An Evening with the Arts


Director of Kent County Arts Council, John Schratwieser, with student artist at the Saturday evening gala.

The Kent County Arts community turned out in force for a gala auction to support the installation of a mural at Kent County High School. Held Saturday, Feb. 24, at the Sultana Center in Chestertown, the affair raised $7500 for the project – as well as giving attendees a good look at the amazing width and depth of artistic talent on tap in Kent County schools.

Sponsored by the John Ben Snow Memorial Trust, Arts in Motion, the Kent County Arts Council, and the Carla Massoni Gallery, the affair drew roughly 100 attendees. Art by students and community members – including Tom McHugh, coordinator of Arts in Motion – was available for bidders in the silent auction. Another half-dozen items were reserved for a live auction later in the evening. In addition to the visual arts, live music was provided by Kent County Middle School and Kent County High School students, by Karen and Leon Frison, and by Sombarkin. And for the taste buds, a sumptuous buffet including fresh oysters, a variety of veggies and sweets was available, along with an open bar.

Model of the ship Sultana surrounded by delicious nibbles

John Schratwieser, director of the Kent County Arts Council, acted as master of ceremonies. He thanked the sponsors, and recognized Tom McHugh, who took on the role of Arts Coordinator for Kent County in 2016. “Every county in Maryland has one, but ours is the best,” Schratwieser said. The position includes fundraising for supplies, student trips, and supporting the arts faculty of the public school system.

Stephanie Spencer of the Kent County High School arts faculty described the community mosaic mural the gala was raising funds for. The school has received some funding from the state of Maryland, And mural artist Sue Stockman of St. Michaels has signed on to help design the mural, which will include images created by students to reflect “the beauty of the community.” Spencer also recognized Noele Morris, a visual arts teacher at KCHS who is a candidate for Kent County Teacher of the Year.

Chester River Collaborative Map Print by Kent County High School students brought the highest bid in the live auction.

The gala also recognized several Kent County Arts “Graduates of Distinction.” Honorees were Anne Massoni, currently professor of photography at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia; Robbi Behr, who with her husband Matthew Swanson is the creative force behind a series of illustrated books; Kyle Hackett, an award-winning painter who lectures on art at American University in Washington; and the members of the a capella trio barkin: Karen Somerville, Lester Barrett Jr, and Jerome McKinney, who performed two numbers for the audience.

Art works by elementary school students were also on display.  One especially clever work of “recycled art” was Trash Guy: A Coastal Cleanup Sculpture created by Henry Martinez, Teo O’Brien, Aryan Sharma, and Tayvion Wilson.  The accomanying sign for Trash Guy read “Our sculpture was made from material we found at the Coastal Cleanup. We came up with an idea and glued it together. It’s a man on a skateboard.  We painted the wood to look like a skateboard with a lightning strike and used cans as the wheels.”

“Over and Under” the Chesapeake Bay  

Trash Guy 











Following a duet, “Through the Storm,” with Leon Frison on flugelhorn and his wife Karen on vocal, Chris Cerino took over for the live auction, giving a lively performance that brought smiles – and enthusiastic bids – from the attendees.

Six items were auctioned off, five of them by student artists representing each of the schools in the county. A large collage by four Kent County High School students drawing on images inspired by a visit to the Sultana Center was the top draw, selling to school board president Trish McGee. The artists were all present, walking the piece around for the audience to admire and to give prospective bidders a close up look. The next highest bid, at $650, was for a fishing charter for a party of 10 on the Chesapeake Bay with captain Greg Jetton on his beautiful boat Blind Faith.

Art Graduate of Distinction, Karen Somverville, with Tom McHugh, director of Arts in Motion

Art Graduate of Distinction Kyle Hackett (center) KCHS class of 2007 with his  former KCHS art teacher, Stephanie Spencer (left) and his mother, Diana Hackett (right)


All told, the live auction garnered $2,390 for the cause. That along with ticket sales, donations, and the silent auction brought the total to around $7,500 for the schools arts program.  A program–that as this evening proved–is inspiring wonderful young artists in Kent County.

We let the art speak for itself in the photo gallery below.  The mural project will be completed this spring.  Look for pictures of it in the Spy soon!

Photo Gallery:  Art work and music by students in Kent County Public Schools. Photography by Jane Jewell and Peter Heck. 

“Over and Under” – a collaborative work by 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students, depicts various life-forms that live both above and below the water in and around the Chesapeake Bay.









“Weaving Wonder” by 5th grade students at HH Garnet Elementary School using eight different watercolor techniques on individual strips which were then woven together.

Kent County Music teachers Keith Wharton and Charles Thai. Their students performed at the Saturday evening gala.

KCHS Concert Band members





Letters to Editor

  1. jenifer endicott emley says:

    Kent County kids are the B E S T!

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