Monday, July 19, 2010

ArtSmash Goes West

When the first “ArtSmash of the Poconos” was held on Saturday September 4th 2009 on the corner of 8th and Main Streets in Stroudsburg, PA in front of The Tapestry Corner in conjunction with the town’s annual Stroudfest event, its success inspired Debbie Burke of and I to put on another festival. But, after Tapestry Corner was damaged by a neighboring fire, we didn’t know when or how to manifest this desire, but it was there. We actually placed the idea on hold as we began putting our Literary and Arts Magazine “Forwardian” together.

However, before the first issue came into being, Kenneth Meyer of The St. Maximilian Kolbe Church in Blakeslee, PA approached us to do another ArtSmash festival at their new site at their Christ the King Family Center. We were ecstatic at the prospects and began plans to utilize their facilities. So, after much planning, signing up participants up, rearranging schedules, and a lot of sweat, “ArtSmash2 of the Poconos: West End Style” took place on Saturday July 17th.

Now, I might be accused of being a bit biased as I’m one of the three (Debbie Burke, Kenneth Meyer, and I) who put it all together, but I can honestly say it was a great day. There were hitches and a few mistakes made. But, considering it was our first attempt to put on an event of this scale, I’d say we did pretty well. The proceeds were divided between The Forwardian Arts Society towards its Literary and Arts Magazine “Forwardian” and The St. Maximilian Kolbe Church.

The festival was scheduled to begin at 11am but it really began a few hours before that time. The vendors began bringing their items in and setting them up around 9am while musicians came to tune their instruments. These vendors included artists and artisans Wood Artist Mariana Russo, Photographer JDLewis, Psychic Gita Rash (who also gave a Zumba dance demonstration) Photography by Joanne Bridgman, Poetry by Juanita Kirton, Dream Catchers and other Native American Works by Alexandra Carpenter, Caricature Artist Christopher Eastwood, Cathleen Repholz of Bean's Pottery (who gave a pottery demonstration), Hyde Away Gallery, OMG Glass Jewelry, Stampin' Up - Hand Stamped Greeting Cards, Ron Brown’s Digital Images, jewelry by Sysco Designs, Ant Farm Music, and much more.

At 11am, the festival began with the gentle music provided by Don Slepian on guitar, harp and recorder. This was followed by musical and poetic performances by Poet Donavan O’ Brien, Singer/Songwriter/Poet Holly Avila, Musician Chris Eissing, Patty the Poet, Poet Barbara Crooker, Songstress Crystal Martinez, Writer/Poet Valerie Cruz who read her short story, Innovative Musician Stan Stewart, Least Likely, and Robb Taylor. The event ended with a rousing performance by Long Time Comin’ which continued long past the 5pm time the festival was scheduled for. There were also a great many poets, soloists, and bands who weren’t scheduled to perform but their presence enhanced the event as both The Forwardian Arts Society and Pocono Jazz and Poetry are always open to the wonderful occurrences spontaneity can bring.

At this time, I would like to thank all those who made this festival not only possible, but a joy to experience. These include not only the musicians, poets, artisans, and artists already mentioned, but to Debbie Burke and Kenneth Meyer as well. The success of “ArtSmash2 of the Poconos: West End Style” owes much to both of them.

Debbie Burke has been instrumental to the growth of The Forwardian Arts Society since she came aboard and her good common sense has served to counteract my somewhat haphazard approach to things. After all, I’m an artist from Stroudsburg and she’s a business woman from NYC. So it’s a great balance.

Kenneth Meyer performed and emceed at our first ArtSmash event and brought a great many musicians and bands which made it a very memorable day. Kenneth gave us a new place to play and share our love for the arts. He also kept the performances running smoothly without any gaps. This allowed those who attended the event to enjoy a continuous flow of music and poetry throughout the day. A special thank you goes out to him and St. Maximilian Kolbe Church in Blakeslee, PA for their support. You can call Kenneth at 570 242-3377 for more information about his band “A Long Time Comin’” and the church with all it has to offer the community.

Pocono Jazz and Poetry provides an online link connecting lovers of jazz, poetry, and art to their Pocono community. The site keeps art lovers up to speed on events and items of cultural interest while providing interesting, varied and original content from within the creative Pocono community. Please explore the Pocono Jazz and Poetry Website at for more information.

The Forwardian Arts Society is a fellowship for people who love the arts which encourages, supports, and loves the creative community through its promotional and other service-orientated endeavors. These include holding Gatherings for those who enjoy a variety of creative disciplines. The Forwardian Arts Society is scheduled to hold a Film and Chat Gathering on Friday August 6th and September 3rd at The Pocono Community Theater in East Stroudsburg, PA at 4pm, a Music Lovers’ Gathering on Thursday August 19th at 6pm, a Literary Lovers’ Gathering on Thursday August 26th at 6pm, and a Visual Art Lovers‘ Gathering on Sunday September 5th at 3pm. The Music, Literary Lovers’, Visual Art Lovers‘ Gatherings will be held at The Cheeky Monkey Coffeehouse in Stroudsburg, PA. Please Contact The Forwardian Arts Society at 570-269-3348 or through their website at for more information.

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