first be officially recognized by the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees and then goes through a 12-step screening and security process. Once they arrive in our country, a large network of local organizations, including the Clarkston Community Center, aids the refugees in adapting to their new home and becoming self- sufficient through education and employment. My staff and I are happy to share both our success stories and challenges with officials from around the world as they put programs into place to help support their own refugees.”

 Registration is Now Open for Art at the Center and STEAM Camp at Clarkston Community Center

CLARKSTON, GA – Registrations are now being accepted for two summer day camps at the Clarkston Community Center: Art at the Center Camp and STEAM Camp. Both programs are open for children age 6-14 and will be offered June 6-July 28, 2016. Each week of camp will last from 8 a.m. – 2 p.m., Monday-Thursday and will include

breakfast and lunch each day. The cost per two-week session is $300 per child. After- camp childcare is also available for an additional fee. “Our summer camps are geared towards improving literacy and academic skills for low-income youth and teens in a fun, creative atmosphere,” said Andrea Waterstone, art and education director for the Center. “The camp experience also builds stronger English language skills for those who are new to this country and bolsters self-confidence for participants, especially for girls and young women.” Art at the Center Camp is taught by experienced teaching artists experienced in working with multicultural youth. Campers will explore and create eco art, assemblage art, painting, drama, dance, voice, improvisation, movie-making and gardening. Campers in the STEAM sessions will learn about 3D printing, computer programming and architectural design, strengthening their STEAM skills: science, technology, engineering, art and math. “Clarkson has become a major refugee center, and is now home to people from over 57 countries,” said Cindy Bowden, executive director of the Clarkston Community Center. “Many of our community’s children are struggling to learn English, adjust to a new culture and succeed in school. Some are lonely and isolated, and living in poverty. Our summer camp, now in its third year, offers a safe and nurturing environment for about 70 low-income children and teenagers where they can learn important academic skills, explore their own creativity and have fun with kids their own age. The camp also serves as a summer feeding site, ensuring these children receive nutritious meals and snacks during the summer school break.”

Art at the Center and STEAM Camp are supported by The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, Vision Factory, Something New, Théâtre du Rêve, the City of Clarkson and Georgia Council for the Arts

Clarkston Community Center to Host First-Ever

Workshop Open House May 15, 2016

The ClaDSC_7763rkston Community Center, which serves over 40,000 adults and children annually, will hold its first WorkshopOpen House, according to Cindy Bowden, the

new Executive Director of the non-profit organization. Scheduled for Sunday May 15 from 3- 5 p.m., the free event will include light refreshments and will feature performances and demonstrations including computer skills, dance, photography, music, drumming, cake- decorating and much more. The activities will take place in the Center’s newly- renovated special event space, Angora Hall, 3701 College Ave., Clarkston, Ga. For a list of worksops to be showcased, visit www.clarkstoncommunitycenter.org.

“Our Center is known for offering a wide variety of hands-on learning experiences for people of all ages, both new to this country and long-time residents. Our programs serve children, adults and seniors, and range from language lessons to job skills to arts and crafts and performing arts,” said Bowden. “We thought it would be educational and fun to bring a number of our workshop leaders together for an afternoon to offer a sampling of what is available to people of all ages here at the Clarkston Community Center. Guests will be able to try some of the activities, talk to the leaders and learn when the actual workshops will take place. Whether you want to improve an existing skill or try something new, we hope you will take advantage of what we have to offer.”

Cindy Bowden Named Executive Director

of Clarkston Community Center

Cindy Bowden Headshot 2016CLARKSTON, GA – Cindy Bowden, a long-time Atlanta arts and non-profit leader, has been named executive director of the Clarkston Community Center, according to Martha Talbott, chairman of the Center’s Board of Directors. In her new role, Bowden will oversee the Center’s numerous community services, especially those in the areas of art, recreation, education and community building. “The Board of Directors is thrilled to have found a new director with the depth of experience Cindy brings to the Clarkston Community Center,” said Talbott. “Thanks to her many years of working in the non-profit arena, Cindy has a track record of success leading and managing staff and volunteers, securing grants and other types of financial support, developing programs and growing the mission and outreach of community-focused organizations. Cindy is also extremely well-connected in the arts, non-profit, cultural and educational community, which will open the doors to new partnerships and programs for the Clarkston Community Center.”

Bowden served for nearly two decades as the Executive Director of the American Museum of Papermaking, located on the Georgia Tech campus. She also served as Executive Director of the American Association of Woodturners in St. Paul, Minnesota, and is the Founding Director of Bright Ring Foundation, an organization that assists artists and non-profits with sustainability and marketing. She has an active member of the Georgia Association of Museums and Galleries for over three decades and is currently serving as the North American President of the World Craft Council, UNESCO.

A graduate of Vanderbilt University, Bowden and her husband, Tom, live in North DeKalb and have a grown daughter.