Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Black Bears and Dark Arts in Milford

Photography by Paparazzi Paul.

On an extremely hot summer day, I traveled to the town of Milford, PA on Saturday August 13th. An Artful Bears Community Picnic was being held at the Milford Community House and the monthly Art After Dark event presented the work of local artists in several galleries throughout the town. The oppressive heat was enough to sap the energy of any ordinary mortals. However, the overwhelming desire to kindle the passion of the day's offerings provided each participant with super human abilities to transform the thermodynamic challenges into experiences that were very cool.

My day in Milford began at the town's Community House whose front lawn was the site of the Artful Bears Community Picnic. The event offered free food and music while serving to initiate the 17th Annual Black Bear Film Festival. The afternoon also provided opportunities to chat with those who are intimately involved in the endeavor. My arrival was met with the sight of the festival's Executive Director, Will Voelkel, being interviewed by Wendy Stuart for an on line broadcast to appear on the Festival's Facebook Page. Laughter filled the conversation which would prove to be contagious among the huge number of attendees as the day progressed.

The grounds were strewed with objects under black sheets of which many eyed with anticipation. This anticipation was instilled by the knowledge that artists throughout the community have created special sculptures of Bears to be revealed later that day. The local media was present and eagerly sought out the artists who created the three-dimensional figures along with those who served the festival in administrative capacities in order to share their comments and insights with their audience. These individuals were also sought out by the many attendees as well as their desire to learn more about the festival and the art that was to be revealed ignited their curiosity.

In addition to the wonderful foods and the delightful conversations that populated the day, music was performed by guitarist Ernie Kara (570-269-4422). The soothing sounds emanating from his instrument and voice added a flavor to the afternoon which made it even more enjoyable. A wide variety of songs were played that incited the ear to listen while recalling the day it was first embraced as a life memory by the heart. It was after a time when the festival's Executive Director, Will Voelkel, took the stage in order to welcome the gathering and to share news of what was to come throughout the year leading up to the festival's screening and exploring of independent films in October. He then introduced the co Presidents of the festival, Amy Eisenberg and Amy Bridge. Ms. Eisenberg proceeded to extend a great deal of appreciation to all who made the day possible. These included the Artful Bear Artist Coordinator, Timothy Moreland, the Artful Bear Logistics Coordinator, Valerie Brairton, and Festival's social media specialist, Richard D’Ambrosia. It was at the conclusion of her heartfelt sentiments did she begin the process of unveiling the bears.

As Ms. Eisenberg called out the artist's name and the name of the piece, the artist pulled away the concealing sheet in order to reveal the creation. The pieces would then be moved to various locations throughout the town after the picnic concluded. Each revelation was met with a great deal of applause and the clicking of many cameras. The first of these sculptures was created by Lynn Rideout and is titled, “Go! Bearriett Go!” The piece was sponsored by The Litzenberger Foundation and is now placed at The Pike County Public Library. The next sculpture was created by Craig Smedley and is titled, “Bearings” and is now placed at Jorgenson's at the Dimmick. The next sculpture was created by Jesse Clemente and is titled, “Keith Bearing” The piece was sponsored by Milford Chrysler and is now placed at The JIVE Bar and Lounge. The next sculpture was created by Beau Gostomsky and is titled, “There.... Bearly” The piece was sponsored by The Hotel Fauchere and is now placed at The Pastisserie Fauchere. The next sculpture was created by Cera Alber and the UDGLBT P3 and is titled, “Finding Bearself” The piece is now placed at The Key Food Marketplace. The next sculpture was created by Laurie Benjamin and students of the Dingman-Delaware Middle School and is titled, “Go! Bearriett Go!” The piece is now placed at Citizen's Bank. The next sculpture was created by Nat Yingling and is titled, “Bar Bear-Ian!” The piece was sponsored by Kahr Arms and is now placed at Luhr's True Value Hardware. The next sculpture was created by Joe Petrosi and is titled, “Mirra Beara Bella” The piece is now placed at Davie R. Chant Real Estate. The next sculpture was created by Robin Lennon and is titled, “Lady Galactica” The piece is now placed at WAL-MART. The next sculpture was created by Richard D' Ambrosia and is titled, “Superbear” The piece is now placed at Progressive Health of PA. The final sculpture was created by Amy Row and is titled, “Bearve Heart” The piece is now placed at The Milford Diner.

After the final statue was revealed, the company of art lovers lingered with the bears to capture more images at variant perspectives and to commune with the piece's spirit. The afternoon progressed to the announcement of a raffle in which a bear created during the previous year was being offered as the prize. The tickets were selected and the numbers were called. Each ticket holder eyed the sequence of their numeric hopes until the corresponding digits were revealed. A thundering exclamation echoed from the crowd as the winner came forth to claim his prize. He was soon met with a chorus of congratulatory sentiments by the gathering as he verified his ticket to be the winning one. This included those given by Smokey the Bear who visited the event. It was soon after this did members of the gathering begin to leave the picnic. Farewells were shared as was the excitement of upcoming events associated with The Black Bear Film Festival throughout the Summer and Fall months. It was a great time filled with a lot of fun and wonderful conversations. It was good to make new friends.

The Black Bear Film Festival (BBFF) is a non-profit organization dedicated to spreading joy and building community through the art of film. They do this by presenting exceptional independent films to the public, hold various events to celebrate the art and craft of film making, and partner with schools to inspire students to become filmmakers and aficionados of film. BBFF is run by volunteers and is sustained by members, sponsors, advertisers, and donors. The climax of 17th Annual Black Bear Film Festival will be held October 14th to the 16th with screenings, workshops, and salons in various locations. You can learn more about The 17th Annual Black Bear Film Festival by exploring their Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/blackbearfilm or their Website at www.blackbearfilm.com.

As my farewells came to their conclusion, the quaint streets of the town summoned me as the monthly Art After Dark event began. The phenomenon provides visitors an opportunity to explore the creative aspects of the borough and it's citizenry. It has been several years since I've partook of the aesthetic adventure and I was glad to embark upon it again. The first venue I visited was The Golden Fish Gallery.

Upon my arrival to the venue, I was immediately greeted by it's owner, John Longendorfer, who opened the establishment in 1997 with his son Edwin. We chatted about many things including the Milford art scene which I was eager to learn more about. The gallery hosted a number of works created by a multitude of artists ranging from fantastical sculpted pieces to pen and ink drawings. The quality of the creative endeavors provided a source of pleasure to the eye while allowing a meaningfulness to touch the heart of the viewer. You can learn more about The Golden Fish Gallery by exploring their Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/pages/Golden-Fish-Gallery-Pike-County-PA-Fine-Arts-and-Crafts/164248230348753 or their Website at www.goldenfishgallery.com.

After an enjoyable visit, I ventured outside the gallery where some individuals from a group known as Pride and Purpose www.ulusaba.virgin.com/pridenpurpose had several items on display for sale. These included African wild animals sculpted from Soda Cans. I then continued to travel the sidewalks of Milford until I came across The Artisan Exchange www.theartisanexchange.com who housed a variety of sculpted and two dimensional items. Their huge inventory was impressive and it took quite some time to partake of the enjoyment these pieces embodied both individually and collectively. However, I did eventually exit the establishment and continued across the street to my next destination.

The ARTery Gallery held an Artists' Reception for their August Exhibition featuring the work of June Ponte and Rosealind Hodgkins. The work of these two extraordinary artists proved to be a stark contrast to one another while being simultaneously complimentary. The darkened shadows found in Ms. Ponte's portraits, which included those of Edgar Allen Poe, Oscar Wilde, and John Lennon, created a mood within the frame that moved the viewer toward a deeper fascination of the subject. Ms. Hodgkins' work revealed the bright hues inherent in the subjects she uniquely capture on her canvas allowing them to move beyond the frame to become reflections of the eternal joys that dwell within the heart and soul. Together, their approaches to the art of making art exhibited the vastness of the human experience.

The work of other artists populated the gallery alongside those created by Ms. Ponte and Hodgkins. They included Liza J. Smith-Simpson www.paintingsbyliza.com, Debbie Gioello www.debbiegioello.com, and the gallery's curator, Marie Liu www.mliuart.com. Their work (and those of others) further enhanced the flow of the gallery as each individual of the large number of attendees explored the groupings of images that were placed within the maze like interiors upon which each turn down the corridors became an intrigue as the wonders of entire exhibition were discovered. You'll find more photographs of my adventures in the arts in The Black Bears and Dark Arts in Milford Gallery at www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10155141899453761.1073742005.91146283760&type=3.

Rosealind Hodgkins received her BFA Degree from The Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY in 1965. She also studied at the Art Students League in New York, NY and at The Hull College of Art in England. Ms. Hodgkins also studied philosophy at the New School in New York, NY. After living and developing an art career in New York City for over 40 years, she currently lives and paints in Port Jervis, NY. Ms. Hodgkins utilizes unusual scale, invented perspective, shadows, and reflections as well as symbols and metaphors to construct a narrative picture of images of nature seen from an imagined vantage point originating from common frames of reference such as the cycle of seasons and other phenomena of nature. You can learn more about Rosealind Hodgkins and her work by exploring her Website at www.rozhodgkins.com.

June Ponte is a self-taught artist who lives in Stillwater, NJ and creates portraits of creative historic figures along with paintings laced with mystic symbolism which evolves from her work as a spiritual medium. Ms. Ponte is also the author and crafts designer of “Fun and Simple State Crafts” which is a series of nine children’s crafts books published by Enslow Publishers. Ms. Ponte's abilities as a mediumistic empath enables her to connect sitters with their loved ones on the other side while assisting her clients in realizing that life does go on even after “death.” You can learn more about June Ponte, her art, and her psychic abilities by calling 973-864-4480, emailing medievallight@gmail.com, or by exploring her Website at www.njpsychicmedium.net.

The ARTery Gallery in Milford, PA is located in the town's historic Forest Hall and began in the summer of 1999. The Artery is a cooperative owned and operated by over 15 successful and emerging artists and artisans from the Tri-State (NY, NJ, PA) area who has shown their work throughout the world. The gallery's exhibitions are well known for their eclectic character as each artist in the collective have their own definitive style and approach toward their medium. The current exhibition for August featuring the work of June Ponte and Rosealind Hodgkins will continue to be on display until September 5th. The next exhibition will be their September show featuring the works of John Capanna, Al Rosser, and Carol Margreither. The Artists' Reception is scheduled for Saturday September 10th beginning at 6pm during the town's Art After Dark event and will continue to be on display until October 3rd. You can learn more information about The ARTery Gallery, their upcoming exhibits, their members, and how to become a member by exploring their Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/Arterygallerymilfordpa/?fref=ts and their Website at www.arterygallerymilford.com.

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