Thursday, May 29, 2014

A Wall Without Boundaries

On November 26th, 2006, a woman who was living in an apartment above The Atomic Mary Digital Store, which was located along the Main Street of Stroudsburg, PA, reported the smell of smoke to the local Fire Department. They arrived at the scene but found no indication of a fire. They returned several hours later in response to a full blown fire that devastated not only The Atomic Mary Digital Store but the DaVinci Café, The Main St. Jukebox, and several other businesses along with a number of inhabited apartments leaving their residents homeless. The intensity of the fire damaged several other neighboring businesses and apartments in the 600 block section of the town’s Main Street Area including the Aardvark Sports Shop, the Keller Williams Realty offices, and George R. Stoeckel’s jewelry shop. Many of these businesses either found the funds to repair the damages, moved to new locations, or ceased to exist.

At the time, the fire was the third major one to occur in Stroudsburg, PA in less than the two previous years and was determined to be caused by an Arsonist. To the best of this writer’s knowledge, the perpetrator (s) of these destructive acts have not been found as of the date of this writing. The area where the fire took place eight years ago had since been cleared of debris leaving a desolate hole in the cityscape that still exists. There are rumors that proposals of creating a community garden or constructing apartments for low income individuals and families on the site had been presented to the local governing bodies. However, it is also rumored these proposals were summarily rejected by these bodies at record breaking speeds. Regardless of the validity of these rumors, there are presently no known plans to rebuild anything substantial on the site in the near future.

In spite of this municipal standstill, members of Stroudsburg’s creative community who were led by Shane Izykowski and the committee chairs (Drew Von Dred Ozkenel and Keyaira Lynn Von Dred) of The Sherman Theater’s Living Room in Stroudsburg, PA sought to mitigate the visual effects of the local eye sore by constructing a seventy-five foot wall across the area. The wall consists of a mural filled with interpretive images of buildings which represented the town’s business district reflecting not only its past and present appearance but that of its future as well. A multitude of artists expressed their desire to become a part of “Project Street Art: Part 1- A Mural Wall” by donating their time and talents to the endeavor. Local businesses also became involved with the project through their donations of the material needed to create the structure and by sponsoring individual panels.

On Saturday May 24th, all the artists who were selected and the materials for the project came together at the unsightly site to make a beautiful moment happen. Brushes filled with paint and love touched the wooden panels while passerbys stopped in their curiosities and soon became enamored with the spectacle that was taking place before them. The colors that filled the walls soon spilled out onto the streets and into each onlooker’s imagination as the clouds rolled by dispelling any threats made by meteorological reports of rain dominating the day. Yet, a downpour did occur during the day which was one of love and support as exemplified by the supportive comments shared throughout the day and by the local bakery known as Kitchen Chemistry who supplied the artists with some delicious cakes to munch upon while they painted.

Although the art filled day began at 11am, I was unable to arrive at the site until shortly after 3pm. I have seen images posted on Facebook presenting preparatory drawings the artists’  created prior to the event’s commencement along with photographs which documented the day as it was occurring, but none of this prepared me for the profound sensation of wonder that struck me as I walked down the sidewalk leading me closer to the wall. I was immediately enchanted by the movement of the artists whose brushstrokes were busily filling in nearly completed areas with additional details and colors. The light stepping music provided by The Juggernaut String Band consisting of Pete Taney, Johnny Peppercraft, Carolyn Burbage, and Chris Centrella enhanced the celebratory atmosphere of the day as each panel rendered an abstract interpretation of a local spot located on or near Main Street that was close to the artist’s heart.

These depictions included eateries such as Sweet Creams Café who offers a variety of foods especially ice cream and Café Duet which is a newly established coffeehouse. Local galleries such as SOHO in The Burg, The Andrei Art Gallery,, and The Sherman Theater’s Living Room were represented as were places where artists and other denizens of the town who seek spots where they can hang out. These locations included The Gamers Edge Comics and Games and The Happy Pipe Hookah Lounge There were also a number of businesses that were touched by the 2006 fire that found their way upon the panels but the most poignant one was that depicting The Atomic Mary Digital Store where the devastating fire began. It was good to see it given a phoenix like quality by an artist’s loving hand.

In my conversations with some of the artists as well with those associated with the project, I found the spectacle to be a revealing one as the varied creative approaches of the artists employed in their endeavors were shared with me. Some artists prepared all the essential elements of their compositions prior to the event with a certain degree of minuteness of detail while others only predetermined a basic direction they were to explore and allowed the spontaneity of their muses to freely guide their hand. Regardless of the individual artist’s approach, the overall aesthetic result of the day’s endeavors proved to be a truly remarkable one.

The artists who shared their talent in the project were Andrea Robbins-Rimberg, Andrei Protsouk, Anna Kasupski, Ashley Fontones, Dennis Protsouk, Drew Von Dred Ozkenel, Eric Bakke, Fran O’ Hagan, Jennifer Amazon, Jody Singer, Josue Guardia, Joy Taney, Kathleen Lockwood, Kayla O’Connor, Keyaira Lynn Von Dred, Maia Rossiello, Nova Chan, Peter Ambush, RenDi Young, Shane Izykowski, Sonia Leticia, Stephen Washington, Susan Molina Washington, and Tim Nobel. The businesses who supported the project (which included providing donations of material) included 84 Lumber, American Ribbon Outlet, Cramer’s Home Building Centers, DA Realty, LLC and Shanti House, LLC, Home Depot, Lowes, Miller’s Paint and Wallpaper Store, Minuteman Press of Stroudsburg, Sherwin-Williams, Shoprite of Stroudsburg, PA, and Wal-Mart There were more artists and business who were involved in the project that could not be named in this article due to their sheer number but they should, never the less, be recognized. They and their friends are welcomed to make their names and contributions be known through the comment section of this posting.

The painting and the wonderful conversations the activity inspired came to a conclusion at the scheduled time of 5pm as Shane Izyowski wrote upon a place near the structure “A Wonderful Moment Happened Here.” The artists were in the process of cleaning their brushes and removing the protective plastic from the sidewalk when the rain that had be predicted began to fall mightily from the sky. Many marveled how the inclement weather refrained from touching the earth with its moistness until the final moments of the event occurred. It was during this time did I move across the street and into The Main Street Jukebox (where it relocated since the 2006 fire) until much of the rain subsided. It was only a few minutes later did I determine the downpour was sufficiently diminished to venture out utilizing the numerous overhangs that lined the town’s sidewalks as I traveled to The Sherman Theater’s Living Room where the after party to celebrate the day and to honor those who made it possible was to take place.

It was a joyously quiet affair as artists and their admirers shared in conversations while munching on the pizza provided by Shane and sipping the drinks sold as the venue’s bar. Hula Hoops were also available for the young and young at heart to partake of. One Hula Hooper in particular that caught everyone’s attention was a very young girl who had never attempted the feat before. She kept on hooping for 10 to 15 minutes until she decided to stop. During my experience of watching her, I speculated how she can do such a marvelous thing because no one had ever told her she couldn’t. It was then that I wondered how many things I think I can’t do because someone told me I couldn’t. As I reflected on the day and all that was accomplished by the wonderful artists who lent their outstanding talents to such a monumental endeavor while other became resigned to the prospect the eight year old eye sore would remain so in perpetuity, I became inspired to realize there are fewer things in life I can’t do than I thought.

The wonders found in a community filled with love and art filled the day. Images and colors made their transforming presence known throughout the 600 block section of Stroudsburg as their soul enhancing properties built their boundless walls around the hearts of those who experienced the mural’s manifestation. Such walls do not exist to keep things in or out of our lives but serve to encircle us with reminders of a hope for us to gaze upon whenever our dreams seem further than they are. Perhaps the many who will walk by the structure will be inspired to ask themselves as they wonder upon its magnificence and realize their dreams are as close as their hearts to boundless question of “What can’t I do?” as they walk toward the selves that dwell beyond their walls. You’ll find more photographs taken during the installation and the after party in the Special Events 2014 Gallery at

Project Street Art: Part 1 - A Mural Wall is the first of a series of endeavors designed to enhance the aesthetic qualities of Stroudsburg, PA by adorning the streets of the town with the talents embodied in the members of its creative community. Throughout the day, there were concerns expressed that some members of the town’s population may harbor a desire to vandalize the Mural with spray paint. Shortly after this portion of the overall project was completed, Anti-Graffiti Coating and sealer for their entire wall was purchased and donated by Andrea Robbins-Rimberg. Future endeavors relating to Project Street Art are yet to be announced.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

A Shutter Opens The Dutot

In the 20 years since the digital age has touched every art form from music to image making, it has become a challenge to remember how creative endeavors were accomplished prior to the time the technology was introduced to their processes. Although digital photography has come with the many blessings of convenience and accessibility, the use of film provides the photographer, who is deft in its usage, with a variety of nuanced abilities that adds more texture to the images he/she captures in his/her camera. These abilities were amply demonstrated during the Artist’s Reception that was held for David Plank at The Antoine Dutot Museum and Gallery in Delaware Water Gap, PA on Friday May 23rd.

Upon entering the gallery, one is immediately struck by the highly defined images presented throughout the room. The crisp colors found in the Mr. Plank’s work draws the viewer deep into their hues while the details of the images makes them touchable if not for the realization the objects presented in the4 photographs are two dimensional depictions. The quality of the work is uncanny as the subjects of the photographs range from industrial structures and designs (especially those created to appear as covers for trade publications) to those capturing the soft, gentle essence of flowers.

Although the reception marked the beginning of The Antoine Dutot Museum and Gallery’s 2014 Season, the inclement weather which was predominant throughout the day as well as the activities surrounding the US Memorial Day Weekend led to a very modest attendance. However, for the happy few who had the good fortune to experience the work, a great deal of conversation that was inspired by the splendor of the exhibit was shared. You’ll find more photographs taken during the Reception in The Dutot 2014 Gallery at

David Plank’s 20 years as a commercial photographer earned him a number of awards for his work as he strived to bring art to industry. With his background in science and art providing a wealth of memorable experiences, Mr. Plank returns to his childhood passions during his retirement years by sharing his aesthetic accomplishments he had collected since the age of 8 with the public through a gallery setting. You can learn more about David Plank and his work by exploring his Website at

The Antoine Dutot Museum and Gallery originated as a brick school house built c. 1850 by Antoine Dutot who founded the town of Dutotsville before it was renamed to Delaware Water Gap, PA. In addition to the exhibitions presented at the gallery, the museum offers tours and educational opportunities for those who would like to learn more about the area. The current exhibition featuring the work of David Plank will be on display at the gallery until June 8th. Their next exhibition will be The Riv11 - The Delaware River - A Big Picture exhibition featuring the work of numerous artists exploring all aspects related to the Delaware River and it’s surrounding areas with an Artists’ Reception scheduled to be held on Friday June 13th and will continue to be displayed until June 29th. Please Explore The Antoine Dutot Museum and Gallery Facebook Page at for more information.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

A Newsworthy OMN

A touch of the Goth appeared outside The Sherman Theater’s Living Room Stroudsburg, PA on Sunday May 18th. A small but hearty number of people were adorned in dark hues and paled makeup reminiscent of the Goth subculture that was prevalent during the 1980s and 90s. However, in a departure from the solemn countenance associated with the style, these individuals displayed an exuberance as they prepared themselves for  another installment of the venue’s weekly Open Mic Nite Series.

I shared in their waiting and it was during this period did I meet Matt Smith who is a Photographer for The Express Times which is a newspaper located in Easton, PA. He shared with me that the publication was embarking on a study of Open mic Nites taking place throughout its readership area. He had visited several events and tonight would mark the last leg of his adventure. Throughout the evening, he was seen taking photographs and making notations as he endeavored to reflect the occurrences through a series of images and words.

Anyways, as the time for those who wished to participate in the evening’s festivities came near, the multitude (Goths and others) came together in order to join in the joyous ritual of affixing signatures to the laminated sign in sheet so their names (or nom de plumes) would be provided with an opportunity to share their talents before a welcoming audience. The time eventually arrived and numerous hands touched the pen from which their desires flowed.

Some time had past as the hour for the performances begun and it came as co host Jessie (aka JR) took the stage at the appointed hour to welcome those who were present. She then proceeded to share some of her original poetry with the gathering who were touched by her words. She was followed by co host AP Box who was joined on the stage by Kidd Marvel who shared some rap with each other along with some dance moves. They were followed by Brad Mills who was joined by AP Box and Melissa Johnson as he sang the song titled, “Royals” by Lorde. He was then left on stage following the song to perform his own composition based upon a line from it. Brad was followed by Dave Pugh on acoustic guitar who began his set with the song titled, “Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd and concluded with a love song that played a chord upon the heart.

As the final notes of Dave’s performance echoed upon the walls found within the audience’s beings, Benjamin Ordonez came upon the stage to share a number of poems that were familiar to the group. He was followed by another poet known as “The Carlton” whose rapid delivery of his powerful words flooded the ears with their meaning. He was followed by Jesse Morales who is usually seen with a guitar or ukulele in hand but he held a computer upon this occasion filled with poetic words which were moved by his emotions as a number of them were dedicated to a girl and the course of their relationship. Jesse was followed by yet another poet by the name of Amy Knopf whose words moved by their own power until we realized our own. Our realization of our abilities became especially evident to us as she shared the creative process of her work and our souls found a familiarity in her experiences.

A break ensued as the final echoes of Amy’s words filled the air. A great deal of inspired conversation populated the venue as the concepts revealed through the music and words up to that point moved the consciousness of the many who were presented during their utterances. In what seemed a very short time, the break concluded and the next performer was invited to take the stage.

Melissa Johnson prepared to share her magnificent voice as co host AP Box joined her in what resembled an operatic interlude before presenting a series of songs upon which AP added his verbal percussions. They concluded their set with a requested piece titled, “Radioactive” by the group known as “Imagine Dragons” which appears on their 2012 album titled, “Night Vision.” They were followed by guitarist Kess who was accompanied by co host Andrew Oldfield on drums. Kess performed a number of songs enjoyed by the gathering including his signature composition titled, “The Traveler’s Song” to which the company sang along. As Kess’ set came to an end, co host Andrew remained on stage to ask some questions from selected members of the audience in order to provide all present an opportunity to learn more about their comrades. The questions were: “Where did you go to High School?,” “What year did you graduate?,” and “What is an unusual thing about you?” The answers were revealing.

While ponderings of what was discovered still populating the minds of those who listened, guitarist Nick Fuentes took the stage. It was noted by the co hosts Jessie and AP that he performed during their first visit to the venue and was one of the reasons they fell in love with the event. The performance he provided this night wooed new lovers to the venue as his thoughtful words filled with social commentary touched a chord in many a mind. Nick was followed by the duet known as Woodrow who consists of Theresa Ratliff on vocals and Brian Bramkamp on vocals and guitar. Together they sang a series of songs that moved in and out of the subconscious including the composition titled, “White Rabbit” written by Grace Slick of The Jefferson Airplane.

It was with the performance by Woodrow did the official list of performers came to an end. However, there was still time allotted to the event and those whose had placed their names upon the waiting list were now given the opportunity to share their talents as well. The first of these was guitarist Jared Saied whose voice touched the soul while the instrument he played held it in its embrace. He was followed by Kevin Tails Moucha who sang a number of pieces a cappella and was well received. Kevin was followed by duet who were newcomers to the gathering. It consisted of Mimi on vocals and Greg on guitar. Together they performed a soulful version of Tracy Chapman’s Blues Classic “Give me One Reason” from her 1995 album titled, “New Beginning.” Mimi’s mesmerizing voice moved among the gathering as they traveled with her and Greg upon every note. They were followed by Matt F whose poetry encircled the crowd with its emotions as he expressed his thoughts relating to his mother.

The event concluded with Matt’s words and co host Jessie took the mic to share her farewells. Included in her words were some encouraging sentiments Matt Smith from The Express Time shared with her. She then expressed her appreciation to all the wonderful occurrences she had witness since she began coming to The Living Room and noted the venue was aptly named due to the loving camaraderie that is felt throughout every nook and cranny of the structure. It was after these loving words did the company depart with the desire to return to the venue the following week to partake all it has to offer once again. You’ll be able to find more photographs taken during the Sunday May 18th Open Mic Nite Session in The Living Room 2014 Gallery Part 3 at

The next installment of the Living Room Open Mic Nite Series will take place on Sunday May 25th beginning at 7pm with sign ins beginning at 6:30pm. Musicians, poets, writers, and anyone who would like to share something with a receptive audience are welcomed to do so. You can learn more about The Living Room Open Mic Nite Series and the All Star show by Exploring their Facebook Page at

In addition to the Open Mic Nites presented at The Living Room, the venue also holds a Gallery which presents the work of visual artists from around the area. Their current exhibition is titled, “Art-ology” and features the work of artists from around the area. Their next exhibit will take place in June with artists whose names are yet to be announced. Please contact the gallery’s Director and Curators, Keyaira and Drew Ozkenel, at 570-421-2808 for more information.

The Living Room is located on Main Street in Stroudsburg, PA next to The Sherman Theater who owns the building. The Living Room is a non-profit artspace and community hub featuring live music, performance, and other events in an intimate setting at affordable prices. Please Explore The Living Room Facebook Page at for more information on The Living Room, all they have to offer, and how to be a part of it all.

The Castle of Contrasts

During an afternoon filled with the beauty of a warm Spring Day, The Castle Inn Gallery in Delaware Water Gap, PA held an Artists’ Reception on Sunday May 18th featuring the work of Jasmine Abrams and Carol Van Geizen A series of hues touched the senses as the contrast found in the creative approaches of both artists moved the eye deeper into the subjects they captured upon canvases and other surfaces. A dichotomy of sensations were created throughout the gallery as a number of pieces existed in a lightness of their spirit while others formed from the depths of their souls beseeching the viewer to seek out the image’s (as well as their own) light.

The marvelous beauty found in the depictions of (primarily) flowers painted by Jasmine Abrams reflect the singular and solitary beauty one can find within oneself. The striking colors and attention to detail entreats the viewer to embrace the image’s essence until the aesthetic barrier between them become all the more vague. A lightness touches the soul inspiring an esoteric dance to spontaneously spring forth as the blossoms embodied in both the images and the viewer blooms in their perennial glory. One can’t help but to smile when viewing Ms. Abrams’ work as there is an encouraged delight painted into each individual piece with each brushstroke.

In a contrast to Ms. Abrams bright hues, the darkened explorations found in the majority of the photographic pieces created by Carol Van Geizen harkens one to delve deeply into the images she presents as her use of shadows amplify the focal points of her compositions by highlighting them although they are very much a part of their dark environs. The effects Ms. Van Geizen’s work has on those who view it is enhanced by a surface upon which she prints the images known as Gator Board which produces a varnished like finish creating a reflective quality. This mirrored surface allows the viewer to see a blurred vision of oneself among the shadowy denizens of the piece. The process Ms. Van Geizen employs favorably reminds one of those utilized by the Dutch painter and etcher Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn who lived in the 1600s and was know for his use of shadows in order to highlight the focal points of his compositions.

The overall quality of the work of the exhibit was of a very high caliber as the varying creative approach of each artist allowed the viewer to explore a variety of aspects contained in the presentations as well as within themselves. The Artists’ Reception at The Castle Inn Gallery in Delaware Water Gap, PA was a was a well attended one filled with wonderful conversations inspired by the work along with delicious food and beverages that enhanced the afternoon’s experience. You’ll be able to find more photographs taken during the reception in The Castle Inn 2014 Gallery at

The Castle Inn Gallery in Delaware Water Gap, PA is curated by Jose and Maggie Santamaria who seeks to showcase local artists in an intimate setting conducive to allowing individuals who visit the venue to explore the work in a relaxed manner. The current exhibition featuring the work of Jasmine Abrams and Carol Van Geizen will be on display until June 20th. The artists featured in the gallery’s next exhibit are yet to be announced. Please Explore The Castle Inn Gallery Facebook Page for more information at

The Castle Inn Gallery is found within The Castle Inn located in Delaware Water Gap, PA. It was built in 1906 and was the last of the great hotels to be built in area. It housed an ice cream parlor, a mosaic floor, bowling alleys, a pool, and a billiard parlor. Performances were presented which included those given by Opera legend Enrico Caruso, Marching Band Leader John Phillip Sousa, and Big Band Leader Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians. This all came to an abrupt end when fire touched the Inn during the 1970s and it laid dormant until 2005 when it was purchased by Theresa Veltri and Frank Paccione who continues their endeavors to bring the Inn back as an asset to the community and all who visit it. You’ll be able to learn more about The Shoppes at The Castle Inn and all they have to offer by exploring their Facebook Page at

A Day in May for the Arts

On a day following one filled with torrential rains, the bright hues of the sunshine of Spring colored the sidewalks of Stroudsburg, PA as its annual Art On Main event took place throughout the town on Saturday May 17th. Although the focus of the activities were centered around area of the town known as the courthouse square, a number of offerings and opportunities to partake of the arts were presented in other locations as well. These included The Soho in The Burg Gallery, The Living Room Gallery, and the newly formed Pocono Black Box Theater.

My day began as I traveled to town from my residence on foot which afforded me with an opportunity to peacefully enjoy the climatic splendor of the day as well as the scenic surroundings one barely notices while being transported by any other mode. I arrived in town to find Clavertis Miller setting up his space on the corner of 6th and Main in order to fill it with his creative endeavors for passerbys to experience as they explored the offerings of the day. The intricacies and colors embodied in the images touched my eye and I felt Mr. Miller’s creativity was a wonderful vision to partake of as I was introduced to the Art On Main event.

After I greeted Mr. Miller and chatted with him on a variety of subjects, I stepped across the street to the adjacent corner to meet with the denizens of The Soho in The Burg Gallery It was there where I saw James Chesnick and Susan Molina-Washington taking advantage of the beauty of the day as they placed their paint filled brushes upon their canvases who were patiently waiting upon their easels to be filled with the colorful images they would soon absorb. Many passerbys paused as the artists playfully affixed their talents to the canvas while others moved into the gallery’s interiors to partake of the wonders of their current exhibit titled, “Spring Fever” which will soon be followed by their “Sailing into Summer” exhibition in June. You can read about The Spring Fever Artists’ Reception in our article titled, “The Feverish Effects of Spring” at

I eventually left the Soho in The Burg in order to journey to the newly opened Pocono Black Box Theater as I’ve received word auditions for The Pocono Shakes 2014 season’s productions of plays written by William Shakespeare were beginning that day. The plays that are scheduled to be presented during 2014 are “Romeo and Juliet” and “A Mid Summer’s Night Dream.” Watching Director Richard Rose guide the actors as they made their internal preparations for the roles they sought to fill entreated me to complete an audition form and ply my 30 year dormant theatrical skills to the endeavor of being a part of the production. Unlike my counterparts, I stuttered and stammered through the monologue but I think I did ok. Time will tell as I’ll receive a call regarding their casting decisions in the near future.

I eventually left the theater and returned to the outside world where I was met with a display offering the work created by those who had won the 8th Annual “Fine Art” Parking Meter Competition presented by The Pocono arts Council. Paper bags covered with artistic renderings from various groups and individuals adorned the parking meters that aligned the streets of Stroudsburg. I joyfully explore each creative endeavor until I caught sight of The Happy Pipe Hookah Lounge which I’ve been meaning to visit for quite some time but haven’t had the opportunity before that day.

Upon entering the relaxed venue, I found myself transfixed by the array of Hookahs that adorned the establishment. The venue was empty when I arrived so the owner and his friend were watching scenes from talent competitions on a television monitor they had selected from an internet website. I eventually left The Happy Pipe and returned to the Soho in the Burg to share my experiences in the theater with all who would listen. As one can imagine, I was quite excited from catching the acting bug after so many years of being a non participant in the theater. My friends at the gallery patiently listened and I eventually left the graceful presence to venture to the courthouse square to partake of the art and activities that were offered there.

As I turned the corner at 7th Street, my eyes became transfixed by the array of art that was presented along with offerings from art related and community organizations who sought to provide opportunities for the event’s attendees to participate in their worthwhile endeavors. They included entrancing images displayed by Photography by Claudia, robustly beautiful pottery by Margaret Benson, exquisite jewelry and earthen works created by Pias Pottery, some stunning and vibrant art created by Sandy Lopez, and hand beaded jewelry by Carol’s Customized Creations Representatives from The Totts Gap Art Institute and The Pocono Community Theater were present to share their offerings with passerbys as was Monroe County Meals on Wheels who sought volunteers to lend their time to their worthwhile endeavors.

Some soft sounds of jazz and other musical genres provided by Barry Fields filled the air as I wandered among the Artists, Artisans, and organizations inhabiting the area. The deft touch of his guitar and thoughtful voice echoed throughout the square encircling each visitor to the location with a peace enhancing the time and conversation shared to be a more meaningful one. However, as the time for the cultural centerpiece event for the day was about to begin, I reluctantly left this atmosphere to partake of the wonders awaiting me within The PoconoArts Community Cultural Center.

The walls of The PoconoArts Community Cultural Center were filled with a plethora of work created by the numerous members of The PoconoArts Council. Over 70 pieces were presented throughout the Center’s Artspace Gallery in a display representing the variety of styles and creative approaches embodied in the organizations membership. The unique qualities of each piece seemed to challenge the ability of those who hung the work to discern a pattern in which the exhibit could be viewed with any coherence. However, the differing qualities of the individual pieces when placed together created a patchwork pattern that inundated the senses while allowing each viewer to breathe in the beauty they encountered so they could embrace it with their hearts.

The PoconoArts Council presented a number of awards to the artists who demonstrated a great deal of talent and proficiency in their creative endeavors. The enormity and the outstanding caliber of the work proved to make the determination of who deserved the honors associated with the awards a difficult one. This audacious task went to Lenore Fiore-Mills, Emily Thompson, and George Thompson.

The award recipients in each category were James Gywnne who received the 1st place award, Mary Hart who received the 2nd place award, and Karen Duncan who received the 3rd place award while Tricia Lippert was awarded Honorable Mentioned in The Oils Category. Will Daskal received the 1st place award, Stephen Kruger received the 2nd place award, and Jim Smeltz received the 3rd place award while Marcia Flammonde was awarded Honorable Mentioned in The Acrylics Category. Paula L. George received the 1st place award, Jan Swift received the 2nd place award, Thomas Augusta received the 3rd place award while Bev Abel was awarded Honorable Mentioned in The Watercolors Category. Jody Cooke was received the 1st place award, Mark Ciocca received the 2nd place award, and Maggie Vlazny received the 3rd place award while Linda Goerge was awarded Honorable Mentioned in The Works on Paper Category. Reva B. Levy received the 1st place award, Pamela Mading received the 2nd place award, Claire Marcus received the 3rd place award while Nancy Bohm was awarded Honorable Mentioned in The Mixed Media Category. Courtney Torres received the 1st place award, Sherwood Samet received the 2nd place award, and Maryruth Neige Maichin received the 3rd place award while Bud Nealy was awarded Honorable Mentioned in The Photography Category. Leslie Mulligan received the 1st place award, April Field received the 2nd place award, and Jorge Cruz received the 3rd place award while Tracy Granger was awarded Honorable Mentioned in The Fine Crafts (Functional) Category. Adia Gibbs received the award in The 3-D Works Sculpture and Non-Functional Category for her piece titled, “Nyabinghi: The Hidden Queen”  and Gairre Henry received the award for Best of Show for her work titled, “My Husband After The Vietnam War” done in Oils. Upon winning the prize, Ms. Henry stated it was the first time she won anything besides her husband’s heart.

In addition to the PoconoArt Member exhibit being presented in The PoconoArts Community Cultural Center’s Artspace Gallery, their Studio Gallery offered a collection of Assemblages created by the late Morris Berman which were donated to PoconoArts by his daughter, Ilona Marmer. The work incorporates found objects to divulge the contradictions of modern life which depicts both the whimsical and poignant if it. The display of Mr. Berman’s work is an ongoing one and can be explored during the center’s business hours.

The PoconoArts Community Cultural Center is part of The PoconoArts Council which is an organization designed to build the communities in which it serves artistically and culturally by providing leadership, service, and education. It does so by offering avenues for artists to display their work through the center and other galleries, educational opportunities for those who would like to explore and/or enhance their creative natures, and encouragement to those who seek to express and/or support the arts. The PoconoArts Council Exhibition continues until May 25th. You’ll be able to learn more about The PoconoArts Council, The PoconoArts Community Cultural Center, and all they offer the creative community at

After the awards ceremony concluded, I ventured outside the center to experience the performance of the Lost Ramblers whose rendering of Blue Grass and Folk tunes enlivened the crowd who heard them. They were followed by The SheilaMark Duo whose bluesy renditions of the songs they performed pierced through the audience as the clarion voice of Ms. Sheila Stratton echoed throughout the square accompanied by Mark Hamza on Accordion. It was with these sounds did the Arts On Main event draw to a close. It was a wonderful day filled with art, conversations, and memories to keep within oneself. You’ll find more photographs taken throughout the day in The Evening on Main 2014 Gallery at

Friday, May 16, 2014

The Fullness of a Flowering Moon

As an early evening sky filled with clouds formed a warm blanket over the earth, a field filled with healing rocks greeted a sizable number of people who came to celebrate the presence of the Full Moon which hovered over The Columcille Megalithic Park and Celtic Cultural Center in Bangor, PA on Wednesday May 14th. The many who gathered to share in the Full Flower Moon Celebration through incantations, music, and understandings enhanced the energies of the event with their positive countenances as conversations flowed from one love filled word to another. After a fire was built and other preparations were made, the ceremony for the evening began.

The gathering was led by Beth Guida and her husband George Guida who serve The Columcille Board of Directors as Vice President and President. Their welcoming words provided a wondrous foretaste of the loving peace those who gathered were to experience throughout the night. The celebration began as those who had brought special crystals or stones were invited to place them upon an altar within the circle of stones that resembles a prehistoric monument located in Wiltshire, England known as “Stonehenge” so they could be purified and re energized  throughout the night.

Attendees were then asked to step outside the circle to take paper and pencil in order to write what they would like to enter their lives to be later placed in the fire so the essence of their hopes could more freely mingle with the divine where all things originate from. They were then invited to be spiritually cleansed before re entering the circle and to walk its circumference in order to commune with each stone before taking their place to rest so they could experience the fullness of the evening’s offerings. As the procession concluded, opening words were shared which included greetings to the directional elements of North, South, East, and West along with invitations to their denizens to bring their energies to enhance the essence of the gathering. It was after this time did the leaders of the gathering began to share the traditions of the celebration and their deeper meanings derived from both the eastern and western faiths including those embraced by the indigenous people who inhabited what has become known as the continent of North America.

After this time, those who were present were invited to share their words and gifts with the gathering. These sharings included expressions of joys and concerns in which the company embraced with their hearts. There were also verbal explorations made into the nature of happiness and how we can become a larger measure of love. The evening concluded with some closing words given by the gathering’s leaders along with expressions of appreciation to the directional elements for bringing their healing essence to those who were touched by them. The circle dispersed as many gathered to share their experiences and the insights they inspired with one another while enjoying a variety of snacks (mostly chocolate covered ones) that were provided. You’ll find more photographs taken during the May 2014 Full Moon Celebration in The Special Events Gallery at

The Full Flower Moon Celebration was a gathering open to all who feel called to participate in welcoming and honoring Grandmother Moon and her healing energies. The evening also commemorated the Wesak Full Moon which is the first full moon in Taurus and celebrates the birth of The Buddha. The Full Moon Celebrations take place monthly at The Columcille Megalithic Park and Celtic Cultural Center in Bangor, PA with the next event scheduled to take place Friday June 13th for the Full Strawberry Moon. The gathering begins at 7pm in the park’s stone circle with the ceremony commencing at 7:30pm. Those who wish to bring their drums, flutes, and other musical instruments along with any poems, songs, chants, or stories they would like to share are welcomed. Attendees are also invited to bring their crystals, gems, etc. for cleansing by the Full Moon energies. A sharing of “Tea and Treats” follows the event.

The Columcille Megalithic Park and Celtic Cultural Center in Bangor, PA began as a small house opened in 1975 by William Cohea Jr. called “Casa Colum (Gaelic for Home of the Dove)” to serve as (according to their website) “a ‘salon by the side of the road’ where ‘tired sinners and reluctant saints’ could drop by and share their experiences and ideas.” The formation of the park was inspired by a visit Mr. Cohea made to the Isle of Iona which is a small island in the Inner Hebrides off the Ross of Mull on the western coast of Scotland. An open space to welcome people of all faiths and traditions interested in renewal and transformation has since been created filled with Megalithic (large standing stone) Structures and numerous walking trails designed to enhance a deeper spiritual awareness to those who visit the grounds. Please explore The Columcille Megalithic Park and Celtic Cultural Center Website at for more information.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Shape of Jazzy Things To Come

The Celebration of the Arts (COTA) held its general meeting at The Deer Head Inn in Delaware Water Gap, PA on Monday May 12th to plan their 37th Annual Jazz and Arts Festival which is scheduled to be held September 5th - 7th. A small group of music and art lovers gathered at the Inn to lend their ideas and to learn more about the annual three day event. However, the physical size of the gathering did not reflect the enormous dedication they had for the festival nor did it measure the degree of excitement the attendees shared as preliminary reports of how the festival will be enhanced this year were given.

The first of these reports related to how the music schedule for the festival was progressing. Already, at this early stage, a number of groups and individuals have sought to be a part of this year’s festival. The committee involved with the scheduling announced the performance sets will be of a longer duration this year with groups smaller in personnel performing due to budgetary considerations. The idea of having the opportunity of listening to a band or individual for a longer period of time intrigued many who were present.

Another report announced The Celebration of the Arts will have a presence during Delaware Water Gap’s upcoming Founder’s Day Celebration scheduled to take place on Saturday June 28th. The day commemorates the settlement of the town by Antoine Dutot in 1793. This was exciting news as it means information about the festival and all it offers will be made available to the many who will attend the event. The excitement inspired some talk about creating a presence at other Summer festivals taking place throughout the Monroe County of PA. There will sure to be more discussion on that during future meetings.

As interesting and exciting all this was, the most astonishing revelation was that of the poster for this year’s festival has been created by Tim Helman. This came as a very enormous surprise to those who have been a part of the festival for several years as the poster normally doesn’t come into being until a few weeks prior to the event taking place. It was mentioned there is some detail work that remains to be added to the poster before it can be distributed, but it was wonderful to be presented with an image manifesting the dreams many have had regarding this year’s festival since last year’s event concluded.

Many more topics were shared and discussed until the meeting came to its conclusion. However, the adjournment did not vacate the Inn as many lingered in order to share more conversations about the festival and how their lives were in general. The next general meeting scheduled to be held at The Deer Head Inn in Delaware Water Gap will be on Monday June 9th beginning at 6:30pm. The public is invited and encouraged to attend this and all future meetings as all ideas are welcomed and opportunities to participate as a volunteer are provided. You’ll find more photographs taken during the Monday May 12th meeting at The COTA Meetings 2014 Gallery at

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 Facebook Page at, their Website at, or by calling 570-424-2210 to learn how you can become a volunteer and to learn for more information all about COTA has to offer.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

The Medicinal Nature of Music

The Indulgent Apothecary in Stroudsburg PA presented a concert on Tuesday May 6th which featured Sick Antelope Party, Sea Witch Plays the Death Star, CARA CARA, and The Billy Mack Collector. Aromatic elixirs, energized stones and crystals, and other holistic transformers greeted the numerous music lovers who ventured to the little shop of good feelings. Conversations and explorations abound as the musicians prepared for their performances as the welcoming atmosphere of the establishment inspired each word and curiosity through its healing essence.

The spoken folk band known as Sick Antelope Party consisting of Jesse Morales, Vid Ryan, and Amy Burawski were the first to share their talents with the gathering. Poetry and music blended together as the trio brought forth their insights designed to allow the everyday occurrences we encounter in life to be more bearable until (as they put it) the world is no longer ending. Their performance was a captivating one as evident in the expressions upon the faces of those whose conclusions of their inward searches for their own personal meanings were brought to a more attainable proximity. You can learn more about Sick Antelope Party by exploring their Facebook Page at

A break ensued and after its conclusion Sick Antelope Party was followed on stage by a woman known as Sea Witch Plays the Death Star. Accompanied by a steel ukulele, she sang a number of songs whose entrancing modalities summoned a wakening in the subconscious through a voice that called from the wilderness of the soul. She later rendered poetry to the gathering whose syntax was enhanced by the connecting verbalizations and body movements she employed throughout her recitations. You can learn more about Sea Witch Plays the Death Star by visiting her Website at

After another break concluded, CARA CARA took the stage. She began her set encircled by a number of musicians who performed earlier that evening as if it were in their desires to form a coven from which their combined energies would be lovingly available to her until the fulfillment of their endeavors inspired a dissipation so they could take their place upon the floor to listen to her sing. The momentary nature of a number of her songs moved quickly among the audiences but the poetry in her lyrics lingered as they spoke to that small voice within them. You can learn more about CARA CARA by exploring her Facebook Page at

As the enchantments of the evening moved among the gathering, The Billy Mack Collector took the stage as another break had come to its conclusion. The “Collection” consisted of Billy Mack along with those musicians and singers who happened to be present at the time he was ready to perform. The deceptively simple compositions they performed moved among the audience as they, along with the singers, contemplated the dreams embodied in each song. You can learn more about The Billy Mack Collector by exploring its Facebook Page at

The evening drew to a close as conversations filled the room with a deeper love for the esoteric understandings found in the creative forms of music and poetry. CARA CARA furthered the enchanting mood as she casually strummed and sung during the after chat. The healing balm of the evening’s offerings filled all present with an appreciation and a desire to share in entertaining delights once again in the near future. No plans had been drawn up to do so as of yet, but the hope that an announcement to this effect would be made soon was prevalent. In the meantime, you’ll be able to find more photographs taken during the Tuesday May 6th concert featuring Sick Antelope Party, Sea Witch Plays the Death Star, CARA CARA, and The Billy Mack Collector in The Indulgent Apothecary 2014 Gallery at

The Indulgent Apothecary is located in Stroudsburg, PA. Besides presenting concerts to the public, they offer an inventory revolving around holistic health and well-being which includes a full line of herbs, crystals, and handmade personal care products. You can learn more about The Indulgent Apothecary by exploring their Facebook Page at

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Blossoming At The OMN

As the streets of Stroudsburg, PA were filled with the flowering bouquets of youth in all their adornments, The Sherman Theater’s Living Room held another installment of their weekly Open Mic Nite Series on Sunday May 4th. Conversations scented the venue with aromas of excitement as the time for those waiting to affix their names to the sign in sheet grew closer and closer. The moment arrived and identities were plucked from the pen so they could be planted upon the document and begin their germination toward a hopeful blossoming as the signatories’ talents took root in the evening’s encouraging garden.

The evening began as co host Jessie (aka JR) took the stage at the appointed hour to welcome those who were present and to share an adventure she had involving a favored poet of hers. Jeanann Verlee has published several books containing her words and JR had the good fortune of attending an event of which she was a featured reader. The two women met, hugged, and chatted with one another as if they had become friends years before they had done so that evening. It was at this time did JR read several selections written by Ms. Verlee to share the depth of her fandom with those around her.

The work spoke of the pain and irony of life with some of the imagery sprinkled with humor so those hearing it with their ears and seeing it with their mind’s eye could more easily embrace their truths without the thorns of the tragic depictions embodied in the work bringing the experiencer an inconsolable sorrow through the undiluted fullness of their hurt. It was when these words concluded was it time for the first of those performers who signed the list to share their talents with the gathering. Dee (aka Songbird) had not been seen in the venue for quite some time and her presence was greeted with delight by those who fondly remembered her previous sets.

Dee took the stage with her guitar and began singing several of the songs that endeared her to the gathering who frequented the event as well as the many newcomers who were touched by her newly experienced voice. It was during her performance did she suddenly take off her hat and threw it upon the floor with the claim it kept sliding off while she strummed her instrument. This act freed her from any remaining superficial restrictions allowing her to play with further abandonment pleasing the crowd greatly.

Dee was followed to the stage by co host AP Box after being introduced by co host Andrew Oldfield with apologies for arriving late included in his words and a semi wrapped taco in his hands. AP began his time on stage with a series of vocal manipulations that delighted the audience along with a sound effect sketch involving a drive thru window. He later took some suggestions from the audience in order to improvise a routine. These suggestions led to a series of sounds evolving from the Star Trek to the Star Wars franchises. AP concluded his set and was greeted by a great deal of well deserved applause that echoed throughout the room.

AP was followed by Electric Guitarist Dave Pugh who shared a number of his original songs with the crowd with co host Andrew Oldfield accompanying him on drums. Dave was followed by a guitarist named Theo (aka Sunnyside Shading) whose return to the venue after quite a considerable absence delighted the crowd. Initially, Theo attempted to perform without the electronic assistance of a microphone but opted to do so when it was evident the sounds of the traffic upon the busy street would make it difficult, if not impossible, for the audience to enjoy the fullness of his talents. Which they did after the microphone was turned on and the joy embodied in his melodies and lyrics filled the room and the hearts who could now hear it all clearly.

Theo was followed to the stage by by Benjamin Ordonez who shared a number of poems that were familiar to the group. He was followed by the duet known as Woodrow who consists of Theresa Ratliff on vocals and Brian Bramkamp on vocals and guitar. They began their set with a song titled, “Uncle John’s Band” which was originally performed by The Grateful Dead. They completed their set with a song from Jefferson Airplane titled, “White Rabbit.” It was at the conclusion of this psychedelic musical interlude was a break announced in order for those who partook of the evening’s delightful creative elixirs could explore their full effects through the conversations they would engage in.

As the break concluded, those who reentered The Living Room were met by Kes whose presence had not blessed the mic for quite some time. His arrival was a welcomed one as he and his guitar sung a number of songs that encouraged toe tapping and sing-alongs throughout his time on stage with co host Andrew Oldfield accompanying him on drums. He was followed by electric guitarist C Rock. It was during his introduction did the host share memories that both Kes and C Rock appeared in special Open Mic All Star Shows at the venue and an invitation was sent out to those who would like to share their talents in a similar event in the future. It was after these words did C Rock begin his performance.

Co host Andrew Oldfield remained on drums as C Rock touched the crowd with his magic. Chord changes echoed upon the buoyant walls of the boundless imagination as the melodious utterances of each note defined the ephemeral experiences that proved to be reflected glimpses of those more profoundly eternal. C Rock’s performance included two original compositions titled, “Sunny Days” and “Happy Days” which moved their dawns into the subconscious nocturnes of the listeners. It was after C Rock concluded his set did Co Host Jessie (aka JR) take the stage to share a poetic posting she received from a Facebook friend that entranced the crowd with its profound insights.

As the cadence of the Facebook words began to fade, Vinnie Huevos and his guitar took the stage. He was initially joined by co host Andrew Oldfield and later by co host AP. Together, their combined musicalities proceeded to kick ass much to the delight of every music loving derrière in the place. They were followed by a young woman simply known as “Day” who frequented the open mic nites many time before that evening but this was her first appearance on stage. In her time before the microphone, she shared her poetry that spoke beautifully of the pain we universally experience while living life as many times we feel like (as she profoundly put it) “the smallest clown in the biggest circus on earth.” Day was followed by Kevin Tails Moucha who shared poetry he read from a computer laptop held by co host AP whose words weaved in and out of one insightful mood after another to the pleasure of the group.

Kevin was followed by the mind bending musicalities of Wilbium who, in his pilot’s helmet, boarded the gathering upon his astral plane so they could take flight through the conscious clouds that hovered within their beings. The musical form known as “Techno” filled the senses as the expansions of the communal awareness grew within the dwelling of the mind in proportion and depth. As the vaporous sounds created by Wilbium and his electronic ensemble began to fade from this realm of existence and back to their hallucinatory origins, AP announced the main list of those who signed in to perform for the evening was exhausted. However, as there was more time allotted to the event, those who affixed their names upon the waiting list would now be invited to partake of the stage.

The first of these individuals to do so was Brad Bartholomew who noted his last name was that of a disciple of an individual known as, “Joshua, son of Joseph” (aka Jesus The Messiah or Christ) who lived the Roman province of  Judea and was executed by crucifixion after being found guilty for sedition c. 33 C. E. (Common Era). According to a biographical account attributed to a disciple known as “John,” Bartholomew was introduced to Joshua by another disciple named, “Phillip.” Brad read an exquisitely composed piece he wrote relating to the Judeo/Christian mythology relating to the beginning of the world and the source of what many in the faiths refer to as the original sin.

Brad was followed by Melissa Johnson whose voice captivated the audience with is clarion sounds. She was joined by co host AP who lent his vocals and auditory percussions to enhance the songs she performed. They were followed Jesse Morales whose absence from the Living Room was sorely felt. However, the return of him and his guitar touched the spark of joy that was eager to be kindled within the heart as those who listened to his musical offerings embraced them with their souls.

As the final notes of the final songs Jesse performed faded into the interiors of the venue’s walls and the audience’s hearts, it was announced the end of another evening for the Open Mic Night Series had come. It was then those who had remained throughout the night shared their farewells and eagerly made plans to return to the venue to enjoy another night of creative offerings from their comrades. You’ll be able to find more photographs taken during the Sunday May 4th Open Mic Nite Session in The Living Room 2014 Gallery Part 3 at

The next installment of the Living Room Open Mic Nite Series will take place on Sunday May 11th beginning at 7pm with sign ins beginning at 6:30pm. Musicians, poets, writers, and anyone who would like to share something with a receptive audience are welcomed to do so. You can learn more about The Living Room Open Mic Nite Series and the All Star show by Exploring their Facebook Page at

In addition to the Open Mic Nites presented at The Living Room, the venue also holds a Gallery which presents the work of visual artists from around the area. Their current exhibition is titled, “Art-ology” and features the work of artists from around the area. Their next exhibit will take place in June with artists whose names are yet to be announced. Please contact the gallery’s Director and Curators, Keyaira and Drew Ozkenel, at 570-421-2808 for more information.

The Living Room is located on Main Street in Stroudsburg, PA next to The Sherman Theater who owns the building. The Living Room is a non-profit artspace and community hub featuring live music, performance, and other events in an intimate setting at affordable prices. Please Explore The Living Room Facebook Page at for more information on The Living Room, all they have to offer, and how to be a part of it all.

Monday, May 05, 2014

Looking On The Wall at PCT

The Gallery at The Pocono Community Theater and Cultural Center (PCT) in East Stroudsburg, PA held an Artists’ Reception on Saturday May 3rd for their exhibitions featuring two area artists. The first exhibit is titled, “Looking” featuring the acrylic work of Chris Sparling in their Front Gallery near the center’s 1st screening room. The second exhibit is titled, “On The Wall” featuring the fired and smoked clay works of Joni Maya Oye-Benintende in the center’s Hall Gallery leading to their 2nd and 3rd theaters. The physical and the aesthetic composition embodied in the work of these two artists differs greatly but their work enhanced the center’s décor through their contrasting creative approaches.

The work of Chris Sparling’s beautifully descriptive colors and images depicts scenes of structures and landscapes whose flowing contours entices those who choose to explore their intricacies to imagine themselves to be a part of the composition. The experience one feels from viewing each painting is one of a peaceful connectedness to the image that is presented. This connectedness allows the viewer to not only embrace the subtleties of the of the flowing brushstrokes that lead them upon a journey within the piece more intently but also allows the viewer to journey deep within themselves in order to discover where the swirls of their everyday existence may lead.

The sense of tension found within work of Joni Maya Oye-Benintende pulls us deeper within each piece as their diametrically opposing elements tugs at our perceptional awareness. We subconsciously sense there is something beyond what we see and strive to discover what that something is. This is especially true of the piece titled, “(A) lone 1” as the image peers from behind a Venetian Blind to presumingly look at us until we begin to look beyond the blind in order to identify the person’s features more precisely. The remainder of the work has a similar effect as we find ourselves moving our eyes around the three dimensional images in order to discover from one angle what we presume to be hidden in another. It is through this exercise we come to realize the same presumptions could be made about ourselves as one aspect of who we are may be hidden from our awareness as we focus upon another.

Chris Sparling has been enjoying the flexibility she found in painting with acrylics since 2007 when she discovered she could capture the ever changing elements of the landscapes more freely through the medium. Ms. Sparling is a self taught artists who has learned her craft while communing with Van Gogh, Monet, and other artists she encountered in the many museums she visited. Ms. Sparling has received many awards for her work and is a member of The Pocono Mountain Arts Council, The Pocono Arts Council, and the St. Augustine Art Association. You can learn more about Chris Sparling and her work by exploring her website at

Joni Maya Oye-Benintende’s work reflects a meditative solitude as she utilizes a variety of handbuilding methods and a minimum of glaze to create visual metaphors as a filter through which the viewer projects and tells their own story. Ms. Oye-Benintende currently serves as chair for the East Stroudsburg University of PA’s Art Department and is the Director of the University’s Madelon Power’s Gallery. Ms. Oye-Benintende has shown her work in numerous galleries and has received Grants from The PA Council on the Arts Partners in Art, The ESU Foundation Grant, and The ESU Faculty Development as well as The Japan Ministry of Education (Monbusho) Fellowship, Rotary Foundation Graduate Scholarship and The John T. Milliken Travel Fellowship. You can learn more about Joni Maya Oye-Benintende and her work by exploring her website at

The reception for the exhibitions presented at The Gallery at The Pocono Community Theater and Cultural Center in East Stroudsburg, PA proved to be a well attended one with work ranging from the soul touchingly beautiful to the profoundly thought provoking. The work of Chris Sparling and Joni Maya Oye-Benintende are sure to capture the imagination of the many who enter the venue while they are waiting to see a film. In fact, some may find themselves leaving the film of their choice before its conclusion to view the work once again. You’ll be able to find more photographs taken during the reception in The Pocono Community Theater (PCT) 2014 Gallery at

The Gallery at The Pocono Community Theater and Cultural Center in East Stroudsburg, PA will continue to display their exhibitions titled, “Looking” and “On the Wall” featuring the work of Chris Sparling and Joni Maya Oye-Benintende until June 29th. Their next exhibition will feature James Gwynne whose work will be shown throughout the entire center. An Artists’ Reception for the exhibit is tentatively scheduled for Saturday July 5th beginning at 1pm and the exhibit will continue to be on display until August 31st.

In addition to hosting art exhibits, The Pocono Community Theater and Cultural Center 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 in the theater. Please Explore The Pocono Community Theater Facebook Page at for more information.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

A Glorious Choral at ESU

The East Stroudsburg University (ESU) of PA Music Department presented their Spring Choral Concert in The Cecilia S. Cohen Recital Hall which is located within the Fine and Performing Arts Center on Wednesday April 30th. The concert consisted of performances of a variety musical offerings presented by the university’s A Cappella Ensemble and its Concert Choir who presented a special performance of Francis Poulenc’s composition titled, “Gloria” with a Chamber Orchestra. The entire presentation was pleasing to the ear as the voices of the singers blended beautifully with one another as well with the instruments that accompanied them.

The A Cappella Ensemble began the concert and was led under the direction of Associate Professor James Maroney. After a welcoming introduction given by Marcus Howard, the members of the ensemble took their place upon the stage and were soon followed by their director. From the very first notes emanating from the ensemble’s lips to the final echo of the concluding melody, the gathering of singers touched the heart of the listeners with their thoughtful renditions of the songs they shared. After the ensemble’s performance concluded, a brief intermission took place.

The East Stroudsburg University’s Concert Choir consisting of students, faculty members, and those who dwell in the university’s surrounding communities entered the hall. They were led under the direction of Associate Professor James Maroney and were accompanied by Pauline Fox who performed on piano. The choir began with a moving piece composed by Felix Mendelssohn titled, “Heilig” for which the chorus was physically divided up in two sections so they could conform with the intention of the piece which was written for two choirs. After some rearranging of positions, the choir continued with a composition written by David C. Cickau titled, “If Music Be The food of Love” inspired by the Theatrical composition written by William Shakespeare titled, “Twelfth Night.”

It was after the completion of this piece did Prof. Maroney share a series of appreciations to those who helped make the evenings performance possible along with a number of anecdotes relating to the process in preparation for the performance. This was followed by a presentation of the Robert L. Wehe Jr. $500 Vocal Scholarship to this year’s recipient who was Marcus Howard so he may continue his studies in music at ESU. This interlude ended with the announcement the chamber orchestra was ready to take their place upon the stage and there would be a moments to move about and share some conversation while the musicians set up their instruments.

An excited din filled the concert hall as the anticipated arrival of the presentation of Francis Poulenc’s “Gloria” came closer to being experienced. The sounds of musicians tuning their instruments further excited the audience as each note made to compliment the work through its desired pitch brought the performance all the more within the hearing of it. Associate Professor James Maroney took his place before the musical gathering as a silence that accompanies a stilled breathing filled the hall until the first notes of the composition opened the lungs of those who waited.

Each movement of “Gloria” was filled with subtle musical phrasing that led the listener upon melodious journeys which challenged their perception. This was especially true during several movements when the vocal patterns seem un speech like as the music encircles one into a mist of sounds that leads one upon an adventure of the esoteric. Ms. Tara Nylander lent her powerful soprano voice to a number of the movements complimenting their essence to a great degree. The final notes of the composition was met with a contemplative silence that was followed by an internal recognition between the soul of work and that of each audience member leading to an embracing applause. You’ll be able to find more photographs taken during the East Stroudsburg University’s Spring Choral Concert in The ESU 2014 Gallery at

The East Stroudsburg University of PA Music Department next musical presentations will include their 27th Annual Spring Band Concert on Sunday May 4th featuring the University/Community Concert Band under the direction of Otis French. The next Choral Concert will be the Winter Choral Concert scheduled to take place on Wednesday December 3rd at The Cecilia S. Cohen Recital Hall. Students and faculty along with members of the community are invited to participate. Rehearsals take place every Tuesday evening from 7:15pm until 9:15pm beginning Tuesday August 26th. Please Explore The ESU Vocal Performing Arts Facebook Page at for more information.