Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Memorable OMN

In the midst of the Memorial Day Weekend, The Living Room in Stroudsburg, PA concluded their weekly Open Mic Nite Series for the month of May on Sunday May 27th. The first month of their endeavors proved to be an astounding one as numerous local musicians, poets, writers, and others shared their talents. Although the performances of the past four weeks created memories which continued to dwell with each attendee long after the weekly event ended, the performances presented during the Sunday May 27th Open Mic Nite managed to transcend those of all previous gatherings.

After some welcoming words were offered by host Billy Mack, his band “The Billy Mack Collector” began to perform. The composition of the group changes with each performance which always keeps it fresh and enchanting. Billy Mack simply collects musicians and singers who have a desire to join him in playing some good music. The love for music felt by those who wind up in Billy’s collection transforms the pieces they play from songs that are really good to those that are great and even more enjoyable to all who hear them.

The Billy Mack Collector was followed by Ear Ecstasy with Ben Gorski and Dan Deluca on acoustic guitars. Each stroke of their guitars struck a note in every listener which was enhanced by every word in every lyric they shared. The silent contemplation of each song as accompanied by a light in each eye of those who listened was seen time and time again throughout the evening, but Ear Ecstasy’s performance set the tone for many musicians that were to follow.

Ear Ecstasy was followed by a reading given by Steve Truglio (aka Jack Bastard) from a story included his Third Testament Series titled, “The Book of Carol.” The work was about the exploits of his mother and how his birth, in a time when “Unwed” mothers led to ostracism by society, labeled him as a bastard. Like the installment read during the May 20th Open Mike Nite, the work captivated the listeners as they reflected upon the work’s theme and meaningfulness. Although some may have found the work disturbing, its conclusion created an internal yearning to hear more next week.

Steve Truglio (aka Jack Bastard) was followed by Emmitt Henry Derek who performed some New Orleans styled Blues upon his harmonica. He was followed by Crystal Rose who played guitar and sang some songs composed by other artists. The combination of her interpretations of the chords and melodies inherent in each song and the mesmerizing sound of her soft voice created an indescribable eternalized sensation throughout the room. There was just something there which few can associate words to but everyone knew what it was.

Crystal Rose was followed by a guitarist named, “Olenka” whose mastery of the instrument complimented the performance of her original work. Each piece had it’s story to tell which were enhanced by her sharing how the song came to be. This was noticeably appreciated by the gathering as it added a deeper dimension in which a more profound exploration of their individual meanings could be embarked upon.

It was then when I, again, became brave enough to read. My story was called, “The Ambitious Cockroach” and was much shorter than the story I read last week which was titled, “The Jumper’s Secret.” I was a bit more relaxed although I found myself stuttering over a few words I spoke. Still, it was well received and I’m thankful for it.

I was followed by Poet Zack Warner who frequented The Living Room since it began holding their Open Mic Nites. Many who have attended most if not all of his previous readings have come to appreciate the intensity of his words as they describe the internal and external realms of existence. None were disappointed during the May 27th event as the transfixing nature of some of his material spell bounded the audience and ended without applause.

Mike Strunk had made his return to performing during the May 20th Open Mic Nite. It was a welcoming experience. So, there was a great anticipation among those who were present last week greeting him as he and his guitar took the microphone. Yet, their memories of his previous performance was quickly discarded as a considerably different flavor embellished his presentation. As I eluded to earlier, the words transformative, contemplative, indescribable, and mesmerizing proved to be an underlining thread weaving all the performances together and making this a very memorable Open Mike Nite. Mikes performance added to the essence of the evening’s themes and even redefined them.

Mike was followed by Al Shivers who presented some comedy designed to amuse his listeners through his experiences. He was followed by Poets Chris Gamble, Victoria, and Kim who consecutively read from their work bringing the May 2012 segments of The Living Room’s Open Mic Nite Series to a conclusion. As many left the establishment, a display of fireworks were seen from a distance which proved to be a fitting end to the evening. You’ll be able to find more photograph taken during the Open Mic Nite in The Living Room 2012 Gallery at www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150907955845421.475868.636000420&type=1.

The Living Room is located on Main Street in Stroudsburg, PA next to The Sherman Theater who owns the building and the space in which it presents music and art. The Living Room is organized by members of the community who include Shane Izykowski, Billy Mack, Tom LeFevre, Darlene Farris-Labar, Brandon Jones, and Elisa Byrne. Besides the weekly Open Mic Nites which occurs every Sunday Evening beginning at 6pm, The Living Room is currently presenting an exhibition titled, “The Arts Are Alive in the Poconos” featuring over 150 pieces created by local artists. The Exhibition will continue until May 30th.

Their next exhibition will begin Saturday June 2nd beginning at 6pm featuring the works of Andrea Robbins-Rimberg, John Kolbek, Joyce Rambach, and Michael Parsons along with music guest The Pocono Duo. The exhibition continues Until June 30th. Please Explore The Living Room Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/pages/The-Living-Room/123978921059378 for more information.

Monday, May 28, 2012

A Thundering Celebration

The Eastburg Community Alliance held their Celebrate East Stroudsburg Festival on Saturday May 26th at Crystal Park in East Stroudsburg, PA. It was a modestly attended event which was discontinued prematurely due to a severe thunderstorm. However, a number of vendors and musicians were there to provide some visual and audio entertainment for those who came out to celebrate the day.

These vendors included Thrush Birdhaus, With You In Mind Jewelry, Clowning for Children, Samantha McHugh who is a Thirty-One Consultant, and Mariana Russo of Mariana Arts Crafts along with numerous pieces of civic and community information presented on various tables throughout the park. The music provided during the time I attended the festival was presented by “Riverside Rhythm” whose big band sound played a number of patriotic along with some swing time tunes until the necessity of terminating their electrical connections due to the impending storm became apparent. The Monroe County Joint Veterans’ Honor Guard also gave a presentation in relation to the ceremonial folding of the U. S. Flag. You’ll be able to find more photographs take during the Celebrate East Stroudsburg Festival in the Special Events 2012 Gallery at www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150780327730421.465788.636000420&type=1.

The event was presented by The Eastburg Community Alliance which was formally known as Books, Brushes, and Blooms at the location formally named “The Miller Park.” The Eastburg Community Alliance was established over 30 years ago by local leaders and business owners and is funded through a combination of local grants, direct fundraising, memberships, and local contributions. Their next event will be their Annual Freedom Festival scheduled for Wednesday July 4th. You’ll be able to learn more about The Eastburg Community Alliance by visiting their website at www.eastburgalliance.com.

Jordan at the Dutot

The Antoine Dutot Museum and Gallery in Delaware Water Gap, PA began their 2012 season on Friday May 25th with an Artist’s Reception featuring the work of Landscape Photographer Jordan Lewis. A sizable crowd of art lovers who were eager to return to the gallery moved along the images upon its walls while their gentle conversations reflecting how good it was to be at the Dutot and see the wonderful work it offered created a peaceful din throughout the room. However, it wasn’t long until the colorful vibrancy of the images Mr. Lewis added an element of excitement in the thoughts shared among the attendees which soon influenced the flavor of their verbal exchanges.

Although many who attended the exhibition had one time or another visited the areas of the Delaware Water Gap, PA depicted in the photographs, Mr. Lewis presented his images from a perspective that is so unique one feels as if they were visiting the spot for the very first time. The shapes and hues contained in each frame had the ability to draw those who viewed the images into the shot until the space between the viewer and the viewed dissolved. As many reluctantly returned to their sense of their immediate environment, a persisting urge to visit or revisit the places depicted in Mr. Lewis’ work inspired a deep appreciation and love for them as well as for the exhibition itself. The Exhibition Continues Until June 10th. You’ll be able to see more photographs taken during the Jordan Lewis’ Artist’s Reception in The Dutot 2012 Gallery at www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150992722130421.481199.636000420&type=1.

Jordan Lewis recently relocated to the Poconos and currently lives next to the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area whose beauty he captures in his work. According to his website, Mr. Lewis received his first camera, a Yashica Mat 124 medium format, as a gift from my parents, who encouraged him to enjoy and learn the elements of photography. Since then, he has captured a great variety of images with the majority centering around the wonders certain landscapes has to offer. He has donated much of his work to organizations to enhance their fundraising endeavors. Several of these organization as well as individuals he sold his work to have contributed to the Antoine Dutot Museum and Gallery exhibition by allowing the work they possess to be held at the gallery. They included Susan H. Watkins, Brenda A. Butz, Susan and Charles Wilson, Dreher Insurance, Diane Lusk, and Mark McCormick-Goodhart. You can learn more information about Jordan Lewis and his work by visiting his website at www.visavisprint.com.

The Antoine Dutot Museum and Gallery originated as a brick school house built c. 1850 by Antoine Dutot who founded the town of Dutotsville before it was renamed to Delaware Water Gap, PA. In addition to the exhibitions presented at the gallery, the museum offers tours and educational opportunities for those who would like to learn more about the area. Their next exhibition will feature the work of a variety of artists of The Riv9 – The Delaware River – A Big Picture. It will begin with an Artists’ Reception on Friday June 15th and will continue Until July 1st. Please Explore The Antoine Dutot Museum and Gallery Website at www.dutotmuseum.com for more information.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Another Living Room OMN

The Living Room in Stroudsburg, PA held their weekly Open Mic Nites on Sunday May 20th inviting local musicians, poets, writers, and anyone who had a desire to share something with an eager audience and bless their microphones. The event never ceases to amaze those who attend them as the varied qualities and range of performances always manage to bring a delight and a surprise (and sometimes a surprised delight) to all. The Sunday May 20th Open Mic Nite proved to be no exception.

After some welcoming words were offered by host Billy Mack, Billy and Renée De Moonunit along with her 4 month old daughter, Anemone, who took the microphone to perform some songs. They were followed by a reading given by Steve Truglio from his book which he referred to a “The Third Testament.” He was followed by Christina Piserchio and Crystal Hamelburg who beautifully performed on Violin and Guitar elevating the spirit of many who heard them.

They were followed by Emmitt Henry Derek who performed some New Orleans styled Blues upon his harmonica. Many years ago, Emmitt played at many Open Mic Nites and Poetry readings throughout the area until the establishments closed their doors. Since those days, he moved to New Orleans in which he met his wife and they began a family together. His love for the city and the music stylings it gave birth to influenced his creative interests and much of the Louisianan flavor he adapted can be found in his compositions.

After Emmitt’s performance, Crystal Hamelburg returned with her sister Linda who read poetry spoken to the gentle instrumentations sung on her sibling’s Guitar. It was a nice blend as the combination of music and words created a spiritual sensation among those who listened with their heart. The Business Fairy took the microphone to perform his fast paced music blended with his insightful lyrics as he was followed by Troy Kominiak who performed several songs on his guitar.

It was then I became brave enough to read my short story titled, “The Jumper’s Secret” to the gathering. My voice shook along with the paper I was reading from. How was I? Well, I came to realized while the story looked good on paper, I learned from reading the piece aloud that it need a number of improvements.

Afterwards, some of the listeners who also are writers shared their experiences of the discoveries they made when they read their own works to others. The conversations I had reminded me how valuable an Open Mic Nite can be as a source of feedback in which a musician, poet, writer, or anyone who seeks to share a talent can rely upon in order to improve his/her craft. It leaves one (at least from my experience) encouraged by the insights gained through the thoughtful words of others.

Anyways, after I nervously left the microphone, Mike Strunk and his guitar took the microphone. Like Emmit who performed earlier, Mike played at the same Open Mic Nites and Poetry readings as he did. It was good to see him take up his instrument and remind those of us who frequented those places the power of his performance.

Mike was followed by Al Shivers and his guitar whose folksy melodies inspired many a toe to tap. Abby Trunfio and Katherine Freeman took the microphone with song as the delightful twang in their voices created a welcoming sound to add to the comfort everyone in the room was feeling. In an almost stark contrast, they were followed by Dan and Zeke who played a very elective avant-garde set. It was different in a very good way. Poets Jared Kitt and John Koslosky took the microphone to share their words. Although each had his own particular style and varied in topics, their combined presence and relayed readings complimented their works while adding to the substantive nature of their renderings.

Jared and John were followed by the band “Rotten Lucky” who consist of Burt Kleinle on Guitar and vocals, Coty Jony on Bass, and Brian Marx on Drums. They have performed during all of the previous Open Mic Nites presented at The Living Room and their presence on the 20th was welcomed by those who have seen them during those times. Their ability to rock the abode and all who dwell in it continued to be as a potent force.

The evening drew to a close with poetry shared by Zack Warner. His words  provided a fitting end to this segment of The Living Room’s Open Mic Nite Series as they allowed their listeners to reflect not only upon them but all of their experiences that night. Many of whom left the establishment eager to return next week. You’ll be able to find more photograph taken during the Open Mic Nite in The Living Room 2012 Gallery at www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150907955845421.475868.636000420&type=1

The Living Room is located on Main Street in Stroudsburg, PA next to The Sherman Theater who owns the building and the space in which it presents music and art. The Living Room is organized by members of the community who include Shane Izykowski, Billy Mack, Tom LeFevre, Darlene Farris-Labar, Brandon Jones, and Elisa Byrne. Besides the weekly Open Mic Nites which occurs every Sunday Evening beginning at 6pm, The Living Room is currently presenting an exhibition titled, “The Arts Are Alive in the Poconos” featuring over 150 pieces created by local artists. The Exhibition will continue until May 30th. Please Explore The Living Room Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/pages/The-Living-Room/123978921059378 for more information.

Theatrical Review: Trying

Written by: Joanna McClelland Glass
Directed by: Scott E. McIntosh and Midge McClosky
Theatrical Review by: Paul Adam Smeltz

The Shawnee Playhouse in Shawnee on the Delaware, PA presented The SCOMC (i.e. SCO-tt MC-Intosh) Production of “Trying” by Joanna McClelland Glass. The play takes place in the office of Francis Biddle (as portrayed by Scott E. McIntosh) which was located in a room above the garage of his Washington DC home and evolves around the relationship between Biddle and his secretary Sarah Schorr (whose name is a pseudonym for the author who served in that position from late 1967 to mid 1968 and is portrayed by Midge McClosky) toward the end of his life.

Francis Beverley Biddle was known as a brilliant attorney who served as Attorney General of the United States under President Franklin D. Roosevelt and as the Primary American Judge during the Nuremberg Trials soon after the end of WWII. Towards the end of his life, he found it more difficult to maintain the cognitive alertness he was well known for along with being afflicted with several health related conditions common to 81 year old men. Understandably, he experienced feelings of frustration and anger with his everyday life as he continued to lose his command over his faculties. The arrival of the Sarah Schorr character helps illustrate these feelings as it holds a mirror to the maladies Biddle suffers from.

The Francis Biddle character’s pain is often too overwhelming for him and the desire to alleviate it becomes an all consuming desire. As with many with similar conditions such as Alzheimer’s or Dementia, the remedy is to inflict the pain one is experiencing onto others. In other words, hurt people hurt people. Throughout the play, Biddle hurls one contentious blow after another towards his secretary while she does her best to understand the separation between him and his condition while maintaining her own sense of dignity as expressed in the line, “There is some shit I will not eat.”

The play, “Trying” is a simple play that is well written and explores the dynamics of the relationships between those touched with such conditions like Alzheimer’s or Dementia and their caregivers. The production itself is well acted and remains faithful to the content and themes of the play. This is especially true during some very sensitive scenes which were played with a certain subtly that made them real and recognizable to anyone who has elderly parents or people in their lives who suffers from the conditions I mentioned earlier in this review. It’s a play worth watching and it’s the recommendation of this reviewer that one does so.

The SCOMC Production of “Trying” by Joanna McClelland Glass was directed by Scott E. McIntosh and Midge McClosky who also serves as The Shawnee Playhouse Executive Director. David Schappert operated the Light and Sound Board Operator while Kathy McIntosh served the production as a Stagehand and Amy Cramer Designed the program. In addition to whose participation in the production already mentioned, special thanks were given to Sharon Fish, Erica Stripp, Kevin Hillman, The Shawnee Presbyterian Church, The Poplar Valley Methodist Church, The Shawnee Playhouse Technical Staff, and The Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort. All of the productions presented at The Shawnee Playhouse are produced by Ginny and Charlie Kirkwood. The group sales manager is Mary Horn and Becky Haskell serves as the playhouse’s Sales and Marketing Director.

The SCOMC Production of “Trying” continues its run until May 27th. Future presentations at The Shawnee Playhouse will include their productions of “They’re Playing Our Song” running May 30th to September 1st, “Forbidden Broadway’s Greatest Hits” running June 15th to September 2nd, and “Cats” running June 29th to August 25th. Please contact The Shawnee Playhouse at 570-421-5093 or Explore their website at www.theshawneeplayhouse.com for more information and to reserve your ticket.

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 Feature and Headline Productions.

Photograph provided by The Shawnee Playhouse.

Arts on Main 2012

The Jacob Stroud Corporation presented their annual Arts on Main event throughout the town of Stroudsburg, PA on Saturday May 19th. The event provides an opportunity for its creative citizens to share their talents with the rest of the community who support their endeavors. The streets and galleries located within the town were filled with music, art, dance, and good company. The beautiful weather proved to be an extra attraction to the festivities as its warmth and radiance enhanced the day greatly.

There were a great number activities and showings scheduled for the day and, like many, I could only partake of so many and did not have the opportunity to see everything. But, what I did experience created some very wonderful memories coupled with an eager anticipation to see what the event will offer next year. I hope to be there as I relish my experiences that took place on the 19th.

These experiences began with a visit to The Backstreet Studio located on North 6th Street. Since its Grand Opening on Saturday April 14th, Andrea Robbins-Rimberg has welcomed many art lovers to her little spot with walls filled with her many creative endeavors. She eagerly showed those who came to visit her during the Arts on Main event the expansions she is making to her Studios and the wonderful visions she has for its future including polka dotted restrooms. Andrea is well known for her exuberant effervescent personality often attracting many who wishes to partake of the positive effects of her energies.

She is also know for her generosity as she has donated her time to numerous art related and other worthy enterprises. These include serving as President of The Pocono Arts Council’s Board of Directors and the Art and Photography Editor of The Forwardian Arts Society Literary and Arts Magazine, “Forwardian.” In honor of the day, she shared her side walk with fellow photographers James Chesnick and Joyce Bambach who presented some truly beautiful work which was available for purchase. You can learn more about The Backstreet Studio and all it has to offer the community from its facebook page at www.facebook.com/BackstreetstudioN6th.

While conversing with my friends at The Backstreet Studio, I paid a visit to Andrei Protsouk whose Art Gallery is right next door. The work Andrei is well known for surrounded us as I chatted with him and another well known local artist Shawn Queenan who also came by for a visit. As one can imagine, the conversation touched on many topics which included everyting from the finer points of blending colors to the sexual appetites of Parisian women. I came away from these sharings inspired me to learn more. You can learn more about Andrei’s artistic endeavors at www.andreiart.com and Shawn’s at www.shawnqueenanart.com.

As I continued my travels, I came across many friends whom I’ve met throughout the years. Two of these were Marlana Holsten and Susan Fields who were busy taking photographs of the displays of decorated bags which were placed upon the parking meters around the town. These meter adornments have become a well loved and appreciated addition to the Art on Main event over the years and it was an added thrill for me as I watched the childlike excitement of these two adults photographing them. I’m sure their excitement was mostly generated because one of them designed a bag, but styles ranging from the profound to the just plain cuteness of the entire bag collection elicited a sense of excitement as well.

I reluctantly left my two friends as they continued taking picture while avoiding being run over by drivers in the process of parking their cars to continue my explorations. I visited Josephine’s Fleur-de-lis who was having a special Trunk Show featuring the work of Karen Laposh. The work shown in Josephine’s consisted of turnabouts (aka Lazy Susans) upon which the artist has painted some very stunning floral images. You’ll be able to learn more about Karen LaPosh and all Josephine’s Fleur-de-lis has to offer by exploring their website at www.josephinesonmain.com.

I then traveled to The Driebe Freight Station Art Galley who held an Artist’s Reception for their exhibition titled, “Dark Landscapes” featuring the work of Don Manza. As one comes to expect from Mr. Manza’s work, the images’ contrasting shapes and shadows demonstrates the refined beauty and skill inherent in the art of black and white photography. The exhibition continues until May 31st and more information can be gained by visiting the Jacob Stroud Corporation’s Website listed later in this article. You can learn more about Don Manza and his work by Exploring his Website at www.deepviewstudio.net.

I left The Driebe Freight Station Art Galley to continue my explorations and was soon led to the sound of music. There was a band playing in front of The Shoppes on Main who held their grand opening last February. The music they performed moved each passersby to stay to listen as their feet continued to move to the beat of they rhythmic drums and chords the keyboardist and bassist played. I was soon inspired to enter the Shoppes to meet with the many vendors I’ve come to know since their opening.

Upon entering, I immediately felt a buzz of excitement throughout the shopping complex as both customers and vendors exchanged friendships as well as merchandize with one another. This combined with an artists’ reception featuring the works of Clavertis Miller of the Miller Fine Arts Gallery, Brigida Persia, James Chesnick, Ka-Son Reese, and many more created an atmosphere that transcended it’s grand opening and it felt nice to see signs that the establishment thriving. I was pleased to meet up with new friends as well as those I made when I first visited such as Scarlet Ice Jewels and Annie’s Unique Jewelry.

I was also pleased to enter the department known as “The Cellar” which was added to the complex since my first visit. It serves as home to Rudy’s Timeless Treasures, Wildrick's World of Treasures, and held a Grand Opening Celebration for their new arrival named, “Photography by Stephanie” who offers portrait photography of infants. The new addition to The Cellar celebrated the day by offering face painting to the many children who visited with their parents and music by guitarist Jonathan Warner. You may learn more about The Shoppes on Main and The Cellar and all it has to offer by visiting their Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/pages/The-Shoppes-on-Main-and-The-Cellar/141088652666366.

After I left The Shoppes on Main, I went to the neighboring Galleria which also held its grand opening last February. It’s a space shared by Bridget William, The Gigi and Company Dance Studio, and Sara Smith-Katz who is the founding Director of “For ArtzSake” and curates the art gallery aspect of the space. An Artist’s Reception was held for their exhibition titled, “The Possibility of Nothing” featuring the work of Jase Clark.

The work mostly consisted of prints presented on wood depicting images which were contained some elements of  familiarity while simultaneously allowing themselves to maintain a freedom found in being beyond what is recognizable to our ordinary ability to perceive. This contradiction encouraged the viewer to question what is and what is not real in the every day perceptions of their experiences. While each piece had its own ability to call our reasonings into question, the entirety of the work presented a stream-of-conscious sensation which asked even deeper question only the individual viewer can pose and attempt an answer. The Exhibition Continues Until June 30th. You can learn more about Jase Clark and his work by Exploring his Website at www.jaseclark.com. You can learn more about The Galleria by calling them at 570-580-0996.

After leaving the gallery, I soon arrived at The Pocono Community Arts Center where The Pocono Arts Council held an Artists’ Reception for their Annual Members' Exhibition for 2012. Nearly 100 pieces were on displayed which were created by some of the best known and most talented artists in the area. The exhibition was a juried show and was judged by Christine Medley of Marywood University along with Dixie Rich and Audrey Lanham who are co-chairs of the Milford Art Alliance.

I have always appreciated how difficult it is to select a piece worthy enough to be a recipient of an award when there are so many high quality works to choose from but it wasn’t until I served as one of the judges in a show at East Stroudsburg University did I truly come to appreciate how difficult the process is. As a result of my experiences, the quality and enormity of the work left me in awe of the judges’ ability to perform their task. If I wore a hat, I would had taken it off for them. In any case, here are those they selected.

In the Fine Crafts (Functional) Category, Ralph White received the award for Third Place, Leslie Mulliken received the award for Second Place, and April Field received the award for First Place. In the Mixed Media Category, Reva Levy received the award for Third Place, Heidi Hooper received the award for Second Place, and Lenore Fiore Mills received the award for First Place. In the Photography Category, Vinzon Lee received Honorable Mentioned, John Kopp received the award for Third Place, Alice Prall received the award for Second Place, and Marlana Holsten received the award for First Place. In the 3-D Work (Sculpture and Non-Functional) Category, Jorge Cruz received the award for Third Place, Leah Gottlieb received the award for Second Place, and Heather McGinley received the award for First Place. In the Works on Paper Category, Linda Mann received Honorable Mentioned, Barbara Dachowski received the award for Third Place, Mark Ciocca received the award for Second Place, and Nobert Scanlan received the award for First Place. In the Watercolor Category, Thomas Augusta received the award for Third Place, Will Daskel received the award for Second Place, and Jan Swift received the award for First Place. In the Acrylics Category, Debra Frantz receive Honorable Mentioned, Mary Samet received the award for Third Place, Joe Mooney received the award for Second Place, and Doug Gilbert received the award for First Place. In the Oils Category, Carol Pooley received Honorable Mentioned, Tricia Lowry Lippert received the award for Third Place, Jill Swersie received the award for Second Place, and David Cook received the award for First Place. The Award for Best of Show went to Susan Marie David for her work titled, “Ziegfield Girl.” The Exhibition Continues Until May 29th. 

The PoconoArts Council’s member’s show is an annual event and participation is open to all members of the organization which is 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 Annual Members and other exhibitions are held in The PoconoArts Community Cultural Center. You’ll be able to learn more about The PoconoArts Council, The PoconoArts Community Cultural Center, and all they offer the creative community at www.poconoarts.org.

Although many consider The PoconoArts Council’s Members Exhibition to be the climax of the Arts on Main Event, it simply isn’t true. There were still a lot going on. A newly formed DanceWalk/FlashMob moved along the streets of Stroudsburg gathering dancers and walkers throughout the day. The Folk Band “The Lost Ramblers” were also strolling from place to place entertaining everyone they met. In addition to this, there were individual artists and artisans like Pottery by Evelyn, Tanisha Parker, and Thrush who presented their work upon the many sidewalks attendees of the event spied and visited while exploring the many artistic venues offered that day. It was a great day and I look forward to experiencing it again next year as I’m sure many are, too. You’ll find more photograph taken during the day in the Arts in Main 2012 Gallery at www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150988641705421.480789.636000420&type=1.

The Arts on Main event was presented by The Jacob Stroud Corporation which was formed in 1995 in order to revitalize the downtown historical heritage. They continue to establish a healthy downtown environment for residents and visitors to the area. In addition to Arts on Main, The Jacob Stroud Corporation also presents their Annual “Stroudfest” event in September featuring entertainment throughout the day along with opportunities to explore and purchase works created by artists, artisans, and crafters living in and around the Stroudsburg, PA area. To gain more information about The Jacob Stroud Corporation and all they have to offer the community as well as its visitors, Please Explore their Website at www.stroudsburg.net.

An Artmusic Vocalization

On a beautiful Spring day upon which many hopeful hearts saw a portentous glimpse of the upcoming Summer season, the ArtMusic Coffeehouse in East Stroudsburg, PA presented Guitarist Miché Fambro on Friday May 18th. A sizable number of music lovers entered the home Don and Jan Julia Slepian as they gathered to partake of the evening’s performance. Those who were new to the coffeehouse series were quickly enchanted by the performance space created for those who came to share their talents, the carousel horses hanging from the ceiling, the variety of food placed upon their dining room table, and the delightful conversation those who have enjoyed the musical offerings of the past were eager to engage them in.

As with all concerts held at The ArtMusic Coffeehouse, it was begun by the evening’s host, Don Slepian, who performed upon his keyboards an eclectic mix of musical styles created instantaneously as he improvised each piece. While each piece were distinct in their properties, their combined effect brought about a peacefulness among those who heard the melodies not only with their ears but with their souls as well. The mesmerizing effect of the performance prepared the gathering for the musical enchantments that were to follow.

As Mr. Fambro began to sing a mixture of original pieces along with those created by other composers on his guitar, his intricate vocalizations quickly caught the attention of his listeners as his voice orchestrated the pieces he performed. Much of the original work he presented was composed while in his bathtub or shower and they seamlessly blended with those others have written. Although the quality of his original work often surpassed those he covered, it was an uncanny experience to hear his voice move among chords and lyrics of well established songs creating an unique signature for which every listener eagerly co signed as they moved along with him. Although the majority of the pieces he performed only averaged approximately three minutes, the fullness of their presentation created a longevity in the memory of all who heard them

After a break in the performance, Mr. Fambro took the stage in order to share it with host Don Slepian. Together, they performed a number of Jazz Standards along with other familiar favorites. It was during this set when Mr. Fambro’s talents as a “Crooner” came to the fore. A variety of smiles were seen among the audience which included smiles of delight, smiles of reflections, and smiles touched with a tear. Either performance before or after the break could have easily been a satisfactory one but the combination of the two led to an evening that was beyond satisfaction and comfortably dwelling in the realm of indescribable. You’ll find more photographs taken during the concert at The Artmusic Coffeehouse 2012 Gallery at www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150717195285421.457027.636000420&type=1&l=f497305bbb.

Miché Fambro is from upstate NY is well known for his performance style which has the energy and sound of a full band. According to his website, he is often found “…writing a song, practicing a new flourish on the guitar, playing with a new approach to an old jazz standard, or recording an episode for his ‘Guitar Lessons’ online video series.” As demonstrated throughout his performance, Mr. Fambro’s virtuoso qualities bring a depth to the listening experience to his audience along with a smile since, as his website also states, he “…is also a silly man.” You’ll be able to learn more about Miché Fambro, his music, and all his endeavors at www.michefambro.com.

The ArtMusic Coffeehouse is held in the home of Don Slepian and Jan Julia who reside in the borough of East Stroudsburg, PA as part of the Concerts In Your Home Series. A variety of musical forms are presented including folk, jazz, classical, and electronic music. The ArtMusic Coffeehouse now offers those who have access to the internet an opportunity to experience their concerts online and participate in their chat room.

However, for those who wish to attend a live performance The ArtMusic Coffeehouse welcomes all who wish to do so. The next concerts scheduled to be held at The ArtMusic Coffeehouse will feature Sage on Sunday June 17th and Electric Diamond on Saturday June 23rd both beginning at 8pm. Please Explore The ArtMusic Coffeehouse Website at www.ArtMusicCoffeehouse.com or Call 570-476-6307 for more information and to reserve your seats.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Cover to Cover II

The Forwardian Arts Society held an Artists’ Reception on Wednesday May 16th for their Cover to Cover II Juried Exhibition which was hosted by The Sarah Street Grill (upstairs) Gallery in Stroudsburg, PA. The exhibition served to select what images would appear on the front and back covers of the upcoming issue of their online literary and arts magazine titled, “Forwardian.” Besides an opportunity to meet the artists and photographers participating in the exhibition, the reception offered those who attended a chance to hear poetry read by those who are being considered for inclusion in the upcoming issue as well as being entertained by a musical performance by Emmitt Henry Derrick.

The visual work submitted for the exhibition were judged by James Chesnick, Kim Pollard, and Christa Connolly. James Chesnick’s photographic piece titled, “Spring Tulip” was chosen during the first Cover to Cover Exhibition to appear on the front cover of the 3rd issue of “Forwardian” which was presented online in December 2011 while Kim Pollard’s photographic piece titled, “Night and Day” was chosen to appear on the back cover of the same issue. Christa Connolly is currently employed as the bar manager of The Sarah Street Grill and serves as curator of their gallery.

The work chosen to appear on Forwardian’s Front Cover of its 4th issue is titled, “Signs in the Sky” created in acrylic and ink by Clarissa Jan Ward while the work chosen to appear on the issue’s Back Cover is titled, “Passion” created photographically by Laurinda Faye Rubin. The magazine is scheduled to be available online in June 2012. Other participants in the exhibition included Francine Douaihy, Heather Wojcik, Laurie A. Guzda, Heather McGinley, Kari Nespola, and Marlana Holsten. All those pieces not selected to appear in the front and back covers of the upcoming issue were given honorable mentioned status and will be considered for publication in the 5th issue of Forwardian which is scheduled to be published in December 2012. It was a challenge for the jurors to select the winning pieces as all of the work proved to be beyond outstanding.

The poets who presented their work during the reception were among those who are being considered for inclusion in the upcoming 4th issue of Forwardian. They included Patty the Poet, David Messineo, and Alexa Carpenter who also serves as the magazine’s Poetry and Literary Editor. The event experienced a very modest attendance along with some unexpected adversities experienced throughout the evening. However, the quality of the art and poetry associated with the magazine became quite evident to all who sought to experience it. The exhibition began on Saturday May 5th and will continue being presented at The Sarah Street Gallery in Stroudsburg, PA until July 1st. You’ll be able to see more photographs taken during the Cover to Cover II Artists’ Reception in The Forwardian Arts Society 2012 Gallery at www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150731816120421.459040.636000420&type=1.

The Forwardian Arts Society is a fellowship of people who love the arts seeking to support and encourage creative individuals and groups as they go forward toward their dreams. They do this through their website and popular social networks by posting articles and images of the art related events they experience, sharing information about art related events, opportunities, and educational experiences with the public, and inviting art lovers to participate in events they create such as their Forwardian Film Festival, Forwardian Music and Art festivals, and their literary and arts magazine titled, “Forwardian.”

“Forwardian” was created with the desire to provide artists, photographers, writers, and poets an avenue to express their creativity. Since its debut publication in May 2010, it has gained a reputation for presenting meaningful poetry, engaging stories, and captivating images of the highest caliber. The managerial staff includes Alexa Carpenter (as mentioned earlier) who serves as the magazine’s Poetry and Literary Editor, Chris Sullivan who serves as the magazine’s Assistant Poetry and Literary Editor, Andrea Robbins-Rimberg who serves as the magazine’s Art and Photography Editor, and Paul Adam Smeltz who serves as the magazine’s Publisher. You can learn more about The Forwardian Arts Society, it’s literary and arts magazine, and all they offer to the creative community by exploring their website at www.theforwardianartssociety.com.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

May Brings COTA Closer

The Celebration of the Arts (COTA) held its monthly general meeting on Monday May 14th to plan their 35th Annual Jazz and Arts Festival to be held September 7th - 9th. The meeting took place at The Deer Head Inn in Delaware Water Gap, PA. The pleasant sensation of reconnecting with friends made during previous festivals combined with the excitement of making new acquaintances combined as they often do whenever a meeting occurs. This month was no different.

However, as with all gatherings of friends whose duration lasts for decades, the May 14th meeting experienced a sadness which touched the heart. Robert Doney was a very special friend of COTA whose creativity could not only be seen in the works he displayed in his booth year after year but also on several COTA posters and Tee Shirts which featured his designs. The beauty in his art was also felt in the joyous conversations he held with those he came in contact with from which many found themselves enhanced by the words and concepts they exchanged.

It was with great sadness the announcement of Robert Doney’s recent passing on Monday May 7th came to the gathering. Many half listened to the words being spoken while personal memories vied for their attentions. As the announcement drew to a close, there was a spontaneous moment of silence as if each person stopped to quiet their heart so they could hear their friend say good bye.

Soon after these fond farewells concluded, the meeting moved to continue providing an opportunity for those who wish to enhance their love for jazz and the festival to participate in a variety of aspects connected to the annual event. A renewed Clarion Call was sounded to encourage members of the public to become gate workers, security, stage crew, and others to participate in the joys of being a part of this year’s festival. There were also some announcements regarding the 35th Annual Jazz and Arts Festival as there will be a special recognition of The COTA Festival Orchestra as it celebrates its 20th year of existence taking place during the festival. You’ll find more photographs taken during the meeting in The COTA Meetings 2012 Gallery at www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150798121170421.468319.636000420&type=1&l=1ee42dedac.

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. It’s next general meeting is scheduled to be held at The Deer Head Inn in Delaware Water Gap on Monday June 11th beginning at 7:30pm. The public is invited and encouraged to attend as all ideas are welcomed. Please Explore The Celebration of the Arts Website at www.cotajazz.org or call 570-424-2210 to learn how you can become a volunteer and to learn for more information all about COTA has to offer.

Monday, May 14, 2012

A Living Room Open to Music and Words

The Living Room in Stroudsburg, PA held the second of their weekly Open Mic Nites on Sunday May 13th inviting local musicians, poets, writers, and anyone who had a desire to share something with an eager audience to bless their microphones. As with the first occasion, the event held many unexpected twists and turns as the evening progressed providing those who came to enjoy the gathering a wide variety of styles and creative approaches to intrigue the senses.

The sharings began with some welcoming words offered by Matt Ando who filled in for host Billy Mack who was momentarily away but came in later to join in the festivities. The event began with poetry voiced by Cach Warner and was followed by some Christian Hip Hop by two young women. They were followed by Matt Ando who read from his literary endeavors and by the band “Rotten Lucky” with Burt Kleinle, Coty Jony, and Brian Marx. As they did the previous week, their heavy laden musical interlude rocked the building and those who attended the event to their core which allowed many to see what was there for the first time.

The band was followed by  Chris Cicala, Patrick Cummings, Theo Francois. The Business Fairy, who has become a familiar musical presence over the years presented some new material and he was followed by Abby Trunfio and Katherine Freeman who were later joined by Chris Cicala, Zack, and Billy Mack (who had returned) as they formed the group known as “The Billy Mack Collective.” The band “Mostly Lows” performed and the evening concluded with Al Shivers who folk orientated performance brought a joyous ending to the gathering as many sung along to the tunes he played. You’ll be able to find more photograph taken during the Open Mic Nite in The Living Room 2012 Gallery at www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150907955845421.475868.636000420&type=1

The Living Room is located on Main Street in Stroudsburg, PA next to The Sherman Theater who owns the building and the space in which it presents music and art. The Living Room is organized by members of the community who include Shane Izykowski, Billy Mack, Tom LeFevre, Darlene Farris-Labar, Brandon Jones, and Elisa Byrne. Besides the weekly Open Mic Nites which occurs every Sunday Evening beginning at 6pm, The Living Room is currently presenting an exhibition titled, “The Arts Are Alive in the Poconos” featuring over 150 pieces created by local artists. The Exhibition will continue until May 30th. Please Explore The Living Room Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/pages/The-Living-Room/123978921059378 for more information.

Friday, May 11, 2012

A Forgotten Beauty Found at The Sherman

The Sherman Theater in Stroudsburg, PA held an Artist’s Reception on Thursday May 10th for an exhibition titled, “agriCULTURE-The Beauty of Forgotten Farms” featuring the photographic work of Kim Pollard. Although the attendance to the reception was sparse, the images Ms. Pollard captured populated the theater’s lobby with distant memories echoing their way to our present thoughts. There was a beauty and profound sense of homage found in her work which also contained a touch of melancholy one is touched with whenever something once treasured highly is recollected.

The photographic depictions of abandoned family farms found throughout The Northwestern New Jersey area were once teaming with the life and activity associated with an agricultural existence. One can still see the shadows of the workers and their animals while looking at the photographs with one’s heart. Yet, we find them now teaming with another sort of life consisting of dragonflies and other animals reminding us that when something is abandoned, something else makes it their home.

There are many times we find ourselves feeling abandoned in our lives. Family, friends, and situations seem to leave us behind in order to pursue a more comprehensive existence. However, although the nostalgic memories of their absence can leave an emptiness in our heart, this emptiness can be filled while we invite others to live there beginning with ourselves. The “agriCULTURE-The Beauty of Forgotten Farms” exhibition will continue until May 30th. You’ll be able to find more photographs taken during the reception in our Special Events 2012 Gallery at www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150780327730421.465788.636000420&type=1.

Kim Pollard is a photographer based in Blairstown, NJ. The majority of her work derives from scenes found in nature and are made available to individuals as framed and unframed prints, photo notecards, and postcards. In addition to the exhibit being presented at The Sherman Theater, her work can be seen in the current issue of “Skylands Visitors” magazine published in the Southwest New Jersey area. She is also featured on the Back Cover of The Forwardian Arts Society’s current issue of their Art and Literary Magazine, “Forwardian” and served as a juror for The Forwardian Arts Society’s “Cover to Cover II” exhibition to determine whose work will appear on the front and back covers of the magazine’s upcoming issue. You’ll be able to view her work in Skylands Visitors magazine at www.skylands.com and her work in Forwardian at www.theforwardianartssociety.com/Fowardian-Archive.html.

On her website, Kim states, “The world looks so different when I view it through the lens of my camera. I simply love art. I enjoy capturing moments in time. Unexpected surprises in nature … you stumble upon when you weren't even looking for them.” She also says, “An interesting photo can be a conversation piece and a focal point. … It can make you smile, make you think, and make you feel. I hope you enjoy my photos and that they add something to your wall as well as your life.” And, they certainly do. You can learn more about Kim Pollard and view her work at www.facebook.com/kimpollardphotography.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

An Open Living Room

The Living Room in Stroudsburg, PA held their first weekly Open Mic Nites on Sunday May 6th inviting local musicians, poets, writers, and anyone who had a desire to share something with an eager audience to bless their microphones. As with many such events, many unexpected twists and turns in the evening presented themselves but this is exactly what those who attend these events love about them. The sizable gathering nourished each other as each performance and its originality was experience and responded to with encouraging enthusiasm.

The sharings began with some welcoming words offered by host Billy Mack who was joined on the floor by Chris Cicala, Katherine Freeman, and Abby Trunfio to sing a number of tunes. They were followed by Matt Ando who read from his literary endeavors, Renée De Moonunit followed with some wonderfully esoteric poetry, and Chris Cicala returned to present an instrumental piece on his guitar. He was followed by members and friends of the band, “This Way to The Egress” whose carnival sideshow approach to music never fail to delight all who are exposed to it and this night was no exception.

As This Way to The Egress concluded its set, Guitarist Dan the Hobbit took the mic to sing some of his songs and was followed by the band “Rotten Lucky” whose high frequency sounds rocked the place. The evening concluded with a performance by Jerry Fels and The Jerry Fels whose strange but true lyrics left many shaking and scratching their heads as the contemplations of what he sang began to take root in the collective quantum consciousness of the gathering. You can only imagine the courses of the conversations which followed took even if you were there. You’ll be able to find more photograph taken during the Open Mic Nite in The Living Room 2012 Gallery at www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150907955845421.475868.636000420&type=1

The Living Room is located on Main Street in Stroudsburg, PA next to The Sherman Theater who owns the building and the space in which it presents music and art. The Living Room is organized by members of the community who include Shane Izykowski, Billy Mack, Tom LeFevre, Darlene Farris-Labar, Brandon Jones, and Elisa Byrne. Besides the weekly Open Mic Nites which occurs every Sunday Evening beginning at 6pm, The Living Room is currently presenting an exhibition titled, “The Arts Are Alive in the Poconos” featuring over 150 pieces created by local artists. The Exhibition will continue until May 30th. Please Explore The Living Room Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/pages/The-Living-Room/123978921059378 for more information.

Theatrical Review: The Lion in Winter

Theatrical Review: The Lion in Winter
Written by: James Goldman
Directed by: Juliet K. Dunham and Sue Butler
Theatrical Review by: Paul Adam Smeltz

The Shawnee Playhouse in Shawnee on the Delaware, PA presented The Center Stage Players’ production of “The Lion in Winter” written by James Goldman in 1966. The play premiered at the Ambassador Theatre in the New York City Theatrical district known as Broadway and featured Robert Preston as Henry II, King of England and Rosemary Harris who won The Antoinette Perry Award for Excellence in Theatre (aka Tony) Award for her portrayal of Eleanor of Aquitaine. The play was later adapted into a film in 1968 featuring Peter O'Toole as Henry and Katharine Hepburn as Eleanor of Aquitaine who won the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (aka OSCAR) Award for the role.

The play is set during the Christmas of 1183 at the Royal Estate in Chinon in which Henry II (as portrayed by Richard Rose) and his mistress Alais (as portrayed by Maria Sole) await the arrival of Henry’s imprisoned wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine, (as portrayed by Katherine Neville who designed the production’s program and serves The Center Stage Players as its Treasurer), their three surviving sons Richard I (as portrayed by Patrick Turner who also serves The Center Stage Players as its President), Geoffrey (as portrayed by Robin Kessler), and John (as portrayed by Marshall Haskell). The also await the arrival of King Philip II of France (as portrayed by Ryan Moore) who is Alais’ half brother to join them for their family gathering.

This particular Holiday Gathering is set against a back drop of some past family squabbles that got completely out of hand. Being of Royal personages, their exploits are well documented as history and include The Revolt of 1173–1174 which began when Henry II’s eldest son, Henry, wanted to control more of his inheritance and was joined by his brothers Richard, Geoffrey, and John with support of their mother Eleanor of Aquitaine and ended with a great deal of death and destruction. It also includes an additional revolt in 1183 which lead to young Henry’s death. At this, Henry II sought to quell his sons’ desire to take the throne by force and this is where the audience who came to see “The Lion in Winter” comes in. Although the events and dialogue presented throughout the play never actually occurred, the historical events which precedes this fictionalized historical drama makes it plausible.

Regardless of whether or not the characters depicted would do what as they are portrayed doing, the play stands on its own as an exploration of family rivalries amplified by an uneasy rite to royal succession. There are betrayals, connivances, paternal manipulations, threats, and desires to dethrone the tyrannical head of the house so the individual who does so can replace this tyranny with their own. It has all the markings of a family get together for the holidays and reminds us why it’s often in our best interests to avoid them. But, we never do, do we?

The Center Stage Players’ production of “The Lion in Winter” is very well done and manages to keep true to the zeitgeist of the era and the emotions presented in the work. As with many previous Center Stage Players’ productions, a love for the theater shines through each actor’s performance that compliments the character in which he or she plays. One can often tell when an actor has researched their character and their own psyche in order to portray it honorably and the comprehensive results this esoteric exploration can be easily seen upon The Shawnee Playhouse stage.

All of the actors provided stellar performances in a work that requires nothing less of them. The emotions it conjures up in an audience who experiences them is almost inconsequential to those drawn upon by the actor. However, Katherine Neville’s powerfully subtle portrayal of Eleanor of Aquitaine shown with a slight more illumination than those who shared the stage with her. This observation does not intend to diminish the considerable talent of her fellow actors but it is something that is quite noticeable and it elevated the power of the production. This is indeed a production that intrigues its audience on an academically historical level and a visceral one as well. This reviewer wholeheartedly recommends seeing it.

The Center Stage Players’ production of “The Lion in Winter” is written by James Goldman and directed by Sue Butler who (with Jack Butler)  also served the production as its set designer and (with David Schappert) as a member of its lighting crew and Juliet K. Dunham who also serves on The Center Stage Players’ Board of Directors. The production was Stage Managed by Lillian Ramirez-Gonzalez who also serves as The Center Stage Players’ Secretary. Jessica Santos served the production as a member of its crew. This presentation of The Center Stage Players’ production of “The Lion in Winter” will conclude its run at The Shawnee Playhouse in Shawnee on the Delaware, PA on May 13th.

The Center Stage Players is a non-profit community theater group which was formed in April of 1990 and led by a board of directors. Membership is open to everyone regardless of experience. All auditions to their productions are open to the public as they strive to provide an environment in which persons with an interest in theater can grow and develop in all aspects of theater. Besides those listed in leadership positions earlier in this review, Dan Eash and Pat Van Varick serves on The Center Stage Players’ Board of Directors. Please feel free to Explore The Center Stage Players Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/pages/Center-Stage-Players/119909224794468 to learn more information about them.

The Shawnee Playhouse provides professional quality year-round entertainment in a historic yet comfortable setting while bringing their guests a variety of theatrical experiences to the residents and vacationers of the area. They also serve as a training ground for young theatre performers and technicians. The Executive Director of The Shawnee Playhouse is Midge McClosky while the producers are Ginny and Charlie Kirkwood. Their Group Sales Manager is Mary Horn with Becky Haskell serving in Marketing and Sales. The Box Office Staff consists of Stacey Mattern.

The next production presented by The Center Stage Players will be Ira Levin’s “Deathtrap” scheduled to run September 21st to October 21st.  In the meantime, presentations at The Shawnee Playhouse will include The SCOMC production of “Trying” running May 18th to the 27th, “They’re Playing Our Song” running May 30th to September 1st, “Forbidden Broadway’s Greatest Hits” running June 15th to September 2nd, and “Cats” running June 29th to August 25th. Please contact The Shawnee Playhouse at 570-421-5093 or Explore their Website at www.theshawneeplayhouse.com for more information and to reserve your ticket.

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 for all productions of The Shawnee Playhouse designated as Feature or Headline Shows.

Photograph provided by The Shawnee Playhouse.

A Room Living with Art

A new venue in the town of Stroudsburg, PA provided yet another encouraging sign of the arts becoming a revitalized as an intricate part of the Northeastern Area of Pennsylvania area known as the Poconos. In April of 2012, “The Living Room” opened on the town’s Main Street and had begun presenting a series of concerts. On Saturday May 5th, The venue launched their Art Gallery with an exhibition titled, “The Arts Are Alive in the Poconos”  featuring over 150 pieces created by local artists with a reception which also presented music performed by local singer, songwriter, and filmmaker Renard Cohen.

Upon entering the moderately sized space, the magnitudinous proprieties of the exhibition immediately captured the imagination of its visitors. The variety of creative expression among the pieces both complimented and contradicted each other inspiring interpretations and conversations not normally experienced in such local venues. The exhibition allowed a voice to be heard among those who attended that had previously only been shared in silence.

The various approaches to the visual arts ranged from the presentation of images assuring its viewers the tranquil and orderly existence they desire is fully within their grasp to images which disturb our perceptions by challenging the conventional view of life. These approaches are depictions reflecting the diametric needs of the human soul for reassur-essence and disturb-essence which many (including me) consider to be the essence of art. The Living Room Gallery should be commended for offering a place in which artists can freely present their work regardless of which part of the diametric stream of the subconscious they wish to swim in.

The artists who presented their work at The Living Room Art Gallery for their “The Arts Are Alive in the Poconos” Exhibition included Joyce Bambach, James Silverthorne, John Kolbek, Marlana Holsten, Ana Maria Hendricks, Michael Parsons, Flynn Kinney, Maia Rossiello, Myke Maldonado, Amanda Hayes, Maureen Cunningham, Abigail Braman, Sherley Escribano, Jill Nobles, Kristin Krasley, Stephen Lippay, Bill Bravo, Jeffery Smith, Krysta Schwuchow, Bethany Wert, Jason Barry, Laura Below, Tanisha Parker, Abigail Trunfio, Robert Ace, Billy Mack, Elisa Byrne, Zhanna Sanabria, Melody J. Trunfio, Andrew Ozkenel, Tom LeFevre, Keyaira Daniel, Torri Koppenaal, Mask Scholars Masquerade, Courtney Jaggers, Yder Leon Laya, Shane Izykowski, Jamie Ratchford, James Chesnick, RenDi Young, Grace Spezzanno, Clavertis Miller, Charles Tweetie, Susan Kulick, Toby Sabatine, Will Sovinski, Heather Hummel, Martelle, Andrea Robbins-Rimberg, Laurinda Faye Rubin, Leslie Nagy, Terry Flatt, Nova Chan, Narlene Jacobs, Susan Fields, Mike Strunk, Alma Barrantes, Robert Fenton, Timothy Nebel, Patty the Poet, Jacqueline Lesniak, Melody Rivera, Haley Cramer, Melissa Benzinger, Vanessa Kresge, Bob Cook, Sarina Cook, Stephanie Traoiani, and me. You’ll be able to find more photograph taken during “The Arts Are Alive in the Poconos” Artists’ Reception in The Living Room 2012 Gallery at www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150907955845421.475868.636000420&type=1

As mentioned earlier, the music provided for the reception was provided Renard Cohen. His performance enhanced the exhibit by adding an addition welcoming air to the gathering of art lovers. Renard is a singer, songwriter, and Emmy winning producer who began writing and performing in the tumultuous 60s. He still believes that music should entertain, inform, and enlighten all it encounters. He is currently producing a documentary on “Fracking” called “Groundswell: Protecting Our Children’s Water” which can be viewed at www.groundswellmovie.com. Renard is also in the band called, “Son of the Blues” which will present a Live Web Cast titled, “A Head Full of Music” on Saturday May 12th beginning at 4pm. You may learn more about Renard Cohen, his music, his endeavors, and how to view the Web Cast by exploring his website at www.renardcohen.com.

The Living Room is located on Main Street in Stroudsburg, PA next to The Sherman Theater who owns the building and the space in which it presents music and art. The Art Gallery is organized by members of the community who include Shane Izykowski, Billy Mack, Tom LeFevre, Darlene Farris-Labar, Brandon Jones, and Elisa Byrne. The current “The Arts Are Alive in the Poconos” Exhibition will continue until May 30th and will be followed by “The Art of John Kolbek and Michael Parsons” with an Artists’ Reception to be held Saturday June 1st beginning at 6pm. The next exhibition in which artists from the Pocono Area and beyond are invited to participate will be titled, “One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Treasure” and will begin with an Artists’ Reception on Saturday July 7th. The drop off date for work will be Friday July 6th from 6-9pm. Please Explore The Living Room Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/pages/The-Living-Room/123978921059378 for more information.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Glorious Psalms from ESU

The East Stroudsburg University (ESU) of PA presented their Music Department’s Spring Choral Concert at The East Stroudsburg Methodist Church on Wednesday May 2nd. The performance featured the University’s A Cappella Ensemble, their Concert Choir, and several instrumentalists who were all led under the direction of Dr. James Maroney. This was the first time The Music Department held their Spring Choral Concert within the church’s facility and its quaint atmosphere seemed to bring an even more pleasant dimension to the presentation.

The performance began with selections sung by the University’s A Cappella Ensemble. These selections ranged from some classical compositions sung in Latin to more modern pieces such as the Irish standard “Danny Boy.” Their performance concluded with a piece written by a living composer named Mathew Harris whose song titled, “When Daffodils Begin to Peer” is based upon the poem found in William Shakespeare’s play titled, “A Winter’s Tale.” The song featured solo performances by Paula Dixon and David Yablonski.

After a brief intermission, the University’s Concert Choir took their place. The Concert Choir consists of members of the ESU Student population which includes its students, faculty, and staff along with members of the community not enrolled in the school. Their varied life experiences which influences each member’s individual approach to the work presented was combined by their love for music and a desire to share this common bond through their voices. This proved to be a wonderful blend as the soul of each piece moved beyond the language barriers to find a home in each listener’s heart.

The choir began its performance with a work written by Leonard Bernstein titled, “Chichester Psalms” which are based upon the Psalms attributed to King David (aka David HaMelekh) who ruled over the middle eastern country of Judah c. 1010 - 1003 BCE (Before the Common Era) and was the second king of the United Kingdom of Israel in c. 1003 - 970 BCE. King David was noted for being a righteous (although imperfect) king as well as an acclaimed warrior, musician, and poet in the Judaic Tradition, the ancestor of Joshua Son of Joseph (aka Jesus the Christ) in the Christian Tradition, and a prophet as well as a king in the Islamic Tradition.

The work was sung in Hebrew with solo performances given by Susan Prtune, Diane Lusk, Patrick Mertz, Ely Reys-Viruet, Patrick Fenning, and Laura Wall. Percussionists who accompanied choir were Steven Mathiesen and Mark Zettler. Other musicians included Dr. Pauline Fox on Pipe Organ and Andrea Wittchen on Harp. This portion of the performance proved to be very satisfying to the ear.

When “Chichester Psalms” by Leonard Bernstein concluded, several additional musicians took their place to perform for the next selection for the concert. The work was titled, “Gloria” composed by John Rutter. The work was sung in Latin and featured soloist Sarah Fister, Laurie Braman, and Sandra Bullock. The musicians who accompanied the choir and soloists were Danny Cahn, Eddie Severn, Peter Hyde, and Patrick Dorian on Trumpet, Malcolm Viney and Ashley Taylor on Trombone, Geof Speicher on Bass Trombone, and James Daniels on Tuba along with the musicians I mentioned earlier in this article. The concert ended with words of appreciations and recognition of the talents of students who will be graduating this year. You’ll find more photographs taken during the concert in The ESU 2012 Gallery at www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150661494755421.450297.636000420&type=3&l=e882125dc2.

The East Stroudsburg University of PA Music Department presents their Choral Concerts near the conclusion of their Fall and Spring Semesters. In addition to being an educational opportunity for their students, the choir welcomes members of the community to participate in their program. Rehearsals for the Fall 2012 Semester will begin on Tuesday August 28th beginning at 7pm and every following Tuesday evening. The Concert will take place on Wednesday December 5th. Please feel free to Explore the ESU Choral and Vocal Music Website at www.esu.edu/music/sing for more information.

Musical performances to be presented by The ESU Music Department for the remainder of the university’s Spring Semester include their 25th Annual Spring Band Concert titled, “Potpourri” on Sunday May 6th beginning at 7pm, a program titled, “Let’s Sing” on Monday May 7th beginning at 7:30pm, and Student Voice Recitals on Tuesday May 8th. Please Contact The ESU Music Department at 570-422-3483 for more information.