Thursday, November 26, 2015

Waiting for OMO (ie OMN)

Those who ventured through the seasonally cold pre winter night of Sunday November 22nd to partake of another installment of the weekly Open Mic Nite Series held at the Sherman Theater's Living Room in Stroudsburg, PA were greeted by the event's hosts who were sitting outside upon a bench while waiting for a concert that was being presented in the venue to come to its conclusion. The chill that was in the air was dissipated by the warming conversation that abounded among the temporary denizens of the sidewalk. It was quite some time before entry to the establishment could be had but, once it was, a sigh of toasty relief came upon the large company who eagerly shuttled in to partake of the venue's warmth which was generated by both its heating system and those who would share the wonders of the evening with them.

As a delicious tray of lasagna was set out by Bobby Jo Moran for all to partake of, co host Theresa Ratcliff welcomed the gathering and shared her appreciation for the fortitude they demonstrated while waiting to come within the venue. It was after her words did she introduce the fist act which was Guitarist Christian Van Dunn who sang a mixture of originals and already establish songs which inspired many to sing along. He was followed by a co host known as “The Carlton” who shared his special brand of humor to the delight of the audience while the next performers were setting up their equipment.

It was after Carlton's words did the band known as Cosmic perform. Their sounds flowed across the audience like an ocean's wave whose life giving liquids were absorbed by the gathering's sponge like attention. They were followed by the duo known as “Woodrow” who consists of Theresa Ratcliff and Brian Bramkamp. The complex lyrics of their first election drew the audience toward its depth as their interpretations provided renewed meanings to the this and the other songs they performed. They were followed by The Carlton who engaged the audience's through their intellect and rhetoric participation which was inspired by his poetic renderings.

The Carlton was followed by a new comer to the Open Mic Nite Series known as Pa Pa Doc who sang with such energy and joy it was impossible for the gathering to not embrace his talent. He was followed by a poet named, “Clara” who was new to the event and spoke words that penetrated the consciousness as their deeper meanings poured into the spaces her utterances created. She was followed by a comedian known as RJ who was a newcomer and whose observations of Pigeons and Politicians inspired a great deal of laughter. He was followed by Cody Burawski who had been a part of the Living Room's population for a long time until she moved out of the area. Her return created a joy as her long missed poetic phrasings touched many of the familiar spaces that were left empty by her absence.

Cody was followed by another long time favorite known as “Dee Allen” who heightened the room's energy through the powerfully delivered songs she shared. She was followed by a favorite of the room known as “John” who fearlessly shared songs that were played in his head thanks to his electronic device and were heard within every heart that was present. He was followed by another new comer known as “Tim K.” whose guitar and haunting voice traveled into the essence of the song in order to release its soul. He was followed by Wilbium who closed the evening out with a performance presented upon his electronic Keyboard and guitar. Dancing ensued as the mesmeric vibrations emanating from each measure of his instrumental manipulations flowed through every molecule composing the involuntary rotary functions of the mind and body.

It was as Wilbium's performance was at its conclusion and its effects slowly dissipated did co host Theresa Ratcliff share her appreciation and admiration to the gathering for their steadfastness in regards to being present in spite of the long wait that occurred before entry to the venue would be granted. It was soon after her words did the company bid each other farewell and begin to leave in anticipation of returning the following week for another Open Mic Nite at the Sherman Theater's Living Room. This will be take place on Sunday November 29th beginning at 7pm with sign ins beginning at 6:30pm. The feature performance for the evening will be the band known as “Cosmic.” Musicians, poets, writers, and anyone who would like to share something with a receptive audience are welcomed to do so. In the meantime, you'll be able to view the photographs I took during the November 22nd event in the Waiting for OMO (ie OMN) Gallery at

In addition to the Open Mic Nites presented at The Sherman Theater’s Living Room, the venue also holds a Gallery. Their next exhibition will be their Black Saturnalia Exhibition with an Artists' Reception scheduled for Saturday December 12th beginning at 6pm. The Drop off date for artists who wish to place their work in the show is Monday December 7th beginning at 2pm. Please contact the gallery at 570-421-2808 for more information.

The Sherman Theater’s Living Room is located on Main Street in Stroudsburg, PA next to The Sherman Theater who owns the building. The Sherman Theater’s 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 Sherman Theater’s Living Room Facebook Page at for more information on the venue, all they have to offer, and how to be a part of it all.

Photography by Paparazzi Paul.

Le Château de Mosaïques

As a number of pleasant tunes reflecting the upcoming holiday season were played by Jim Gulino upon the Shoppes at The Castle Inn Complex's piano, a large number of art lovers explored The Castle Inn Gallery of Delaware Water Gap, PA which is situated within the complex. The gallery held an Artist's Reception on Saturday November 21st for their Needlepoints, Paintings, and Mosaic Designs exhibition featuring the work of Sandy Belinger. An abundance of exquisite work depicting a variety of cultures and images filled the space as the fine stitch-work and brush strokes intrigued the senses with their hues and intricacies.

In addition to the art and music which blended well together, an assortment of foods located across the hall of the gallery beckoned all to partake of the hearty cuisine. This, as well as the congenial atmosphere generated by the gallery and the Inn itself, enhanced the conversations relating to the work. A number of the shoppes within the complex were open and many ventured to explore their inviting merchandise in addition to the art. The evening was an enjoyable one filled with wonderful art, delightful music, tasty eats, and thoughtful conversations. You’ll be able to find more photographs taken during the reception in Le Château de Mosaïques Gallery at

Sandy Belinger has maintained a high level of creativity while exploring many mediums and techniques over the past 40 years. The artist is best known for her uncanny ability to take a simple concept and create something that is truly extraordinary. You can learn more about Sandy Belinger (aka Grand Ma Bee) by emailing her at

The Castle Inn Gallery in Delaware Water Gap, PA is curated by Jose and Maggie Santamaria who seeks to showcase local artists in an intimate setting conducive to allowing individuals who visit the venue to explore the work in a relaxed manner. The current Needlepoints, Paintings, and Mosaic Designs exhibition featuring the work of Sandy Belinger will be on display until January 8th. The artists featured in the gallery’s next exhibit are yet to be announced. Please Explore The Castle Inn Gallery Facebook Page for more information at

The Castle Inn Gallery is found within The Castle Inn located in Delaware Water Gap, PA. The Inn was built in 1906 and was the last of the great hotels to be built in area. It housed an ice cream parlor, a mosaic floor, bowling alleys, a pool, and a billiard parlor. Performances were presented which included those given by Opera legend Enrico Caruso, Marching Band Leader John Phillip Sousa, and Big Band Leader Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians. This all came to an abrupt end when fire touched the Inn during the 1970s and it laid dormant until 2005 when it was purchased by Theresa Veltri and Frank Paccione who continues their endeavors to bring the Inn back as an asset to the community and all who visit it. You’ll be able to learn more about The Shoppes at The Castle Inn and all they have to offer by exploring their Facebook Page at

Photography by Paparazzi Paul.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Two Eyes Blessed by Four Views

There is no greater tribute a student can pay to his/her teacher than to excel in life through the lessons found in his/her teachings. This was never more evident than at the Schoonover (Middle Smithfield Township) Municipal Building in East Stroudsburg, PA who held an Artists' Reception for their exhibition titled, “4 Views” on Friday November 20th. The exhibit featured the work of Patricia A. Griffin along with her former students Jill Perry, Jill Gleeson-Doherty, and Judith P. Moeller. Cheese made by Cranberry Creek Farms in Cresco, PA and vegetables grown as well as breads baked by Josie Porter Farms in Stroudsburg, PA were served during the reception as Peter Begeley provided music on an instrument known as the Chapman Stick. There were also free art class sign ups taking place during the event.

The enormity of Ms. Griffin's work in both size and subject matter filled a good portion of the room while the work of Ms. Perry, Doherty, and Moeller adorned the remainder of the vast gallery with their incredible renderings. Many of the images in the exhibit depicted animals and country scenes reflecting a softness exemplified in the hues and layering of each piece. Although the influence Ms. Griffin instilled in her students can be seen in their work, one only has to allow the images themselves to communicate the exemplary individual approach and styling her protégés employed in its creation. The gentle love found within theses images touched the senses of the large gathering that entered the township's gallery which was made audible in every utterance that were shared during their thoughtful conversations.

The experience of exploring the exhibit and all its charms was enhanced by the music presented by Peter Begeley on an instrument known as the Chapman Stick which is similar to an electric guitar in its physical construction. The Stick was invented by Emmett Chapman in 1974 and has a 10 or 12 string touch board which are taped with the fingertips of both hands to produce a full range of sounds. The Stick, as played by Mr. Begeley, had an unique quality of discovering the subtle esoteric voices within the compositions he shared which gently moved the gathering toward a transcendence complimentary to the visual art. In other words, it was “wow.” You'll find more photographs taken during the Artists' Reception in the Two Eyes Blessed by Four Views Gallery at

Patricia A. Griffin is an acclaimed artist and Middle Smithfield Township resident. Her work is displayed in museums and galleries across the U. S. Ms. Griffin has a deep and abiding love for the natural world and its beauty and has been often drawn to raw areas that have been preserved from excessive development. She has been influenced by VanGogh, Rothko, Rungius, and Emily Carr whose aesthetic essence can be seen in her work. You can learn more about Patricia A. Griffin and her work by exploring her Website at

Jill Perry has always been passionate with painting especially with the concept of color creating form. Jill Gleeson-Doherty has always been drawn to color, shapes, and movement finding the sky to be a wondrous place as a child who would watch the colors change and move for hours. Judith P. Moeller enjoys observing the beauty laid out before her and the rest of humanity throughout the world and putting its shapes, shadows, textures, and colors on canvas.

The Schoonover (Middle Smithfield Township) Municipal Building in East Stroudsburg, PA is located four miles north of Marshalls Creek, PA near the Pocono Square Shopping Center. Middle Smithfield Township is filled with rich history, beautiful scenery, and a thriving business district. The 4 Views exhibition featuring the work of Patricia A. Griffin, Jill Perry, Jill Gleeson-Doherty, and Judith P. Moeller will continue to be on display until January 7th. The next exhibit is yet to be announced. You can learn more about The Schoonover Municipal Building and Middle Smithfield Township, PA by exploring their Facebook Page at or their Website at

Photography by Paparazzi Paul.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Awarding Images in Monroe County, PA

The fresh, brisk air of a higher elevation filled the beings of those who left their cars to walk toward the entrance of The Kalahari Resorts and Convention Center in Pocono Manor, PA on Sunday November 15th. The establishment hosted The 1st Annual Monroe County, PA Image Awards (MCIA). The honorees and the hopeful nominees (yeah, I was one of them) emerged from the Kalahari Africanesque portal to partake of the award ceremony which featured dance and song performances along with the distribution of the awards in multiple categories to the selected recipients.

A gathering of what was considered the county's best populated the halls of the vast building as conversations were shared among friends who had known each other for years and those who had known each other for a moment while waiting to be registered for the event. Soon, the wait was over and those who registered were taken to the event's Red Carpet Area with their guest(s) to be interviewed by a member of the Sistah Chat Radio Program which airs every Wednesday at 6pm on WESS 90.3 FM and to have their picture taken by Keith Drayton of Focusing on You Photography After each photo session, the guests of the honorees and nominees were invited to go into the banquet hall where a lunch would be served while they remained to continue and initiate chats with other potential award recipients.

Soon, it was time for the nominees to congregate in order to make their esteemed entrance into the banquet hall. Each nominee were to enter one by one, say who they are, and state which category they were nominated for. As I entered, I said, “I'm Paul, I'm a writer, and I'm hungry.” A stage was constructed so the nominees could stand and be seen by the gathering of guest before leaving it to greet the multitude in order to make new friends among them. It was after this everyone was seated to await their table's turn to partake of the meal that was prepared for them. The enjoyment of the victuals was enhanced by the conversation shared among the denizens of each table.

After a time, the commencement of the main event of the day was announced and the 1st Annual MCIA ceremony began. It opened with a combined performance given by International CILA Artist Natalia Segura who sang a song titled, “Beautiful Day” and the Eleve Dance Theatre This was followed by the entrance of Gary Smith (aka Gary in the Morning) from WABT 96.7 FM and was the MCIA Media Communication Honoree. He then proceed to present the awards to those precipitants in each category.

The recipient of the MCIA Award for Media and Communications Excellence was Elisa Chase of WABT 96.7 FM, Darlene Farris-LaBar of Smithfield, PA for Community Arts, and Roy Ramos of Coolbaugh, PA for Community Entertainment. Each recipient shared their appreciative thoughts along with some words relating to their field. This was followed by the presentation Gary Smith of his MCIA of which he thoughtfully accepted.

MCIA Honoree Dawn Notaro of Dawn of The New York Clothing Shop in Stroudsburg, PA was scheduled to present the awards in the Local Business Category but was unable to attend the event. However, Sara Smith - Katz and Alicia LaRaine Middleton came before the audience to praise Ms. Notaro and to model some of her wearable work. This was followed by the presentation of the MCIA given by Ms. Katz to recipients The Pocono Medical Wellness Center in East Stroudsburg, PA for Local Business, Andy Worthington of Shawnee on Delaware, PA for Economic Development whose award was accepted by Reagan Brown, and a MCIA was given posthumously to Rick Chamberlain of Delaware Water Gap, PA for Community Music.

This was followed by the appearance of Community Written Expression Honorees Edward and Debbie Petra Smith of Meet the Smiths The MCIA for Community Written Expression was given to Lois Heckman of Saylorsburg, PA who was not present to receive it. I was nominated for this award but not not get it. I'll be going to a 12 step program in the near future to get over it. Mr. and Mrs. Smith then proceeded to present the MCIA to Sharon Laverdure of East Stroudsburg, PA for being an Outstanding Educator, to Tiffany Elston of Blakeslee, PA for being an Outstanding College Student, and Miriam Bouchekouk of East Stroudsburg, PA for being an Outstanding High School Student.

This was followed by a special introduction given by Sara Smith - Katz for Community Advocate MCIA honoree Deborah Cofer Ms. Cofer then proceeded to share her thoughts with the audience which proved to be thoughtful and uplifting. She then presented the MCIA for Community Service to Gil Coronado of East Stroudsburg, PA, the MCIA for Civic Service to The National Council of Negro Women - Greater Pocono Section, The Coach of the Year MCIA to Alexis Wilkinson of East Stroudsburg, PA, and a MCIA was given to Jonathan Smith Rivera of Swiftwater, PA for being an Outstanding College Athlete.

This was followed by the Public Service Award honoree PA State Representative, David Parker, of the commonwealth's 115th Legislative District who shared some thoughtful words as a tribute in memory of Samantha Agins who was a medic at a camp for disabled individuals in PA. She died while administering CPR to an autistic woman in her 40s. Representative Parker's words were followed by the return of Natalia Segura whose voice moved the soul while a slide presentation celebrating Ms. Agins' life was shown. It was after this heart touching presentation did members of Ms. Agins' family come to the stage, shared their appreciation, and presented a number of MCIAs. These presentations were to The Bushkill, PA Emergency Corps who received the award for Emergency Medical Service and to the A Plus Smile Center PC in East Stroudsburg, PA who received the Medical Achievement award.
This was followed by the appearance of MCIA Community Films Honoree Bridget O. Davis who is the founder of the Pocono Mountains Film Festival After sharing her thoughts on the awards and her appreciation for receiving one, Ms. Davis proceeded to present a number of awards herself. These were the MCIA for Community Film/TV to BASSLINE Against the Bully and the Clergy Leadership Award to Rev. Dr. Kenneth Pearman of the Reaching out for Jesus Christian Center in Brodheadsville, PA.

This was followed by the appearance of Katrina Meyers-Gray who sang a patriotic tribute to the United States prior to the entrance of the Veteran's Honoree Sergeant Major Claudette Williams. Ms. Williams then proceeded to present the Veteran's Award to Bishop Dr. William Earl Lee of Stroudsburg, PA and the MCIA for Public Service to State Rep. Rosemary Brown of Middle Smithfield, PA.

This was followed by the appearance of MCIA co founders Alicia LaRaine Middleton and Thomas Jones. The duo shared their appreciation and praise for those who were involved with and supported the manifestation of The 1st Annual Monroe County, PA Image Awards as well as to those who came to experience the event. It was during this time did they reveal the winners of The Rising Star Award. They were Deidre Sears and the Elevé Dance Theater, Natalia Segura of CILA llc, Management, Katrina Meyers-Gray of Madamdon's House of Beauty, and Michael Tukeva of Pocono Alliance As their words concluded, they proceeded to present the MCIA for Community Service to Gil Coronado of East Stroudsburg, PA. The presentations of the MCIA concluded with The Man of the Year Award given to Geoffrey M. Roche of East Stroudsburg, PA and The Woman of the Year Award given to Sharone Glasco.

The event was concluded by some closing remarks shared by MCIA co founders Alicia LaRaine Middleton and Thomas Jones who invited the audience to partake in capturing images of themselves (selfies) on their cell phones. This was followed by a performance given by the Eleve Dance Theatre and Katrina Meyers-Gray who sang the song titled, “Ain't No Stopping Us Now” which was written in 1979 by Gene McFadden and John Whitehead and appears in their debut album titled, “McFadden and Whitehead.” An after party continued the celebration in the Kalahari banquet hall with music provided by DJ Ruby while those who received MCIAs were invited to have their photographs taken with their trophies on the red carpet. It was during this time did those who came to the event share their fare wells while looking forward to the next Monroe County, PA Image Awards ceremony who will begin accepting nominations in March 2016. You'll find more photographs taken during 2015 event in the 1st Annual MCIA in the Award Images in Monroe County, PA Gallery at

The 1st Annual Monroe County, PA Image Awards was held at The Kalahari Resorts and Convention Center in the Pocono Mountains. According to their website, the venue is an authentically African themed resort and convention center which is located in Pocono Manor, PA. The venue holds a 100,000 square foot Indoor Water Park, 457 appointed guest Rooms and Suites, numerous Dining options, and a Family Entertainment Center along with their Spa Kalahari and Salon. The Convention Center at Kalahari features 65,000 square feet of flexible meeting space for events both large and small along with award-winning catering and state-of-the-art technology to make any event an unforgettable one. You can learn more about The Kalahari Resorts and Convention Center and all they have to offer by exploring their Facebook Page at or their Website at

The Monroe County, PA Image Awards (MCIA) are designed to celebrate the many contributions of leaders who serve the county in an exemplary manner. The MCIA was initiated by Rainey Roo Productions which was founded by Thomas Jones who serves as their CEO and Alicia LaRaine Middleton. The organization offers a variety of media and promotional development consultation and services to the community and individuals. You can learn more about The Monroe County, PA Image Awards and Rainey Roo Productions with all they have to offer by exploring their Facebook Page at or their Website at

Photography by Paparazzi Paul.