Art

Nicole Caracia’s formula for success is passion and hard work.  It is certainly paying off, to her advantage and for the benefit of the community served by the Chesapeake Arts Center (CAC) in Brooklyn Park, Northern Anne Arundel County.  Her new title of Artistic Director is one of many steps that have been the product of her tireless efforts and passionate interest in the arts and art education. Her love and commitment to art and the CAC are evident. 

“When I came to the Arts Center I felt it was my community.  I grew up in Anne Arundel County, and I’m familiar with the school system, the arts and what the county has to offer.  I felt I could bring my knowledge into the mix to develop programs that excite and engage the community.”

Growing up in Annapolis, Nicole has been around the local and Baltimore/Washington scene of musicians since the age of 15, going on tour, and was the girl behind the scenes.  Taking photography in high school, attending concerts and photographing at the venues five days a week, she became a professional photographer in five years.  She also fell in love with marketing at a very young age and she dove right in.  She learned from others and did whatever it took to gain experience and master it, which led to several exciting jobs in the field of performing arts including Ram’s Head box office marketing.

The Road to CAC

Chesapeake Arts Center
CAC Hal Gomer Gallery exhibit – Photo credit by Stephen Bradley

A little over six years ago, she heard that the CAC was hiring; she started as the Marketing Director and soon after, she added Gallery Director to her duties, managing the Hal Gomer Gallery and pop-up galleries.  Her desires and interest in the big picture of how the Center impacts the community led to multiple positions, and she has been the Program Director for four years, which has now led her to her new role as Artistic Director.  

A Director’s Role

Chesapeake Arts Center
CAC Children’s Class – Photo credit by Nicole Caracia

Nicole Caracia became the AD in April, but has been stepping into the role for longer than that.  Working in both the education and program departments, she has always felt that in order to make a strong community art center, there should be one common goal. Her goal is to bring education and programs (e.g. concerts, dance, installations) together, “In September we’re launching the first after-school dance theater program, and the kids will have an opportunity to put into practice what they learn through a live presentation. Our Community Outreach programming will continue to increase and provide opportunities for kids to be off the streets and use that time productively, MakerSpace projects and more.” Nicole reflects. 

Nicole the Artist 

Chesapeake Arts Center
Krafla Viti Crater in Iceland by Nicole Caracia

Nicole is an award-winning photographer and owner of Charm City Studios, she teaches photography, and she is the mother of two young children who are already interested in the arts. Her most recent exhibition is the result of her travels with a group of five other photographers traveling the ring of Iceland in six days, capturing the black sand beach, waterfalls, wild horses and northern lights.  No small feat! How does she manage it all?  She referred once again to passion and drive.  “The drive doesn’t stop.  You learn to manage your time, be organized and do what you can do within those times, and try not to miss opportunities.”

What it all Means

Chesapeake Arts Center
Nicole and CAC kids – Photo credit by Nicole Caracia

“I am privileged to work here.  I’m making a difference. You can really see the value of art, especially in children and how it conditions and positions you with skills for when they are adults.  Performing in theater helps speaking skills; ceramics work encourages dedication.  Artists learn to think out of the box and at different angles.”

Throughout our conversation, Nicole was quick to acknowledge that her voice alone won’t change the bigger picture.  But with her voice, and with the community working together, influence, inspiration, and change will be made.  To see it all unfold for yourself, be sure to check out one of the many events, classes, and performances that are coming up this summer. 

Patrice Drago

Patrice Drago is a full-time artist and freelance writer with a lifetime of experience in the travel and hospitality industry. Growing up in hotels up and down the East Coast from Maine to Florida she used her artistic and journalism skills to create a unique and adventurous career with Marriott International. Moving to Annapolis in 2002, she began a slow transition to focus solely focus on producing, writing about and supporting art and the art community. Patrice is an Artist In Residence at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, and she exhibits and sells her work in Maryland, New York and Maine. She writes the monthly Gallery Column for the Annapolis Capital newspaper, is an officer on the Boards of Directors of MFA (Maryland Federation of Art), and the newly revitalized Annapolis Arts District. Contact Patrice at: www.patricedragofineart.com or www.patricedrago.com.