Thursday, January 19, 2012

A Town Hall Altered by Art

The Pocono Arts Council held an Arts Town Hall Meeting at their Community Cultural Center in Stroudsburg, PA on Wednesday January 18th to examine and discuss the many issues effecting the creative community including funding for galleries, financial compensation for artists, and other economic concerns. The meeting also included a Gallery Talk led by John Kopp who is the curator of the Center’s current exhibition titled, “Altered State?” The talk explored some of the work presented in the exhibit along with the nature of photography in relation to the traditional film and modern digital techniques available today.

The meeting and gallery talk led to some lively discussions among those who attended. Members of several art related groups and organizations such as The Pocono Mountain Arts Council and the Pocono Community Theater enhanced the conversation by lending their unique perspectives to the topics. Their words were combined with other art lovers from the community who made the discussion even livelier. From my perspective, it was good to have an opportunity to learn from others as well as to share my thoughts on some of the issues addressed.

A few I found particularly of interest were discussions relating to what makes photography an art as compared to fancy picture taking. With all the technologies available to anyone who has a camera, it is a challenge for photographers who wish to display and sell their work to distinguish themselves from those who takes photos just for fun. It was suggested it is fairly easy to add element upon element to a photograph with the technology on hand, but the art may come from the ability to know when to stop. Otherwise, the essence of the image which inspired the artistic eye to capture it may be lost in the ornamentation.

After the meeting, I began to reflect more on this topic as I began  recognize when knowing when to stop could be a distinguishing creative approach to other artistic disciplines. When does a musical composition contain the notes and measures needed to express a mood before an overabundance turns it into a bombastity? When does a literary endeavor contain enough words to convey the concepts it explores before it overstates the point and becomes superfluous? These are difficult questions to answer and I may never discover that of the later question, but being aware of these questions and attempting to implement a balance could be in and of itself art. What do you think? You’ll find more photographs taken during Arts Town Hall Meeting, the Gallery Talk, and the “Altered State?” Artists’ Reception in The PoconoArts Community Cultural Center 2012 Gallery at www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150596801360421.441769.636000420&type=3.

The PoconoArts Community Cultural Center is part of The PoconoArts Council which is an organization designed to build the communities in which it serves artistically and culturally by providing leadership, service, and education. It does so by offering avenues for artists to display their work through the center and other galleries, educational opportunities for those who would like to explore and/or enhance their creative natures, and encouragement to those who seek to express and/or support the arts. The Center is currently featuring the visual works created by photographic artists from around the world in their “Altered State?” exhibition to be presented until February 26th in its ArtSpace and Studio Galleries. You’ll be able to read my article about the exhibit at www.facebook.com/notes/paul-adam-smeltz/artspace-in-an-altered-state/10150471693041232.

The next exhibit will be their Student Juried Exhibition which will hold its Artists’ Reception on Sunday March 11th and will continue exhibiting the work until March 25th. You’ll be able to learn more about The PoconoArts Council, The PoconoArts Community Cultural Center, and all they offer at www.poconoarts.org.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Artspace in an Altered State

The PoconoArts Community Cultural Center in Stroudsburg, PA began their 2012 season with an Artists’ Reception Saturday January 14th presented by The Pocono Arts Council first juried exhibition in over 15 years. The exhibition is titled, “Altered State?” and features the work of numerous photographic artists to include those residing in New York, West Virginia, Delaware, Colorado, Montana, California, Germany, and Portugal as well as a number of photographers from the Pocono Region. The reception proved to be an enjoyable one with a multitude of art lovers sharing conversations with photographers and each other while experiencing some incredibly skillful depictions of images (lifelike and beyond) associated with the art form.

The work presented in the exhibition consisted of pieces created through the two main processes available to photographers in the 21st Century. The first being the traditional approach utilizing film negatives with digital photography being the second. There were several images embodying the aspects found in each method while a number of them combined the two creating some very interesting results. Regardless of the method used, each photograph presented not only captured the structure of the image it depicted but also the mood and the essence of it.

The variety of images exhibited ranged from straight up photographs of every day items and people taken from an unique perspective to surreal and abstract depictions reflecting the inner workings of the photographer’s psyche. Each piece beckoned each attendee of the reception to explore the depths of its content and corresponding subliminal context while the positioning of each work encouraged the viewer to expand their perceptions by moving from one piece to another in order to experience the entirety of the exhibit.

As for me, I was quite impressed with the work along with the photographic skill and initiative many of the photographers embarked upon in creating their piece. Even though some claimed to be innovative in areas I’ve seen before in other works created by other photographers, the overall show was not only an interesting one for the eye but also inspired that same eye to delve deeper into each image as many not readily discovered aspects of the piece contained information and concepts which expanded the scope of its overall visual effect.

However, there were some images which embodied aspects invisible to the human eye and could only be “seen” through the visionary abilities inherent within the soul. It is very much what William Blake wrote in his poem titled, “Auguries of Innocence” reminds us:

“We are led to believe a lie,
When we look with, not through the eye,
Which was born in a night to perish in a night,
When the soul slept in beams of light.”

The images I refer to softly awakens the soul allowing it to peer gently through the beams of light in order to experience them more consciously. The curiosity of what is beyond our perceptions become intrigues and partially satisfied as we soon return to our soul’s dreams bringing to them an altered state of awareness which enhances their qualities greatly. Thus it is when we live a life seeing through and not only with our eyes.

The Pocono Arts Council’s “Altered State?” juried exhibition is the result of an international photography competition which received over 150 entries. The exhibit at The PoconoArts Community Cultural Center whose facilities include the ArtSpace and Studio Galleries which presented 60 works created by 44 photographers. These photographers included Carol Adleman from Luck, WI, Roger Blanc from New York, NY, Eldred Boze from Wardensville, WV, Michele Cole from Southampton, NJ, Suzanne Comer from Wallingford, PA, Tomato Davis from Bellmore, NY, William Fridrich from Wilmington, NC, Shanna Kay Gordon from Blakeslee, PA, Carlo Grassini from Brooklyn, NY, Markus Haala from Dernau, Germany, Rudy Hilt from Duck, NC, Natalie Hruska from North Falmouth, MA, Liz Kolben from Bethesda, MD, Candace Law from Berkley, MI, Don Manza from Tannersville, PA, Claire Marcus from Bethlehem, PA, Anne Martino from Lake Harmony, PA, John Martino from Brighton, MA, Sheila Master from Bear, DE, Dana McElroy from Havertown, PA, Christine Medley from Olyphant, PA, Danielle Miller from Bartonsville, PA, Daniel Mohr from Stroudsburg, PA, Jorge Pedra from Porto, Portugal, Andrea Rimberg from Shawnee-on-Delaware, PA, Joan Sayer from Saylorsburg, PA, Linda Schwartz from Stroudsburg, PA, Sterne Slaven from Hoboken, NJ, Richard Spezzano from Stroudsburg, PA, Andrea Tremper from East Stroudsburg ,PA, Maggie Vlazny from Mt. Bethel, PA, Keith Waldrum from Dallas, TX, Andrew Wojtkowski from Blakeslee, PA, Margaret Wright from Chicago, IL, and Jennifer Zeller from Louisville, KY.

Although each photographer demonstrated exceptional proficiency in their craft, the reception also served as an opportunity to recognize those whom the jurors and curators found to be deserving of additional praise. These recipients include Scott Barnes from Norwood, NJ who received the Juror Choice Award for his work titled, “Campsite Quanta,” Anthony Monaco from Denver, CO who received the Curator Award for his work titled, “Underscape Series,” Nancy Breslin from Newark, DE who received the Juror Special Award for her work titled, “Self Portrait as the Patron Saint of Clementines,” Norma Bernstock from Milford, PA who received the Curator Special Award for her work titled, “Fence,” Carl Schy from San Diego, CA who received the ArtSpace Student Award for his work titled, “Companions,” Eva Gudnason from Brooklyn, NY who received the Curator Student Award for her work titled, “Clouded Dancer,” Sherwood Samet from Stroudsburg, PA who received the Juror Honorable Mentioned Award for his work titled, “Morning Light,” and Russ McIntosh from Woodbridge, VA who received the Curator Honorable Mentioned Award for his work titled, “Hands of Time.”

The Juror for the exhibit was Harris Fogel who is an Associate Professor of Photography as well as the Director and Curator of the Sol Mednick Gallery and Gallery 1401 found on the campus of the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA. The Exhibit’s Curator is John Kopp who is a member of The PoconoArts Council Board of Directors. You may learn more about Harris Fogel by Exploring the University of the Arts Website at www.uarts.edu/users/hfogel and John Kopp by Exploring his Website at www.johnkopp.com.

The Pocono Arts Council’s “Altered State?” exhibition at The PoconoArts Community Cultural Center in Stroudsburg, PA continues until February 26th. The next event to be held at the Center will be an Arts Town Hall to be held on Wednesday January 18th beginning at 5:30pm and will include a talk given by the exhibition’s curator John Kopp. The next exhibit to be presented in the Center’s ArtSpace and Studio Galleries will be their Student Juried Exhibition which will hold it’s Artists’ Reception on Sunday March 11th and will continue until March 25th. You’ll find more photographs taken during the “Altered State?” Artists’ Reception in The PoconoArts Community Cultural Center 2012 Gallery at www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150596801360421.441769.636000420&type=3.

The PoconoArts Community Cultural Center is part of The PoconoArts Council which is an organization designed to build the communities in which it serves artistically and culturally by providing leadership, service, and education. It does so by offering avenues for artists to display their work through the center and other galleries, educational opportunities for those who would like to explore and/or enhance their creative natures, and encouragement to those who seek to express and/or support the arts.

In addition to the Center’s ArtSpace and Studio Galleries, its facilities also houses their Wall of Writings featuring poetry and other literary works of local writers and poets. The poetic work of Noreen Ayers is currently displayed upon these walls. You’ll be able to learn more about The PoconoArts Council, The PoconoArts Community Cultural Center, and all they offer along with images of the work presented in the “Altered State?” exhibition at www.poconoarts.org.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Comic-Thon 2011

Note: I’ve recently received this article written by David Mazure about the Comic-Thon event that took place at East Stroudsburg University of PA (ESU) on Friday November 18th. I am pleased to present it here as it’s been a long held practice of The Forwardian Arts Society to support and encourage artistic endeavors. I welcome anyone who has written an article about an art related endeavor they experienced to share it with me along with a picture as I would be happy to share it as well. Please email me at Forwardian@hotmail.com for more information.

Comic-Thon 2011
Written by David Mazure

This past Fall semester 2011, the Student Art Association (for which I am the Faculty Advisor) received a special grant to conduct its first ever 12-Hour Comic-Thon. A 12-Hour comic drawing event – the goal: to draw one comic book page per hour for 12 hours straight. A grueling affair to say the least, but it was a huge success. Every participant had everything they needed – all supplies necessary to draw comics and enough food and drink to last 12 hours. East Stroudsburg University student Anna Maino was the first to complete one whole 12-page comic book story — congratulations Anna!

David Mazure is a faculty member of the ESU Art Department and has shown his work in a variety of galleries. Please Explore his website at www.davidmazure.com to learn more about him.

Photograph provided by David Mazure.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Theatrical Review: Original One Act Plays

Theatrical Review: Original One Act Plays
Review Written by Paul Adam Smeltz

The Shawnee Playhouse in Shawnee on the Delaware, PA presented The Worthington Players production of the Original One Act Plays who won their 2011 Playwright Competition as part of The Shawnee Original Playwright Series (SOPS). The annual event is a result of inviting playwrights to send in their original works, forming a panel to select the finalist, presenting the chosen plays in a series of staged readings, and tallying the votes received from the viewing audiences to determine which plays will be presented as full productions. This process not only gives a local playwright an opportunity to have his/her work presented on The Shawnee Playhouse stage but also gives the audiences who frequent the venue a chance to experience some new and interesting work.

This year’s selections for the One Act Presentations were a comedy titled, “A Cabin Fit for a King” written by Sarah McCarroll and Julie Luongo and a dramatic piece titled, “The Messenger” by Paul Kodiak. Prior to the performance, I’ve heard one of the playwrights share how the two plays presented together could be considered, “Bi Polar Theater” as they contrast so sharply from one another. As the theatrical experience of the productions drew to a close, the coined phrase took on a profound meaning as reflected upon the audience as they were leaving the theatre.

“A Cabin Fit for a King” is a very light comedy set in (as the title suggests) a cabin located in a secluded area. Four men are utilizing the site as a retreat away from the world and the people in it so they could be just guys for the weekend. Of course, as all best made plans eventually goes, so does this plan when one of the men brings along his girlfriend who is over 20 years younger (he’s 42 and she’s 19) who invites her girlfriend from college to join her who happens to be the daughter of one of the men attending the retreat. A series of comedic incidents ensue ranging from spiders to coffee cans making this a very amusing time at the theatre.

The play was Directed by Juliet Dunham and Stage Manager Nicole Dietze. The cast consisted of Dan Eash as Steve, Patrick Turner as Tony, Steve Mazza as Jeff, Kaitie Kaiser as Jessica, Amanda Kohberger as Patty, and Jerry Depuy as Gary. The acting was quite well done as was the directing each adding an authenticity to the production honoring the work and its authors considerably.

According to the playbill, “A Cabin Fit for a King” is the result of a life long collaboration between Sarah McCarroll and Julie Luongo who are sisters. While Ms. Luongo (a Novelist) utilized her storytelling skills to create believable characters and plot devices, Ms. McCarroll (an Actress) instilled her knowledge of the mechanics of theatre into the work in order to create a presentational experience enjoyable to its audience. Both have succeeded in their individual endeavors to a significant degree as the play does have a believability and a stage presence suitable for any production.

While “A Cabin Fit for a King” by Sarah McCarroll and Julie Luongo proved to be a humorous experience to lighten the heart, “The Messenger” by Paul Kodiak proved to be a horse of a darker color. The play is set in a prison cell in which a condemned prisoner meets with a priest before his execution. Much of the early utterances of the characters were delivered softly, almost as whispers.

This well crafted technique drew members of the audience deeper into the conversation who soon found themselves closely associated with the cell’s denizens. There were many themes to explore in this confinement as the dialogue revealed more of the characters’ souls whose close proximity gave each discovery a profound impact. To this reviewer, one of the most notable aspects of the play reflected the Messenger concept implied in its title.

In many cultures, a priest of a religion is seen as a human messenger of the Divine. So, when a priest shares a spiritual perception with the religion’s believers, his or her words are to be taken a communiqu├ęs from the Divine. Unusually, there is an educational process and an initiation procedure to be instituted before one can be considered qualified to obtain such authority.

In Mr. Kodiak’s play, the priest seeks to perform the role the church has entitled him to which is to hear the confession of the condemned prisoner and grant him some degree of absolution. However, the prisoner refuses to confess his sins until the priest shares his. A resistance on the part of the priest to the reversal of their closely defined roles ensue until he relents allowing himself the freedom to share a part of his past which had confined him most of his life. This act also frees the prisoner as he now knows he can do some good by sharing a message to the deceased whom the priest referred to in his confession. In other words, the priest was a messenger from God and the prisoner became a messenger to God.

This powerful play was directed by Midge McClosky (who also serves as The Shawnee Playhouse Executive Director) as assisted by  Shannon Leigh Christmann. The cast consisted of David Schappert as Jimmy, Dante Gavin as Father Michael Keating, and Kevin Hillman as The Guard. The direction was expertly done capturing the subtleties of the work. This was also done by the actors who deftly utilized their voices and tones to bring the audience to an intimate place in which the full strength of the play could be experienced. 

The Worthington Players production of the One Act Plays who won their 2011 playwright competition continues its run at The Shawnee Playhouse in Shawnee on the Delaware, PA until Sunday January 15th. Both “A Cabin Fit for a King” by Sarah McCarroll and Julie Luongo and “The Messenger” by Paul Kodiak are theatrical endeavors worthy of praise by any theatergoer. This reviewer is no exception and highly recommends attending these two productions who are very deserving of the opportunity given by The Worthington Players to be seen by an audience.

The Worthington Player were established in 1999 and is the non-musical contingent of the Shawnee Playhouse. They present a variety of semi-professional theatrical productions from January through May working with community members to bring a quality-working atmosphere for those participating in the production and a quality performance for those attending. Their Original Playwright Series is one of the many programs the offer to the community.

In addition to the One Act Plays presented during The Shawnee Original Playwright Series (SOPS), a full length play who won the 2011 playwright competition titled, “Visions of Johanna” written by Ken White will be presented at The Shawnee Playhouse February 4th - 12th. This year’s competition is currently accepting original work until Tuesday January 31st with the Staged Readings for the finalist taking place March 9th - 30th. You may obtain information regarding The Worthington Players 2012 Playwright Competition submission procedures from The Shawnee Playhouse Website.

Other Shawnee Playhouse presentations will be their production of “Those Fantastic Forties!” taking place January 20th - 29th, “O’ Carolan‘s Farewell to Music” taking place February 17th and 18th, The Worthington Players’ production of “Thoroughly Modern Mille” taking place February 18th  - 26th, The Shawnee Playhouse Production of “Finnerty’s Follies” taking place March 3rd - 18th, The Kaleidoscope Players’ production of “The Thwarting of Baron Bolligrew” taking place March 23rd until April 1st, The Prestige Productions presentation of “Love, Sex, and The I. R. S.” taking place April 6th - 15th, and The Center Stage Players production of “An Evening in Comedy” taking place April 20th - 29th, and “The Lion in Winter” taking place May 4th - 13th.

The producers of the productions presented at The Shawnee Playhouse are Ginny and Charlie Kirkwood while the group sales manager is Mary Horn. The Box Office Staff includes Stacey Mattern and Ariel Hudak while Becky Haskell serves as the playhouse’s Sales and Marketing Director. Please contact The Shawnee Playhouse at 570-421-5093 or Explore their website at www.theshawneeplayhouse.com for more information (including submissions for The Worthington Players 2012 Playwright Competition) and to reserve your ticket for their upcoming presentations.

Those who enjoy the Passionate Art Lover level of membership in The Forwardian Arts Society are offered a $3.00 discount off the admission fee of The Shawnee Playhouse Productions (excluding Children Theatrical Productions and those presented by non Shawnee Production Companies). Those who have seen the productions mentioned in this review are welcomed to share their thoughts and reflections by leaving a comment with this posting. To learn more about The Forwardian Arts Society and all they have to offer, please explore their website at www.theforwardianartssociety.com.

The Photograph of the production of “A Cabin Fit for a King” by Sarah McCarroll and Julie Luongo was provided by The Shawnee Playhouse.