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Arts Focus: Art on the ART Bus “Immigration/Assimilation”

This column is written and sponsored by Arlington Arts / Arlington Cultural Affairs, a division of Arlington Economic Development.

Few commuters would consider their morning rush to the office to be an artistic experience.

But thanks to the nine year-old Art on the ART Bus program — a partnership between Arlington Arts and Arlington Transit — instead of the ads for soap, salsa and soda that usually are installed in the overhead frames, thousands of Arlington commuters regularly experience original artwork as they head to their jobs.

The latest installation is Immigration/Assimilation, a series of collages by photographer Gail Rebhan. Currently installed on a specially-outfitted Arlington Transit (ART) bus that is scheduled randomly on routes which take it to different parts of the county each day through the Summer of 2020.

However, replicas of the panels are now on display in the lobby of the Ellen M. Bozman Government Center (2100 Clarendon Boulevard) through the Summer of 2019.

“Except for Native Americans, this country is made up of immigrants,” Rebhan said of the exhibit in a recent article in The Washington Post. “I really liked the idea of doing this as a public art piece and to foster empathy and understanding.”

The stories are varied and fascinating: from a Dominican who went from being a health club laundress to a Business Systems Analyst; to a family journey from indentured servitude in London, to plantation owners, to sharecropping, to real estate wealth.

Artist Gail Rebhan has fashioned these remarkable stories and artifacts from six Arlington residents and digitally assembled into thirteen panels that will be displayed inside the bus. The artist’s goal with this project is to convey a message of tolerance and to promote understanding.

The subjects for the project were identified with assistance from the Arlington County Department of Human Services.

Currently, there are two specially outfitted Art on the ART Bus vehicles in circulation, each scheduled randomly each day, bringing art to a different route through Arlington. The exhibit in the Bozman Center (2100 Clarendon Blvd) is free, and open during lobby hours.

For more information about the Art on the ART Bus program, click here.

Photos via Gail Rehban

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