Monday, September 07, 2009

ArtSmash Mixes It All Up

Pocono Jazz and Poetry* and we, The Forwardian Arts Society, presented our very first ArtSmash of the Poconos on Saturday September 5th at The Shoppes on Main Complex on the corner of 8th and Main Streets in Stroudsburg, PA. The weather was beautiful and a multitude of people came by to enjoy the festivities. T Shirts related to the event were handed out as the supply of 100 soon dwindled down to zero. Our Community Partners included Bridget Williams* of The Tapestry Corner* who provided us with the venue, Nicole DeFour* of Quench Juice and Smoothie Bar* who provided food and beverage for all the participants, Nelson Ortiz* who designed the special ArtSmash logo, Patti Keegan* of Keegan Tees* who printed the ArtSmash Tshirts, Laura Goss* of The Pocono Arts Council*, Trudie Lear* of PoconoWomen, Richard Berkowitz* of The Sherman Theater* and Jacob Stroud Corporation*, Lonn Murov* and Joe Sinagra* of Grandpa Pete’s Bagels who provided food and beverage for the Open Jam Attendees.

The event was presented in two installments. The first was an outdoor affair with music, art, and poetry being presented from noon until 7pm. Watercolorist Wil Daskel* was on hand giving a demonstration of his award winning skill by painting a piece inspired by all going on around and within him. Artist Barbara Richardson* was also on hand as her work was on display within The Tapestry Corner* and answered questions concerning her endeavors posed by all interested parties.

The day began with Music. It sounds filled not only the neighboring streets, but all who walked upon them until their casual strides soon became movements of dance. Even those who decided not to physically demonstrate their desire to allow their forms to sway to and fro preferring to sit and listen, showed the pleasure of such enterprises in their eyes.

Ken Meyer* of the band “Long Time Comin’”* served as Emcee introducing one musical performer after another. He and other band mates often supported their colleagues throughout ArtSmash by lending their instruments and skillful manipulation of them to their musical brothers and sisters. This reflected the general mood of the entire event as many were seen lending a helping hand to one another which included people who were just happen to be walking by.

The first musician to perform was “Country” Bruce* who often performs with his band “Boots and Saddles” serving as the opening act for “The Marshall Tucker Band,” “Commander Cody,” and others. However, standing alone with his guitar proved to be a delight as the rousing tunes ranging from pieces from Hank William Sr. to Johnny Cash along with some classic rock. What a rousing beginning. There were even some cheerleaders who happened by as they were drawn to the music. Their movements inspired the people who watched them as if they were a sports team reaching to gain the highest scores possible. If there were scores taken for embracing music and holding its joy within, then “Country” Bruce‘s* performance was a winner.

“Country” Bruce* will soon be seen at High Elevations in White Haven, PA on Sunday September 27th a benefit show for Larry O'Rourke, a well-loved reporter from the Lehigh Valley’s “Morning Call,” who was recently stricken with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease).

The music continued with “Java Duo*” featuring Barbara Ann Little* on vocals and Phil Carollo* on Guitar. What a powerhouse they proved to be. Their performance not only continued the echoing effects of “Country” Bruce*, but added a few shockwaves of their own enticing more people to gather on the un-before realized small street corner. Barbara Ann Little* belted out one song after another knocking the sox off everyone including those who wore sandals. Phil Carollo* workings of his guitar added a more subtle quality to the songs which provided a nice balance to the pieces.

Ed Wilson* performed next which enhanced the musical mêlée of sounds even further. Each riff were superbly presented as they were played first on his intriguingly styles guitar and then on the strings connecting each member of the gathering to those around them. All, that can be added to these statements is, “Damn, the dude can play.”

This line up concluded with “Long Time Comin’”* who were well worth waiting for. The band consists of Jeff Russ* on drums, “Just Joe”* on vocals and guitar, Meg Irizarry* on vocals and bass guitar, and Ken Meyer* on percussion but should never be asked, "What's the frequency, Kenneth?” As mentioned earlier, the band played in support of others throughout the day. But now, it was their turn. Hot Damn. They played everything from blues, soul, R&B, classic rock, dance, and even some country. The variety of the music was staggering and, when they began to play some “Santana,” I began to recall, “This is how WoodStock got started.” which, in turn led to some interesting comparative thoughts on future “ArtSmash of the Poconos.” I later heard there’s a farm in Mt. Bethel, PA that might be available.

The final echoing effects of the music and excitement it generated was soon replaced with another and more profound forms of the arts which “ArtSmash of the Poconos” embrace. Tricia McGarvin*, who is the founder of “Urban Mountain Voices” which is a newly formed organization designed to give voice to young poets throughout the area, took over the reins and served as Emcee for the remainder of the outdoor performances and presentations. Her sense of poetic nuances and wit enhanced each presentation.

Poet and artist Ka-Son Reeves* presented work from his book entitled "A Poet-Whore, Pimped By Pain." The power of his words were well match by his recitation of them reaching out to every ear made eager to hear his voice. Images of beauty, deprivation, sadness, and humor were all bound together in their individual and collective truths. Pushing the listener to examine images of his or her own making.

As with all first endeavors on events of this magnitude, ArtSmash of the Poconos did not run as smoothly as planned. Some presenters and poets encountered unexpected delays and the order of their appearance had to be re arranged. Not a very big deal. However, due to my poor memory which included forgetting to take notes during the event, I’ve forgotten the order of those who performed after Ka-Son. So, here is my account of those who

Photographers NV and Juan Cordero* presented their work to an ever increasingly intrigued audience. Their presentation of some truly intricate fine art and fashion photography made me wonder what the pictures I took might look like if I knew what I was doing. Their work included intimate portraitures which had a number of lingerie and nude pieces done in a very tasteful manner. Both Film and Digital Camera were utilized in the creation of the pieces with very subtle differences between the two yet profound enough to notice.

Artist Rebecca L. Huff* delighted those who viewed her work with her images and entertained their imagination with her revealing commentary of how she discovered each piece within her and how she managed to translate her perceptions onto the canvas. While a majority of her work is in landscape and nature art, the range of medium she utilized was quite impressive as they ranged from Acrylic and pastel to charcoal and pencil. Rebecca L. Huff* is also well known for her gift reproductions such as cards, mugs, and mouse pads.

Poet Valerie Cruz* captivated her audience with her work. Numerous topics were touched upon with all presenting recognizable aspects of the human condition. This made her work even more profound as her personalized understanding and perspective allowed each soul who heard her words see their lives in a new and refreshed way. I, personally, found several of her works very moving and inspired me to re-examine the way I live parts of my life.

Photographer Joanne Bridgman* presented her work which were filled with many delightful images along with many wonderful stories of how they were captured. A variety of subjected were depicted but each touched the fancy of each person who viewed them. Much of her work has won several awards and many can see why.

Photographer and Workshop facilitator Barbara Case* hosted a fun presentation of her work with images filled with a joy emanating from her amusing personality. Besides her work as a photographer, Barbara Case* holds workshops designed to inspire their participants have some fun. One can’t help finding a smile on his or her face while viewing her work or in meeting this unique artist.

Wire sculpture artist Helen Kopec* not only presented her work, but she also revealed some of the skill required to produce her wonderful jeweled pieces. She also had a table showing her wares which created a great deal of curiosity among those who gathered on the ArtSmash Corner as it became affectionately known as by this time. Her work is very intricate and very beautiful sure to impress anyone who you would purchase jewelry for. This made me wish I had a girlfriend.

Artist Laura Salazar* enchanted those who gathered with her work. The lightness of her colors lifted the soul as their brightness seem to make a beautiful day even more so. They could, indeed, be considered mood changers as one can’t view one without feeling a bit better about themselves and the world around them.

Guitarist John Catanese* dropped by to provide an unscheduled performance. This was such a delight. Not only was his instrumental renditions a soothing respite of the hustle and bustle festive gatherings often produce, but it allowed ArtSmash to experience some spontaneity which served to infuse it with a creative energy which proved invigorating. It reminded me of how some festivals would not allow for such impromptu performances to take place and I now wonder why they would deny themselves such a pleasurable possibility.

Holly Avila* took the outdoor stage prior to partaking of her emceeing duties later that evening. She expertly played her guitar and read some of her words from her book entitled, “Broken Dreams and Shattered Promises” which she co written with Judy Andreas. Both proved to be powerful ointments to be placed upon the scares society and the political systems have inflicted upon those who are and aren’t aware of them. No one can go away from Holly’s* musical or spoken performances without being a great deal wiser.

Some poetry was also shared by Tricia McGarvin* whose words reached into each listener almost daring them to see the truth of their existence. Maybe it was more than almost. Regardless, her words did what all great poetry does. It speaks directly to the soul and makes it aware of how it can be enhanced by becoming a more active partner in its host’s life.

The outdoor festivities concluded with another unscheduled performance by the band, “Quenches” consisting of Ashley Matos* on vocals along with Lucas Martins* and Walter Lee* on guitars. They played a number of cover tunes which are very popular. However, their renditions moves the listener to pay more attention to the song’s theme while allowing the audience to gently sing along. The band got their name from the fact they play in front of The Quench Juice and Smoothie Bar* every Friday evening.

The second half of “ArtSmash of the Poconos” was moved into one of the businesses located within The Shoppes on Main Complex known as “The Corner Tapestry” for an Open Jam Emceed by Holly Avila* and hosted by some of the members of her band entitled, “Blue Planet/Planeta Azul.”* The band played several times throughout the remainder of the evening whose world music found safe haven in every port within the human heart. Their musical styles include those reminiscent of those found in Puru, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Argentina, and Montreal. Holly was accompanied by an Accordion Player simply known as Ralph* and Don Gimble* on Bongos.

Michael Kessler* was the first to perform utilizing his incomparable talent with the guitar and sense of humor. He was accompanied by Don Gimble* on Bongos. His original work covered many topics and subject areas all pleasing to the ear.

He was followed by the poetry of Urban Mountain Voices* founded by Tricia McGarvin*. I mentioned this group earlier in this article, but it‘s would be remise if it wasn‘t added this organization not only gives voice to young poets. It also seeks out talented young people in all economic and social situations ranging from those in school and those who are not, those who are from loving families and those who suffer dysfunctional abuse, and those who live at home and those who have none. The poets featured were Ryan Bernard*, Carl Watts*, and Joseph Malara* (AKA Kid Music) along with Sabrina Torres* and Taliya Garibsingh* who presented their poem entitled, “Fight Like a Girl” which was originally performed for STOP (Students Together for Outreach and Prevention of Abuse) the Teen program offered by the Women's Resources of Monroe County. Their words were indeed powerful but made more so as their young years made their insights very unexpected to an adult ear.

Poet and Performance Artist Susanna Rich* presented her amusing pieces in a very interactive manner that created a festival within the ArtSmash of the Poconos event. What a delight it was to click your fingers and make the other noises relating to the Addams Family which she incorporated in one of her pieces. The body of work she presented was fun, sexy, and a delight. Damn, she was good.

The Band “Innermission”* featuring contemporary Christian songs performed consisting of Patti Keegan* of Keegan Tees* on Guitar and Vocals, Kevin Redesky* on guitar, and Moe Altamuro* of Moe’st Everything Music Store* on drums and percussion. The faith expressed through their performance was simply presented which made it all the more meaningful to those who heard it. It offers a world and life’s view while allowing those it offers it to a choice to travel down such a path or not. Perhaps this is where the name Inner-Mission derives.

A delightful Poet simply known as “Patty G.”* presented some good ol’ rhyme poetry documenting everyday occurrences and romantic dreams we all are aware of but don’t see in quite the same way. Patty G’s* poetry allows us to see our ordinary experiences and dreams in an extraordinary ways as her words places us as observers of our lives thus enabling us to see more than usual. We’re able to take a step back and see our lives are not as bad as they seem. In fact, they can be much appreciated and even a bit funny.

The evening and “ArtSmash of the Poconos” concluded with some “Milling Around Music” provided by Holly Avila* and “Blue Planet/Planeta Azul.”* This provided opportunities for those present to learn more about and from one another. Many conversations were shared. As one of the organizers of “ArtSmash of the Poconos,” I was fortunate to share many conversations with numerous people which included both participants and those who were part of the audience. A great number of the chats related to the arts while others were of a reflective nature revealing much of their private lives and memories. The later has a profound effect on me as it demonstrates how the arts can inspire such reflections and humbled me as others saw me as someone whom they can confide in.

Was “ArtSmash of the Poconos” perfect? Of course not. Could it be bettered? Of course it can. However, considering this was Pocono Jazz and Poetry and The Forwardian Arts Society first endeavor to put together an event of this size, it was pretty damn good. Of course I’m as biased as hell, but I do look forward to getting together with Debbie Burke* of Pocono Jazz and Poetry* and planning our next one. I hope those of you who attended the event will share with me your suggestions on how we can improve upon it. Please feel free to do so and don’t be shy.

I have met many of you during the day and I’m honored to have done so. I look forward to seeing you again. I’ll keep a good thought for you until then.

Here are links to some groups mentioned in the article. Pocono Jazz and Poetry,The Tapestry Corner, Nelson Ortiz, Keegan Tees, The Pocono Arts Council, PoconoWomen, The Sherman Theater, Jacob Stroud Corporation, Grandpa Pete’s Bagels, Wil Daskel, Long Time Comin’, Java Duo, Ka-Son Reeves, NV and Juan Cordero, Rebecca L. Huff, Barbara Case, Blue Planet/Planeta Azul, Susanna Rich, Moe’st Everything Music Store

You’ll find more photographs and information on The Pocono Jazz and Poetry* Website and on The Forwardian Arts Society ArtSmash of the Poconos Gallery at

(*) denotes members of The Forwardian Arts Society in good standing and are considered Our Good Friends.

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