Downrigging: 2nd Annual Chester River Challenge 5K and Half Marathon November 2


The Chester River Association and the Sultana Education Foundation will be hosting the second annual Chester River Challenge 5k and Half Marathon as part of Sultana’s Downrigging Weekend Tall Ship & Wooden Boat Festival. Both the 5k and Half Marathon will begin at 8:00am on Sunday, November 2 at Wilmer Park in Chestertown. Race fees are $20 for the 5k and $50 for the Half Marathon for participants registering before October 26. Participants receive food and refreshments at the finish line as well as a free tech shirt.

More than 300 runners participated in the first ever Chester River Challenge in 2013 drawn by the opportunity to compete on a riverside racecourse with an incredible view of the visiting Downrigging Weekend Tall Ship Fleet. Proceeds from this year’s Chester River Challenge will benefit the Chester River Association and the Sultana Education Foundation.  Runners can register online by visiting or

About Downrigging Weekend: Now in its fourteenth year, Sultana Downrigging Weekend is one of the largest annual Tall Ship and wooden boat festivals on the East Coast. Originally established to mark the end of the schooner SULTANA’s sailing season, Sultana Downrigging Weekend has grown to become a celebration of maritime culture, wooden boats, and everything else that makes the Chesapeake Bay great.


RiverArts Clay Studio Grand Opening, and More


Grand Opening

Chestertown RiverArts’ new Clay Studio is up, running and waiting for you to visit. Help us celebrate the Grand Opening on Saturday, November 15, from 5 until 7 p.m. at 204 High Street in Chestertown. We’ll have refreshments and show you around our beautiful new space!

New Classes

Two new classes have been added to our November schedule. Karen Douglas is leading a four-week workshop in Hand-building. Karen has been fascinated with clay since her teen years. After college, she studied with two internationally-known potters who insisted she start with handbuilding. Karen’s taught classes to adults and children and helped organize shows. Let her share her love of clay with you. Classes start November 3. Read more and register online.

Talavera Pottery, a decorative pottery tradition found primarily in Italy, the Iberian peninsula, and Mexico, will be the subject of a four-week class led by master ceramicist, Fredy Granillo. Students will strengthen their pottery decorating skills and develop their own Talavera-inspired designs. Classes start November 11. Read more and register online.

Open Studio Monitors Needed

Jessica Coner, our Clay Studio manager, has issued a call for Open Studio Monitors. Those who have taken any of our clay studio classes know how important it is to have easy access to the studio to complete their work. We’ve already made the trip to the studio easier, now it’s time to make sure it’s available to our students as much as we can. Please read Jessica’s Call for Monitors and sign up. It’s a great deal.

Author Laura van den Berg to Speak at “In Celebration of Books” at Gunston


van den bergOn Friday, October 31, acclaimed author Laura van den Berg will be the visiting writer at The Gunston School’s annual In Celebration of Books event. She will be giving a keynote address on literary craft at 9 a.m. in the Field House and will also be reading from her work. The craft talk and reading are open to the public.

The Isle of Youth, van den Berg’s second short story collection, was selected as The Gunston School’s community read last summer. It recently won the Rosenthal Family Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts & Letters and was named a “Best Book of 2013″ by over a dozen venues, including NPR, The Boston Globe, and O, The Oprah Magazine. Her collection was also shortlisted for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award, as was her first collection of short stories,

What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us, which was also a Barnes & Noble “Discover Great New Writers” selection.

van den Berg will be visiting with Gunston’s English classes throughout the day and plans to meet with the staff of Effectrix, the school’s literary magazine, for an informal question and answer session.

The recipient of an O. Henry Award and a Pushcart Prize, her work has been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories, The Best American Mystery Stories, and The Best American Nonrequired Reading. Her first novel, Find Me, will be published in February 2015.

Save the Date for the 44th Annual Waterfowl Festival: An Eastern Shore Tradition


The Waterfowl Festival returns to historic Easton, Md. for its 44th year on November 14 -16, 2014. More than 18,000 visitors are expected to experience a time-honored Eastern Shore tradition that pays homage to the annual migration of ducks and geese through the Atlantic Flyway and supports wildlife and habitat conservation throughout the region. The Festival kicks off with Opening Ceremonies and the Premiere Night Party on Thursday, November 13th and then opens to general admission guests on Friday, November 14th.

WaterfowlFestival3“Like all traditions, the Festival continues to evolve and change, but we are still as committed to celebrating and conserving our Eastern Shore heritage as our founders were in 1971,” said Albert Pritchett, Waterfowl Festival Board President. “We are looking forward to another great year.”

This year, the Festival is returning to its classic Premiere Night Celebration, letting the art take center stage. Premiere Night guests have the opportunity to enjoy a traveling cocktail party at each of the Festival’s downtown art galleries. For the first time in its history, the Festival will be combining paintings and sculpture in the new Art at the Armory, Art at the Avalon and Art at the Pavilion galleries.

Also new this year is 2014 Waterfowl Festival Featured Artist, sculptor Ken Newman, and his signature bronze, Confluence of Blue, which was inspired by the community spirit of the Waterfowl Festival. The original piece, along with other work by Newman will be on display in the Art at the Pavilion gallery on Harrison Street.

The Craft Brew Pub at the Easton Elks Lodge returns this year offering local and national craft beer tastings and traditional Chesapeake fare, as well as the ever-popular Wine Pavilion on Harrison Street.

Perennial favorites will also return including the popular Dock Dogs® Competition at Easton Middle School, the Retriever Demonstrations at the Bay Street Ponds, and the Sportsman’s Pavilion at the Easton Elks Lodge. For a complete schedule of events and details about all the events and exhibits, festival visitors are encouraged to visit

Over the past 44 years, the Waterfowl Festival has raised nearly $6 million for the creation, restoration and conservation of waterfowl and their habitat throughout the Chesapeake Bay Watershed and the Atlantic Flyway.

Waterfowl Festival Inc., a partner of Waterfowl Chesapeake Inc., is dedicated to wildlife conservation, the promotion of wildlife art, and the celebration of life on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The 44th Festival will be held November 14-16, 2014 in historic Easton, Md. General admission tickets are $15 for all three days and Premiere Night packages are also available. For more information, to volunteer, or donate, visit or call 410-822-4567.

“Raw Nerves” Exhibit at Kohl Gallery Explores Racial Injustice in America


Baltimore based Jeffrey Kent and New York artist Warren Lyon share the Kohl Gallery with an exhibit exploring race and inequality through their two different aesthetic approaches.

Entitled “Raw Nerves: Homage and Provocation,” the exhibit is a powerful shared narrative about the African-American experience in America.

The two artists don’t hold punches when it comes to social inequality and racism, rather they come off as powerfully charged invitations—artistic dares— for dialogue. Their art transcends the easy formulations and expositions of anger while exploring a sense of shared suffering over injustice that moves toward the more spiritual than divisive.

Interim Director Alex Castro and the Kohl Gallery at Washington College have again raised the bar on the subject of how art can be an integral part of our daily life, how it can challenge us, how it can change us individually and as a community.

This exhibit shouldn’t be missed.

“Raw Nerves: Homage and Provocation” will continue through December 5. The Kohl Gallery is located in the Gibson Center for the Arts on the College campus, 300 Washington Avenue. It is open Wednesday through Sunday, 1:00 to 6:00 p.m. (closed Monday and Tuesday and Thanksgiving).


 The two videos are of Jeffrey Kent and Warren Lyons.

Review: Jeffrey Kent and Warren Lyons at the Kohl by Mary McCoy


A century and a half after the Civil War and almost fifty years after the Selma to Montgomery Civil Rights Marches, issues of race still chafe at the American soul. With candor and exhilarating compassion, “Raw Nerves: Homage and Provocation,” on view through December 5 at Washington College’s Kohl Gallery, probes into the ongoing process of healing those wounds.

Warren Lyons, “Harriet Tubman – Moses,” 72 x 48 inches, oil and mixed media on canvas

The show presents the work of two African-American artists, Jeffrey Kent of Baltimore and Warren Lyons who lives and works on Staten Island. It’s a stimulating juxtaposition. Kent, the younger of the two, creates mixed media paintings and sculptures full of color, activity and iconic images from the slave era to present. Lyons’s work is far more introspective and meditative. A sampling of six towering portraits from a larger suite begun more than 30 years ago, his paintings are complex studies that look deep into the souls of prominent African- American leaders from Sojourner Truth to John Coltrane.

Kent’s work has the look of protest art but is far more subtle and complex. Strikingly raw and visceral, it abounds with interconnected references to African-American history and sets the stage for an examination of the state of present-day civil rights issues. Much of his concern lies in how quickly the ideals and impetus behind civil rights have faded. It’s a message urging self-reflection that he teasingly underscores by reversing the lettering in some of his paintings so that it only reads clearly when seen in a mirror.

Blackface minstrels and slaves bearing bales of cotton inhabit his bold, cartoonish paintings along with collaged magazine photos of Civil Rights marchers, some of whom wear rose-tinted glasses. His sculptures are made with found objects gathered for their biting significance. In a reference to “whites only” facilities, he sheathed a vintage water fountain in gilt. To procure the cotton actually picked by slaves that appears in several of his works, he hunted down a set of 19th-century chairs upholstered with cotton.

Disturbed by the support given by African-American church groups to California’s ill- fated Proposition 8

Jeffrey Kent, “Can't Touch This,” 48 x 14.5 x 14.5 inches, 1959 Sunroc water fountain, gold  leaf, Ball Mason jar

Jeffrey Kent, “Can’t Touch This,” 48 x 14.5 x 14.5 inches, 1959 Sunroc water fountain, gold
leaf, Ball Mason jar

banning same-sex marriage, Kent created a series of works in which haloed but blindfolded activists holding Prop 8 placards are shown as blackface buffoons, surrounded by clumps of actual slave-picked cotton. Behind them looms a broad-shouldered black man hefting a bale of cotton, an ancestor whose presence begs the question: who better should know about restricted civil rights than African-Americans?

Lyons’s portraits seem quiet and simple by comparison, but this impression evaporates as you look closer. Painting slowly and deliberately in stark black and white, he builds layer upon layer until you can see whole worlds within each face. He may spend several years on a portrait, working from several different photographs and reading biographical materials extensively to learn as much as he can about all aspects of each person’s work and personality. -century chairs upholstered with cotton.

In a sense, he is building on an art historical premise, that of Cezanne and the Cubists who painted objects and scenes from many angles simultaneously. His portrait, “John Coltrane – The Wise One” presents this seminal musician with eyes closed and mouth pursed almost as if he’s playing an introspective tune on an invisible saxophone. His face shimmers and shifts as curving facets reveal pain, patience, compassion, and even what seem to be passages of music itself. Repeating forms at Coltrane’s ear appear like reverberations, while just above his temple are forms that look almost like human figures, one of them perhaps reaching out to beat a drum.

Lyons has lived parallel lives as an artist and a clinical social worker and educator working with troubled families. He likens his painting method to the psychological process of exploring deeper and deeper layers of the human mind. Just as understanding is gained through examination of influences going back not just to childhood, but through multiple generations, his paintings trace the impact of centuries of cultural factors on these prominent African-Americans.

Jeffrey Kent, “From That to This,” 41.5 x 40 inches, acrylic, collage and slave-picked cotton  on canvas

Jeffrey Kent, “From That to This,” 41.5 x 40 inches, acrylic, collage and slave-picked cotton
on canvas

In “Harriet Tubman – Moses,” the fluid lines that define the shadowy contours of her face swirl away above her head into a kind of abstract landscape, perhaps the trails and rivers escaping slaves followed as they journeyed north in search of freedom. The guiding light of their night journeys, the moon, appears above her shoulder, full of unidentifiable textured shapes, like the contours of the unknown future. Hovering in front of her heart is an egg, a universal symbol of potential and new beginnings, while above it is a single drop of red.

This bright red appears as sudden, small details in each of Lyons’s portraits. Singing out against the strongly modeled black and white paint, an arc of red may peek over the curve of a brow or the nape of a neck. Often indicative of danger or anger, in Lyons’s paintings, it reads instead as an enlivening presence shared from one painting to the next, just as human beings share the same red blood regardless of skin color.

Strikingly empathetic and deeply moving, the faces Lyons paints are compressed landscapes of emotion, experience, history and insight. In these people’s eyes, the inner wisdom born of courageous searching for fairness and truth is patently evident. This is precisely the kind of searching that Kent’s work calls for. Despite their different approaches, the work of both artists is clearly focused on the challenge we each face to investigate, rather than repress, our mostly deeply held feelings about race, sexuality and all forms of social division, for only compassionate understanding can heal the wounds afflicting our society.


The Art of Stewardship: A Town-Wide Collaboration


Chestertown RiverArts takes caring for our planet and our natural resources seriously. In collaboration with other like-minded organizations, RiverArts hopes to increase our community’s understanding of the issues, to create inspirational experiences, and to promote the design of personal and collective stewardship actions.

Earth Stewardship Days Schedule of Events

The Art of Stewardship Exhibition will kick off the celebration of stewardship on November 6-7 at the RiverArts Gallery, 315 High Street, Suite 106. Seventy-four artworks were juried into this wide-ranging collection depicting each artist’s expression of Stewardship. Marcy Ramsey, an acclaimed painter and president of the Chester River Association, was the curator and juror of the show.

On Thursday, November 6, RiverArts will host the artists at a Preview Reception and Awards Ceremony. Greg Mort, an internationally renowned artist whose Stewardship series of paintings have been exhibited to much acclaim and Rebecca Hoffberger, founder and director of the American Visionary Art Museum, exhibition judges, will be on hand to present awards, which include a two-person show for two Best in Show prize-winners, thanks to the generosity of Carla Massoni, and 2nd and 3rd place winners. Greg and Rebecca will also speak about the intersection of art and activism in the movement to raise awareness about the importance of caring for the Earth. A cash bar and hors d’oeuvres will be served. A silent auction to benefit the Chester River Association is also planned. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door. To make reservations you may call 410-778-6300, email or go to To learn more about The Art of Stewardship Project go to or

The exhibition is a central part of a four-day event focusing on the critical role of the artist as steward of our planet and our natural resources. The show will be open to the public on First Friday, November 7, 5-8pm and run through Saturday, November 29. Gallery hours are Monday-Friday, 11-4 and Saturday 10-4.

Also open on First Friday is an exhibit of African American Watermen painted by Marc Castelli. The history of people working on the Chesapeake Bay includes many examples of Black watermen taking to the water during oyster, clamming, crabbing and fishing seasons. Chesapeake Bay work also involved African Americans working as laborers, longshoremen and seafood, vegetable and fruit packers. Working as oyster tongers, and serving as dredge crews on skipjacks, deadrises and other Bay boats was productive work and in some cases, African Americans piloted schooners and bugeyes up and down the Bay hauling seafood, farm supplies and produce to distant markets.

Over the past decade, Dr. Mel Rapelyea has been collecting the Marc Castelli paintings of these Black watermen as Castelli included this subject in his vast documentation of workers on the Chesapeake Bay waters. Dr. Rapelyea’s collection will be on exhibit at the Charles Sumner Post #25, Grand Army of the Republic, 206 South Queen Street for two weekends, October 31-November 2 and November 7-9. The exhibit is sponsored by Dr. Rapelyea, Marc Castelli, and the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum.

On Saturday, November 8, there will be a Sandbox Event: John Ruppert’s Phragmites Thatching Sculpture. Join John Ruppert to create a phragmites sculpture from a lovely, natural material that is in reality an invasive species in our area. Learn about the ecological impact of phragmites while also reflecting on how something deemed beneficial in part of the world has become detrimental in another. The venue for the event, scheduled to begin at 10 am, will take place in the open field between the Hynson Pavilion and the Armory.

On Saturday evening at 7pm see the film, No Impact Man at the Garfield Center for the Arts. This film takes a seriously engaging look at one man’s decision to put his money where his mouth is and go off the grid for one year – while still living in New York City – to see if it is possible to make no net impact on the environment. What would it be like to try to live a no-impact lifestyle? Is it even possible? The author, Colin Beavan, hopes to explain to the rest of us how we can realistically live a more “eco-effective,” and, by turns, a more content life in an age of inconvenient truths. Tickets are $5.
River Soundings: A Journey in Harp and Poetry with Meredith Davies Hadaway will take place Sunday, November 9, 11am to 1pm on the Chester River Packet, a 65-foot, 1920’s style tour boat that will cruise the Chester River while those on board enjoy a brunch and the music and poetry of Meredith Davies Hadaway.

Poet, teacher, and musician, Hadaway is the author of The River is a Reason, Fishing Secrets of the Dead, and, forthcoming, At the Narrows (Word Poetry, 2015). She serves on the Board of Directors for the Chester River Association and was the 2013-14 Rose O’Neill Writer-in-Residence at Washington College.

The Packet may be boarded at the end of High Street. Tickets for the brunch and talk are $35. Make reservations by going to The excursion is being sponsored by Occasions Catering, RiverArts, Massoni Gallery and the Chester River Association. Proceeds will benefit the Chester River Association.
To fill out the day enjoy Translations from Bark Beetle: A Reading by Jody Gladding at 2pm at The Book Plate, 112 S. Cross Street. The reading is sponsored by the Kent County Arts Council, Echo Hill Outdoor School and The Chestertown Spy.

Jody Gladding is an acclaimed poet and translator who has published three full-length collections of poetry and two letterpress edition chapbooks. Her work has appeared widely in magazines, including Orion, Ecopoetics, Poetry Magazine, and Northern Woodlands. In her inspired new collection, Translations from Bark Beetle Gladding examines how language arises from landscape, evoking both the fragility and the resilience of the more-than-human world in words, images, rubbings, installations, and inscribed objects. Her awards and honors include MacDowell and Stegner Fellowships, a Whiting Writers’ Award and Yale Younger Poets Prize, Gladding currently teaches in the MFA Program at Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Founder of Coastal Heritage Alliance On Saving Wooden Boats and Watermen Culture

Mike Vlahovich

Mike Vlahovich

Mike Vlahovich, the founder and former director of the Coastal Heritage Alliance, will share his life-long appreciation for wooden boats and the watermen’s culture when he visits Washington College on Tuesday, November 4. Hosted by the Center for Environment & Society, he will speak in Hynson Lounge at 6:00 p.m. with a reception to follow.

Vlahovich founded the non-profit Coastal Heritage Alliance (CHA) in 2003 to help preserve the vessels, skills and stories of fishing communities in the United States. Based in St. Michael’s, Maryland, and Gig Harbor, Washington, the CHA leads restoration efforts, conducts research on watermen — their boats and their culture — and offers educational programs for the public.

Vlahovich grew up on the Pacific Northwest coast, where he would eventually work on commercial fishing boats and study to become a master boat builder and restorer. He co-founded the Foss Waterway Seaport in Tacoma in 1994 and five years later received a Washington State Governor’s Art and Heritage Award for his work preserving that state’s commercial fishing heritage and folklore and its traditional craft of wooden boat building.

In Maryland, Vhalovich worked for several years as boatyard manager and director of special projects at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels. He played a pivotal role in the restoration of the last remaining boats in Maryland’s working skipjack fleet, the last commercial sailing fleet in the country. Having stepped down as director of the CHA, he now  divides his time between Maryland’s Eastern Shore and Gig Harbor, where he captains the 65-foot charter boat Commencement onnatural heritage cruises in Puget Sound, British Columbia, and Southeast Alaska.

Chestertown Playwright and Composer Collaborate to Create a New Musical


A theatrical concert performance premiering songs from a new musical, Red Devil Moon, inspired by Jean Toomer’s Cane, will be presented on Saturday, November 15, 2014 at 8PM and Sunday, November 16 at 3PM at the Garfield Center for the Arts at the Prince Theatre in Chestertown on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Composer and bandleader Pam Ortiz has written 16 songs for the production, and poet/playwright Robert Earl Price has written narration and dialog that connect songs and story. Price’s book for the full-length musical is inspired by the novel, Cane, by Jean Toomer, originally published in 1923.

Music in the show will be performed by the Gospel trio Sombarkin, and the Pam Ortiz Band. Sombarkin, whose members include Karen Somerville, Lester Barrett Jr., and Jerome McKinney, is well known and admired for their deeply layered and finely wrought sound and vocal arrangements. The Pam Ortiz Band, whose members include Nevin Dawson (viola, violin and vocals), Philip Dutton (piano, keyboards and vocals), Ford Schumann (guitar and vocals), Bob Ortiz (percussion and vocals), and Pam Ortiz (guitar and vocals), will be joined by Tom Anthony on bass and Ray Anthony on drums.

Jean Toomer’s Cane is widely considered the first major text of the Harlem Renaissance. The novel has long been an inspiration for playwright Robert Earl Price, who approached Ortiz, after hearing her 2012 album of original tunes, with the idea of collaborating on a new piece of musical theatre.

Red Devil Moon, inspired by Jean Toomer’s Cane tells the story of events that unfold on the night of the full moon during the sugarcane harvest in South Georgia. The enveloping scent of boiling cane syrup, the observant creatures of the night, the provocative moon, and conflicted characters conspire to set the backdrop for a love story that is both personal and universal.

This performance is being funded in part by grants from the Kent County Arts Council and the GAR Charles Sumner Post #25 with special sponsorship by the Garfield Center for the Arts at the Prince Theatre.

Advance tickets and reservations are recommended and may be obtained at The Garfield Center for the Arts, 210 High St., Chestertown, MD 21620

(410) 810 – 2060 or by visiting