Monday, February 23, 2015

It's an Art Jam Birthday Woo Woo

As the all too frequent sight of snow flakes accumulating to make their presence known on Saturday February 21st, The Sherman Theater's Living Room in Stroudsburg, PA hosted a Birthday ART JAM in order to celebrate the birth of Joy Taney, Carolyn Burbage, Vid Ryan, Stephan Tsapatoris, and Melissa Benzinger. The celebration included music performed by a variety of musicians and singers who joyfully shared their skills in the Jam Session that lasted throughout the afternoon. There were also opportunities for those who would explore their creative skills in the visual arts through the many sketchbooks on hand during the event. And, there was plenty of pizza, chicken wings, and (of course) Birthday cake to enjoy while listening to the music and partaking of the conversation shared with those who braved the wintry conditions to attend the gathering.

As I entered the warmth of the room, members of The Juggernaut String Band were in the process of tuning their various instruments that ranged from violins to banjos while exploring the possibilities of musical genres they would play. These members included Peter Taney, Joy Taney, Carolyn Burbage, and Stephan Tsapatoris. They were soon joined by the duet known as Woodrow which consists of Theresa Ratcliff and Brian Brancamp. After some final preparations were made, music filled the room with a mesmerizing quality that induced all those who were enchanted by its texture to move their forms along with the rhythm that bade them to dance marvelously.

After a period of blissful enjoyment found in the listening and being effected by the tunes, a series of singers and musicians joined in to share their musical gifts. These began with the vocal renderings of Molly Brunkard who sang a piece from a Broadway musical with a powerful interpretation that was only topped by her awe inspiring voice. The musicians were later joined by Vid Ryan who lent his musical skills to the compositions that were being played. Vid is a member of The Juggernaut String Band but he mostly spent the afternoon serving as the event's photographer of which he captured some astounding images and performed other functions that made the afternoon an even more enjoyable one to those who came to it.

It was after Vid's joining to play a few songs with his band mates was the birthday cake prepared with candles set afire. A break ensued as the traditional “Happy Birthday” song was sung by the company to the celebrants. The candles were then extinguished by the honorees and the cake's slices were shared among the gathering. It was during this respite from the entertaining music were sentiments shared relating to the appreciation of friendships that were made possible by the birth of the individuals who we celebrating the occurrence. Along with the gentle and joyous words that were expressed, whose who partook of opportunities to explore their creative attributes in the visual arts shared their renderings with their friends.

The afternoon soon drew to a close after guitarist Patrick Cummings and singer Mary Mulligan shared their considerable talents with the gathering. A beauty filled the hearts of those who listened which was reflected in the thoughtful farewells that were shared between those leaving the venue at the event's conclusion. It was a great afternoon and proved to be well worth the braving of the weather conditions to the considerable number of friends who partook of it. You'll be able to view photographs taken during the event in The Birthday ART JAM of Saturday February 21st Gallery at You'll also be able to view photos taken at other events taking place at the venue in The Sherman Theater's Living Room 2015 Archive at as well as events featuring performances in The Performing Arts 2015 Archive at

In Addition to special events like The Birthday ART JAM, The Sherman Theater's Living Room in Stroudsburg, PA holds a weekly Open Mic Nite Series every Sunday Evening 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. The venue also houses an Art Gallery featuring the work of local artists. Their current exhibit features the work of Al Shivers and Patrick Cummings and will be on display until February 28th. The next exhibit will be designed to bring awareness to animal and human rights featuring the work of local artists, The Artists' Reception will be Saturday March 7th and the exhibit will be on display until March 31st. Please contact the gallery’s Directors and Curators, Keyaira and Drew Ozkenel, at 570-421-2808 for more information.

The Sherman Theater's 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, exhibitions, 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.

Photography by Paparazzi Paul.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

When Triskaidekaphobics Get Lucky

On Friday February 13th, a day that has brought a feeling of foreboding upon the superstitious since a financially irresponsible King Philip IV arrested, tortured, and killed The Knights Templar on Friday October 13th, 1307 because he owed them money along with the dreadful fear that another film featuring machetes and hockey masks will be made, The SOHO in the BURG in Stroudsburg, PA held an Artists’ Reception for their “Melange a Trios” (A Medley of Three) exhibition. The exhibition features the work of Jill Swersie, Andrei Protsouk, and Penny Ross who have each gained a humongous degree of respect throughout the local artistic community for their extraordinary talents. However, placing the work of these three artists side by side in the one local gallery that can do so in a complimentary fashion, magnifies the meaningful beauty of the each artist's work as their aesthetic essences combine to create a transcendence not only among the pieces presented but within those who were among the large gathering of art lovers who attended the reception fortunate enough to experience.

As one entered the grand hall of the gallery, the soul catching hues of Jill Swersie's images fills one's heart with recollections and recognitions that goes beyond the normal sense of memory. The images ranged from those depicting people in in various positions and stances to those capturing the inner beauty of the still life representations she captured on her canvas. Many of the depictions of people showed them engaging in ordinary enough activities and circumstances but the artist's eye and skill in discovering a mood to exemplify the subject she paints brings a deeper aspect to the lives seen by the viewer. In her still life work, Ms. Swersie's skill in revealing the soul of her subjects is even more apparent. When viewing these objects, an apple becomes more than an apple and a tree becomes more than a tree because we become more than what we are.

Jill Swersie has painted professionally for over three decades and has shown her work in galleries throughout New York City, New Jersey, and Northeast PA as well as sharing her love for painting with students she has instructed throughout the years. She was recently honored by the Borough Council and the Mayor of Stroudsburg, PA for her participation as a muralist in Project Street Art which involved placing murals at various locations throughout Stroudsburg and East Stroudsburg, PA to beautify the region. You can learn more about Jill Swersie by exploring her website at

As one roams around the gallery sharing gentle and substantive conversation with fellow art lovers, one comes across the work of Andrei Protsouk whose powerful images are defined by the striking lines found throughout his uniquely stylized depictions of the subjects he captures on his canvas. The dark shadowy hues that dominates much of his work contrasts with a master's deftness with the tints of gold and other colors that populate the painting. Their combination brings forth an overwhelming strength to each piece which often permeates the viewer filling him or her with a sense of invigoration enabling one to embark upon great adventures. However, it was Mr. Protsouk's sketched images on display that caught a great deal of attention among the gathering of art lovers who attended the reception. Even though the style he employed in these pieces were a departure from those many have become familiar with, the strength and power of the images were communicated on the same extraordinary level. Yet, the simplicity of dark lines drawn upon a white background added a dimension to the image that brought a deeper and more profound sense of reality to them. This proved to be a welcomed extension of Mr. Protsouk's considerable talents.

Andrei Protsouk was born in Donet’sk, Ukraine and has shown his skills as an artist at an early age. After finishing high school Mr. Protsouk was accepted into the Lugansk State School of Fine Art and then later into The Ilya Repin Leningrad Institute for Painting, Sculpture and Architecture in St. Petersburg, Russia which later became known as The Russian Academy of Arts to gain his Master's Degree. As the borders of the Soviet Union became more open during the 1990s, Mr. Protsouk immigrated to the U. S. and established himself in the Bixler Gallery in Stroudsburg, PA. He currently lives in Stroudsburg PA where he has his own studio and gallery. He has shown his work throughout the world in galleries located in Spain, Germany, England, Holland, Russia, New Zealand, Ukraine, and France as well as in the united States. You can learn more about Andrei Protsouk by exploring his Facebook Page at

As one further explored the gallery, one came across the work of Penny Ross whose impressionistic watercolors flowed like a Spring breeze throughout the venue creating a warming oasis in the cold meteorological climate that has become all too common recently to many who live in the Northeastern United States. The gentle hues depicted in scenes and floral landscapes led the viewer into their peaceful worlds where one can simply and idly relax from the ordinary cares found in the attention demanding modalities too prevalently found in a modern life. Ms. Ross' soothing brush strokes touches not only the canvas with their calmness but the heart as well.

Penny Ross began making pictures as a child. Ms. Ross received a scholarship to attend the Cincinnati Summer Art Academy’s Adult classes in watercolor and oil painting at the age of 14 where she discovered the joy of painting outdoors. She later enrolled into The University of Cincinnati where she received Bachelor of Fine Arts and a Bachelor of Science in Education degrees in the four years she attended. Her work has since appeared in a number of Juried Exhibition from which she had been honored with numerous awards. You can learn more about Penny Ross by exploring her Website at

In addition to the work created by the featured artists, the creative endeavors of local artists were on display throughout the gallery in a group exhibit titled, “Degrees of Abstraction.” The images varied in style and artistic approaches but their uniqueness wove a tapestry of wonder throughout the venue whose thread were later sown into the imagination of each person who explored their intricacies. The over all quality of the work is outstanding and entreats those who view them to delve deeper into their attributes to discover the unseen patterns they contain.

Along with the inspiring art The SOHO in the BURG is known for, the gallery is also famous for the culinary delights it presents during its Artists’ Receptions which are created by Chef G (aka Guarino Cortese). A delicious array of dishes were prepared and served by the chef and his staff bringing pleasure to every palate which enhanced the viewing of the art as well as the conversation it inspired. You can learn more about Chef G and his catering services by contacting him at

The overall show proved to be as pleasing to the senses as it was meaningful to the soul that connected to the work. This was not a difficult connection to make as the skill of the artists and the beauty found within each frame easily moved among the gathering bringing the profound gifts they contained to the hearts who eagerly opened them. The reception and the gallery that presented it was a wonderfully loving gift on an exceptionally Lucky Day. You'll find photographs taken during the Artists' Reception held at The SOHO in the BURG Gallery in Stroudsburg, PA on Friday February 13th in The February 13th 2015 Reception in The SOHO in the BURG Gallery Album at You'll also find photographs taken in various locations throughout The Stroudsburg Art District in Stroudsburg Art District 2015 Archive at and those in a wider variety of venues in The Creative Arts 2015 Archive at

The SOHO in the BURG Gallery is located on the corner of 6
th and Main Street in Stroudsburg, PA which was the location of the J. J. Newberry’s store. The gallery opened its doors to the public in April of 2012 and is owned by Andrea Robbins Rimberg who has become well known for her exuberant energies and creativity as many of her pieces are on display in prestigious galleries throughout the United States. The “Melange a Trios” exhibit will continue to be on display until March 30th. The next exhibition titled, “Springing in The Rain” will feature the work of Joe Mooney and Emilio Arostegui along with local artists in a cinema themed group exhibit. The Artists Reception is scheduled for Saturday April 4th and will be on display until the end of May.

In addition to the art exhibitions held at The SOHO in the BURG Gallery, the venue will host The Pocono Mountains Restaurant Week's final event on Monday March 23rd titled, “The Wine Down” beginning at 6pm. The gallery will also host The Forwardian Film Festival on May 2nd and 3rd featuring the cinematic endeavors of local filmmakers and actors. The Deadline for submissions of films to be considered for inclusion in the event is April 10th. Please contact The Forwardian Arts Society at for more information. In the meantime. you can learn more about The SOHO in the BURG Gallery, their future exhibits, and all the gallery has to offer the creative community by exploring their Facebook Page at

Photography by Paparazzi Paul.

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Uni-versified And Tertiary Dimensions in Art

On a chilly and brisk winter's day, East Stroudsburg University (ESU) of Pennsylvania held an Artists' Reception in their Madelon Powers Gallery which is located within the campus' Fine and Performing Arts Center for their exhibition titled, “5 in 3D: Five Artists Using 3D Printing” on Thursday February 5th. The exhibit features the works of Doug Bucci, Darlene Farris-LaBar, Bathsheba Grossman, Kacie Hultgren, and Sophie Kahn who utilized the digital technology of the modern age to explore both its scientific boundaries as well as those found in the human imagination. The modest sized venue was filled to near capacity as art lovers, friends, and students of some of the artists featured gathered to experience the intricacies of the work while sharing in the victuals the conversation the warm atmosphere of the exhibit inspired. The reception was followed by an Artist Talk given by Doug Bucci and Darlene Farris-LaBar in the building's Cecilia S. Cohen Recital Hall.

As I first entered the gallery, an intriguing sense of mystery touched my perceptions as my eye was met by the fragmented depictions of the human form created by Sophie Kahn. Her three dimensional work consisted of heads and torsos captured in molds and broken so the results of her work resembled a puzzle which invites the viewer to utilize their imaginations to create and place the missing pieces into their respective slots. However, the work can be simply admired by those who lack the inclination of puzzle solving for their abilities to communicate the undefined qualities of the human experience as explored through the fragmented and piecemeal appearance of Ms. Kahn's interpretations. In either case, the work allows one to flow through the spaces of each piece so one could endeavor to complete the spaces of not only the sculpture but of those populating their self awareness as well. Ms. Kahn's work has been exhibited in Japan, Europe, and in the US and she had done residencies in New York City, NY and Melbourne, Australia. You can learn more about Sophie Kahn and her work by visiting her website at

As my eyes wandered around the room, I was drawn to the work of Doug Bucci whose jewelry and other bodily adornments enticed my attentions. The most prominent of these were the necklaces that were on display within a curio cabinet. The coral like properties of the items coiled themselves around the inner thoughts of the viewer until the experience of becoming entwined with their intricate beauty enhances the perceptions of the individual. As learned later in the Artists' Talk he gave, these necklaces were inspired by human biology and this insight allows one to view them as not only resembling aquatic coral but also resembling the double helix found in the Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) of all living things. Although this comparison may be unique to my perceptions, it nonetheless inspired me to turn my thoughts toward the unifying similarities of all beings which furthered my admiration of the work. Mr. Bucci is a designer and educator in the field of jewelry utilizing the digital processes to explore and display biological systems while examining the effects disease has on the body. You can learn more about Mr. Bucci and his work by exploring his website at

It was after exploring Mr. Bucci's work did I feel a desire to move around the gallery so I could experience more of what the exihibit had to offer. My first stop was at the cabinet that housed the figurines created by Bathsheba Grossman. Their mathematically intrinsic designs moved one deeper into their interwoven properties until the tapestries of both the piece and the viewer intertwined to become one through their emergence. Ms. Grossman lives in Santa Cruz, CA and has been featured in art galleries around the world as well as having her work appear adorning several television series such as “Numb3rs” and “Heroes.” You can learn more about Bathsheba Grossman and her work by exploring her website at

Immediately next to the work of Bathsheba Grossman were pieces created by Kacie Hultgren. The miniscule furnishings she creates brought a smile to my lips as I was moved to explore the minut details each chair and lamp possessed. This exploration led me to an inner world where the manifestations of fantasies and dreams are made as possible as they are for a child whose been given a doll house where her imagination can occupy. Ms. Hultgren (aka PrettySmallThings) is a multidisciplinary designer who has created sets for live theatrical performances. She will be leading a 3D Printing and Design Workshop which will be open to ages 10 through adult at ESU on Sunday March 1st.. You can learn more about Kacie Hultgren, her work, and the workshop by contacting her at

It was after viewing the work of Ms. Hultgren did I ventured to the back of the gallery to view the pieces created by Darlene Farris-LaBar which are collectively titled, “The Interior World of Plants.” Each framed work detailed the essence of the flower that was represented in vibrant colors. The pieces captured the eye along with a sense of wonder as each viewer delved deeply into the recesses of the life giving and reproductive properties attributed to the plant depicted. As we peer into these recesses, we come to realize their vulnerability and the reflective properties of the glass each piece is contained in allows us to see our own images and therefore we capture a transparent glimpse of the vulnerabilities within ourselves. Ms. Farris-LaBar has shown her work world wide serving a diverse community that provides education and awareness about a changing culture and vulnerable environment. She presently shares her skill and creative insights with her students who attend her object design, sculpture, and graphic design classes at ESU. You can learn more Darlene Farris-LaBar and her work by exploring her website at

After some time spent wandering through the Madelon Powers Gallery and partaking all the work had to offer, an announcement was made that the Artists' Talk was about to begin in the Fine and Performing Arts Center's Cecilia S. Cohen Recital Hall. I then walked up the stairs and across the hall to enter the facility in order to find myself a seat. Ms. Farris-LaBar shared an appreciative welcome with the modest gathering and introduced Doug Bucci who spoke first.

The title of his talk was, “Thinking Organically in the Digital Age” in which he shared how many works of art were created from the individual artist's desire to explore and make sense of an infirmity he or she suffered from. Mr. Bucci further explained that his work is an exploration on how to transcend the human experience which include disease and physical infirmities in order to create a deeper understanding of them through an artistic approach utilizing the tools available in the present technological age. His talk also revealed the unique mechanics he utilizes in the construction of his pieces which helps in his endeavors to bring out something meaningful with the hope that others will find something meaningful embodied in them as well.

As Mr. Bucci concluded his remarks, Ms. Farris-LaBar took her place to share her words with the gathering. She revealed that her work explores issues relating to the environment and she constantly seeks ways to convey these issues through the depictions of nature found in her work. She also spoke on the effect art can have on people as they are drawn by its waters and become immersed by the solidarity found in the boarderless qualities of the liquid. This submersion allows the differences we have with the world, nature, and one another to dissolve and we begin to live a life full of the compassion and communal love we are meant to thrive in.

Unfortunately, I was unable to stay for the remainder of Ms. Farris-LaBar's talk. But, I could surmise the direction which her sharings were taking those who listened with their hearts as they brought a wonderful afternoon with the arts to an even more wonderful conclusion. You'll find more photographs taken during the Artists' Reception for the 5 in 3D: 3D Printing in Art and Design exhibition held on Thursday February 5th in The 5 in 3D Reception at ESU Gallery at You'll find photographs taken during this and other events occuring at East Stroudsburg University of PA throughout 2015 in the ESU 2015 Archive at as well as those event relating to art related events in The Creative Arts 2015 Archive at

The ESU exhibition titled, “5 in 3D: Five Artists Using 3D Printing” featuring the works of Doug Bucci, Darlene Farris-LaBar, Bathsheba Grossman, Kacie Hultgren, and Sophie Kahn will continue to be on display at The Madelon Powers Gallery which is located in The Fine and Performing Arts Building on the ESU Campus until March 6th. During my conversations I shared with a number of experienced and discerning artists, I encountered a degree of disappointment with the exhibit which included thoughts of the work being the “same ol same ol” and lacked a certain degree of maturity. Being a novice in the arts and not knowing the intricacies of creating work similar to that which was shown, I would have to concede the views of those I spoke to may contain some degree of validity. Yet, I still recommend seeing the exhibit to anyone who would venture up to ESU's Fine and Performing Arts Building in order to explore the work and form their own assessments. Please feel free to post them as a comment to this article.

The next exhibition scheduled to take place on the campus of East Stroudsburg University will be their Art Association All University Student Juried Art Exhibition with an Artists' Reception to be held on Thursday March 26th beginning at 4pm. The exhibit will continue to be on display in The Madelon Powers Gallery until April 16th. Please explore The Madelon Powers Gallery Facebook Page at for more information.

Photography by Paparazzi Paul