/> Cornelia Seckel Culturally Speaking Aug online 09
 

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Culturally Speaking

By CORNELIA SECKEL
ART TIMES Online August 2009

This online report covers a fair amount of “how I spent my summer” and what a full summer it was. An extensive Travel and Culture report covering a trip to Québec and Montreal will appear in September’s issue and be uploaded onto the website early in September. Raymond’s review of the exhibit at The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts appears online at www.arttimesjournal.com/art/reviews/Aug09_online_review/
Expanding_Horizons_MMFA.html

Joan Rudman and Thomas Valenti at Hudson Valley Art Association Exhibition
(L to R)Thomas Valenti, painter and teacher being introduced as the watercolor demonstrator by Joan Rudman, painter, teacher and outgoing Pressident of the Hudson Valley Arts Association at the 78th Annual Exhibition held at the Ridgewood Art Institute, Ridgewood, NJ

The opening reception of The Hudson Valley Art Association's 78th Annual Exhibition held at The Ridgewood Art Institute, Ridgewood, NJ was well attended and rather than having a special tribute to an artist, Thomas Valenti, President of Allied Artists of America, an excellent painter and teacher, gave a watercolor demonstration and Raymond J. Steiner was asked to do a book signing of his novel The Mountain. Joan Rudman has been President of this group since 2000 and before had become the Corresponding Secretary when she joined the board in1972. I have worked with Joan as she led this organization and I am glad she will have more time for her own painting and teaching, but sorry that the organization will not have her energy to proceed — surely someone will step into the role. The board will surely miss her tireless effort and I, our chats in-between doing business. Founded in 1928 by artists of the Hudson Valley Region in the studio of the late Jasper Cropsey (1823-1900), the organization has consistently held exhibits that showcased some of the finest work done by artists from across the country and over $10,000 in prizes have been given. This year’s Gold Medal for Watercolor went to Tim Saternow; the Pastel Gold Medal went to Diana DeSantis; and the Gold Medal in Oil to David Lussier. The ART TIMES Award went to Rolf Hellmich.

Nancy Maurice Rogers and Megan Whilden at the Lictenstein center for the arts in Pittsfield MA.
Megan Whilden , Director of Cultural Development for Pittsfield and Nancy Maurice Rogers of the Jewish Federation of the Berkshires, at the Lictenstein Center for the Arts in Pittsfield, MA

Early in July I was invited by Nancy Maurice Rogers, program director of the Jewish Federation of the Berkshires, to speak about the founding of ART TIMES, and I was pleased to do that as it also gave me an opportunity to visit Pittsfield and explore the Arts offerings (which are extensive). I’ve known Nancy (mostly a phone friendship) since she was the Director of the Wooster Arts Center some 15 years ago or so. The Berkshire group was interested in how we began and I do think it is an inspirational story (Nancy billed it as my “Creative Journey”) and a talk I would be happy to repeat to any interested groups. Just give me a call or email me at cs@arttimesjournal.com. After the talk we went to the Lichtenstein Center to meet Megan Whilden, the Director of Cultural Development for Pittsfield whom I have been receiving emails from and speaking with for years. The Lichtenstein Center for the Arts is a community arts center housed in a historic building (owned by the city and leased for very little to the Center) in downtown Pittsfield, MA. There are 3 floors housing gallery space for Art Shows and Performances as well as studio space for classes, workshops and individual artist studios. I understand that the gallery is also available to rent. The Center also serves as an incubator for people to give classes, produce dance & theater performances, and explore creative endeavors. We entered this delightful old building and passed through a reception desk and office space before reaching the large and well-lit gallery and performance area located at 28 Renne Avenue. www.pittsfield-ma.org. On their website is a calendar that includes their extensive programming of Arts & Cultural offerings in Pittsfield.           

Shear Madness albany Capital Repertory Theatre
(L to R) Michael Kevin Baldwin, Tim Goodwin, Mary Ann Conk and Brian Robinson in Capital Rep's production of 'Shear Madness', Photo by Joseph Schuyler.

It was another fun evening at Capital Repertory Theatre in Albany, NY when I went to see Shear Madness, a delightful “who done it” that has a different outcome each night. Perhaps that is why it is the longest-running non-musical play in American theatre history. The audience laughed and thoroughly enjoyed the show especially when taking part as eyewitnesses to the crime. The set, the interior of a beauty shop, was excellent; place names and locations in the script were changed to be specific to Albany; the third wall was often broken as actors made asides to the audience — often ad-libbing. There was so much dialogue left to chance with the audience comments and questions and actors did a fantastic job— true professionals although at times a totally unexpected line was given them and they had to work hard at not bursting into laughter. The production was directed by one of the original creators, Bruce Jordan who has overseen the productions of Shear Madness in many cities in the US and Europe. The play has universal appeal and I urge you to check with Capital Rep www.capitalrep.org for ticket availability as the run has been extended to September 20.

Gary Erbe at his exhibit at the Salmagundi club, NYC
Gary Erbe (R) speaking with a visitor to his 40 Year Retrospective Exhibitionexhibition at the Salmagundi Club, NYC

I was so glad to get to Gary Erbe’s 40 Year Retrospective Exhibition at the Salmagundi Club as the opening reception was at an impossible time for me to go to NYC. I had heard from the staff at the Salmagundi Club that the opening was a great success with a huge crowd in attendance. Organized by the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, Ohio, the show has over 60 paintings gathered from private and public collections. The show has been traveling since Dec. 2008 when it opened at the Albuquerque Museum, NM, then went to Youngstown to The Butler Institute before going to the Salmagundi Club in NYC. The last venue for the show, which will open on Sept 8, 2009, is the Boca Raton Museum of Art in Florida and close on November 8 just late enough in the Fall for the Snow Birds to get to in case they missed this excellent and important exhibit. There is a 100-page full color catalogue (listed in the Dec. 2008 ART TIMES Art Book Reviews) which is available at each venue and by contacting The Butler Institute of Fine Art and Gary Erbe www.garyerbe.com. It is a beautiful show with work from over the past 40 years and while I was there a steady flow of people came to see the show. Gary is a trompe l’oeil painter and told me that he loves the feeling of texture — its trueness is what captures him. Many of the paintings are quite large and a good number are themes: baseball, jazz, movies, fishing, golf, and medicine. With trompe l’oeil one wants to lift off an item from the canvas and the work of this fine painter certainly achieved that effect. Congratulations, Gary, on this milestone in your most celebrated career.

Ruth Obernbreit sent me a copy of The Westchester Review, the 3rd Volume of a literary journal on whose Editorial Board she serves. The brainchild of Founder and Publisher JoAnn Duncan Terdiman, the Review features poetry, short fiction and essays by Westchester County residents, an area that Terdiman felt had a large population of writers from which to draw. Since this is her third volume, with a roster of some forty authors (their inaugural 2007 issue featured forty-five), it is obvious that her idea has been a success. If local in talent, The Westchester Review is global in its content and well worth a look…if only to serve as inspiration for other Counties across the U.S. to emulate. Untapped talent and creative efforts are to be found everywhere so, like JoAnn Terdiman, ‘think globally and act locally’. Visit them at www.westchesterreview.com

Raymond dropped in to The Doghouse Gallery to see their group show featuring Alan McKnight, Bill McKnight, Natalie Turner and Peg Wright. He has long admired the draftsmanship of Alan McKnight who illustrated the cover of Raymond’s poetry book, Quarry Rubble — and didn’t want to miss the opportunity to see a larger body of his work. Although happy he did, it was Peg Wright’s watercolors that he thought stole the show. If you didn’t get a chance to see Wright’s works in this show (it runs thru Aug 2), keep an eye out for future showings — you’ll be glad you did.

Mary K. Redington and Jesse Baxter the founders of the company and at the wrap-up performance Dramatic adventure Theatre
(front L to R) Mary K. Redington and Jesse Baxter the founders of the organization at the 2009 wrap-up performance of Dramatic Adventure Theatre

Dramatic Adventure Theatre is an organization whose mission is: to provide the opportunity for artists to perform around the world, to explore the unknown and the familiar, and to become intimately involved with distant communities in order to build a platform where ideas, talent, and original works can be shared. This is done by engaging with local communities through service projects; learning traditional Andean Mask dances from a local master teacher; teaching basic acting, playwriting, and conversational English; and collaborating with the other participants to develop an original piece of theatre to share with audiences in the US — quite an ambitious agenda. I attended Action: Ecuador 2009 Showcase, "Hecho en Ecuador" with 6 different groups presenting their theatre piece, each one quite a different take on their experiences: why individuals chose to go to Ecuador; interaction with the indigenous people; a relating of one of their “stories”; what was learned; questioning whether help is really helpful; and how their daily lives changed. The actors, consisting of both students and professional actors, gathered funds and materials (art supplies, musical instruments, medical supplies, books, etc) from family and friends. I will let Mady Spiegel, one of the participants sum it all up “It was so interesting because what I've realized through this trip is that it's not just about helping and giving to these communities but it's about experiencing them in a way that most foreigners never get to.” Learn more about this group at www.dramaticadventure.com

(L to R) Courtney Balan, actress  Joe DiPietro, writer and Frank Vlastnik, actor
(L to R) Courtney Balan, actress Joe DiPietro, writer and Travis Taber, actor at Westchester Broadway Theatre's production of "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change"

Westchester Broadway Theatre is an excellent venue. I have seen productions both there and in NYC and prefer the intimacy of this venue. No parking costs, easily reached off of major highways, WBT consistently has high quality acting, innovative staging, excellent sound and there isn’t a bad seat in the house. I saw I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change — the story of love relationships from the teenage years to old age. I laughed, cried and was totally entertained. Both Joe DiPietro, writer of the book and lyrics, and Jimmy Roberts, writer of the music, were at the performance. I had a chance to talk with both of them to tell them how much I appreciated their work and how well their music and book enhanced each other. The music so supported and expressed the emotions that were happening in the story without calling attention to itself. The actors were excellent as they changed rolls twenty times throughout the show, each time presenting a different character (teenage girl, newlywed, mother, adult child, etc). When I spoke with some of the actors during the “after-show” party they expressed what a challenge it was and what fun they had doing the show. The next show is Beehive billed as —what Grease did for the 50’s, Beehive does for the 60’s. For more information: www.broadwaytheatre.com
            So that’s it for now. In September you will hear about so many other places and things I did. Send us your feedback on our new site and about any cultural events you’ve attended. Limit your feedback to 100 words and email to me at cs@arttimesjournal.com

See you out and about.