Art All Night: A Tenleytown treat

photo by Dakota Fine/

Photo courtesy of

Annette Leber

I volunteered for four hours on September 29 at Art All Night in Tenleytown. Art All Night is an annual art festival where artists, both professional and aspiring, are invited to share their work in cities all around the US on the same night. There were visual artists, henna tattooists, musicians, dancers, clothing designers, jewelry makers, and sculptors from all backgrounds.

I volunteered at Janney Elementary School for the first two hours of the night. We had tubs of paint markers and people were able to use them to write their hopes and dreams for the future on the boards. I found it fascinating to see so many people participate. There was a wide range of aspirations from “Potty Training” and “For unicorns to be real!” to “No harm against animals” (the kid who wrote that also drew some red fish next to that one for good measure).

One person I met during my time volunteering there was an elderly man. His hope for the future was “I wish I am an American.” He was from Ethiopia; he drew a map of Africa to show me where that was and how far he’d come just to be in America.  

My next volunteer shift was at the Welcome Center, a tent set up in the parking lot by Sport and Health Gym where they sold the t-shirts and gave out pamphlets for the event. My friends and I stood outside the Tile Shop and passed them out, which gave me an opportunity to meet and talk to so many different people. It was amazing to see how many people were visiting from other countries. I heard so many languages and I didn’t know where half of them were from.

I met these two ladies who came all the way from Germany. They told me about how art festivals such as this one were a big thing in Germany and they wanted to know what they were like here in America.

Once my last hour of volunteering was finished, I was able to walk around and look at some of the other exhibits. There was a harp player in the Tenley-Friendship Library which added to the ambiance and overall theme of the event. In Middle C Music, a man made pictures and keychains that were shaped like instruments out of the inner workings and gears of clocks.

This experience was so enlightening and showed me just how much love and support there is in this world. In the Tile Shop, I met a girl named Amber Shemesh who came all the way from Tampa, Florida. She made really neat visual art: ink drawings, photographs, and colorful paintings. This was her second time participating in Art All Night and she really enjoys it because, “it doesn’t feel too elitist and, like, professional in a sense that it’s exclusive, so I think it’s really cool how inclusive the environment is and how anyone can participate.”