Tuesday, October 21, 2014

You Reap What You Art

In their continuing endeavor to bring the creativity found throughout the North Eastern PA area to fruit, The School of Visual and Performing Arts (SVPA) in Stroudsburg, PA held a reception showcasing the work of local artists in their current exhibition titled, “Beyond the Harvest” on Saturday October 18th. The slight chill in the air reflecting the season was warmed by the hospitable atmosphere that greeted those who entered the school’s gallery and the glow found in the conversations that ensued brought a further coziness to the intercourse that was shared. In addition to the art that was on display, the evening provided a variety of entertainment as presented by The Diane Verdi Ballet Class and Guitarist Renard Cohen of Son of Blues www.facebook.com/pages/Son-of-the-Blues/412836085403255 along with delicious culinary fare provided by Flying Merswine Catering www.facebook.com/pages/Flying-Merswine/368792593272368?ref=br_tf and wine that was donated to the event by Burnt Toad Studios www.facebook.com/burnttoadstudios.

A majority of the pieces presented in the exhibition captured the flavor of the modern conceptions of the Halloween Season which encouraged the imagination of each viewer to flow into the macabre scenes the work depicted until the experience of delving into its horror sent a delightful chill down one’s eagerly awaiting spine. Yet, there were a number of works which embraced the colorful hues of the season that allowed the spirit of the viewer to blossom so its divine and ripened attributes could be gathered and feasted upon whenever one hungers for its sustaining essence. The combination of these and other approaches to the exhibition’s theme deftly implied a sense of an encapsulating unity between the natural and the supernatural worlds leading many to transcend the sepia landscapes of their ordinary existence and to view life more intuitively.

As the delightful din of conversations reflecting the artistic qualities of the display echoed around the school, attention was given to the gallery’s curator, Jody Singer, who shared his welcoming remarks with the gathering along with news of future endeavor the establishment and other art related entities were soon embarking upon. One of these endeavors were the school’s Marker’s Market which will be held on November 8th and 9th featuring a weekend filled with artisanal goods, crafts, art, and more. There was also the introduction of a new store that recently opened on the town’s main street called, “Puff’s Magic Shoppe” www.facebook.com/puffsmagicshoppe which is a “retail/hippie/head shop” offering a variety of pipes, hookahs, clothing, tapestries, groovey gifts, novelty items, and more to all who venture into their cheerful domain.

It was soon after Mr. Singer concluded his remarks did Ms. Diane Verdi take the stage to introduce the students from her Ballet Class. In a preview of the class’s participation in The Northeast Ballet Ensemble www.facebook.com/NortheastBalletEnsemble production of “The Nutcracker,” the dancers floated across the floor with each step touching upon the imagination of each viewer encouraging the childlike spirit within to join in the joyous movement. Ms. Verdi shared with the audience the history of ballet as the dancers retreated after each segment they performed in order to prepare themselves for the next.

In these historical tellings, Ms. Verdi revealed ballet began as a male dominated performance with women placed upon the stage as a primarily decorative function. Later, women became a more pronounced presence in ballets and chose to rid themselves of the restrictive garments and undergarments indicative of the time in order to move about more gracefully. This led to the hemline of skirts to move above the ankle which attracted many men to the performances. As the inches of the ballerinas’ hemlines moved higher in their numbers, so did the attendance numbers among the artistic form’s male patrons. However, the modern day audience, according to Ms. Verdi, has fewer men attending which is an unfortunate reality. So, the men who were present during the reception were called upon to bravely go against the trend and partake of the beauty found in the artistic form of ballet.

A full performance of #“The Nutcracker” by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky will be presented at The Notre Dame High School in East Stroudsburg, PA December 6th and 7th as performed by The Northeast Ballet Ensemble. In addition to preparing for #“The Nutcracker” performance, Ms. Verdi shares her extensive knowledge of the art form of dance through the classes she conducts at the school. You can learn more information about them, how to reserve your place by registering for them, and learn how to obtain tickets to attend the performance of “The Nutcracker” by calling 570-619-4113 or by emailing her at D1108@ptd.net.

It was as the delights embodied in the segmental performances of the work danced inside the heads of the denizens of the gallery did Renard Cohen and his guitar began to prepare for their performance. The music that flowed from Mr. Cohen and his instrument enhanced the mood of the room and all who inhabited it. The songs he played ranged from those that engaged the listener through their sweet and mellow tones to those whose raucous rhythms moved the body in synchronization to their gregarious beats. It was during his performance did the 9pm hour grew near indicating the time for the much awaited Art Raffle would soon be experienced.

Last minute purchases were made by those who vied for the winning tickets so they could obtain one of the many works of art that was donated for the occasion. Before the commencement of the proceedings was announced, Froilan Kali Ramirez shared news of his class titled, “An Introduction To Latin Rhythms” will soon begin at The School of Visual and Performing Arts and an invitation was extended to partake of the lessons that could be learned through the art. The conclusion of this sharing led to Mr. Singer officially announcing the beginning of the Art Raffle and the first of many items were introduced.

During their introductions, Ms. Ashley Fontones and Ms. Elizabeth Starship graciously held each item elegantly aloft and therefore enhanced the magnificence of the piece with their profound beauty. The tickets were read and the crescendo of excitement grew until the last digit revealed the winning ticket’s owner. A pang of disappointment filled the room until it was replaced by an enthusiastic congratulations to the person who obtained the coveted item. As the last of the items were presented to those who held the winning tickets, farewells were shared as the company of art lovers reluctantly made their way out of the gallery so they could take the memories of the evening home. You’ll find more photographs taken during the Artists’ Reception in The SVPA 2014 Gallery at www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152519973960421.1073741905.636000420&type=1.

The School of Visual and Performing Arts is located in Stroudsburg, PA and has been instrumental in the creative development of its students for over 20 years. The facility holds classes in dance, ballet, and movement led by Diane Verdi, Paula Heeschen, and Kathy Kroll as well as classes in the theater arts led by Jazmin Ospa and Shellie Bransford. The school also offers a number of workshops with each focusing on a variety of creative disciplines. You can learn more about The School of Visual and Performing Arts by exploring their Website at www.schoolofvisualandperformingarts.org or their Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/schoolofvisualandperformingarts.

The exhibition titled, “Beyond The Harvest” will be on display in The School of Visual and Performing Arts until December 15th. Although the attendance of the Artists’ Reception was more modest than usual, the energies shared through the viewing of the work, the performances that were enjoyed, and the conversation the event inspired made attending the gallery for the evening much more than a worthwhile endeavor. Their next exhibit is titled, “Winter’s Wishes” with an Artists’ Reception scheduled for Saturday December 20th beginning at 6pm. The date upon which the exhibit will continue to be on display is yet to be announced. All area artists are welcomed to participate by placing their work related to the theme in the exhibit. The drop off dates are December 18th and 19th. Please contact Jody Singer at mountainsidearts@hotmail.com for more information.

Monday, October 06, 2014

Partying in the Street of Art

On Saturday May 24th 2014, a group of artists stood before a large paneled wall running along the 600 block of the Main Street section in Stroudsburg, PA. Armed with brushes, paint, and imagination they began to adorn the street with murals paying homage to the businesses that were effected by a devastating fire that occurred on the site in 2006. This monumental endeavor became known as Project Street Art: Part I.

On Saturday September 27th 2014, another group of artists endeavored upon Project Street Art: Part II which consisted of creating murals of various designs and depictions upon structures located in 10 different sites in the Stroudsburg and East Stroudsburg, PA area. As with Project Street Art: Part I, the day of the painting event was filled with colors, imagination, creativity, and inspiring conversation. However, a great deal of music which was performed by a number of musicians who rotated from one site to another was added to the event which enhanced the experience greatly.

It was with Project Street Art: Part I and Part II as a backdrop did The SOHO in the Burg in Stroudsburg, PA www.facebook.com/sohointheburg host an After Party on Friday October 3rd which afforded art lovers throughout the community an opportunity to meet the artists who participated in the Projects and those who supported their endeavors. The large gallery was filled with conversations and excitement while the gathering of friends previously established and newly met munched upon the variety of tasty morsels provided by Flying Merswine Catering www.facebook.com/pages/Flying-Merswine/368792593272368?ref=br_tf which is located in East Stroudsburg, PA. Lines of chairs were set up so those who were present could experience a celebratory ceremony which was designed to honor those involved in Project Street Art.

I arrived at the gallery as Shane Izykowski (founder and driving force of Project Street Art) was concluding his welcoming remarks to the audience and was in the process of introducing Jeff Kash, ESQ who is the President of The Pocono Arts Council www.facebook.com/poconoartscouncil with whom Project Street Art has partnered with. His words added insight to the significance of the endeavor while inspiring those who heard his thoughts to explore their own creative natures and how they could be utilized for the betterment of the community. The conclusion of his sentiments were followed by a series of awards and plaques distributed in recognition of the tremendous talent and dedication the receiver gave to the endeavor.

The presentations began with those who assisted the artists who created the murals in their work. Each recipient has gained the reputation in the artistic community through their own creative endeavors and their skillful hands lovingly assured the high standards of quality the murals they assisted with would be established and maintained. The presentations continued as individuals such as Fran O’ Hagan who provided food for the artists during the days of the events, Andrew Oldfield who provided help wherever he happened upon while riding on his bicycle, Tassy Gilbert who acted as a liaison and melded the partnership of The Pocono Arts Council and Project Street Art so their level of cooperation could be at it’s most productive, Sean Soulo of Sean Soulo Photography www.facebook.com/soulostudios who served as the official photographer for the event, Flying Merswine Catering whose quality of their cuisine was evident in the emptiness of the trays they were contained in when I arrived at the gallery, and others humbly accepted their award as they reciprocated the love in which it was given.

Awards were also given to the musicians who participated in the Project Street Art II event as their presence added a dimension to the day they shared their talents with the visual artists and proved to be an inspiring backdrop to those who heard their songs. They included Juggernaut String Band www.facebook.com/JuggernautStringBand, Woodrow www.facebook.com/wearewoodrow, and Renard Cohen along with the many others who were not present during the ceremony. Awards were also given to the businesses who had given their permission to have their exterior was touched by the artists’ hands. They included Studio 8 which located on 6th Street, Lockwood Village which is located on Ann Street in Stroudsburg, PA, and many others.

Additional awards were presented to a number of individuals and groups before the artists who created the murals were called upon to accept their prestigious gifts. Those Artists who were present to do so included Jill Swersie, Rin Lack, Addam Rae Wolff www.facebook.com/addambombb?fref=ts, Sean Turrell, Nova Chan, Anna Kaszupinski, Joy Taney, and Adia Gibbs. Those who were not present due to creative commitments they endeavored to fulfill in other parts of the country included Illma Gore www.facebook.com/tomfoolery.art and The Chroma Dolls www.facebook.com/chromadolls. The loving arms of appreciation extended from the audience as their heartfelt applause filled the air with the soulful dreams the artists’ work had inspired.

The evening continued as special words were shared by those intimately connected with Project Street Art and are instrumental to its enduring success. They were Jody Singer mountainsidearts@hotmail.com, Sonia Leticia www.facebook.com/SoniaLeticiaArt, Ashley Catherine Fontones www.isashleyfontonesapotato.com, and Shane Izykowski. Their collective and individual insights to the intricacies of Project Street Art provided an everlasting understanding and affection for the endeavor among the gathering which enhanced their desire to support it and its future manifestations. This support was expressed in a number of spontaneous sharings from members of the audience which included some rousing words given by noteworthy artist Shawn Queenan and the gallery’s owner, Andrea Robbins Rimberg, who took the stage to express her exuberant, heart felt support while reminding the gathering that the work Shane Izykowski and his Project Street Art compatriots have done has changed the face of Stroudsburg, PA forever.

It was after these thoughtful sentiments did Shane share the much anticipated news of what Project Street Art will do next. The first announcement was the establishment of an Application known as the Art Map App that could be downloaded and accessed through the technology found on Smart Phones and similar electronic devices. The Art Map App will contain information about the sites of the murals that were created as part of Project Street Art Part I and II as well as art related events and opportunities initiated by the entire local creative community. The second announcement related to a calendar that is currently being produced featuring images of the murals that were created during the Street Art Projects.  The final announcement related to an endeavor Project Street Art hopes to embark upon in the near future which would be to increase the number of art galleries throughout Monroe County so local artists and art lovers could experience more exposure to the vast creative estuaries of the imagination.

It was with these final enticing glimpse into the future did the ceremonial aspects of the evening come to a conclusion. Those who stayed after the removal of the chairs to share their person to person expressions of thanks and admiration to those involved in the evening’s festivities danced and laughed during the remainder of the night away while music played from the apparatus skillfully maneuvered by DJ AddamBombb (aka Addam Wolff). The remainder of the evening also included a Photo Op session which took placed in front of a setting resembling a wall with the Project Street Art insignias upon it. Attendees were encouraged to pose to have their photograph taken by the event’s official photographer. The mixture of dancing, laughing, and posing eventfully led to the party’s conclusion with those leaving the scene filled with the anticipatory thoughts of the future of Project Street Art and it’s life giving effects on the local creative community. You’ll find more photographs taken during the Project Street Art After Party in the Special Events 2014 Gallery at www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152230295395421.1073741876.636000420&type=1.

Project Street Art was initiated by members of Stroudsburg’s creative community who are led by Shane Izykowski. As mentioned earlier, Project Street Art has created an Art Map App that can be downloaded and accessed by Smart Phones and other devices, will soon produce a calendar reflecting their achievements, and will be soon assisting those who would like to establish art galleries in their abodes. Project Street Art welcomes all art lovers to participate in the planning and execution of their endeavors. To learn more about Project Street Art along with how you can participate and support their future endeavors, please explore their Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/projectstreetart?ref=br_tf.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Giganticus Open Micicus

Due to many circumstances, it’s been several months since I’ve been to The Sherman Theater’s Living Room Stroudsburg, PA to partake of their weekly Open Mic Nite event. But, on Sunday September 28th, I happened upon the opportunity to venture into the venue as the technicians were in the process of preparing for the evening’s event. I stepped outside in order chat with those who were sharing their anticipatory conversations about the potentials the evening held while enjoying the pleasant effects of the sun filled day. It was during this time it was announced the sign in list was available so those who wished to share their talents could place their signatures or nom de plumes upon it.

As the 7pm hour approached, the evening’s co host, Andrew Paul (aka A. P.) took the stage to share his welcoming sentiments before sharing a poem he wrote while he was angry. His words struck a familiar chord in many who heard them. A. P. then introduced the first listed performer of the evening who was a poet known as The Carlton. His well established presence in the area and reputed mastery of the spoken word took the attentive audience upon journeys that awaken their minds to the essential truths the poet conveyed. The Carlton was followed by Newcomers Misty and Mike of A. N. D. whose love filled words filled the room with their sympathetic nuances while those who not only heard their voices but felt them silently embraced their every utterances.

Misty and Mike were followed by co host Andrew Oldfield who shared some thought provoking words with the gathering. The conclusion of his words introduced another Newcomer to the event named Richie who lent his voice to several established songs that delighted the audience and gained their support through the technical difficulties that ensued. Richie was followed by the duo known as Woodrow www.facebook.com/wearewoodrow who consists of Brian Brancamp and Theresa Rattcliff. Their presence was a pleasant surprise to those who knew of the musically exhausting day they spent performing at various locations during the Project Street Art event the previous day.

They began their set with a spell binding rendition of the Police’s “Everything She Does Is Magic” and continued to woo the audience through the soulful interpretations of the songs they continued to share. They were followed by Jessie Roth (aka J. R.) who shared some information about a project The Sherman Theater is embarking on titled, “Community at The Sherman Theater” designed to enhance the betterment of the area and its population. It was with Ms. Roth’s final words did the evening’s feature performer take the stage.

The Saturday Giant (aka Phillip Cogley) took to the stage with his guitar, a keyboard, and a number of foot operated apparatuses from which he immediately began to mesmerize the audience with the echoing sounds of the music he extracted from the electronic denizens at his disposal as well as through his voice. The transfixing qualities of the performance led the audience upon journeys which led them from one isotropic horizon to another. The multi layered musicality of his performance spoke to dreams that has yet to be dreamt and allowed visions to be seen that remain invisible to those who have not heard him perform. Those who were fortunate to be present enough to experience the moments The Saturday Giant created are destined to relive their mind expanding qualities throughout all of their yet to be manifested life filled moments.

The Saturday Giant (aka Phillip Cogley) lives in Columbus, OH and enjoys traveling around the country performing Art Rock to those who come to hear him play. Each performance he presents is unique as he insist on rendering all the components of his songs with the potentials found in the state of spontaneity intact. He feels that “a show should be about what happens that day, in that room, between that audience and that performer. It shouldn't be a carbon copy of the same performance from the night before.”

According to his bio, Mr. Cogley also yearns for “the freedom to make mistakes…. As soon as art becomes perfect, it dies.” The flow that exuded among those who listened to The Saturday Giant during the September 28th Open Mic Nite made it difficult if not impossible to determine if there were any of the mistakes Mr. Cogley embraces. But, if they were any, the imperfections of his performance gave way to the perfect harmonies it created within each being that was present. You can learn more about The Saturday Giant (aka Phillip Cogley) and his music by exploring his Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/thesaturdaygiant.

As the final musical footsteps of The Saturday Giant echoed throughout the venue, a break ensued. It was during this time did The Living Room’s denizens seek to learn more about the featured guest and about themselves through the words he relayed to them. The break ended as Benjamin Ordonez took the stage and shared his poetic words which spoke of what parenting could be along with the joys of love experienced beyond that relationship until someone almost runs off with all of one’s stuff. Benjamin was followed by a Newcomer to the event named Joe Shayka who shared his poetry with the gathering. He was followed by Guitarist Dee Allen whose familiar riffs and voice moved the audience to the home they found in her songs.

Dee was followed by a Newcomer to the event named Jillian whose poetry moved to the meter of life giving all who heard her a deeper sense of the beauty that awaited them if they opened their heart to see it. She was followed on stage by Kevin Tails Moucha who sought the essence of the soul through his a cappella renderings. Kevin was followed by the final performance of the evening who were a duet known as Mimi D www.facebook.com/FissionandMDPsMimiD?fref=ts and A. P. Biznatch (in Derby) who shared a sultry cabaret version of the song, “Fever” whose  climatic effect on me was so compulsory that it compelled me to get a flu shot the very next day. It was when the final notes of the performance came to a completion did the gathering being to share their farewells as they collectively anticipated their return to the following week’s event. You’ll be able to find more photographs taken during the Sunday September 28th Open Mic Nite Session in The Living Room 2014 Gallery Part 4 at www.facebook.com/forwardian.dude/media_set?set=a.10152489839930421.1073741902.636000420&type=3.

The next installment of the Living Room Open Mic Nite Series will take place on Sunday October 5th beginning at 7pm with sign ins beginning at 6:30pm. Musicians, poets, writers, and anyone who would like to share something with a receptive audience are welcomed to do so. You can learn more about The Living Room Open Mic Nite Series by Exploring their Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/OpenMicAtTheLivingRoom.

In addition to the Open Mic Nites presented at The Living Room, the venue also holds a Gallery which presents their current exhibition titled, “Art I Activism” featuring the work of artists from around the area. Their next exhibit will take place in October and will be titled, “Night of the Living Room” featuring the works of RenDi Young www.facebook.com/TheAltarStudios, Timothy Nebel, Kayla O’Connor www.facebook.com/kaylaoconnorart, and Will Mgrath. The Artists’ Reception will take place Saturday June October 4th beginning at 6pm and will include a Costume Contest. The exhibition will continues to be on display until October 27th. Please contact the gallery’s Director and Curators, Keyaira and Drew Ozkenel, at 570-421-2808 for more information.

The Living Room is located on Main Street in Stroudsburg, PA next to The Sherman Theater who owns the building. The Living Room is a non-profit artspace and community hub featuring live music, exhibitions, and other events in an intimate setting at affordable prices. Please Explore The Living Room Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/pages/The-Living-Room/123978921059378 for more information on The Living Room, all they have to offer, and how to be a part of it all.

The Muracle of Art

In a continuing endeavor to beautify the local area while paying homage to members of it’s creative community, Project Street Art II held a live painting event at 10 locations in the Stroudsburg, PA and East Stroudsburg, PA area on Saturday September 27th. The unseasonably warm autumn day encouraged those who love the arts to journey among the various locations while marveling at the formation of the images created to adorn the selected sites. The act of experiencing the process of creating murals on the exterior walls of the 10 designated locations throughout the area proved to be a deeply profound one as the intricacies inherent in the varying approaches each artist employed as they gave their visions form were revealed throughout the day. This experience was further enhanced by the musicians who performed at each site which added a joy to the thoughtful reflections on the work many who attended the event shared in their verbal and non verbal conversations.

The sites which were located in Stroudsburg, PA included Studio 8 with a mural created by Jill Swersie, the inside facing wall at 609 Main Street with a mural created by Rin Lack, the wall behind Marita’s Cantina www.facebook.com/pages/Maritas-Cantina/149708431742568 with a mural created by Addam Rae Wolff www.facebook.com/addambombb?fref=ts, the Central Building at 727 Main Street with a mural created by Sean Turrell, the bridge by the Wawa Mini Market with a mural created by Nova Chan, Lockwood Village with a mural created by Illma Gore www.facebook.com/tomfoolery.art, and Friedman Electric with a mural created by Chroma Dolls www.facebook.com/chromadolls. The sites which were located in East Stroudsburg, PA included the Dansbury Terrace with a mural created by Anna Kaszupinski, the Unfinished Mural Wall on Crystal Street with a mural created by Joy Taney, and the Dansbury Park Bathroom House with a mural created by Adia Gibbs. The artists were assisted by numerous students, artists, and community members. The musicians who performed in rotation at each site throughout the day included The Juggernaut String Band www.facebook.com/JuggernautStringBand, Woodrow www.facebook.com/wearewoodrow, Eric Funn www.facebook.com/EricFunn, Zeke Cats, Theomar Chakey Francois www.facebook.com/SunnyShading, Jesse Morales, Renard Cohen, Randy Bigness, and Julie Rubino.

Project Street Art II is the second of endeavors designed to enhance the aesthetic qualities of the region. The first was known as Project Street Art I which took place on Saturday May 24th, 2014. This event consisted of painting murals on a large paneled wall running along the 600 block of the Main Street section in Stroudsburg, PA which is the site of a devastating fire that occurred in 2006. Project Street Art was initiated by members of Stroudsburg’s creative community who are led by Shane Izykowski. Their next endeavor is yet to be announced but an after party of which the public is invited to is scheduled to take place on Friday October 3rd beginning at 6pm at The SOHO in the Burg in Stroudsburg, PA www.facebook.com/sohointheburg. The party will serve as an opportunity to meet the artists who participated in the endeavor as well as their supporters. To learn more about Project Street Art along with how you can participate and support their future endeavors, please explore their Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/projectstreetart?ref=br_tf.

Although the Project Street Art mural painting event dominated the day, another event occurred that was indicative of the creative energies that has blessed the town in recent years. This event was the ALIVE Concert and Open Jam which was held on the front lawn of Moe'st Everything Muse which is located on Ann Street in Stroudsburg, PA near the Ribbon Factory Outlet. I visited the event while roaming around the town partaking of the day’s primary endeavor and was fortunate enough to hear a band known as Jettison who sang a number of established songs leading many who listened to sing joyfully along. Other bands scheduled to play were Aragon, H 2 O, Sheep in Wolf’s Clothes, Blind Men Driving, and more. However, I could not stay to listen as the echoes of Project Street Art summoned me away.

Moe'st Everything Muse holds an Open Jam Nite the last Saturday of every month with the next event scheduled to place on Saturday October 26th beginning at 8pm. All are welcomed to come and share their musical talents or to partake of the event as a member of the audience. In addition to the Open Jam Nites, Moe'st Everything Muse offers a variety of musical instruments to be purchased or traded. They also buy musical instruments from those who wish to sell them along with lessons, a rehearsal space, and repairs to broken instruments. Moe'st Everything Muse recently opened their new creative musings and gift shop which includes an eclectic selection of T - Shirts, Jewelry, Books, and Art created by local artists. You’ll be able to learn more about Moe'st Everything Muse and every thing they offer by exploring their Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/moesteverything?ref=ts&fref=ts.

The day proved to be a wonderful one filled with art, music, and good conversation. Several of the murals were left unfinished at the end of the day due to the extensiveness of the work involved in creating them. However, they are scheduled to be completed by the artist and their assistants within a few weeks. In the meantime, all of the murals are available to be viewed by the public as they walk around the towns of Stroudsburg and East Stroudsburg, PA. You’ll find more photographs taken during the Project Street Art mural painting event and the Moe'st Everything Muse ALIVE Concert and Open Jam in the Special Events 2014 Gallery at www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152230295395421.1073741876.636000420&type=1.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Changeable Qualities of Art

The School of Visual and Performing Arts (SVPA) in Stroudsburg, PA held an Artists’ Reception on Saturday September 20th for their exhibition titled, “Changing Seasons, Changing Scenes” featuring the work of local artists. With the hues indicative of the Autumnal season already touching the local vegetation, the school’s exhibition arrived at an opportune time as the foliaged beauty many of the attendees have come to admire were reflected in the work presented. The array of colors and images echoed the enormous talent of the artists who participated in the exhibit as their unique approaches to the theme blended well together while maintaining the creative voice of each distinctive artists.

The many art lovers who attended the Reception soon found themselves swept away by the qualities of the work as the individual intricacies if each piece began to produce a seasonal change within the viewer. Yet, as one moved through the gallery, the enchantments embodied in the art of Aerial Acrobatics enticed the gathering as Alexandra “Sashka” Apjarova of Fly With Sashka www.facebook.com/flywithsashka encased herself in a silken hammock while her flowing movements were being photographed by the renowned photographic artists who came to capture her maneuverings in their cameras. It was a delight to watch Ms. Apjarova share her considerable skills as the beauty of the discipline went beyond the physical attributes of the art form and allowed the soul of each person who experienced the performance to become entwined within the claming cocoon of its aesthetic qualities. She was joined by her son during several routines which made them all the more enjoyable to watch.

As the mesmerizing effects of Ms. Apjarova’s exhibition encompassed the gathering, the gallery’s curator, Jody Singer, publicly shared the school’s welcoming words with the crowd along with several announcements relating to the establishment’s future endeavors as well as those of other groups and individuals such as Project Street Art www.facebook.com/projectstreetart that will enhance the local community through the arts. It was soon after Mr. Singer concluded his remarks did students from The Diane Verdi Ballet Class take the stage to perform the neo-classical ballet titled, “Rhapsody” with the music of Rachmaninoff. The gentle touching of the floor by the dancers brought a sensation of lightness to the audience who soon felt like leaves softly falling collectively to the ground. It was at the conclusion of the performance did Ms. Verdi take the stage in order to enhance the appreciation of the art of Ballet by sharing many of its technical intricacies with the audience. Lessons in dance are taught by Ms. Verdi at the school and you can learn more information about them as well as how to register by calling 570-619-4113 or by emailing her at D1108@ptd.net.

It was after Ms. Verdi shared the art of dance with the crowd did their attention return to Ms. Apjarova who presented a more expansive demonstration of her skill in Aerial Acrobatics. The beauty of her movements cast further enchantments on the gathering and touched the hearts of many. Ms. Alexandra “Sashka” Apjarova was born and raised in east Slovakia and immigrated to the United States in 1994 to pursue her dreams relating to the art of dance. While in the US, she developed a career as a professional dancer, aerialist, model, actor, singer, and coach upon she became internationally recognized for her outstanding talents. She Along collaborated with Michael Jackson in the “This is it” project until his untimely passing and Cirque du Soleil’s “Delirium” tour. Ms. Apjarova will be teaching courses in Aerial Acrobatics and other related subjects at The School of Visual and Performing Arts in October. Please contact her at Apjarova@gmail.com or by calling 646-732-8054 for more information and to register.

As the performance given by Ms. Apjarova concluded, Rick Delgado of the duo known as “Public Displays of Rejection” www.facebook.com/PublicDisplaysOfRejection took the stage. With the use of a great deal of technology, Mr. Delgado strummed his guitar and shared his voice in a series of sounds which inundated the senses through their echoing harmonies. Many of his renditions of the works he performed had a haunting effect upon the crowd as the spirits embodied in each note moved within and without them until their presence materialized in the rooms of their souls. Mr. Delgado is usually joined by fellow musician Shane Reimer but he was not present during the event.

The soothingly haunting sounds of Mr. Delgado were heard throughout most of the evening until the 9pm hour arrived and the much anticipated announcement that the Art Raffle was about to begin was shared. Many of those present eagerly engaged in making last minute purchases of Raffle Tickets in hopes this would be their lucky night. Many of the artists who participated in the exhibition donated their work to be utilized as Raffle Items and their inherent qualities made them all the more desirable to obtain through the Raffle process. The work was further enhanced by Ms. Ashley Fontones who elegantly held each piece so it could be viewed by the gathering.

Soon, the numbers began to be read and each digit became a source of excitement that built to a fevered pitch until the ecstatic peals of the winners were heard. The disappointment those who didn’t hold the winning tickets were slighted by their own desire to share their congratulations with those who did and to celebrate in their victories. It was after the last item was given to the final ticket holder did the gathering of friends begin to share their farewells with one another and sought to go home so they could reflect upon the wonders of the evening while anticipating the arrival of the next event to be held at The School of Visual and Performing Arts (SVPA). You’ll find more photographs taken during the Artists’ Reception in The SVPA 2014 Gallery at www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152519973960421.1073741905.636000420&type=1.

The School of Visual and Performing Arts is located in Stroudsburg, PA and has been instrumental in the creative development of its students for over 20 years. The facility holds classes in dance, ballet, and movement led by Diane Verdi, Paula Heeschen, and Kathy Kroll as well as classes in the theater arts led by Jazmin Ospa and Shellie Bransford. The school also offers a number of workshops with each focusing on a variety of creative disciplines. You can learn more about The School of Visual and Performing Arts by exploring their Website at www.schoolofvisualandperformingarts.org or their Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/schoolofvisualandperformingarts.

The exhibition titled, “Changing Seasons, Changing Scenes” will be on display in The School of Visual and Performing Arts until October 13th. The entirety of the work in extremely well done and explores the theme in various ways with every piece presented holding something wonderful for each individual who views it. Their next exhibit is titled, “Beyond the Harvest” with an Artists’ Reception scheduled for Saturday October 18th beginning at 6pm. The exhibit will continue to be on display until December 15th. All area artists are welcomed to participate by placing their work related to the theme in the exhibit. The drop off dates are October 16th and 17th. Please contact Jody Singer at mountainsidearts@hotmail.com for more information.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Healing Folk at The Bookhouse

While entreating the healing energies found in music to permeate the sizable gathering of music lovers who attended, Guitarist Matt Watroba shared his gifts at The Eastern Monroe Public Library in Stroudsburg, PA on Friday September 19th which was presented as part of their 2014 Bookhouse Season. The evening began with some introductory remarks relating to the event and the library itself given by Linnae Cintron who was followed on stage by Mr. Watroba who offered his own welcoming remarks. He then proceeded to lead the audience in a harmonic exercise which created a choir of souls sharing the experience of an amazing grace.

Mr. Watroba continued his performance of folk and country selections with a voice that sang the melodies of dreams which awakened the heart to a refreshingly new state of being. Each song was a shared experience as the audience lent their voices to each composition and enhanced the essence of the piece. Stories relating to each song were delightfully spun by Mr. Watroba enhanced the sing alongs aspect of the show as an insightful understanding of the piece brought forth a relationship between the song and the audience members who were able to reflect it in their voices. The entire concert fulfilled the immortal vision of the late Folk Legend Pete Seeger who once said that his goal was not only to place a song in the ear of his listeners but upon their lips as well.

The evening was a joyous one filled with wonderful music and great storytelling in which the intricacies of the music roots were explored to the audience’s delight. The exploration proved to contain a great number of twists and turns but, as Mr. Watroba pointed out, roots tend to be quite intertwined when one pulls them out of the ground and so are the multitude of musical influences on any particular genre of music. The unraveling of these intertwining roots made the evening an even more enjoyable one. You’ll find more photographs taken during the Matt Watroba concert in The EMPL 2014 Gallery at www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152258038885421.1073741878.636000420&type=1.

Matt Watroba has performed at various venues and festivals throughout his extensive career which include the Ann Arbor Folk Festival, the Detroit 300 celebration, the Spirit of the Woods Festival, the New Jersey Folk Weekend, and Louisville’s Kentucky Music Weekend. He has often performed alongside Pete Seeger, Tom Paxton, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Arlo Guthrie, Shawn Colvin, Christine Lavin, Peter Yarrow, and Richard Thompson. He has also given numerous school and community presentations throughout the Great Lakes Region. Mr. Watroba has received numerous awards for his musical talents which include the Detroit Music Award for the Best Overall Folk Performer of the year 2000. He has interviewed a great number of renowned folk and country musicians on his former radio program titled, “Folks Like Us” which was broadcast on WDET-FM (Detroit, MI) for 20 years and continues to share his love for music with his listeners on WKSU www.FolkAlley.com at Kent State University. You can learn more about Matt Watroba and his music by exploring his website at www.mattwatroba.com.

The Eastern Monroe Public Library (aka The Hughes Library) Bookhouse Series takes place in the Edinger Community Room which is located on N. 9th Street (aka route 611) in Stroudsburg, PA. The Hughes Library is the main branch of the Monroe County, PA library system which includes their Pocono Township Branch in Tannersville, PA and their Smithfield’s Branch in Marshalls Creek, PA. The library offers access to numerous books, DVDs, Audio Recordings, and cultural programs free to the public. The library’s Bookhouse series is part of its cultural programming designed to provide a venue for literary and musical events which are outside of the commercial and literary mainstream. In addition to the Bookhouse concert, the work of Joyce Everitt is on display throughout the library in an exhibit presented by the Pocono Arts Council www.facebook.com/poconoartscouncil.

The next program in The Eastern Monroe Public Library 2014 Bookhouse Series will feature Sage www.facebook.com/MusicBySage on Friday October 17th beginning at 7:30pm with the doors opening at 7pm. Admission to the event is free, but donations would be gratefully accepted. Refreshments will also be available for a small charge. Please Contact Linnae Cintron at 570-421-0800 x28 or explore The Eastern Monroe Public Library Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/EasternMonroePublicLibrary?ref=ts&fref=ts to learn more information about the library, their Bookhouse series, and all the institution has to offer the community.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Before, During, and After COTA

The 37th Annual Celebration of the Arts (COTA) Jazz and Arts Festival was held from Friday September 5th to Sunday September 7th throughout the town of Delaware Water Gap, PA. The event has become a haven for those who not only enjoy the qualities of the musical form of Jazz but of the many creative offerings those who participate each year share with the many who attend. These include a Music Motif exhibition held at The Antoine Dutot Museum and Gallery along with Classical Music, Dance Performances, and Theater presented at The Presbyterian Church of the Mountain. In addition to this, the festival offered the works of several artists and artisans throughout the Saturday and Sunday portion of the event in which attendees could leisurely peruse the booths and make a desired purchase.

Although the festival officially began at the town’s The Antoine Dutot Museum and Gallery, my adventures began a bit earlier. These were at The Castle Inn Art Gallery www.facebook.com/pages/Castle-Inn-Art-Gallery/159174520808670 which is located within The Shoppes at The Castle Inn Complex in Delaware Water Gap, PA www.facebook.com/historiccastleinn?ref=ts&fref=ts. The gallery held an Artists’ Reception on Friday September 5th for their exhibition titled, “Listen With Your Eyes” featuring the work of Emilio Arostegui www.judasfx.com, James Chesnick www.carzwellco.com, Laurinda Faye Rubin, Clavertis Miller, and Susan Molina-Washington. The work was as varied as the artists who created it and the entirety of the show enticed the many who attended the reception to experience each piece from within.

After exploring the work and sharing a great number of thoughtful conversations with the artists and others, I left The Castle Inn Art Gallery to partake of the official commencement point of The Celebration of the Arts festival at The Antoine Dutot Museum and Gallery. Upon arriving at the gallery, I was greeted by the Classical Musical Trio known as Calliope playing in the parking lot. The ensemble consists Gina Bertucci and Barbara McMahon on Flute along with Laura Goss on Bassoon. It was a delight to be bathed in their musical renditions of Classical and Americana melodies until the desire to experience the art within the gallery grew too strong to resist.

The Antoine Dutot Museum and Gallery in Delaware Water Gap, PA www.facebook.com/DutotMuseumAndGallery held their Artists’ Reception for The Delaware Water Gap Celebration of the Arts Music Motif Show on Friday September 5th. The incredible work consisted of pieces created by local artists, photographers, and sculptors who imagery blended with the exhibit’s musical theme. Colors and images flowed through the gallery like familiar melodies allowing the multitude of art lovers who were present to experience their own visual songs anew. The exhibit was a juried one with prizes award to those whose creative skills exceeded those of the contemporaries. I was not present during the award ceremonies but I could surmise the selection of the winners was a difficult one as the caliber of the work made the task a daunting one. The jurors for the show were Rick Chamberlain, W. Andrew Worthington, and Bill Lowenburg. The exhibition continues to be on display until September 21st.

I left the gallery to continue my festival journeys to The Presbyterian Church of the Mountain www.facebook.com/pages/Presbyterian-Church-of-the-Mountain/234593743269661 which is located across the street of the Dutot. The program presented at the church was titled, “The Other Arts” which featured an evening filled with classical music, theater, and dance. The evening began with some welcoming remarks given by The Reverent Sherry Blackman who will be installed as the new minister of the church on Sunday September 21st, 2014. Her words delighted the sizable audience who eagerly anticipated the night’s offerings.

The conclusion of Rev. Blackman’s words brought The Marsha Cahn Ensemble to the stage. The trio of classical musicians consisted of Marsha Cahn on viola, Linda Kistler on violin, and Dan King on cello. Together they played a selection of serenades that wooed the audience with their  beautiful melodies ranging from the jovial to the thoughtful. The performance moved the audience’s dreams as they learned the realities of their imagination through each measure.

The Marsha Cahn Ensemble were followed by The Totts Gap Dancers who are from The Totts Gap Arts Institute (TGAI) located in Bangor, PA www.facebook.com/totts.arts. The dancers consisted of Laura Buzzard and Maeve Godshalk who performed a piece titled, “Celebration” which was choreographed by Angeline Wolf Gloria. The work was danced to the music of the Cello Suite in G. Major, BWV 1007, by J. S. Bach which was performed unaccompanied by Max Watkins. The performance brought a profound sense of joy to the audience as the movements of the dancers created a soaring sensation within each soul who experienced it.

The Totts Gap Dancers were followed by The Sounds of Strings Quartet who was introduced by Carlena Back. The group consists of Olivia Reed and Joe Snyder on violin along with Emily Geiger on viola and Sophia Rostock on cello. The foursome enchanted the audience with their selection of recently composed pieces which are often heard on classic rock radio stations. Their insightful musical interpretations allowed the modalities of classical arrangements to manifest themselves into the essential elements of each piece. The performance proved to be a delight especially for those who chose to quietly sing along.

The Sounds of Strings Quartet were followed by the return of Laura Buzzard and Maeve Godshalk of The Totts Gap Dancers who performed an improvised piece titled, “Just Like in Church” with music composed by Eric Doney and performed by pianist Mitchel Cheng. The flowing gestures of the dancers touched the audience with their truths as their soulful originations echoed those found within the experience of each viewer. A quiet serenity was felt as the final steps of the dance were taken leading the audience to a journey further on.

The Totts Gap Dancers were followed by The Water Gap Players Theater Group consisting of Denny Carrig, Dave Hymes, and Greg Back. The one act play they presented was titled, “Waiting for Bar O” which was written by Greg Back. The work was a satirical piece based upon the classic play titled, “Waiting for Godot” written by Samuel Becket in 1948 and debuted in 1953 at The Théâtre de Babylone in Paris, France. This variation of the original work explores numerous political issues of the day. The performance was a very amusing one encouraging each member of the audience to seriously contemplate the far reaching consequences of the national political system if things remain they as they presently are.

The Water Gap Players Theater Group were followed by another return of The Totts Gap Dancers who consisted of Sophia Villano, Amanda D’ Orsi, and Kristen Stopfer. The piece they presented was titled, “Kansas City” which was performed on tape by BJ Micheal and Pattie with the dance choreographed by Duane Gosa. The theatricality of the performance delighted the audience with its energies and enthusiasm. Each movement accented the song’s joyfulness and inspired numerous smiles from those who followed the dancers on their quest to go to Kansas City.

It was at the conclusion of The Totts Gap Dancers number did the evening at The Presbyterian Church of the Mountain come to a sudden end. It was at this point did the flavor of the first day of the festival embrace those who partook of its qualities. Like many, I went home with a heart filled with fond memories of the day coupled with an excitement as I anticipated the start of a new day in which I would continue my experience of The 37th Annual Celebration of the Arts (COTA) Jazz and Arts Festival in the morning. I was surprised by the relative ease in which I found myself asleep and I awoke afresh with a invigorating readiness to begin another day.

This day began at 8am on Saturday September 6th as I arrived at the festival site to learn what duties were to be performed in my capacity as a member of the COTA Security team. The site was nearly empty except for a few vendors who were completing the placement of their merchandise and members of the COTA Stage Crew who were making the last preparatory adjustments to the technical aspects of the concert. I greeted a number of friends whom I had made during the years as I journeyed to the Security Command Center located in the back stage area to meet with my fellow members.

Once there, I was partnered with a woman named Fran and was told our first shift would be at the front gate area where people who would purchase their tickets to enter the festival. The start of our shift was set for 9am and was scheduled to last until 11am so I had enough time to stop by The Presbyterian Church of the Mountain’s food booth to purchase an egg, ham, and cheese sandwich on a croissant which has become a traditional breakfast on mine every year I participate in the festival. It was as delicious as I remembered.

After I munched on the small feast, I met my partner at the command center prior to our traveling to our first post of the day. The festival wasn’t scheduled to open it’s box office until 10am so those who were assigned to work the point of sale spot busied themselves in preparing for the arrival of the many festival goers who were expected. This included positioning a tarp to protect those purchasing their tickets from the rain that threatened the day. The 10am hour soon came close and the box office crew finalized their preparations as the final vendors drove out of the festival site after unloading the last of their merchandise in their tent.

A sizable crowd of music lovers gathered at the booth eagerly awaiting the words, “Can I help You” to be spoken by the Box office Staff. A quiet joy was felt among the company as the first of many tickets was purchased and a wrist band was affixed to the happy buyer so they could enter the festival and  begin their day of bliss. It was then that my partner watched the exit to make sure no one snuck in without paying while I stood at the entrance greeting people of which many I had gotten to know throughout the years at the festival while handing out programs. It was a pleasurable shift that was enhanced by the distant echoes created by the sound checks that were taking place as our time at the front gate was coming to an end.

Our relief team arrived so I took leisurely strolled back to the command center while visiting the many artists, artisans, and merchants who shared their talents and merchandise with those who entered their booth. These included a number of vendors outside the festival grounds who were able to utilize spaces granted to them by shop owners who populate the town. I visited an author of a newly published book who was offering copies to interested readers for purchase and a gentleman who created sculpted pieces out of slate rock which included insignias of local fire departments. Those whom I visited inside the festival grounds included Patrice Jiunta (The Jeweler’s Workbench Jeweler’s Workbench www.facebook.com/jewelersworkbench.bartonsville), Susan Bradford and Anita Bondi (Madala Design Works), Don Conklin (Music Lamps), Tim Helman (mixed media), David Coulter (Photography), Linda Newswanger (Git Lit Stained Glass), Bud Nealy (Knives), Susan Lange (Massage Therapist), Jim Smeltz (Artist), Elizabeth Smeltz (Jeweler), Wish Designs www.facebook.com/pages/Wish-Designs-Inc/154544750161 (Festival Sportswear), and The Shoppes at The Castle Inn who were also present to share their wares and endeavors. It was great to visit them all.

It was during the delightful conversations I shared did I hear the welcoming words of the announcer declaring the 37th Annual Celebration of the Arts Festival was about to begin. The soothing melodies Nancy (on bass and vocals) www.facebook.com/pages/Nancy-Reed/1417009245195892 and Spencer Reed www.reedjazz.com (on guitar and vocals) are well known for gently woke the festival goers with their harmonies. They were accompanied by Drew Siciliano on drums whose rhythmic beats moved the essence of each selection’s tempo among the audience and covered each member with a warm welcoming sensation. It was during the performance of Nancy and Spencer Reed when I finally made my way back to the Security Command Center to check in and to learn where my next station would be and, as I did, I went to my chair which I previously set up to partake of the wonderful effects of their enchanting stylings.

It was prior to the completion of their set did my second shift as a member of Security of the day began. I returned to the command center and was reacquainted with my partner who joined me in one of the golf carts made available for transportation so we could travel to our assigned station known as “The Intersection.” It is there where members of security help direct traffic assisting those who are musicians and other participants where to obtain their festival credentials and parking spaces along with helping festival goers determine where to park their cars.

The Intersection is a good spot to be as it affords the opportunity to greet a great number of people. However, its proximity from the stage makes it an impossibly to hear the music being played it. So, unfortunately, I missed the performances of Najwa Parkins and The After Hours Trio www.facebook.com/NajwaParkinsAndTheAfterHoursTrio with Najwa Parkins on vocals, Tal Shtuhl on tenor saxophone, Dan Hanrahan on guitar, Justin Sekelewski on bass and most of The Evan Gregor/Matt Vashlishian Quartet with Evan Gregor on bass, Matt Vashlishian on saxophone, Vic Juris on guitar, and Jeff Hirschfield on drums. Still, the ephemeral essence of the music was in the air and I enjoyed its sensations when I returned to the park from my shift.

It was while I bathed in the musical aroma did I feel a hunger touch my stomach. So, I explored the food court to determine which of the wonderful choices of delicious cuisines would touch my lips. There were many to choose from which included offerings from Buddy’s Barbeque www.facebook.com/buddybarbeque, Zoe’s Ice Cream Emporium, The Delaware Chamber of Commerce, The Presbyterian Church of the Mountain, and The Notara Dance Theatre www.facebook.com/pages/Notara-Dance-Theatre-Nutcracker-Ballet/751875171506357 along with newcomers to the festival such as Quench www.facebook.com/pages/Quench-on-6th-Cafe-and-Juice-Bar/214752245221024 who offered a variety of wraps and other health conscious dishes and the Girl Scouts who offered a variety grilled sandwiches. Leon’s Fireside Café was also there to serve their Middle Eastern cuisine and whose presence especially touched the hearts of those who visited the festival as the passing of Chef Leon Shiner was made known. The decision what to eat was a difficult one to make but I eventually decided upon a bowl of Black Bean and Rice with Chicken mixed with some sour cream and hot sauce I got from The Willow Tree Inn www.facebook.com/willow.inn?fref=ts.

After my meal, I met up with The Dixie Gents who were strolling around the festival grounds entertaining people while the musicians set up for the performances on the main stage. The joy of toe tapping Dixieland Jazz filled the air as Bob Levie on Trumpet, Ken Foy and Rick Chamberlain (one of the festival’s co founders) on Trombone, Ray Schweisguth on Banjo, Paul Hubble on Soprano Saxophone, and Jim Daniels on Tuba played to a delighted crowd. It was soon after their performance did Bob Dorough and Friends take the stage which consisted of Bob on piano and vocals, Steve Berger on guitar, Pat O’Leary on bass, Jimmy Mcbride on drums, Chris Persad on trumpet, and Michael Hornstein on alto sax. The bippity bop rhythms Mr. Dorough is known for filled the festival with smiles and dancing as youthful hearts and feet moved to each beat of the songs he played.

It was after the performance of Bob Dorough and Friends did I return to Security Command to meet with my partner to begin our final assignment for the day which was at the much coveted area known as “The Steps.” This area is next to the stage and the duty of those stationed there is to make sure only those individuals authorized to go back stage are permitted to travel up the steps to go there. This is a very desirable spot as it affords one not only the opportunity to see and hear the performances during the shift but to meet the performers as they go back stage to prepare for their set.

It was during our shift did Phil Woods www.facebook.com/pages/Phil-Woods/216044913708 and The COTA Festival Orchestra www.facebook.com/CotaFestivalOrchestra begin to play. The orchestra was conducted by Phil Woods who is one of the co founders of the festival and consisted of a large number of who’s who in the Jazz Community. The power of the sound emanating from the orchestra and its musical qualities was only surpassed by the caliber of talent embodied in the musicians who played each piece with the graceful precision a big band is known for. Phil Woods and The COTA Festival Orchestra was followed by The Diva Trio who consisted of Sherrie Maricle on drums, Noriko Ueda on bass, and Tomoko Ohno on piano whose melodies and sense of fun proved to be a contagion no one in the audience sought a cure for. The trio was joined by vocalist Sue Giles whose voice and gentile demeanor further enhanced the qualities of the music as she moved her stylings from her being which were favorably reminiscent of those employed by Jazz Great Ella Fitzgerald.

Our shift ended during The Diva Trio performance and we returned to the Security Command Center to share our farewells to our comrades and to express our eagerness to return the following day to participate in the festival. It was then I returned to the festival to continue enjoying the music presented by The Diva Trio and Sue Giles. It was at the completion of their set was an announcement made that the storm that threatened the day was expected to arrive shortly and, if it was accompanied by a great deal of lightning, the concert would be halted and attendees would be able to take refuge under the back stage tent. This was being done to safeguard the audience and musicians from any hazardous effects of the oncoming storm. It was after this announcement did the final performance scheduled for the day take the stage.

When Miss Ida Blue www.facebook.com/missidablue took the stage, she TOOK the stage with her bold and sassy countenance and shook the audience with her sultry rendition of some honky-tonk jazz reminiscent of the compositions heard at the best of the New Orleans Juke Joints and Bordellos where one would devilishly dare to enter. Her straight forward interpretations epitomized the bluesy wisdom of her songs and created the feel of the venue where they were first played. Miss Ida Blue was accompanied by Lil Jim Fryer on trombone, John “Showboy” Gill on guitar, Dan “Choppin’” Block on clarinet and saxophone, and Moanin’ Jay Rattman on bass saxophone. Their instrumental finesse enhanced the performance and added a great deal of atmosphere to the set.

But, alas, the performance ended much too quickly as torrential rains began to fall and I left the festival site to gain the safety of an automobile to take me home. It was there where I removed my drenched clothing and fell into my bed in order to rest up for the final day of the festival while allowing my dreams to fill my soul with the wonders I experienced through the music and the conversations I engaged in. The rhythm of the raindrops touching my window aided in my sleepy endeavor as I drifted off toward another morning.

I awoke refreshed and arrived at the festival site around 9am on Sunday September 7th. I met with my comrades at the Security Command Center where my partner, Fran, and I received our first assignment of the day. We were scheduled to begin our first shift at 11am at The Children’s Area of the park in which parents with school age children leave their little ones to be playfully occupied while in the care of loving adults. However, since we had time before our first shift began, I ventured down to The Presbyterian Church of the Mountain’s booth where I obtained my customary Ham, Egg, and Cheese Sandwich on a croissant prior to the beginning of the festival’s Annual Jazz Mass.

The Annual Jazz Mass has become a favorite among festival goers for the music and for the meaningful messages conveyed through the insights shared by the clergy who participate. The service began with a call to worship led by The Reverend Karen Nickels (Retired from The Presbyterian Church of the Mountain) who served as Worship Leader along with Reverend Sherry Blackman (The Current Pastor of The Church of the Mountain) and Bill Cohea (former Interim Pastor of The Church of the Mountain) who served as Liturgists. The music for the Mass was composed and conducted by Rich Chamberlain (co Founder of COTA). The orchestra’s performance given by numerous Jazz greats roused the spirituality of the sizable audience as did the songs rendered by  the Jazz Mass Choir under the direction of Teresa Marino along with solo performances given by Michele Bautier, Denny Carrig, and Bonnie Childs. The days meditation (aka Sermon) was given by Reverend Karen and took note of how the musical art form of Jazz reflects God’s Kingdom with every musician’s creative gift is allowed to come to the fore under the direction of a loving conductor.

I took my place at the Children’s area while the Jazz Mass was coming to an end but left the area when the mass concluded in order to join with my fellow members of security in the customary act of asking those attending the service to leave the site so the front gate would be able to meet the festival’s financial needs to determine who paid to enjoy the rest of the event. While the process was being enacted, The Lost Ramblers performed near the front gate area entertaining everyone with their well known renditions of bluegrass and country music making the necessary process of waiting in line an enjoyable one. The Lost Ramblers consists of John Updike on the Five String Banjo, Neil Morris on Guitar, Jim Schaffer on Bass Fiddle, H. David Husic on Fiddle, Anthony Hannigan on Mandolin, and Jillian Bronsan on Flute and Pennywhistle.

My partner and I returned to the Children’s Area in order to help keep a watchful eye on the little ones so their safety could be assured while being available to the vendors in the food court who may have a need for a security personnel to help in their endeavors. It was during our shift did the first performance of the day begin. From a distance, I heard the gentle sounds of The Bill Mays Trio with Bill on piano, Tim Horner on drums, and Dean Johnson on bass. The flavor of their performance reflected that of the previous day’s beginning presented by Nancy and Spencer Reed but the trio’s nuanced approach to their music created a different feel that was embraced by the audience. I could not see or hear the group clearly from my vantage point, but the essence of their renderings touched me as it did with all who listened.

Soon after the performance given by the Bill Mays Trio concluded, so did my shift at The Children’s Area. The trio were followed by Co-Op Bop who consisted of Alan Gaumer on trumpet, Nelson Hill on saxophones, Tom Kozic on guitar, Rick Chamberlain on Trombone, Craig Kastelnik on Hammond B3 organ, and Gary Rissmiller on drums. The group was joined by Vocalist Pat Flaherty whose powerful phrasings transfixed the audience through every syllable she shared. Co-Op Bop was followed by a performance given by COTA Cats Volume XXXIV.

The COTA Cats is a big band consisting of high school students attending area schools who have an interest and proficiency in the musical art of Jazz. The COTA Cats were established in 1981 through the efforts of COTA Co Founders Phil Woods and Rick Chamberlain who sought to inspire and mentor local area high school musicians in the fine art of big band performance. Although each COTA Cat possess exceptional talent, there are some who are recognized for having special promise and are awarded scholarships so they may continue their musical education. This year, the recipients of these scholarships were Anna Speer who will be attending Elizabethtown College to study music therapy, Ian Denny who will be attending Penn State University to study Music Education, and Elijah Denny who will be attending Kutztown University to study Music Education.

It was during the COTA Cats Volume XXXIV did the time for my second shift of the day was scheduled to begin and I went to The Security Command Center to discover my partner and I were assigned to the Front Gate Area as we were the previous day. From my vantage point, I was able to hear the distant sounds of Expansions: The David Liebman Group with David on saxophones, Bobby Avey on piano, Matt Vashlishan on saxophone, Tony Marino on bass, and Alex Ritz on drums. Although I could not see or hear them clearly, the musical effect of their auditory wanderings could be experienced through the countenance of the people whom I observed who were well within listening range.

As my shift ended, The Vic Juris Trio were about to perform with Vic on guitar, Jay Anderson on bass, and Adam Nussbaum on drums. However, I felt the urge to eat and I traveled to the food court area to explore the culinary delights that were offered. My hunger and I decided to splurge so purchased and ate a quarter rack of ribs from Buddy’s Barbeque. Although I couldn’t see or hear clearly The Vic Juris Trio from the food court area, their musical echoes made the meal all the more enjoyable.

When I completed my meal I was about to leave to become a part of the audience so I could partake of the music more fully. But, I was soon joined by a member of security who wished to share a meal so we went to the tent inhabited by Quench where I bought and consumed a Chicken and Rice dish that was delicious. I had eaten enough to keep me filled for the next couple of days. It was during the completion of this second meal did I notice Drummers Sherri Maricle and Skip Detrick setting up for their Drum Fun Session at The Children’s Area. I quickly moved closer to enjoy watching the drummers and children bang away on various forms of percussions in joyous abandonment. I then returned to finish my meal with my fellow security person as The Vic Juris Trio was concluding their set.

We finished our meal as the announcement Nellie McKay www.facebook.com/nelliemckaymusic was about to perform. The delight in the prospect of hearing her sing flooded my senses as I eagerly awaited her arrival on stage. She did so wearing a yellow Kimono outfit that moved gently as she made her way to the piano to begin her first song. Laughter and thoughtfulness filled the eyes and hearts of all who heard her as she alternated between piano and ukulele utilizing each instrument’s modalities to enhance the qualities of her songs. Every word she uttered was an enchantment that touched the magic within every audience member who partook of her musical potions.

It was during Ms. McKay’s performance did it become time for me to return to the Security Command Center to meet with my partner so we could begin our third and final shift of the day. I was delighted to discover it would be at the area known as “The Steps” where I could continue to fully hear and see Ms. McKay’s performance. Yet, soon after we arrived at our station, the set had come to an end before it was scheduled to do so and, like a wisp of scented smoke reminiscent of a whisper from the divine, she was gone.

After some time had passed, the final band of the night and festival took the stage. The Shocknaw Mountain Boys www.facebook.com/Shockenawe?ref=br_tf consisted of John Skehan on mandolin and piano, Andy Goessling on guitar, banjo, and dobra, and Johnny Grubb on bass while featuring Tim Carbone on violin and guitar. The wild country and bluegrass sounds the musician made delighted the crowd as the creative energies of the audience made for the most artistically performed hoe down dancing I have personally ever laid eyes on. A number of guest musicians joined the group as the conclusion of their set approached. It ended with a crescendo of appreciative applause that were echoed in the final words of the announcer who thanked the band and the audience for bringing The 37th Annual Celebration of the Arts Jazz and Arts Festival to a memorable end.

During the festival, a number of awards and presentations were shared. These included the 2014 Sterling and Dorothy Strauser Award which honors an individual’s contribution to the visual arts, The 2014 Joanne Mayer Award which honors the endeavors of an individual COTA Volunteer, and The 2014 Fred Waring Award which honors an individual’s outstanding contributions to the arts and the community. The festival also introduced its new Executive Director, Kathyn Rudolph, who has assisted Tim Helman (who designed this year’s poster) and other members of the COTA Board of Directors in obtaining grants. The passing of members of the festival’s community were also mentioned and these individual were musicians Richy Barz and Peter Phillips along with (as mentioned earlier in this article) Chef Leon Shiner.

In addition to its annual festival, The Celebration of the Arts presents Camp Jazz www.facebook.com/Campjazz which is offered every summer to those who seek an intensive, week long immersion in jazz music and technique mentored by renowned jazz greats. Camp Jazz was formed in 2007 by Phil Woods and Rick Chamberlain (co-founders of COTA) as an extension of the festival and its educational arm to foster and encourage local talent in a more relaxed environment than that found in a school offering a staff of mentors who are well established in the national and international Jazz community. Scholarship are available to those who wish to attend but are unable to afford the participation fee. These include the newly established Richard (Richy) Barz and the Stanley Kay Scholarships.

The Celebration of the Arts (COTA) Jazz and Arts Festival began in 1978 by Phil Woods, Rich Chamberlain, and the late Ed Joubert and takes place every year the Weekend after Labor Day. From its humble beginnings which consisted of a 4 hour concert held on risers near the steps of an Annex of the Castle Inn with an audience of just over 500 people which was mostly made up of friends, family, and some ardent jazz fans, the festival has evolved to become a Mecca for jazz enthusiasts throughout the world. The three day festival is presently presented in cooperation with the Borough of Delaware Water Gap, PA, The Castle Hill Development, Inc., and the Delaware Water Gap, PA Joint Toll Bridge Commission. Music presented at the festival is recorded by Chiaroscuro Records for later release. In addition to it’s annual festival, The Celebration of the Arts (COTA) also supports the arts and the music of jazz in all its forms and historical breadth through youth education, performing arts presentations, scholarship opportunities, and community outreach throughout the Pocono area.

Those who would like to lend their time and talents to The 38th Annual Celebration of the Arts Jazz and Arts Festival are welcomed to attend COTA’s Volunteer Meetings. They are held at The Deer Head Inn in Delaware Water Gap, PA during the Spring and Summer Months. The festival and all its functions is organized and run by volunteers. Numerous volunteer positions are available and they include Back and Front gate workers along with Security and Stage Crew personnel. I hope to see you at a future meeting so we can serve the festival together while creating some wonderful memories. Please feel free to explore The Celebration of the Arts (COTA) Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/pages/COTA-Celebration-Of-The-Arts/234094683405815 or visit their website at www.cotajazz.org for more information about the festival, what the organization has to offer the community, and how you can be involved in all they do.

Just as I began my adventures in COTA before the official event commenced, it didn’t end for me when the final notes and farewells were shared at the festival site. As the many music and art lovers were traveling to their cars to make their way home to relive their memories, I traveled across the street to partake of the COTA After Party that was being celebrated at The Deer Head Inn www.facebook.com/deerhead.inn with a Jazz Jam led by Bill Goodwin. Numerous musicians and singers joyfully demonstrated their profound talents through the sheer joy of playing together. It was a delight to see and listen to the love these individuals expressed for one another as the music they embraced bonded them together. It was a wonderful end to a fantastic festival and I look forward to coming back next year. You’ll find the photographs I took before, during, and after the festival in The COTA 2014 Gallery at www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152701931170421.1073741910.636000420&type=1. Thank you for reading this article.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

And Now The Festival Begins

The Celebration of the Arts (COTA) held its final General Meeting for 2014 at The Deer Head Inn in Delaware Water Gap, PA www.facebook.com/deerhead.inn on Tuesday September 2nd to make the final preparations for their 37th Annual Jazz and Arts Festival which is scheduled to be held September 5th - 7th. However, I arrived at the meeting just as it was coming to a close so I don’t know what transpired during it. Yet, by the expression of the faces I’ve seen and the mood of the company I felt, I could tell the meeting afforded the large number of people present a time to prepare for the festival both physically and spiritually.

After I shared some good byes and expressed my eagerness to see my comrades in music at the festival, I traveled to the neighboring Presbyterian Church of the Mountain www.facebook.com/pages/Presbyterian-Church-of-the-Mountain/234593743269661 as I did last week where the final rehearsal for The Celebration of the Arts Jazz Mass Choir led by Teresa Marino was under way. The Jazz Mass will take place on Sunday Morning at 10am at the COTA site. You’ll find more photographs taken during the final Celebration of the Arts General Meeting for 2014 and the last rehearsal of the Jazz Mass Choir at The COTA Meetings 2014 Gallery at www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152423759645421.1073741897.636000420&type=1.

The mission of The Celebration of the Arts (COTA) is to present and to support the art of jazz in all its forms and historical breadth through youth education, performing arts presentations, scholarship opportunities, and community outreach throughout the Pocono area. Please Explore The Celebration of the Arts Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/pages/COTA-Celebration-Of-The-Arts/234094683405815, their Website at www.cotajazz.org, or by calling 570-424-2210 to learn how you can become a volunteer and to learn for more information all about COTA has to offer.

Pictorial Perfection at The SOHO

As the 8th Annual Stroudfest event whose day long celebration of all things Stroudsburg was coming to a close, The SOHO in the BURG in Stroudsburg, PA held an Artists’ Reception for their “Picture Perfect” show on Saturday August 30th. The exhibit featured work created by a multitude of local artists and photographers with nearly 150 pieces lining the gallery’s walls. The outstanding quality of the work touched the imagination and inspired the mind of each attendee to not only to experience the fullness of the images conveyed in each individual piece but to allow their complimentary visions created from within to merge with the work.

The lively conversation shared by the numerous art lovers and artists who were present reflected the excitement the work generated. The variety of subject matter and techniques employed by each artist enchanted the viewer enticing one to delve deeply into the essence of the piece. This was particularly true of the more abstract of the work presented as their colors and curvatures led each person who were touched by them on an inner journey that remains indefinable.

Along with the art being shown for the exhibit, a special area was set up which featured the work of Lui Jun who came to the area in 2011 to study Art Research at The East Stroudsburg University of PA. He returned to the area this year to do more research and to share his talents so the citizens of the Monroe County area can benefit from them. In this endeavor, his work was offered as Raffle items whose proceeds would benefit either Women’s Resources, Pocono Area Transitional Housing (PATH), The Salvation Army, or The Y. M. C. A. The decision on which of these charitable organizations the monies raised will go to will be left to the individual who wins the raffle. You may purchase your tickets at The SOHO in the BURG Gallery during their business hours of 12-5pm on Thursdays as well as on Fridays and Saturdays from 12 to 8pm.

The late afternoon and early evening spent at The SOHO in the BURG Gallery was an enjoyable one filled with wonderful art, good company, and delicious foods. The atmosphere of the venue never fails to delight those who enter it as its owner, Andrea Robbins Rimberg, eagerly greets each visitor as they arrive with her effervescent smile and welcoming demeanor.  You’ll find more photographs taken during the Saturday August 30th Artists’ Reception for The SOHO in the BURG Gallery’s Picture Perfect exhibition in The Stroudsburg Art District 2014 Gallery at www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152239353790421.1073741877.636000420&type=1.

The SOHO in the BURG Gallery is located on the corner of 6th and Main Street in Stroudsburg, PA which was the location of the J. J. Newberry’s store. The gallery opened its doors to the public in April of 2012 and is owned by Andrea Robbins Rimberg who has become well known for her exuberant energies and creativity as many of her pieces are on display in prestigious galleries throughout the United States. The title of the next exhibition to be presented at The SOHO in the BURG Gallery will be announced soon. You can learn more about The SOHO in the BURG Gallery, their future exhibits, and all the gallery has to offer the creative community by exploring their Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/sohointheburg.

A Town Celebrates with Stroudfest 8

The 8th Annual Stroudfest event took place throughout the little town of Stroudsburg, PA on Saturday August 30th. The sidewalks were lined with merchandise the many shopkeepers who has established themselves as part of the local business community had placed in front of their stores along with venders who shared their crafts, retail items, and charitable opportunities with those who visited them. The day was also filled with music as festival goers walked the streets to enjoy the offerings of the event.

My day at the festival began in the alley found between Josephine's Fleur-de-lis www.facebook.com/pages/Josephines-Fleur-de-lis/292592820756374 and The 14KT Outlet’s Fine Jewelry Design www.facebook.com/The14ktOutlet. In this alley, there stood the stage where the town’s Music  in the Park Series takes place from which the band “Wolf And The Lost Ones” www.facebook.com/wolfandthelostones seduced the audience with their smooth juicy soul renditions flowing through their instruments and voices creating a mellow atmosphere among the gathering until they performed a number of fast tempo pieces that stirred many a heart to dance. I enjoyed listening to the quartet until the whispers of the festival bade me to explore its other offerings.

I walked along the Main Street of Stroudsburg and was met by the sight of commerce. Stores filled the sidewalk with their wares which ranged from sporting goods to shoes while vendors that inhabited the area along the edge of the sidewalk offered even more of a variety to those who stopped by their tent. These included tie dyed apparel sold by Shady River Designs www.facebook.com/shadyriverdesigns, Melon Gift www.facebook.com/melons.gift?fref=ts who will have their Annual Fun Dog Show on Saturday September 27th at The Stroudsburg Intermediate School in Stroudsburg, PA, and Kitchen Chemistry www.facebook.com/pages/kitchen-chemistry/245276232196 who makes some really good bakery items, and For The Birds gaingrant2074@yahoo.com who creates some exquisite bird houses. It was during my visitations to these vendors did I come to the vicinity of The Living Room.

The venue was empty except for the presence of the art what was first presented in the gallery at the beginning of August and the gallery sitter whose welcoming demeanor enhanced the beauty of the work. The artists whose visions were on display were Joy Taney, Carolyn Burbage, Hannah Brush, and Michelle Neifert. It was good to be able to quietly explore the essence of each piece and to learn all they had to teach me. It was quite a lot of lesson filled work on display and I became enthralled by their intricacies. The next exhibition The Living Room in Stroudsburg, PA will be their Art is Activism group show featuring the work of local artists. The Artists’ Reception will be held on Saturday September 6th beginning at 6pm with the work continuing to be on display until September 30th. Please explore The Living Room Facebook Page at  www.facebook.com/shermanlivingroom for more information.

I eventually left The Living Room and continued my journeys through the town. I encountered more vendors with whom I enjoyed sharing conversation with while being fascinated by the wares they offered. These included Nightwind Studios www.facebook.com/pages/Nightwind-Studios/184461401597538 who offers custom art designs, Health Coach Carolyn Caruso www.facebook.com/MyOwnFit who offers individualized healthy lifestyle planning, and Fairy Godmothers magic191@ptd.net who offers an opportunity to all who partake of their merchandise to live their fanciful dreams. I also visited The School of Visual and Performing Arts who will host The Theater Studio: A Confidence Theater www.facebook.com/pages/Theater-Studio-A-Confidence-Theater/258915317642152 production of Sleeping Beauty on Sunday September 7th beginning at 6pm. It was a delight to meet the vendors as our chats enhanced my day.

It was during these explorations did I come upon the tent inhabited by Project Street Art which is a local community art endeavor created to beautify the area through a number of artistic initiatives. The first of these initiatives was the creation of a mural constructed along a section of the town’s Main Street that was touched by fire several years ago. The mural was completed in a one day event on Saturday May 24th, 2014 and can be seen on the 600 block of the town. The next project is scheduled to take place on Saturday September 27th and will consist of murals being painted at 10 different sites in the Stroudsburg and East Stroudsburg area. You can learn more about Project Street Art and how to become involved in this worthy endeavor by exploring their Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/projectstreetart?ref=br_tf for more information.

After conversing and being creatively energized by the Project Street Art gang, I ventured to the town’s courthouse square where music was being heard and a variety of foods were being enthusiastically consumed. A great number of people were there and it was good to meet up with many of my friends who were among them. Reacquainting conversations filled me with memories as the nearly forgotten affections we had for each other so many years ago were rekindled. The band that was on stage were completing it’s set so I didn’t hear much of their performance, but I left the area with a song in my heart that I shall continue to sing for quite some time.

I then ventured back to the Music in the Park Stage to listen to Woodrow www.facebook.com/wearewoodrow who consists of Brian Bramcamp on Guitar and vocals and Theresa Ratcliff on vocals. The duet’s renditions of classic songs never fails to surpass the qualities of their original versions as seen in the delighted eyes of those who were listening. It was during their performance did they share a number of original pieces whose calibre favorably compared to the classic tunes they sung. It was sometime afterwards did I bid farewell to the 8th Annual Stroudfest event as my adventurous desires let me to explore elsewhere. It was a good day and I’m glad I was able to attend. You’ll find more photographs taken during the 8th Annual Stroudfest Event in The Stroudfest 2014 Gallery at www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152679878780421.1073741909.636000420&type=1.
 
The 8th Annual Stroudfest event was organized and presented by the Sherman Theater as one of the festivals it formulated which is designed to honor the town of Stroudsburg, PA. Sponsors of Stroudfest 2014 included numerous local businesses who support the town and its endeavors. In addition to Stroudfest the theater presents The Pocono Raceway Festival which takes place in June as well as numerous concerts, theatrical productions, and other events throughout the year. You can learn more about The Sherman Theater and all it has to offer the community by exploring their Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/ShermanTheater?ref=ts&fref=ts.