Arlington Credit Union Partners with Columbia Pike Artists Studios

Photo: (L to R) ACFCU Staff: Bill Maher, CFO; Chris Sundlof, Vice President, Member Experience; Kim Plaugher, COO; Karen Rosales, President & CEO; and Jim Wilmot, Vice President, Lending.

How can a local business support Arlington’s creative economy? Find out by visiting the lobby of the Arlington Community Federal Credit Union (ACFCU) on the west end of Columbia Pike. You’ll think you’ve entered an art gallery.

It’s a perfect example of a locally-based financial institution shining the spotlight on the vibrancy that local artists bring to the local community.

How did it come about? Last fall, Karen Rosales, President & CEO of ACFCU, and Susan Soroko, Director of Creative Economy for Arlington Economic Development (AED), both attended an exhibition at the Columbia Pike Artists Studios (CPAS). They were so excited by the talent they saw there that they decided on the spot to form a partnership to expand the places these artists could show their work — right in the lobby of a Credit Union branch.

“Karen and I both thought it would be a great way to provide much needed gallery space and support for our community,” said Soroko.

Photo: Karen Rosales, President & CEO of ACFCU and Susan Soroko, Director of Creative Economy for Arlington Economic Development.

They called their project “Art on the Pike”. ACFCU transformed its branches on Columbia Pike and North Glebe Road with professional installations of the work of fourteen CPAS artists. They held a reception in November attended by about 60 people, including CPAS founder Anne Hancock, Arlington Cultural Affairs Director Michelle Isabel-Stark, Arlington Arts Commissioner Marsha Semmel and CPRO Executive Director Cecilia Cassidy.

The credit union received such a favorable response from members and others in the community, they decided to keep the artwork up indefinitely, encouraging a rotation with other artists as the pieces sell. Everyone from preschool children to business executives to County staff on lunch break take a few moments from their banking chores to enjoy the art hung from wall to wall. “It’s amazing to see art from local artists right on the same street where they may have created it” said a local member who visits the branch once a week.
“We have such incredible artistic talent here in Arlington” said Rosales. “We were thrilled to support CPAS , and we loved working with Arlington Economic Development (AED) on the project. AED and its division of Strategic Partnerships foster a creative environment that encourages collaborations across the for-profit and non-profit sectors.

“We are committed to supporting vibrancy and business engagement along Columbia Pike” she said.

Visit the work of the CPAS artists at Arlington Community Federal Credit Union at 5666 Columbia Pike Falls Church, VA or 2130 North Glebe Road, Arlington VA. You don’t have to be a member to peruse the galleries!

About Columbia Pike Artist Studios (CPAS)
CPAS was founded in 1989 when a passionate group of visual artists raised funds to convert a large retail space on Columbia Pike into studios. For nearly 25 years, the organization has provided working spaces for painters, sculptors, print makers, collage artists, illustrators, and photographers. Though only open to the public a few times a year, CPAS has benefited from its relationships with neighboring businesses since its inception, and members continually strive to engage with the local community.

About Arlington Community Federal Credit Union (ACFCU)
ACFCU has exclusively served the Arlington community for over 60 years, serving those who live, work, learn, volunteer, worship, or do business in Arlington. The credit union’s mission is to improve the financial lives of all members, but their passion extends deep into other aspects of community building as well.
ACFCU believes in being a good neighbor to fellow Arlingtonians. They partner with Arlington Public Schools to operate In-School Branches in elementary and high schools. They conduct financial education classes at various locations in the community in both English and Spanish. Their staff donates hundreds of “people-hours” to various charitable causes and local events that are embraced by Arlingtonians. Each year the staff disburses into the community on a designated day to work with various non-profit organizations also dedicated to supporting the county.
CEO Karen Rosales currently serves as President of the Leadership Center for Excellence (formerly Leadership Arlington) and COO Kim Plaugher serving as Treasurer on the board of the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization.