Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Awards of Collegiate Art

As the Spring season made its ways known to the Northeastern PA Region, The East Stroudsburg University (ESU) of Pennsylvania held an Artists' Reception on Thursday March 24th in their Madelon Powers Gallery which is located within the campus' Fine and Performing Arts Center. The Student Art Association Juried Exhibition featured the work of all ESU students who wish to explore their creative talents. A variety of stunning images and sculpted figures greeted the numerous art lovers who came to experience the work.

To say the work was incredible or to use any other adjective to describe their qualities would merely understate their wonderments. All one can say with a small degree of adequacy is the pieces presented contained a perfectly balanced amount of skilled abilities and the refreshing ignorance of art's refinements. The later attribute in this counterpoise allows the artist to freely explore his/her creativity without the inhibitions knowing the imposing academic boundaries can create. This also allows the viewer to relinquish the limitations they find defining their lives and perceptions so they can discover a new them.

The exhibit was a juried one and, according to the judges statements and the speculation prevalent among the gathering, choosing which pieces among the artists' contemporaries were worthy to be considered exceptional enough to receive an award was daunting to say the least. Yet, the judges, who were Jody Singer (Director of the Origins Gallery), Ashley Catherine Fontones (Assistant Director of the Origins Gallery), and Marty Carr (an artist who frequently shows her work and conducts workshops at the Origins Gallery) honed in all their skills and expertize to select the best of the best. A ceremony in which certificates were handed to the exceptional artists was preceded by some welcoming words given by Assistant Professor of the ESU Art and Design Department Jocelyn Kolb who serves as the ESU Art Association Faculty Advisor and Evelyn Barone who serves as the ESU Art Association President. The awards were then distributed by Mr. Singer and Ms. Fontones.

The awards recipients were Abigail Cruz who received the 3rd place award for her piece titled, “Royal Bird,” Brendan Reilly who received 2nd place for his piece titled, “Vertigo,” and Laila Andujar who received 1st place for her work titled, “Self Portrait.” The award for the best three dimensional work went to Kristina Turturiello (who serves as Vice President for the ESU Art Association) for her piece titled, “Science Fiction Automation.” The piece determined to be the Best In Show was titled, “Running” created by Morgan Weissbach who also received honorable mention for her work titled, “When Worlds Collide.” Mr. Singer and Ms. Fontones shared their thoughts about the exhibit with the gathering which encourage not only the artists who participated but everyone present to explore their creative essence and to view the world around them through the aesthetic eye of possibilities.

In addition to the work being presented in the main gallery, an exhibit of sketches were on display in the venue’s upstairs gallery. Although there wasn't any information on the exhibit, the work was very well done and is well deserving of a visit by those who venture to the gallery. You'll find more photographs take during the Artist's Reception in The Awards of Collegiate Art Gallery at

The ESU Art Association is collegiate club designed to create an opportunity for students to explore the myriad aspects of the visual arts with their peers. As with all such clubs, this is sometimes done with great degree of diligence while other times the approach contains the appropriate amount of silliness found when friends get together. In either case, the ESU Art Association provides students with a love for the arts to share the heart of one another. Its president is Evelyn Barone, its Vice President is Kristina Turturiello, its Secretary is Lauren Lawrence, and it’s Treasurer is Michael Schupp. Assistant Professor Jocelyn Kolb serves as their faculty advisor. You can learn more about the ESU Art Association from their Facebook Page at

As mentioned earlier, the judges for the exhibit were associated with the Origins Gallery. The Origins Gallery is located on the lower level of The Gamers Edge Comics and Games Store which can be found at 580 Main St. in Stroudsburg, PA. The Origins Gallery is a contemporary arts gallery within the Pocono Art District having one of the highest and fastest sales records in the Stroudsburg area, provides a space to those who teach the arts to those who would like to learn from them, and continues to do everything with the local community in mind. You can learn more about The Origins Gallery by exploring their Facebook Page at or their Website at

The Student Art Association Juried Exhibition will continue to be on display in The Madelon Powers Gallery at ESU until April 14
th. The next exhibition scheduled to take place in the gallery will be their Senior Seminar and Senior Portfolio Review with an Artists' Reception scheduled to be held on Thursday April 21st beginning at 4pm. The exhibit will continue to be on display in The Madelon Powers Gallery until May 4th. Please explore The Madelon Powers Gallery Facebook Page at for more information.

Photography by Paparazzi Paul.

Something Theatrical This Way Comes

Several months ago, the newly formed Pocono Mountains Theater Company introduced itself to the Monroe County, PA area. A great deal of excitement emanated from the local theatrical community as it's always a good thing to learn new perspectives and receive new opportunities to explore the arts. The joy felt when the company arrived in the area was accentuated on Monday March 21st as The Pocono Mountains Theater Company presented the first of three public readings to celebrate their Inaugural 2016 Season.

An air of anticipation filled the Smith McFarland Theater which is located within the Fine Arts Building on the Campus of East Stroudsburg University of PA as the modestly sized audience took their seats and excitedly chattered about the experience yet to come. This experience would be the public reading of the play titled, “Krapp, 39” written by Michael Laurence and performed by Chris Stack. It was during these conversations did the company's Artistic Director, Brian Long, stepped on stage to welcome the audience and introduced the play. He then made his exit and a darkness descended signaling the reading was about to begin.

Within the time frame of a few moments, Mr. Stack filled the theater with an energy that was felt by every person who was present. Something new was being added to the lexicon of theatre goers as each word was spoken and new understandings of the human condition were revealed during the stellar performance. Mr. Laurence's mastery of the written form was evident throughout the work as a distinctive rhythm was heard throughout the play that effected the flow of the monologue while deftly avoiding the sense that the words were “written.”

Krapp, 39” is about a 39 year old actor who is inspired by Samuel Beckett’s play titled, “Krapp’s Last Tape.” He endeavors to write a sequel to the work but is denied permission to do so from the Beckett Estate. This sets him off to mimic the main character in Beckett’s play which includes recording his thoughts on his own life so far while keeping a half eaten banana in his pocket.

The play is not only an homage to Samuel Beckett and his profound contributions to theater but to the theatrical arts themselves. A monitor upon the stage was used effectively in exploring the parallels between the Krapp, 39 character and Beckett's life. This gave the piece a layered cinematic quality that enabled the audience to submerge themselves deeper into its universal essence. It also revealed many of the intricacies found in theatre through the actor's monologue and voice messages heard throughout the presentation.

The conclusion of the play was momentarily met with a thoughtful silence as the audience took some time to digest the power of the piece. But, when they had finished doing so, an applause rang out that reflected their appreciation of being changed. This is what theatre is all about.

After the presentation, a number of individuals associated with The Pocono Mountains Theater Company along with their supporters held a meet and greet at the neighboring Strunky's Pub in East Stroudsburg, PA. The conversations that ensued were reflected by the participants' mutual love for theater, the admiration for the company, it's goals, and the quality of the production they experienced earlier that evening, and the flow of the libations that were delightfully consumed. It was a great way to bring a wonderful evening at the theater to an end.

The Pocono Mountains Theater Company's public reading of “Krapp, 39” was written by Michael Laurence and performed by Chris Stack It was stage managed by Robert McIntyre with Sarah T. Schwab serving as its Production Assistant. “Krapp, 39” was the first of three public readings of the company's Inaugural 2016 Season and was presented on Monday March 21st at the Smith McFarland Theater on the Campus of East Stroudsburg University. The play won Outstanding Show at the New York International Fringe Festival.

The second reading in their series took place on Saturday March 25th at the Smith McFarland Theater for the work titled, “The Hate Inside, or Second Fiddle” written by Maggie Bofill and directed by Shira-Lee Shalit. It was performed by Florencia Lozano, Matthew Saldivar, and Dawn McGee with musical interludes performed by Michael Panes. The third reading will take place on Saturday April 30th beginning at 7pm at the Smith McFarland Theater and is titled, “Until Death” by Sarah T. Schwab featuring performances by Karen Allen (Raiders of the Lost Ark, Animal House, and Starman) along with members of its additional cast which will be announced soon. The admission the reading is free.

According to their Website, The Pocono Mountains Theater Company seeks “to produce and develop diverse new works by American artists, both local and national; to cultivate and develop audiences to support the future patronage of American theater; and to provide a positive collaborative impact to the community, both culturally and financially.” They also seek to provide residencies for local theater producers and artists while maintaining “a diverse new works and artist development platform for national and local artists.” You can learn more about The Pocono Mountains Theater Company, about what they offer to the community, and view images and video clips of their endeavors by exploring their Facebook Page at or their Website at

Photograph provided by The Pocono Mountains Theater Company.

A Memmelable Open Mic

A gentle day touched the Main Street of Stroudsburg, PA on Sunday March 20th, as the aura of the town's annual St. Patrick's Day Parade lingered among its residents. It was in this backdrop that The Sherman Theater's Living Room held another installment of their weekly Open Mic Nite Series. Along with the myriad of talent that the venue is known for sharing with the community, the evening featured Guitarist Tony Memmel who is also known for his work helping the handicapped.

After the ceremonial signing in procedure took place, the event's co-host, Theresa Ratliff, took the stage to welcome those who were present and shared some announcements. She then proceeded to introduce the first performer who was a crowd favorite. Brad took the stage and shared his love for the art of dance while accompanied by some gentle popular compositions. He was followed by Comedian Chris Jones who shared his insights on picking birth names, Nike Tattoos, the non word “Stupider,” the aromatic effects of Coconut Shampoo, and other life changing topics.

Mr. Jones was followed by the duet known as Woodrow who consists of Theresa Ratliff on Vocals and Brian Bramkamp on Guitar. They began their set with a little known song from Pink Floyd titled, “Nobody Home” which is found on their quintessential 1979 album, “The Wall.” The duo later performed a number of songs until the last notes they shared echoed among the large gathering and their time on stage had expired. They were followed by a newcomer to the venue known as Jessica who shared her experiences of being pregnant at 39 which included being relieved not finding a fetus after whipping and her exploring a number of popular songs that are creepier then generally perceived. Jessica was followed by Jio Cookie Eater who shared a number of heart touching poems and songs while Satilia Rose (aka Tilly) (who alternatively co-hosted throughout the evening with Ms. Ratliff) lent her supportive presence on stage. It was after this performance did a break ensue so the featured performer could ready himself for the gathering.

Guitarist Tony Memmel took the stage and proceeded to gently strike the strings of his instrument along with the chords found within the souls of all who heard him. This entreated a smile to come to the lips of all as the each song taught the lessons already written upon the heart. The set also included a special song Mr. Memmel has written for the Lucky Fin Project which endeavors to help children with Symbrachydactyly or an upper limb difference to realize how capable and wonderfully made they are. Mr. Memmel's performance of the song encouraged the audience to sing along which proved to be a lot of fun.

Tony Memmel is from Nashville, TN and was born missing his left forearm. As he grew, he taught himself how to play the guitar by affixing a guitar pick to his arm with Gorilla Tape. To encourage others, he agreed to serve as an Ambassador for the Lucky Fin Project. Mr. Memmel has received numerous accolades for his songwriting skills including the 2013 WAMI Award for Singer-Songwriter of the year. He has recently released a new CD titled, “We’ll Be On The Radio” which can be ordered through i Tunes. You'll be able to learn more about Tony Memmel, his music, and his tour schedule by exploring his Facebook Page at or his Website at

After the performance, the customary raffle took place in which Mr. Memmel and the event's co-host, Theresa Ratliff, selected the winning ticket which would entitle the winner to enjoy a meal at a local Red Robin Restaurant. This was followed by a performance art piece presented by the extremely popular known as Pay with your Eyes which consisted of Satilia Rose (aka Tilly) on baby piano and Anthony DeRobertis (aka Frenesi Gates) adorning a toilet seat necklace. Music and poetry spewed forth from the duet which enticed those with party accessories to put them to good use. They were followed by guitarist Chris “Cee-Rock” Roberts who returned to the venue after a long absence and whose performance brought back many welcomed memories along with new songs that created even more.

Chris “Cee-Rock” Roberts was followed by a duet known as Dave (on guitar) and Bri (on vocals) who mesmerized the gathering through the first notes that were played and the first utterances sung through a powerful voice. They were followed by Poet Crazy Mike who shared some mind expanding words while being joined by Chris “Cee-Rock” Roberts who enhanced each verse form through the magic of his guitar. They were followed by John who sang A Capella renditions of compositions from the musical, “Les Misérables” which is based on the novel written by Victor Hugo and shared his collection of voices from the 2003 computer animated film titled “Finding Nemo” which was produced by Pixar Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures.

John was followed by a duet consisting the long time no see COG on Guitar and Brad who provided vocals. Together, their renderings of a variety of songs touched to audience with their simplistic delivery and the substance embodied in each composition. These songs included a piece titled, “Can't Help Falling in Love” written by Hugo Peretti, Luigi Creatore, and George David Weiss. It's melody was based on “Plaisir d'amour” which is a classical French love song written by Jean Paul Egide Martini (1741 – 1816). The song was originally sung by Elvis Presley (1935 - 1977) in his 1961 film titled, “Blue Hawaii.”

The duet was followed by comedian Russell Austin who was featured during the previous week's Open Mic Nite and shared some new material that was as hilarious as that experienced then. He was followed by guitarist Michelle Leanna Zbinden whose rendition of “I Want to Hold Your Hand” which was written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney from the 1963 album titled, “Meet The Beatles” added a layered substance to the song through her slowed tempo of it. She was followed by Wilbium who enticed the gathering to dance while he mesmerized them through his psychotropic melding of the subconscious music he played. It was as Wilbium's set ended did Ms. Ratliff come on stage to share her closing words of appreciation and adieus with the crowd while inviting them back for the next Open Mic Nite which would occur after the Easter Holiday.

The next Open Mic Nite is scheduled to take place on Sunday April 3rd beginning at 7pm with sign ins beginning at 6:30pm. The featured performer for the evening will be DIGISAURUS. Musicians, poets, writers, and anyone who would like to share something with a receptive audience are welcomed to do so. In the meantime, you'll be able to view the photographs we took during the Sunday March 20th event in The A Memmelable Open Mic Gallery at

The Sherman Theater’s Living Room is located at 522 Main Street in Stroudsburg, PA. You'll be able to view additional photographs taken during installments of their Open Mic Nites Series by their staff along with videos taken of interviews with the featured artists and the performances of some who attended the event on their Facebook Page. In addition to their Open Mic Nites Series, the venue also holds a number of concerts and special events. Please Explore The Sherman Theater’s Living Room Facebook Page at, The Sherman Theater's Website at, or call 570-421-2808 for more information.

Photography by Paparazzi Paul.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The 37th Year of Holy Weeks

The Pocono Mountain Community Chorus of Churches presented their 37th Annual Holy Week Concert Series at a number of Christian Churches throughout the area. The Chorus is comprised of approximately 61 singers representing 32 different churches of all Christian denominations established in the Monroe County, PA and surrounding areas (including New Jersey). Together, they joined to honor a week in which many of those practicing the Christian religion consider to be of paramount importance to their faith. The Choir was led by Jack Hamblin who was accompanied by Gary Raish on Organ and Judy Munoz on Piano.

There were three concerts in the series. The first was held at The Reeders, PA United Methodist Church on Sunday March 20th, the second was held at The Cherry Lane United Methodist Church in East Stroudsburg, PA on Tuesday March 22nd, and the third was held at The Christ Episcopal Church in Stroudsburg, PA on Wednesday March 23rd. I was able to attend the concerts on March 20th and 23rd. Although the programs were similar, each presentation had its own distinctive flavor which was enhanced by the atmosphere of the church they performed in.

The concerts began with the choir and the huge gathering of believers joining together in the singing of the hymn titled, “Holy, Holy, Holy.” The conclusion of the hymn led Mr. Hamblin to stand before the gathering in order to share his welcoming words along information about the choir and its endeavors. This was followed by welcoming sentiments shared by the churches along with a responsive reading relating to the day of week. It was after these greetings did the choral performance begin.

The program presented a variety of musical styles which were joyously sung in well blended harmonies by the loving voices of the choir membership. It all began with the composition titled, “O The Boundless Love of God” by Diana Mengel and concluded with “His Robes For Mine” by Chris Anderson and Greg Habegger as arranged by Dan Forrest. The performances included performances by Solo Oboist Adriana Howden for “Gethsemane Prayer” which was adapted from the Piano Concerto # 2 composed by Sergei Rachmaninoff with words added by Patricia Mock and arranged by Faye Lopez, an instrumental piece presented during the offering by Gary Raish on Organ and Bob Riday on Piano (on Sunday March 20th), an Organ Solo presented by Thomas Busteed (on Wednesday March 23rd), Solo Vocalists Sue Hamblin (on Sunday March 20th) and Nancy Joy Kotch (on Wednesday March 23rd), and The Tenor - Bass Choir who performed “Saints Bound For Heaven” by William Walker and J. King as arranged by Alice parker and Robert Shaw.

As the final echoes of the choir and its soloist fell upon the sanctuary and its denizens, parting words filled with appreciation were shared Mr. Hamblin and by the church. This was followed by a benediction and the playing of the Postlude which was the “Hallelujah” chorus from the oratorio titled, “Messiah” composed by George Frideric Handel in 1741. The piece was performed by Gary Raish and Thomas D. Busteed on Organ along with Bob Riday and Judy Munoz on Piano. The four handed presentation of the work led to a rousing finale to the afternoon. This proved to have an enlivening effect on the audience which was evident in their conversations as they left the church to prepare themselves for the remainder of holy week. You’ll find more photographs taken during the concerts in The 37th Year of Holy Weeks Gallery at

To many who embrace the Christian Faith, the week corresponding with the Hebrew Holiday of Passover contains events in which an individual known as, “Joshua, son of Joseph” (aka Jesus The Messiah or Christ) partook of toward the end of his life in c. 33 C. E. (Common Era). These include holidays known as Palm Sunday in which he reportedly rode upon a donkey into the city of Jerusalem which was located in the Roman province of Judea, Maundy Thursday in which he held his final meal celebrating the Passover holiday with his disciples, Good Friday upon which he was executed by crucifixion after being found guilty for sedition, and Easter Sunday in which some claim he was reanimated (resurrected) after his death and resumed his role as a leader to his disciples until his “ascension into the Heavens” echoing an act believed to had been performed by the Hebrew Profit Elijah several centuries earlier.

The Pocono Mountain Community Chorus of Churches hold a series of concerts Annually in commemoration of Holy week and the events which took place during it. Members of the community are invited to lend their voices and participate in their 38
th Annual Concert Series with rehearsals beginning early in 2017. Membership in the choir is free and open to all singers who enjoy sacred music associated with the Christian faith regardless of their level of musical experience. The Chorus rehearses for six Sunday afternoons before and during The Christian Church's season known as Lent. To learn more about this year’s series, how to participate in next year’s series, or The Pocono Mountain Community Chorus of Churches in general, please Contact its director, Jack Hamblin, at 570-839-9464 or for more information. 
Photography by Paparazzi Paul.