Saturday, May 28, 2011

The ArtMusic of Sundad

A house filled with music lovers eagerly awaited the mesmerically enchanting guitaric sounds the father and son duo known as “Sundad” has become known for. Their performance was presented Friday May 27th in the ArtMusic Coffeehouse which is the Jan Julia and Don Slepian home located in East Stroudsburg, PA as part of the Concerts In Your Home Series. The warm sensations of a Summer that has finally arrived for the North East PA region was met with those created by the host and continued their good will though the conversation shared by the many who attended the concert.

As with all ArtMusic Coffeehouse concerts, the evening began with some meditative renderings created improvisationally by Don Slepian on his keyboard. This never fails to prepare an audience member as it encourages the individual to leave the outside world that demands his/her attention outside while he/she enters a dreamlike state allowing them to explore and embrace all the possibilities one can encounter in the realm of nothingness. It was after this preparation when John Eurell Sr. and John Eurell Jr. take the stage.

The air filled with rhythms, harmonies, and chords as the duo began strumming our souls with their fingers and playing our dreams with their songs. They softly brought a life into awareness in which many have forgotten existed. Each note echoed a memory within. The audience’s anticipation of what they were to encountered upon hearing a live performance given by Sundad satisfied their expectations as memories gave way to an ever deepening experience through the music which would become a welcomed recollection in a future time when such a reminder is needed. You’ll find more photographs taken during the concert in The ArtMusic Coffeehouse 2011 Gallery at

John Eurell Sr. began playing guitar over 40 years within many musical genres which includes rock and roll, hard rock, blues, funk, disco, and jazz and his experience in these forms have greatly influenced his original compositions. During his many performances, John Eurell Jr. was brought along at a very early age which resulted in becoming a self taught guitarist and followed in his father’s footsteps by immersing himself in the many musical genres that formed their bond. Together, they formed Sundad and has been heard on the syndicated "Echoes" radio show with host John Diliberto aired on National Public Radio and Sirius/XM satellite radio. Please Explore The Sundad Website at for more information.

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. Although the concerts welcomes all who wish to attend, seating is limited as it they take place in a private home. The Next The ArtMusic Coffeehouse Concert will feature Craig Bickhart on Saturday June 11th and Robb Taylor on Saturday June 25th. They begin at 8pm. Please Explore The ArtMusic Coffeehouse Website at or Call 570-476-630 for more information and to reserve your seats.

Women’s Photographic Journeys

The Madelon Powers Gallery located in the Fine and Performing Arts Center on the campus of The East Stroudsburg University of PA held an Artists’ Reception on Friday May 27th for an exhibition titled, “Journeywomen: The Travels of Two Women” featuring the photography of Leslie Nagy and Linda Stevenson. In an effort to prove one doesn’t have to be perfect or have a sense of timing to be part of The Forwardian Arts Society, I arrived two hours before the reception was scheduled to begin. This is why there are no people depicted in photographs found in the galleries associated with this event.

However, the lack of attendees did give me an opportunity to develop an intimate communication with the work without the distraction of social intercourse. The colors presented in the works were stunning as they led this viewer on a journey to places he has never been before. Not only to the physical places depicted within the frames, but to the emotions and perspectives that went beyond the frames. The work was quite impressive and enjoyable to view.

The Exhibition Continues until June 30th. You’ll find more photographs taken of the work in the Visual Arts 2011 Gallery at Please Explore The East Stroudsburg University of PA Website at for more information.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Film Review: Gasland

Film Review: Gasland
Written and Directed by: Josh Fox
Review by: Paul Adam Smeltz

The documentary film titled, “Gasland” was presented in the Home of Don Slepian and Jan Julia as a special screening event on Friday May 20th. A small group of environmental activists along with representatives from the Pocono Progressives and the local chapter of were present. The film was directed by Josh Fox who received a letter from a natural gas company in May of 2008 offering to lease his family’s land in Milanville, PA for $100,000 to drill for gas. His research into the environmental impact the drilling for natural gas through the method known as hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and the profound dangers it possesses led him to begin filming this documentary. “Gasland” was released in 2010 and has won several awards The Special Jury Prize at The 2010 Sundance Film Festival as well as being nominated for The 2011#Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) Award for Best Documentary Feature.

The film depicts his journey to areas in a geological location known as the Marcellus Shale which exists under large parts of Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio and West Virginia where fracking has already occurred. His journey encountered instances in which the health of pets, livestock, and humans was adversely affected by the chemicals used in the fracking process as well as the natural gas it extracted going into their water supplies. The film demonstrated the later occurrence through the home owners’ ability to ignite their flowing tap water.

Mr. Fox’s journey continued to his journey across the county to the western states of Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, and Texas where fracking has been a part of their communities for over a decade. He found similar instances of the adverse effects fracking had on those living in the area but also found many have begun legal remedies such as court injunction or settlement monies to compensate their plight. The film also enlisted members of the medical profession, former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) personnel, Political figures, and University Academia to underline the practices and overwhelming risks of fracking. The film ended it’s journey to the US Congressional subcommittee was discussing the Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals Act which was a bill designed to amend the Safe Drinking Water Act by repeal an exemption for hydraulic fracturing which was done in the passage of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 during the George W. Bush administration.

“Gasland” is Josh Fox’s second documentary and was made in about eighteen months. His first documentary was titled, “Memorial Day” which deals with how the US instills it’s “Girls Gone Wild” culture on other nations in spite of they being in direct conflict to morals these countries established centuries ago. This reviewer has not seen “Memorial Day” but many reports indicate it’s a challenging film to follow as it utilize many of the elements “art Film” employ in it’s narrative. If this is indeed the case, “Gasland” is a much simpler film conveying a direct message leaving no one viewing it uncertain what it is.

The serves the topic well by pointing out a fact and not overdoing it through an overwhelming abundance of repetitions. This can be seen in the depictions of running tap water being set afire. The film repeats the act in several households, but, just as one is about to say, “OK, we got the point already.” the film moves onto another aspect of the problem Fracking creates. This approach reminded this reviewer of the early Michael Moore documentaries before the elements of self indulgence and self importance began to become prominent in them.

However, the film is not without its problems if the allegations challenging its factual citations are found to be true. Some studies are said to indicate some water wells were contained by biogenic methane which occurs naturally in underground coal beds. A scene depicting natural gas bubbling up from the ground on a home owner’s land was found to be the result of fermenting organic matter and not related to the practice of fracking. This is an unfortunate aspect of many Point of View (POV) Documentaries as the filmmaker often tends to be led by his or her own biases and doesn’t take the time to determine whether the evidence he or she utilizes in the film stands up to honest scrutiny. This is unfortunate because this often leads an audience aware of it’s discrepancies of some aspects of the film’s facts to doubt the validity of every fact the film presents.

The film was followed by a lively discussion on the dangers of hydraulic fracturing and how to prevent it from being established in the local community. Many ideas were shared and a few may be implemented at a future time. You’ll find more photographs taken during the after film discussion in The Special Events 2011 Gallery at

While this reviewer is unable to determine the validity of the facts presented in the film, I can say it was a well made piece and worth watching even if one has to take an extra grain of salt with them to wherever it is being shown. Presently, the film is available on DVD for small screenings in homes, centers, and other similar facilities. More information about the film and how to obtain a copy of the DVD can be found at

Friday, May 20, 2011

Jazzing it Up Smoothly

The ArtMusic Coffeehouse in East Stroudsburg, PA presented a very smooth evening of music on Thursday May 19th which was performed by Jazz Pianist Davy Lantz IV. As with all concerts held at The ArtMusic Coffeehouse, a meditative musical interlude was performed by Don Slepian who was the evening’s host. His improvised movements provided a relaxed focus for each member of the audience could affix their concentration upon. This allowed them to prepare for the remainder of the evening’s music with a refreshed perspective as the thoughts and concerns of the day melted from their consciousness. It was while the audience was exploring their transcendental awareness did a young man approach the house piano to begin his mesmerizing performance.

Davy Lantz IV is well known in the local jazz community and is considered a rising star in the genre. This consideration is well deserved as demonstrated by the original compositions and the stylings of established work he performed during the concert. A soft silence touched those who attended the concert as each attendee could be seen closing their eyes as they contemplated each note that traveled their way from within. This was enhanced by the conversation engaged in during the concert between the pianist and his audience which inspired many to take up instruments made available by the concert’s hosts to add their inner song to their experience.

David Lantz IV is presently studying jazz piano at the Juilliard School of Music in NYC, NY. His past performances include being a part of a jazz trio which performed at the Governor's Awards for the Arts in Williamsport, PA. Davy was also a member of COTA Cats during his high school years which is an educational arm The Delaware Water Gap Celebration of the Arts (COTA) Annual Jazz and Arts Festival which takes place every year. The COTA Cats program is designed to seek out students who have an outstanding musical talent for the art of Jazz and to develop that talent through group and individual mentorships throughout the year leading up to a orchestral performance during the festival itself. You’ll find more Photographs taken during the concert in The ArtMusic Coffeehouse 2011 Gallery at

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. Although the concerts welcomes all who wish to attend, seating is limited as it they take place in a private home. The Next The ArtMusic Coffeehouse Concert will feature Sundad on Friday May 27th, Craig Bickhart on Saturday June 11th, and Robb Taylor on Saturday June 25th. They begin at 8pm. Please Explore The ArtMusic Coffeehouse Website at or Call 570-476-6307 for more information and to reserve your seat.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Springing into The PoconoArts

The Pocono Arts Council and The Jacob Stroud Corporation co hosted their Annual Visual and Performing Art Celebration on Saturday May 14th to kick off their Art on Main Summer Season which features the work of visual artists, artisans, and performing artists throughout the region. Although this year’s festival was touched by the unseasonably cooler temperatures along with some drizzling precipitation that dampened some spirits, the effects of the climatic conditions began to diminish for me when I encountered my first smile. This was followed by more smiles, embraces, and delightful conversations as the community of art lovers joined together to share their mutual affections toward the work and each other. It was a long winter for many with little to do in regards to the arts and it was good to anticipate the promise of a resurgence of more activity in this regard which this festival has come to represent.

Throughout the town, there were numerous artists and artisans filling the sidewalks and local businesses. One such business was Josephine’s Fleur de lis who presented The Karen Laposh Trunk Show featuring functional art work created by Karen Laposh. Beyond their intrinsic beauty, they served as an aid to diners who choose not to reach for the items placed upon their tables to enhance their meals. I admit to forgetting what she named the work, but I do remember her pointing out they were not “Lazy Susans” as she knows a Susan and she is far from being lazy. 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

Another local business who share the talent of a local artist was D. R.’s Framing and Art Gallery who held an Artist’s Reception featuring the work of Nancy Pitcher. Her work had a striking quality to it as the depicted scenes increasingly came alive with each glance. Many of the images seems simplistic in their nature, but I’ve often found when one gives a thing extraordinary attention, it becomes extraordinary. My experience with her work severed to prove the assertion. You’ll be able to learn more about the work of Nancy Picture, the other artists presented in the gallery, and all D. R.’s Framing and Art Gallery has to offer by exploring their website at for more information.

Outside the stores and along the streets, the results of The 5th Annual "Fine Art" Parking Meter Competition was seen as the town’s parking meters were adorned with bags depicting a bevy of creative images to enhance the downtown area. There were also a number of Artisans and artists who participated in The PoconoArts Squared components of the event also shared their talents and wares. These PoconoArts Squared events are monthly gatherings held around the Monroe County Courthouse Square and affords a wonderful opportunity to view, purchase, and learn about the art and all the care and skill that goes into its creation by the artists and artisans themselves.

Among those participating in this PoconoArts Squared initiating event were Margaret Benson who presented her Functional Pottery, Rita Heim-Robinson of Morning Glory Studio who presented her Acrylic Paintings, Nikol Kallinteris who presented her Jewelry, Crafts, and Clothing, Ken McGoy who presented his Paintings, Cassandra S. Ferrari of Cassandra’s Beads who presented her work, Christa Nebbia who presented her Wind Chimes, Mariana Russo who presented her Mixed Media works, Mandala Design Works who shared their collective creativity, Kitty Cat Ears and Tails were presented by Starving Otaku Productions, Chainmail Jewelry was presented by Tristan Buckley, and Arielle Sekula presented her Paintings and Polymer Clay Figures (very cool Ninjas) while healing services were presented by Gorman Chiropractic. Please Explore The Pocono Arts Council website (listed below) to learn more about these artists and artisans and how you can share your creative endeavors in future PoconoArts Squared events.

The theatrical arts were represented through a production of “Voyage of the Forgotten Immigrants” written by Kathy Kroll was presented at The School of Visual and Performing Arts with performances by Ann Matthews, Janice Brightman, Noel Nelson, Tiffani Thompson, Drew Zafiropoulos, Josephe Carnevale, Jenny Aniano, Barbara Kavelines, Aliza Zafiropoulos, Laurel Aniano, Gavin Bauman, and Elexa Bauman. The production was directed by Shellie Bransford and Stage Managed by Mary Louise Vavelines. The Sets, Lights, and Sound for the production was done by Steve Henderson-Grady while the make up was applied by Cheryl Klinle. The Graphic design was done by Minnie Ospa while Susie Forrester served the production as it’s photographer. I did ot experience the presentation, but there were many approving smiles leaving the School with many saying it was a good show. You can learn more about this and other presentations held at The School of Visual and Performing Arts along with their educational offerings by exploring their website at

There was music throughout the town which included a performance by Robert Young of The Alabaster Box who served as lead singer for a band who shared songs of faith outside their newly established place of worship. #The Alabaster Box seeks to utilize music, passion, and all types of creativity and art to express worship in accord to the precepts of the Christian faith. You’ll be able to learn more about The Alabaster Box and all they have to offer by exploring their website at for more information.

With all the wonders of the day, it’s a challenge to point out one outstanding aspect of the entire experience. However, if there was one, it would be the Artists’ Reception of the Members’ Exhibition held at The Artspace Gallery which houses the offices of The Pocono Arts Council. This annual show provided an opportunity for local artists who are members of the Council and the Gallery to strut their stuff. And, the stuff they were strutting proved to be a grand and glorious colorful array of images and flowing hues. The sheer magnitude of the number and essence of the pieces presented nearly overwhelmed the senses but, in doing so, those who attended the reception experienced it later as a cleansing allowing them to enter the world outside the gallery afresh. It’s difficult to imagine how anyone could judge the work presented in order to award the prizes the Arts Council utilizes to recognize those artists with talents that stands above their peers, but the gallery did find such individuals whose jobs must have proved very daunting.

The award recipients in each category were Sharon Cosgrove who received the award for 1st place, Carol Pooley who received the award for 2nd place, and Carlo Salvo who received the award for 3rd place while Jill Swersie was awarded Honorable Mentioned in The Oils Category. Ka-son Reeves received the award for 1st place, Derek Cameron received the award for 2nd place, and Jessica Yusko received the award for 3rd place while Jean Perry was awarded Honorable Mentioned in The Acrylics Category. Jan Swift received the award for 1st place, Will Daskal received the award for 2nd place, Bev Abel received the award for 3rd place while Joan Sayer was awarded Honorable Mentioned in The Watercolors Category. Alice Prall was received the award for 1st place, Brandon Durand received the award for 2nd place, and Tom Augusta received the award for 3rd place while Paula George was awarded Honorable Mentioned in The Works on Paper Category. Pam Mading received the award for 1st place, Iraina Caramelli received the award for 2nd place, Nancy Bohm was chosen to be 3rd place while Barb Robinson was awarded Honorable Mentioned in The Mixed Media Category. Bill Maile received the award for 1st place, Don Sack received the award for 2nd place, and Mary Jane Arner received the award for 3rd place while Don Manza was awarded Honorable Mentioned in The Photography Category. Jorge Cruz received the award for 1st place, Lois Kirkwood received the award for 2nd place, and Andrea Rimberg received the award for 3rd place, while Pat Bruck was awarded Honorable Mentioned in The 3D Works Non Functional Category. April Field received the award for 1st place in The Fine Crafts - Functional Category and Christine Medley received the award for Best of Show for her work in Photography. The Jurors who judged the incredible work were Edwin Havas and Lenore Fiore Mills.

Other work featured during the Artists’ Reception were creations by Eino Antilla, Joyce Bambach, Stephanie Bockhorn, James Chesnick, Mark Ciocca, Arlene Conklin, M. J. Cramer, George Debronsky, Stephanie DiPasquale, Shirley Epstein, Sherley Escribano, Susan Field, Marcia Flammonde, Constance Fowlkes, Debra Frantz, Shelly Grillo, Judith Hankins, Charles Hanson, Julian Harr, Marlana Holsten, Jill Howell, Dee Huxster, Grace Ikai, Kent Johnson, Jaclyn Keller, Linda Kreckel, Karen Laposh, Bud LaRosa, Reva B. Levy, Jordon Lewis, Tricia Lowery Lippert, Patricia Mack, Myke Maldonado, Clair Marcus, John McAllister, Clavertis Miller, Carlisle Nostrame, Diane Paulhamus, Gordon Perry, Jill Perry, Matthew Pierce, Joan Polishook, Joan Raushi, Bob Reilly, Laurinda Faye Rubin, Marianna Russo, June Schott, Jim Smeltz, Chris Sparling Richard Spezzano, Alicia Turner, Jan Ward, Susanne Werfelman, Linford Werkheiser, Polly Werkheiser, and Sally Weiner Grotta. This was an incredible display which left a lingering impression upon those who experienced it. The Exhibition continues until May 29th.

Outside The ArtSpace Gallery, The Lost Ramblers performed outside just prior to the awards ceremonies while The SheilaMark Duo performed during them. As incredible as it seemed, their sounds lured attendees out of the gallery with their siren’s song. While The Lost Ramblers inspired people to kick up their heels with some down home bluegrass renditions, the sultry sounds of The SheilaMark Duo wooed the senses creating an internal environment transcending all others.

As I was leaving the festival, I saw Stan Stewart performing on the corner of 7th and Main Streets. I’ve heard him play in the past and would have liked to return to experience it again. Alas, this was not a possibility as I wasn’t the driver of the vehicle. However, the memory inspired by the open passenger’s door window sustained me as the notes he created echoed throughout my mind bringing it to a much welcomed state. You’ll find more photographs taken throughout the day in The Evening on Main 2011 Gallery at

The PoconoArts Council 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 ArtSpace 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. You’ll be able to learn more about The PoconoArts Council and all they offer at for more information.

The Jacob Stroud Corporation seeks to honor the rich and diverse culture of the Pocono Mountains of PA which Stroudsburg, PA serves as its focal point. They do so through their support of area businesses, tourist attractions, and artistic endeavors of their citizens. You’ll be able to learn more about The PoconoArts Council and all they offer at for more information.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Chakras and the Kingdead

The Main St. Jukebox in Stroudsburg, PA Artist’s Reception on Saturday May 7th for their exhibition titled, “Focus: The Art of Sherley Escribano.” As those who frequent Dreamland Creations knows, her work as a tattoo artist never fails to infuse the fleshy canvases of her clients with a spiritual charm which touches their owner’s lives. So, it was with a similar expectation did many who knew of Sherley and her gifts come to The Main Street Jukebox to experience the power of her creations as they were placed upon its walls. None were disappointed.

A number of her pieces represented her interpretation of the Chakras which are energy centers located throughout the body. There are hundreds of the, but the ones most familiar are the seven located along the spinal column. They are known as The Base (or Root) Chakra, The Spleen Chakra, The Solar Plexus Chakra, The Heart Chakra, The Throat Chakra, The Third Eye Chakra, and the Crown Chakra. Each correspond with a physical and spiritual state of being with its own individual properties. The beauty and intricacies of her work would transcend the subject which she depicted if it were not for their celestial origin. However, most who know of these energy centers and have learned from their healing effect would agree she came pretty damn close.

The music for the reception was provided by the band Kingdead. Those who have become fans of “Dream of Fire” and “This Way to the Egress” recognized the members of this incredible band as its personnel was a combination of the two. Their music was purely instrumental which complimented the art upon the wall through its mind bending, spirit blending echoes which found their way into the deepest unexplored corridors of the psyche allowing us to discover something we don’t quite fully recognize even days after the performance although we know it’s of our own creation. Although we’ve heard the music for the first time during the reception, we have heard it before long before our births and we’ll continue to do so every time we close our eyes to enter the ephemeral state that exists between our dreaming and awakening.

Together, the Art and Music brought to those who attended the reception something. Something that goes beyond. Something that has led them to themselves. Yet, the final transformation from who we are to whom we shall become remains not fully known. Perhaps the images and sounds experienced throughout the reception will allow all we are to know about what we are to know will be revealed in a dream. But, in the meantime, you’ll find more photographs taken during the reception in The Main Street Jukebox 2011 Gallery at

In addition to the Art Exhibitions held at The Main Street Jukebox, they offer recordings made on CDs, Tapes, and Vinyl. The “Focus: The Art of Shirley Escribano” Exhibition continues until May 27th. The Next Exhibition will feature The Art of Victoria Penna with an Artist’s Reception held on Saturday June 4th beginning at 6pm. The exhibition will continue until June 24th. Please Explore The Main St. Jukebox Website at or call 570-424-2246 for more information about these events and all they have to offer.

A Bouquet of Colors at PCT

The Pocono Community Theater (PCT) in East Stroudsburg, PA held an Artists’ Reception on Saturday May 7th for their Exhibition titled, “The Flower Show.” The walls of the theater was filled with all the hues associated with the warmer season all residents of the Northeast PA community have been longing for some time now. The work geminated some seeds within those who came to see it as the variety of styles centering on the singular topic pollinated the senses. It was an enjoyable experience that required no antihistamine.

Those artists showing their work in the main lobby gallery included Mary Campagna, Alice M. Prall, Penny Ross, Andrea Robbins-Rimberg, Thomas Augusta, June M. Schott, Shirley Epstein, Endel Uiga, and Lucinda Simpson. Don Manza was the artist featured along the back gallery. You’ll find more photographs taken during the reception in The Visual Arts 2011 Gallery at

"The Flower Show" Exhibition Continues until June 26th. In addition to exhibitions, The Pocono Community Theater presents workshops, festivals, and films. To learn more about The Pocono Community Theater and all they have to offer the community, please explore their Website at for more information.

A Beautiful Day with ECA

The Eastburg Community Alliance (ECA) held its Annual Books, Brushes, and Blooms: Spring Arts and Literary Festival on Saturday May 7th. Although there was a chill in the air which made good on its promise of a shortly lived but significant rain storm, a warmth was shared by those involved with the festival among those who were fortunate enough to venture across the tracks to Millers Park in East Stroudsburg, PA to enjoy it. The festival featured artists, authors, gardeners, non-profits, and artisans along with musical performances throughout the day.

The musicians who performed included Blue Planet/Planeta Azul and Regina Sayles whose musical stylings and energies create an aura of appreciation that greets the ear, heart, and soul of those who experience their offerings. There were others scheduled to perform, but I was unable to attend their sets due to me not being able to be in more than one place at a time and the sudden deterioration of the climatic conditions of the day. However, I know by reputation and past experiences their presentations met the excellent standards set by those I did manage to see.

The festival also hosted numerous vendors who shared their writings, arts, jewelry, and other items to be purchased by those who would be enhanced by their wares. While some paid a rental fee for their space, many chose to donate the proceeds generated by the sales of their wares to The Dansbury Depot Preservation Project which the ECA dedicates itself to the successful relocation and restoration of the Historic East Stroudsburg Station for the cultural and economic betterment of the East Stroudsburg community. There were a many groups and individuals participating during the festival and I’m sure I missed mentioning quite a few. However, if you were among those not listed, please feel free to let yourself known by sharing your comments and reflections of the day.

Those included in this article are Jewelers such as Steven and Cassandra S. Ferrari of Cansandra’s Beads, Helene Elko of Mandela Jewelry, Jewelry from Clay by Nancy Knott, Penny and Bob Common of Uncommon Designs, Artists and Photographers such as Rita Heim-Robinson of Morning Glory Studios, Pamela R. Frost of New Creation Photography, Arrielle Sekula, John Kolbek, Authors and publishing companies such as Lisa Bauman Wispe author of “Fritter’s Spring,” Debra Butler author of “What Matters,” and Gihon River Press, Inc who published books relating to the holocaust. Other vendors included those representing The Pocono Community Theater, The Monroe Career and Technical Institute, The East Stroudsburg Rail Tower Society, The Eastern Monroe Public Library Bookmobile, The Exchange Club of the Poconos, The American Association of University Women (AAUW), Josie Porter Farm of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), The All Inclusive Travel Agency, and Strauser Nature’s Helper. You’ll find more photographs I took during The Annual Books, Brushes, and Blooms: Spring Arts and Literary Festival in the Festival 2011 Gallery at

The Eastburg Community Alliance (ECA) was formed over 30 years ago by local leaders and business owners wishing to enhance the social, economic, and ascetic development of downtown East Stroudsburg, PA. The ECA has helped to provide the streetlights and banners that distinguish the downtown area as well as their Mosaic project found along Crystal Street. To learn more information about The Eastburg Community Alliance and how to become a part of all they have to offer, please explore their website at

Theatrical Review: The Seafarer

Theatrical Review: The Seafarer
Written by: Connor McPherson
Directed by: 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 Seafarer” by Conor McPherson which was written in 2006. It was first performed in London's National Theatre that same year and received an Olivier Award nomination for Best Play. The play was then performed in the United States where it earned a Tony nomination in 2008. The work is best known for being written in a working-class Dublin use of language while adopting the lyricism found throughout the Irish theatre tradition.

“The Seafarer” takes it name from an Anglo-Saxon poem written circa 755 A. D. and is titled, “The Seafarer.” It is one of the four surviving manuscripts recorded in the Exeter Book and is told from the point of view of an old seafarer who is reminiscing about his life. The play takes place on Christmas eve in North Dublin, Ireland and is about a man named, “James ‘Sharky’ Harkin” (as portrayed by Denny Carrig) who is an Alcoholic. He comes to live with his blind older brother named “Richard Harkin” (as portrayed by Scott E. McIntosh) after losing his job. The play begins as “Sharky” enters the house to discover his brother and a house guest named, “Ivan Curry” (as portrayed by Jack Butler who also served the production as one of its Set Designers) are beginning to awaken from a night of drunkenness.

It may be prudent to note that the play, at this point, moves as slowly as many of the characters in the scene as they begin to awaken from their drunken stupor. While this pacing may be seen as painfully tedious to many theatre goers, it serves as a faithful reflection of the characters state of being and encourages the audience to emphasize with them. It also allows us to not only learn about the characters’ traits and their place in the play, but we also learn of their deeper pain and how it was instilled in their souls.

The play progresses as “Sharkey” discovers his brother, Richard, has invited friends over for a night of drinking and poker. This bothers as “Sharkey” as he had hoped to stay off the bottle for the holidays in order to combat his alcoholic demons. The guest include a man named, “Nicky Giblin” (as portrayed by David Schappert) who has been as “Sharkey‘s” love rival and a mysterious Mr. Lockhart (as portrayed by Patrick Turner who serves as a member of The Center Stage Players’ Board of Directors) whom we soon discover is a demon more insidious than those found in any bottle.

Prior to the game commencing, Mr. Lockhart reminds “Sharky” he had wagered his soul in a game of poker against Lockhart in a bid to gain his freedom after being arrested for the killing of a vagrant twenty-five years ago. We also discover that, in spite of winning that game, “Sharky” inexplicably promised Mr. Lockhart another game in the future so he would have an opportunity to win his soul and take him to Hell. This leads to a gamut of emotions as Mr. Lockhart entices not only “Sharky” into reliving the regrets of his past but of those who enter into the game thus creating a Hell for them to dwell during its duration.

The Center Stage Players’ production of “The Seafarer” by Conor McPherson was very well done as it’s slow methodic pacing compelled the audience to experience each painful wound as this slowly festered before our eyes. This allowed each theatre goer to examine the scares life has placed within them and to contemplate their addictive attachment to them. The play ends with a sense of accomplishment and redemption. Perhaps this may give hope to those who recognize their demons and wish to leave the Hell they have created.

The Shawnee Playhouse presentation of The Center Stage Players’ production of “The Seafarer” by Conor McPherson was Directed by Sue Butler who also serves as The Center Stage Players’ President and as one of the production’s Set Designers. The production was Stage Managed by Juliet Dunham and was assisted by Lillian Ramirez-Gonzalez who also serves as The Center Stage Players’ Secretary. The Program Design and publicity for the production was done by Katerhine Neville who serves as The Center Stage Player’ Treasurer. Other members of The Center Stage Players include Mary Stewart Erm who serves as Vice President along with Pat Van Varick and Dan Eash who serves as members of The Center Stage Players‘ Board of Directors.

The Executive Director of The Shawnee Playhouse is Midge McClosky while the producers are Ginny and Charlie Kirkwood. The Sales Manager is Mary Horn as Becky Haskell serves in Marketing. Members of the Box Office Staff are Barbara Ross and Christina McManus. The Playhouse’s costumer is Missy Benefield. The Shawnee Playhouse publicity is handled by Amy Cramer while David Schrage is its Webmaster.

This presentation of The Center Stage Players’ production of “The Seafarer” by Conor McPherson will conclude its run at The Shawnee Playhouse in Shawnee on the Delaware, PA until May 15th. I would recommend seeing this production as it’s a wonderful opportunity to see actors who love the theatre performing a comedy that truly inspires its audience to laugh. It also allows the audience to explore how the rumors of their lives in which they try to keep hidden from others would look in the bright light of humor.

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. Please feel free to Explore The Center Stage Players Website at 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. Future presentations at The Shawnee Playhouse will include “River’s Edge: The Story of Shawnee” by Midge McClosky and Rod Foote May 20th - September 2nd, “Sisters of Swing: The Story of the Andrews Sisters” by Beth Gilleland, Bob Beverage, and Raymond Berg June 1st - September 3rd, and “Nunsense 2: The Second Coming” by Dan Goggin June 17th - September 4th. Please contact The Shawnee Playhouse at 570-421-5093 or Explore their Website at 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 selected productions (excluding Children Theatrical Productions and those presented by non Shawnee Production Companies) of The Shawnee Playhouse.

Photograph provided by The Shawnee Playhouse and depicts the characters in The Center Stage Players‘ Production of “The Seafarer” by Conor McPherson.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

COTA Meets in May

The Celebration of the Arts (COTA) held their monthly meeting Tuesday May 3rd at The Deer Head Inn in Delaware Water Gap, PA in order to plan for their 34th Annual Jazz and Arts Festival. New and established friends met to receive updates on how things are progressing and to share new ideas on how to make this year’s festival even better than the ones that came before. One of these sharings included a wonderful opportunity for those who would like to obtain their tickets to this year’s festival early and at a 20% discount. You’ll be able to learn how you can get your discounted tickets at their website (listed later).

However, although the information shared and explored were germane to the meeting and to the success of this year’s festival, the most meaningful aspect was the opportunity to gather together with fellow jazz lovers. This combination of catching up on what the friends one has made throughout previous festivals and re learning why we love the musical form and the festival it celebrate through the conversation we hold with those who come to COTA for the first time enlivens our endeavors as we work toward our wonderful goals. You’ll find more photographs taken during the gathering in The COTA Meetings 2011 Gallery at

The 34th Annual Celebration of the Arts Jazz and Arts Festival is scheduled to begin Friday September 9th and will continue until Sunday September 11th. The festival begins on Friday evening with an Artists’ Reception at The Antoine Dutot Museum and Gallery for their Annual Music Motif Exhibition and continues with the night of Music, Theater, and Dance presented at The Presbyterian Church of the Mountain. The festival continues the following Saturday and Sunday with outdoor performances of Jazz on the Main Stage along with numerous strolling musicians, story tellers, and vendors offering a variety of high quality crafts, art, and food. You’ll be able to read my article about The 33rd Annual Celebration of the Arts Jazz and Arts Festival which took place in 2010 at

The Celebration of the Arts (COTA) presents and supports the arts and the music of jazz in all its forms and historical breadth through youth education, performing arts presentations, scholarship opportunities, and community outreach throughout the Pocono area. Their next monthly meeting will be held Tuesday June 14th at The Deer Head Inn in Delaware Water Gap, PA beginning at 7:30pm. Those who would like to lend their time, talents, and insights are welcomed to attend. Numerous volunteer positions are available and they include Program Ad Sales Manager, a Program Ad Salesperson, Back and Front gate workers, Security, and Marketing/PR personnel. More information about these positions, the festival, and how to purchase tickets in advance at a 20% discount can be obtained by Exploring The COTA Website at or by calling 570-424-2210. I hope to see you there.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

A Transformative Night of ArtMusic

The ArtMusic Coffeehouse in East Stroudsburg, PA presented singer/songwriter Hans York on Saturday April 30th. After the program, the performer shared an observation on how caterpillars live their lives until one day they cease doing all the things they do to remain caterpillars and begin the process of becoming butterflies. He further shared how humans are in the process of being human in our present state and will soon begin the process of transcending toward something more grand. Those who came to the Slepian home for the concert shared a similar transformation as very few left unchanged bye the music the experienced.

Hans York was born and raised in Germany during the allied occupation from which he was introduced to sounds embodied in music originating from the UK and US. While I attended collage, I’ve often been fascinated by the insights students from other countries had in regards to the US and its culture. This sense of fascination was revisited while I listened to Mr. York’s insightful interpretation of the musical styles he grew up with. His bouncy rhythms and jubilant lyrics mood moved the audience to a new understanding of the music they have grown all too familiar with. This was a welcomed re introduction as could be seen in the glittering eyes, the snapping fingers, and the tapping feet in all who heard the songs sung that night.

As with all Artmusic Concerts, the music presented by Hans York was preceded by the soothing and meditative sounds created by composer, keyboardist, and host of the event, Don Slepian. The mood he creates through his musical interludes never fails to enhance the performance which follows. Tonight was no exception as each tone echoed upon the soul of each listener preparing them for the wonderful music, food, and conversation eager to be shared. You’ll find more Photographs taken during the concert in The ArtMusic Coffeehouse 2011 Gallery at

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. Although the concerts welcomes all who wish to attend, seating is limited as it they take place in a private home. The Next The ArtMusic Coffeehouse Concert will feature Bob Marshall on Friday May 6th, Lynn Hanson on Thursday May 19th, Sundad on Friday May 27th, Craig Bickhart on Saturday June 11th, and Robb Taylor on Saturday June 25th. They begin at 8pm. Please Explore The ArtMusic Coffeehouse Website at or Call 570-476-6307 for more information and to reserve your seat.