Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Den of Uniqueity

The Living Room in Stroudsburg, PA presented their first installment of their weekly Open Mic Nite Series for a new season on Sunday September 23rd. The Autumnal nip which proceeds the changing hues of the leaves filled the air as a modest gathering began to enter the venue in order to experience its own photosynthetic effects. These effects proved to have the transformative abilities found in the natural world of our dreams as evident in the performances presented that night especially that given by special guest Christopher Bell.

The evening began with host Billy Mack sharing some welcoming words followed by a performance by The Billy Mack Collector which is a group consisting of any musician(s) or singer(s) who happen to be near the performance area willing to share the microphone with others. The Billy Mack Collector never fails to delight with its freewheeling style and approach to the musical form. It reminds one of how people in very rural areas would sit on their porch playing an instrument while their neighbors would happen by with their instruments, simply pull up a seat, and join in. For this occasion, Billy Mack and his Ukulele was joined by Chris Cicala and his Guitar. It was folk music at its best as a neighborly crowd began to happen by and joined in to increase the number and energies of the gathering.

After The Billy Mack Collector performed, comedian Ely Reyes took the microphone to share his humorous observations of the occurrences in his life. These insights brought a smile and chuckle to many. Ely was followed by Sunland Eric Funn whose music and lyrics brought a good number of unpretentious smiles to the faces of those who heard his songs along with a piece performed a cappella which was as lonely and haunting as the Great Plains region of the United States it echoed. Sunland Eric Funn was followed by Zeke whose utilization of electronics in his musical performance led listeners to realms best left unrevealed in the recounting of such journeys but whose embarkation upon them are highly recommended. Zeke was followed by Bill Bradley who invited entities from the spirit world to join him at the microphone as he offered opportunities to communicate with them to the audience. It was an unexpected moment during the Open Mic Nite but it was very consistent with the spirit of the event which welcomes one and all to share their talents and gifts.

As Bill Bradley (and others) left the microphone, a short break occurred as the evening’s special guest Christopher Bell prepared to perform with his electric cello. There are many times one attends an art related event disengaged from it. The concerns of the world and the harboring of resentments (whether they be from the recent past or long removed from the present) sometimes obscures our connection to our souls. However, when Christopher Bell began to present his melodies, a beckoning took place as he frequently raised his hands as if to signal the wandering spirits to rejoin themselves to our presence so our concerns and resentments could take their leave of us if even for a while.

With a voice accompanied by his unique instrument and reverberating echoes resonating like computerized bells, Mr. Bell allowed instrumentals to combine with original and improvised insertions of well known pieces until they created a healing tone towing their measures to those who sought the balances they offered. Few could help but notice how his hands deftly touched the strings of his cello which hung upon a shoulder strap he wore upon his neck without also noticing how some of the strings seemed to be reaching up to his fingers so their notes could be included in his renderings. There was a magic in his performance whose enchantments lingered long after it was cast. You can learn more about Christopher Bell and his music by exploring his Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/thechrisbellcello.

After the final breath of Christopher Bell’s performance extinguished, the duo known as The F. i. T. with Greg Cimmino and Sean Walsh on Guitars rocked the room with their sounds reminiscent of those created by numerous rock n roll legends such as Jimi Hendrix. They were followed Jay Spitta who shared his words through the rhythm of Rap which is a musical style which has since become known as Hip Hop. After Jay Spitta shared his talent and thoughts on the musical expression of the genre, The F. i. T. returned to the microphone to shake a few remaining stones from the rockers who enjoyed their earlier performance. They were followed by poet Amy who read her soul’s words from her little book which has become much appreciated by all who love poetry.

The evening finished with Singer/Songwriter Jerry Fels. Mr. Fels was one of the first to perform for the Open Mic Series when is began and his presence proved to be a testament of the events longevity and its potential to become a welcomed icon to the creative community and those who support it. The Living Room Open Mic Nite series will continue on Sunday September 30th beginning at 7pm (sign up begins at 6:30pm) with featured musical guest Tedd Hazard. As always musicians, poets, writers, and anyone who would like to share something with an audience are welcomed to do so. You’ll be able to find more photographs taken during the Sunday September 23rd Open Mic Nite in The Living Room 2012 Gallery at www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150907955845421.475868.636000420&type=1 with additional photographs in The Living Room 2012 (Part 2) Gallery at www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151242474950421.513481.636000420&type=1.

In addition to the Open Mic Nites, The Living Room Gallery is currently presenting an exhibition featuring the works of local artists living in Monroe County, PA and surrounding areas titled, “Identity” which continues until September 30th. The Living Room opened in April of 2012 and is located on Main Street in Stroudsburg, PA next to The Sherman Theater who owns the building. The Living Room is organized by members if the community who include Shane Izykowski, Martelle Jones, Elisa Byrne, Tom LeFevre, Darlene Farris Labar, Sarah Bouma, Toby Sabatine, and Billy Mack. Please Explore The Living Room Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/pages/The-Living-Room/123978921059378 for more information on The Living Room, all they have to offer, and how to be a part of it all.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Merchants and Wilbium at TLR

The Living Room (TLR) in Stroudsburg, PA presented another installment of their weekly Open Mic Nite Series on Sunday September 16th with special musical guests Modern Merchant and Wilbium performing alongside those who came to share their words and songs with the gathering. The gathering for the evening grew slowly but eventually a great number of people filled the venue as did the songs and poetry many brought with them. I’ve been unable to enjoy the welcoming atmosphere for quite some time and it was good to be back.

The evening began with greetings and salutations from the event’s host, Billy Mack, which included some original songs sung by him as he happily played his Ukulele inspiring some smiles and pondering thoughts to those who heard him. Billy was followed by Poet Chris Gamble who presented some short pieces which inspired deeper and prolonged contemplation with their brevity. Chris was followed by a guitarist known as Anthony who performed several instrumental pieces which encouraged the soul to learn the language of music. Anthony was followed by a poet known as Amy whose words read from a simple notebook were filled with the complexity found in the human experience. She was followed by a Guitarist named Richard whose renditions of some familiar songs brought a new meaning and appreciation for the reflections of life they contained.

After the first set of readings and musical performances came to an end, the band Modern Merchant prepared to perform. The band is from the New England area of the United States and consists of Sydney Weiss, Mike Skaggs, John Parson, and Jesse Stanford. There are several bands who perform music that penetrates the mental boundaries we build so we can function in what many consider a permissible manner in society by getting into your head. However, the music Modern Merchant performs not only gets into one’s head, but it moves the furniture around a bit.

From the ghostly movements of the percussionist as she summons out her drums’ rhythmic spirits with each touch to the haunting lyrics which linger like a lost soul who is able to lead others to themselves, Modern Merchant moves its otherworldly commodity into marketplace of our mystic consciousness. If one endeavors just to hear the songs, they forego the experience one can only encounter by allowing the song to listen to them. This means each piece the band played seemed to have the uncanny ability to reach into each individual in its audience, as his/her essence to share its secrets, and to echo them back so one can comprehend oneself more clearly. You can learn more about Modern Merchant, experience their work, and gain information to where they’ll be performing in the future by exploring their Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/modernmerchant?ref=ts.

After Modern Merchants completed their performance, the second half of the Open Readings and Musical presentations began. The first to take the stage was a pretty good poet who was kind of nervous. Well, it was me. I was followed by Kevin Tailz who read from his work which was quite interesting. Kevin was followed by the band known at Nicholas whose music filled the room with a great deal of energy. They were followed by Al Shivers who read some poetry and presented a performance piece which inspired many to contemplate its deeper meanings. Ooooo. Al was followed by a guitarist known as Sunland Eric Funn whose strange and humorous lyrics cut through a great many of the pretensions we come to accumulate throughout our lives and brings laughter to the predicaments this accumulative endeavor has brought us.

As the final notes from Mr. Funn’s performance left his guitar and voice, Wilbium prepared to share his talents with the gathering. Wilbium Mohlenhoff lives in Long Pond, PA which means he is from the local area. He was accompanied by his keyboard, a screen and projector, and other digital instruments enabling him to allow the contours of his imagination to formulate visually and musically within the mind of all who experienced his conjuring.

Dressed as a pilot with goggles and protective wear, Wilbium took off with sounds and images propelling him toward every destination he dared to embark upon. The journey had its risks. One can become lost and forever confused as senses become overwhelmed and distorted in a Maelstrom of exposures of everything one should guard against. But, of course, we went along. And, we even danced as we became addicted to love. So there. You can learn more about Wilbium and his multimedia adventure by exploring his Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/william.mohlenhoff.

Needless to say, Wilbium’s performance brought the September 16th installment to a very intriguing conclusion. It also signal the end of the Open Mic Nites to be held during the Summer 2012 Calendared Season. However, the series will continue into the Fall as the next event will take place Sunday September 23rd beginning at 7pm (sign up begins at 6:30pm) with featured musical guest Christopher Bell and 1985. As always musicians, poets, writers, and anyone who would like to share something with an audience are welcomed to do so. You’ll be able to find more photographs taken during the Sunday September 16th Open Mic Nite in The Living Room 2012 Gallery at www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150907955845421.475868.636000420&type=1.

In addition to the Open Mic Nites, The Living Room Gallery is currently presenting an exhibition featuring the works of local artists living in Monroe County, PA and surrounding areas titled, “Identity” which continues until September 30th. The Living Room opened in April of 2012 and is located on Main Street in Stroudsburg, PA next to The Sherman Theater who owns the building. The Living Room is organized by members if the community who include Shane Izykowski, Martelle Jones, Elisa Byrne, Tom LeFevre, Darlene Farris Labar, Sarah Bouma, Toby Sabatine, and Billy Mack. Please Explore The Living Room Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/pages/The-Living-Room/123978921059378 for more information on The Living Room, all they have to offer, and how to be a part of it all.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Celebrating Stroudsburg

The Streets of Stroudsburg, PA were filled with music, art, and festival lovers as the town celebrated it’s existence on Saturday September 1st with its 6th Annual Stroudfest. A beautiful Summer day greeted visitors to the area and residents alike as numerous businesses, art related venues, and musicians eagerly shared their various endeavors to all they encountered. It was certainly a “Strut your stuff” day as everyone involved with the festival upped the ante on the meaning of the phrase to a considerable level.

There were three official festival stages presenting music set up around and along the main street area of the town. The first was located at The Courthouse Square on 7th Street which featured Jazz Juice, The Christian Porter Band, Tox Island with Bill Rooth and Friends, Miami Cakes and Donuts with Christopher Cuzme on Sax, Los Diablos - The Johnny Rydell Band, and Functional Flow. The Second Stage was at Brite Cleaners located on Main Street which featured Soul Intent, The Kevin Brennan Band, Matt Abell, Marshall's Highway, and Flyin Blind. The final official festival stage was also on Main Street and located across from the Sherman Theater which featured Blues Guitarist Randy Bigness along with a number of his musical friends who shared the stage either alongside of one another or performed individually throughout the day.

Unfortunately, I was unable to partake of all the performances as there were a great deal happening that day. However, the bands I did manage to experience were great. The excitement and exuberance they displayed echoed their love for the music they shared which proved to be very contagious among those fortunate enough to hear them. In other words, they were fun and made the festival a great day to be in town.

In addition to the festival stages mentioned, there were a number of areas which music was presented and were not included official lineups. Some were impromptu performances given by lone guitarists or small grouping of musicians which gave the festival more diversity and contrasted the somewhat commercial aspects of the event. Others were what one might consider festivals within the festival existing independently of what was established by the Stroudfest organizers.

This included a remote stage set up in the Ribbon Outlet Parking lot located on Ann Street by the music store known as “Moe’st Everything Muse.” The store held an Outdoor Concert and Open Mic event throughout the day featuring several musicians along with the Christian Rock band Least Likely. Although one had to travel a bit to reach this out of the way venue, it was well worth the walk as the friendly atmosphere encouraged all to make new friends from  among the musicians who played as well as from those who shared in the listening experience. You can learn more about Moe’st Everything Muse and future Open Mic and concert events they plan to present by exploring their website at www.moesteverything.com.

Besides the music presented throughout the day, there were a number or art related events going on. This included an Art Yard Sale held in front of The Pocono Arts Community Center while an artists’ reception was being held within it. The center’s ArtSpace Gallery featured the work of Marcos Oksenhendler who is the curator at The Pocono Community Theater Gallery and Sharon Cosgrove who was the featured artist in the center’s Studio Gallery. The works of other area artists were also presented in the exhibition. They included Thomas Augusta, David Cook, Sharon Cosgrove, Denise Darv√≥n, Will Daskal, Shirley Epstein, Jim Hannan, Helen Heeren, Marlana Holsten, John Kopp, Linda Kreckel, Don Manza, Joan Sayer, and Jan Ward. The exhibition continues until September 30th and more information about it can be obtained by exploring the PoconoArts Council website at www.poconoarts.org.

So, what else was going on during the festival? Well, one would be remise by not mentioning the multitude of artists and artisans aligned along the sidewalks of Main Street. There were way too many to acknowledge in a single article, but here are some whom I’ve had the pleasure to meet and share a conversation with. They include Beverly L. Place, Erika Liodice who is the author of the book titled, “Empty Arms,” DGS Crafts offering flowers, photos, jewelry and fabric ornaments, Dawn of New York offering fashion and accessories, Patty the Poet offering inspiring poetry, Rusty Transformations featuring works created by Bob Bernard, The Indulgent Apothecary offering handmade herbal products, The Yoga House offering instruction in the discipline, Steve Feuer representing Gihon River Press, Inc., Life in Bloom offering fiber crafts, The Garden of Giving supplying the Monroe county food bank with fresh food, The Pocono Parents of Down Syndrome, Lynoopie Creations offering handmade Knit Hats and accessories, Bagatelle Morph Studios presenting Photography and Art created by Flynn Kinney and Maia Rossiello, Artist Austin Davis, The Rotary Club of the Stroudsburgs, and The Happy Pipe who offers a relaxing journey as only a luxurious drag from a Hookah can provide. There was also a Centurion representing Franzetta’s Fantasy Costumes who was Roman around the town. I’m sorry but I couldn’t resist.

And, if all I shared in this article about Stroudfest 2012 wasn’t enough, there was also a free tai chi lesson at The Back Street Studio and Art Gallerie located on 6th Street and The Monroe County Historical Association hosted their 4th Annual Olde Time Fun children’s activities. You can learn more about The Back Street Studio and Art Gallerie by exploring their Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/BackstreetStudioAndArtGallerie and The Monroe County Historical Association Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/pages/Monroe-County-Historical-Association/167621751764 for more information.

All in all, this year’s Stroudfest proved to be a great day to spend walking around the streets of Stroudsburg, PA. There were plenty to see and do which was a lot of fun. This was especially true if one ventured off the official paths to discover some truly remarkable gems hidden away beyond the more commercial perimeters’ of the festival. Unfortunately, some seem to forget they are a part of the town as well but they deserved to be recognized as such. You’ll find more photographs taken during the day in the Stroudfest 2012 Gallery at www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151210423010421.507409.636000420&type=1.

The 6th Annual Stroudfest event was organized and presented by the Sherman Theater as one of the festivals it formulated which is designed to honor the town of Stroudsburg, PA. The other festivals the theater presents are The Pocono Raceway Festival which takes place in June and The Ironman 70.3 Pocono Mountains Finish Line Festival scheduled to take place Sunday September 30th. In addition to the festivals, The Sherman Theater presents numerous concerts, theatrical productions, and other events throughout the year. You can learn more about The Sherman Theater and all it has to offer the community by exploring their website at www.shermantheater.com.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Identities Revealed Through A Mask

“Let’s take a walk.”

The last wisps of the “Stroudfest” festival celebrating the existence of the town of Stroudsburg, PA was leaving its streets as The Living Room Art Gallery opened its doors on Saturday September 1st. Those who attended the festival as well as those who came to town specifically for the Artists’ Reception for their group exhibition titled, “Identity” and Masquerade Ball were met with an overwhelming array of images numbering over 120 pieces along with denizens of the eloquent and macabre worlds which ere reflected in their glorious costumes. The element of mystery prevailed as attendees sought to discover the true identities of those they conversed with while exploring the revelations the artists of the works shared about the true nature of themselves or their subjects.

“And what are you supposed to be?”

Although the sheer number of work made it difficult (if not impossible) to explore each piece to learn of the characteristics it revealed, it was possible to get a sampling as how the theme for the exhibit began to elicit a common approach among the artists who participated. This approach often went beyond merely creating an image depicting the recognizable features of an individual so they could be easily identified, but went below the surface to touch upon the unseen or un-shown aspects of who they are. As one continued to reflect upon such works, it was soon apparent the previously hidden features of the subject were not only found upon the canvas or photographic paper but within oneself.

“You can cut off my head but keep your hands off my cakes.”

The costumes worn among the attendees also had an interesting aspect to them. While many were simply fun outfits to wear (with masks for those who didn’t have one made available by Julie Cebollero of Lady J Creations) making the evening an wonderful opportunity to play “dress up,” many revealed a secret. It was R. Buckminster Fuller who said, “Everyday we put on a mask to face the other masks we encounter.” The secret of our true natures are hidden so those we encounter can accept us on society’s terms which deems it imperative we hide who we really are so we can be acceptable.

“I only had to make adjustments. I didn’t have to piddle.”

Yet, the masquerade aspects of the reception allowed those tired of keeping their secret from the world an opportunity to let everyone know who they were. Some were merchants, some were royalty, some were bandits, and some were devils and beasts. To learn how many saw themselves was indeed a revelation as one may not of suspected such a truth. But, perhaps, we did because, after all, we intuitively know such things by just looking at ourselves and our fanciful desires that often reveal about who we are.

“and you can use the pretzel sticks like chop sticks to pick up salsa without learning how to use them.”

Among the costumes and art, the voice of Trey C (Tracy Sorensen) echoed throughout the room. Singing familiar songs with the aide of her MP3 Player or whatever machine was used (I need to be more technologically with it), Ms. Sorenson belted out one rendition after another causing a “whoa” effect among the listeners. The movements of her long, sleek form which made the thin pretzel sticks available to munch upon throughout the reception look as if they were in need of slim fast transfusions underlined the lyrics she shared with a soulful interpretation. You can learn more about by visiting her facebook profile at www.facebook.com/tracy.sorensen.50.  

“I will always have you.”

The artists who presented their work at The Living Room Art Gallery for their “Identity” Exhibition included Stephanie Troiani, Katie Caprara, Linda Kolbeck, Jessie Roth, Greg Olawski, Tanisha Parker, YaJing Tang/Suki, Robert Roth, Yu Zhang (Rachel), Lu Xhixiu (Lynn), Sander Martin, Elizabeth Streczyk, Steve Truglio, Satilla Flores, Nadene Rose Moore, Donavan O’ Brien, James Silverthorne, Michael J. Strunk, Billy Mack and Renee DeMund, Chris Hodge, Sarah Brush, Abigail Braman, Gregory Montagnino, Joyce Bambach, Eric Goins, Amanda Hayes, Heather Hummel, Charlie Tweedie, Jeff Bensley, Melissa Benzinger, Grace Spezzano, Martelle Jones, Andrea Robbins-Rimberg, RenDi, Celeste Biondo, Shane Izykowski, James Chesnick, Donni “Bones” Ehlert, Mark Watson, Wayne Tuttle, Phyllis Vogel, Abby Oxford, Heidi Hooper, Masked Scholar/J. Reynolds, Jesslynn McCauley, Marcia Flammonde, Drew Von Dred, Keyaira Lynn Von Dred, Katie Solomon, Eric Funn, Dena Simms, John Kolbeck, Christen Elmore, Macy Lynn Photography, Joe Trovato, C. Kari Nespola, Sarah Jane McCready, Amber Trunfio, Kayla O’ Connor, Girl From Mars Photography (Kelly Klee), Vanessa Kresge, Kelly Taylor, Alice Prall, and me. In addition to placing their work on display, many of these artists also contributed their talents to the raffle in which the proceeds were utilized to benefit The Living Room and all its functions. You’ll be able to find more photograph taken during “Identity” Artists’ Reception and Masquerade Ball in The Living Room 2012 Gallery at www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150907955845421.475868.636000420&type=1.

“Be careful how you touch it. It’s still wet.”

The current “Identity” Exhibition will continue until September 30th. Their October exhibition will feature a selected group of artists and will be followed in November by another exhibition in which artists will be invited to participate. Information on these exhibitions is yet to be revealed. In addition to their exhibitions, The Living Room presents a weekly Open Mic Nites occurs every Sunday Evening beginning at 6pm which Musicians, Poets, Writers, and anyone who would like to share their talents with an eagerly accepting audience are welcomed to participate.

“Let’s take a walk.”

The Living Room opened in April of 2012 and is located on Main Street in Stroudsburg, PA next to The Sherman Theater who owns the building. The Art Gallery is organized by members of The Living Room Art  community who include Shane Izykowski, Martelle Jones, Elisa Byrne, Tom LeFevre, Darlene Farris Labar, Sarah Bouma, Toby Sabatine, and Billy Mack. Please Explore The Living Room Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/pages/The-Living-Room/123978921059378 for more information.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

COTA A Go Go

On a Dark and Stormy night, The Celebration of the Arts (COTA) held its final general meeting at The Deer Head Inn in Delaware Water Gap, PA on Tuesday September 4th to plan their 35th Annual Jazz and Arts Festival. There were few issues left to be explored as the festival is scheduled to be held September 7th - 9th which was only three days into the future at the time of the meeting. Still, some news remained to be announced.

These included news that the new CD titled, “Bob Dorough Duets” which features Bob singing alongside many jazz talents has arrived and is ready to be sold during the CD Release Party which took place at the Deer Head Inn on Wednesday September 5th. It was also announced the art for the Annual Music Motif Exhibition whose opening reception will be held at The Antoine Dutot Museum and Art Gallery during the first night of the festival has been received and is hung. However, the most exciting announcement was the availability of this year’s COTA Staff/Volunteer Tee Shirts which were distributed to those who are authorized to wear them during the festival.

As the meeting drew to a close, excitement was in the air as members modeled their shirts for one another. This combined with the anticipation of the music and art that will be awaiting them and all who come to visit the festival. It was fun planning with and the endeavor came with a great deal of concentrated love. It is hope many of you who read this will attend the festival and discover why so many put their inspired selves into the event.

After the festival, there will be a general meeting scheduled to be held at The Deer Head Inn in Delaware Water Gap in October 15th and will be designed to explore all that transpired during the festival and to discover ways to improve on the event. The public is invited and encouraged to attend this and all future meetings as all ideas are welcomed. You’ll find more photographs taken during the Monday September 4th 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. 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.

MSG: Good to the Last Gazebo

The Presbyterian Church of the Mountain (PCOM) in Delaware Water Gap, PA presented final installment of their 2012 series of Summer Gazebo Concerts on Sunday August 26th featuring a group called, “MSG” consisting of Matt Abell and Regina Sayles on vocals and guitars along with Skip Detrick on percussion. Those who gathered on the lawn to bid their farewell to the series were greeted by a harmonious array of music both originating from the talents of the musicians who presented them as well as well known songs written by established artists. All were performed congenially as they flowed upon the rays of an early evening of a late August sun touching those who leisurely absorbed them.

While each individual member of the band has performed as soloist as well with other musicians in the past, the converging of their talents made the Gazebo’s finale a memorable one as it seemed to bring to mind elements of every performance which appeared upon the little outdoor stage and in the Church’s Sanctuary when inclement weather prevailed. The concert stayed within it’s traditional 90 minute time frame but it seemed to become generously elongated as memories inspired by the trio flooded the senses. These memories combined with the unique qualities of the August 26th performance as the musical abilities of the musicians shone through to create new memories inspired by the songs they performed including some insightful pieces relating to aspects of modern life.

However, the concert did come to an end and, with it, another season of wonderful and meaningful experiences. Appreciations were shared with the musicians as goodbyes were shared among the many friends who’ve become known to each other during the 2012 season. I was one of the last to leave the site and noticed a scene that will stay with me for some time to come. It was an empty field surrounding a gazebo filled with musicians packing up their instruments while the sun began its final decent over the horizon. My camera was already packed away for it’s journey home but that was not why a sadness touched my heart. You’ll be able to find more photographs I took during The MSG concert before packing away my camera in The PCOM 2012 Gallery at www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151016062390421.483748.636000420&type=1.

According to their website, The Presbyterian Church of the Mountain is "… a community of disciples illuminated by God’s love who care for others spiritually, emotionally, physically, and financially as we explore new avenues of grace and grow in faith through worship and service." In an endeavor to manifest the goals of this statement, they hold weekly services every Sunday beginning at 10am, providing a hostel for those hikers who travel along the Appalachian Trail as well as holding a Hikers’ Dinner every Thursday evening throughout the Summer Months to replenish their energies, supporting the Kenyan village of Amilo by providing a school feeding program for 15 orphans, a well, housing, and simple medical care and information to the villagers, and by sharing a partnership with the Reformed Church located in Cardenaz, Cuba. They also support the local Fire Company and Women’s Resources Center as well as provide community aid funds for residents who are suffering economic burdens. The size of the congregation is approximately 200 people.

The Summer Gazebo Concert Series began in 1990 and is presented every Sunday evening throughout the Summer months until the end of August in order to support the local musicians and provide a venue where all ages could learn to appreciate Jazz and acoustic music. In reflection of Delaware Water Gap, PA being considered a Mecca for Jazz, the concerts has a great number of Jazz performances in their schedule. However, all musical styles are showcased during the summer which includes Blue Grass and Classical Music. The MSG concert served to be final installment in The Presbyterian Church of the Mountain Summer Gazebo Concert Series for 2012. The next series is scheduled to begin on a Sunday Evening during the month of June in 2013 and will conclude on the final Sunday in August 2013. The concert is free to the public and begins at 6pm. Please Explore The Presbyterian Church of the Mountain Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/pages/Presbyterian-Church-of-the-Mountain/234593743269661 for more information.

Artmusic Likes Ike

As a small gathering filled the home of Don Slepian and his wife Jan Julia, The ArtMusic Coffeehouse in East Stroudsburg, PA presented singer/songwriter Joy Ike on Saturday August 25th. Gentle conversations were shared as those who arrived eagerly awaited the evening’s performance. As the hour arrived, listening and viewing vantage points were converged upon as the music began to play.

As is customary of all concerts held at the Slepian home, Don took his place behind his keyboard, sounded chimes to summon the harmonious spirits, and welcomed the audience in his living room as well as those who were experiencing the concert through their Live Video Webcast. Since a regular camera crew member hadn’t arrived at the home, I was asked to take the position. It was an interesting experience and I appreciated the compliments that were bestowed upon me for my endeavors. I’m hopeful those who viewed the footage enjoyed what they witnessed.

Anyways, an improvised musical introduction was performed by Don and, when it was concluded, Joy Ike took her place behind her own set of keyboards to share her songs. The performance consisted entirely of original work which included a number of newly written pieces along with some (as Ms. Ike put it) “old stuff” written in 2008. Many of those who were considerably older than Ms. Ike were amused by her temporal reference.

The bluesy and funky stylings of Ms. Ike’s work delighted those who heard it as her physical movements accentuated each individual song. It reminded one of performances given by Ray Charles whose body weaved upon his piano bench while he hit each note as if he was avoiding those who sought to strike him back. Or, maybe, he was moving to meet them so their tonal qualities can penetrate his soul so the subsequent notes he played would be inspired to build upon their encounter. There were many times Ms. Ike seemed to be moving her hands and body in order to forcefully elicit sounds not commonly summoned upon the instrument while there were other moments when she deftly hovered her fingers above a key as it’s tone reached up to greet her. In the later case, it became unclear whether she actually lowered her finger to touched the key or not.

Ms. Ike’s weavings and facial gestures struck and caressed each listener as aspects of her life were expressed until those who heard her with their heart found their experiences personified time and time again. The range of emotions moved from profound sorrow to frivolous laughter as is the comprehensive reality of the human experience. Tears and smiles can still be recalled long after Ms. Ike’s performance as they are reflected upon while writing an article about it. You’ll find more photographs taken during the Joy Ike concert in The ArtMusic Coffeehouse 2012 Gallery at www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150717195285421.457027.636000420&type=1&l=f497305bbb.

Joy Ike began writing songs in 2005 with a desire to repair a broken world with her talents. Although she has grown physically tired as a touring musician averaging 130 dates a year, she still creatively asks the questions whose soulful answers can create a new perspective on life. According to her website, Ms. Ike states, “I want my songs to be a conversation…a long one. A real one.” and NPR’s (National Public Radio) program titled, “All Things Considered” said “The depth of subjects she tackles in her poetic lyrics are perfectly complemented by a unique blend of neo-soul, with just the right dash of pop…a truly compelling act to watch in person, with the ability to create an intimate setting in locations big and small.” Her most recent album titled, “Rumors” was released in May 2010. You can learn more about Joy Ike and her work by exploring her Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/joyikemusic.

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 are Rupert Wates on Friday September 14th, Jessica Campbell and Heather Morgan on Sunday September 23rd, and Joe Marson on Sunday October 7th. The concerts begin at 8pm and it’s suggested you call ahead to reserve your seat as the venue’s space is limited. Please Explore The ArtMusic Coffeehouse Website at www.ArtMusicCoffeehouse.com or Call 570-476-6307 for more information on upcoming concerts and to reserve your seats.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Journeys Beyond Limitations at PCT

The Gallery at Pocono Community Theater in East Stroudsburg, PA held Artists’ Receptions in their front and back galleries on Saturday August 25th. The exhibition presented in their lobby (front gallery) was titled, “Mediterrania” featuring the works of Thomas Augusta. The exhibition presented in the hallway leading to their second and third screening rooms was titled “Two Photographers” featuring the works of James Chesnick and John Kopp.

 As I entered the gallery a few minutes before the receptions were scheduled to begin, a number of art lovers were already inside exploring the images it contained. I first began to wonder if I’ve actually arrived late but was soon assured I was indeed early. It was nice to witness such enthusiasm centered upon the little Gallery located within The Pocono Community Theater for these remarkable exhibitions as quite a number of earlier shows were met with little interest by the community.

The calming sensations of the shorelines of the Mediterranean found in the watercolor depictions captured by Mr. Augusta and the photographic works of Mr. Chesnick depicting leisurely lakeside retreats recalling desires among attendees to visit the artists’ beach like scenes just to enjoy the serenity of the view. There are few among us who would not love to go to the beach and enjoy all the amenities such environments have to offer. However, the work presented by Mr. Kopp encourages a slightly different journey toward our inward characteristics defining and redefining our realities through a photographic process known as Chemigrams.

Chemigrams are created through a process which utilizes materials and chemical elements related to photography to manifest images without the use of a camera. This process relies upon the movement of the chemical solutions upon the paper and the light which touches them to create a stain from which an image (in many cases) unforeseen by the photographic artist emerges. The symmetrical beauty contained in the pieces created by Mr. Kopp illustrates the magical properties of the process and proves to be quite intricate in their composition.

As I’ve experienced many retreated events throughout the years, I’ve met with many artists and art lovers who narrowly define what the characteristics of any particular medium should be before it’s considered a legitimate representation of the form. So, I’m sure there are many in the photographic community who feels this process isn’t really a photographic one as it lacks the approach they feel essential to the craft. In other words, there is something lacking in the procedure so it isn’t really photography. However, the Chemigrams which Mr. Kopp creates are images allowed to exist without the interfering recognition of what is lacking in the procedure.

There is also a sense of lack in the images created by Mr. Augusta and Mr. Chesnick. Their depictions of beautiful place seem out of reach for many of us as we are lacking in the funds to partake of their rejuvenating amenities. However, if we really think about it, there are many who do visit such areas and enjoy the sounds of the surf, the hustle and bustle of fellow vacationers, and the calm serenity of a salty breeze upon their faces who have less financial resources than we. So, just as the Chemigram images shouldn’t exist because a camera wasn’t used or people can’t go on vacation if they don’t have “enough” money, perhaps the underlying connection between the entirety of the works presented at The Pocono Community Theater is they allow us to realize there are so many things we can experience if only we just endeavor to do them.

The Exhibitions continues until October 21st. As mentioned earlier, the sizable number of those gathered for the August 25th Artists’ Receptions was an encouraging improvement over the meager attendance encountered during previous ones and it’s hope this phenomenon will begin encouraging more individuals to attend future events related to the visual arts held at the theatre. The dates for their next exhibition is yet to be announced. You’ll find more photographs taken during the receptions in The Pocono Community Theater 2012 Gallery at www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150717369405421.457049.636000420&type=3&l=9cf034d51b.

Thomas Augusta’s exhibition titled, “Mediterrania” is from a collection of paintings created while visiting the Amalfi Coast in Italy. Some of the images were painted on location utilizing the plein-air technique while some were created in the studio from photographic references. Thomas Augusta lives in Portland, PA and paints in his “Crow’s Nest Studios” located in his home. Mr. Augusta is a member several art related organizations and his work has been shown in various galleries in which he received a number of awards for his considerable skills. You can learn more about Thomas Augusta by Exploring his website at www.thomasaugusta.com

John Kopp is a retired commercial photographer and teacher which allowed him to become an active artist/photographer exhibiting his work in various galleries throughout the United States. Locally, he has exhibited at The PoconoArts Cultural Center’s ArtSpace Gallery for which he is currently curating Altered States 2 exhibition  and Pocono Community Theater in East Stroudsburg, PA. He is a board member at the Pocono Arts Council. You’ll be able to learn more about John Kopp by exploring his Website at www.johnkopp.com.

James Chesnick has been a resident of East Stroudsburg for the last seven years and attended H.B. studios in NYC to study acting and modeling. He found he liked being behind the lens of a camera just as well. His work has appeared in several galleries in the Monroe County area including The Forwardian Arts Society “Cover to Cover” Exhibition which he was awarded with the appearance of his work on the third issue cover of the groups’ literary and arts magazine titled, “Forwardian.” You can learn more about James Chesnick by exploring his facebook profile at www.facebook.com/james.chesnick.

In addition to hosting art exhibits, The Pocono Community Theater presents a variety of films both popularly current as well revivals of those films released in the past. They also host special events such as their Book Club which explore novels that have been adapted to the screen and are currently being shown. Please Explore The Pocono Community Theater Website www.poconocommunitytheater.org for more information.