Mona Lisa, the most famous smile in the world, was covered with cake and frosting in the Louvre Museum in Paris by a male climate protester dressed to look like an old woman in a wheelchair.

"I think his point was environmental, but I don't understand the connection between smearing cake across something that's considered an archetypal masterpiece of the Italian Renaissance, that's been described as the best-known, most visited work of art in the world, and saving the planet? I think it was asinine, quite frankly," said Karen Charbonneau-Zukas, Founder and Executive Director of the New Bedford Arts and Cultural Emporium.



Thankfully, no one is smearing cake on anything at the Emporium.

"Our purpose is to bring arts and culture to the masses locally, through our classes and workshops, but we also sit artists into the lives of the general public, which means if you're looking for a mural to be done in your living room, we'll get you in touch with the right people," Charbonneau-Zukas said.

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This week, the Emporium will be featuring a list of at least 50 different summer arts programs that will be posted on its website.

"We are like the art school you never went to," Charbonneau-Zukas said. "We're the dream of a lot of people because art school is expensive, it's semi-futile unless you're a specialist of sorts in graphic arts, so here we are to help people bring out their artistic energy that they've been suppressing."

At a time when the world seems helter-skelter, what role could art possibly play in our lives?

"I believe art is the sign of the times," she said. "The role of art used to be to accentuate the beauty around us, and it still is, but it's also just a way to express your inner soul."

Taking full advantage of the open space within, Charbonneau-Zukas is in the process of making it an abode for in-house and local artists and the hub for learning, interacting and entertaining with new, artistic experiences.

The New Bedford Arts and Cultural Emporium at Kilburn Mills is a first-class, one-stop art experience, where apparently, you can have your cake and eat it, too.

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