Outdoor Sculpture Invitational—Artists in Dialogue with Landscape at Adkins Arboretum

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The ten artists in Adkins Arboretum’s Outdoor Sculpture Invitational—Artists in Dialogue with Landscape share a passion for working in nature. Throughout May, they could be found in the Arboretum’s forest and meadows collecting branches, moss, grasses, pinecones and other natural materials and using them to create sculptures.

On view through Sept. 30, this is the ninth biennial Invitational show the Arboretum has hosted since 2002. There will be a reception and a guided sculpture walk on Sat., June 23 from 3 to 5 p.m. in conjunction with the reception for Lee D’Zmura’s show in the Visitor’s Center.

“Nature is my studio. Nature is my teacher,” wrote Diane Szczepaniak, an artist from Potomac, Md., whose sculpture “Octagon of Grass, Watching the Grass Grow, Going at the Speed of Nature” is an invitation to slow down and observe and meditate on nature.

“Guardians,” a beehive-shaped sculpture by Towson, Md., artist Bridgette Guerzon Mills.

Szczepaniak installed a low octagon of steel flanked by a simple bench in a mown area beneath tall loblolly pines. The grass inside the octagon will be left to grow and mature throughout the summer, and visitors may come to sit and enjoy the quietude and the slow changes as the sculpture develops.

There’s a sense of play and discovery throughout this show. Both Ben Allanoff of Joshua Tree, Calif., and Baltimore artist Eliezer Sollins came to Adkins with no specific plans for their sculptures. Walking the paths through its forest and meadows, they found places and materials that triggered ideas. Sollins collected fallen branches laden with pinecones and armloads of meadow grass for his sculpture, “Haycone,” while Allanoff balanced long, slim branches and vines in a small grove of trees in “Pick-up Sticks,” a sculpture that visitors can actually enter.

Natural materials are the basis for most of these sculptures, including the swoop of branches framed by a cube (all painted a magical blue) in Washington artist Julia Bloom’s “Forest Cache” and Baltimore artist Marcia Wolfson Ray’s “Tumble,” four rustic boxes made of dried plants angled as if to tumble down into the wetland beside the Visitor’s Center. Using a collection of richly colored and textured materials from the forest and meadow, Susan Benarcik, of Wilmington, Del., employed classic geometry to illustrate a universal natural pattern of growth in her sculpture, “The Golden Ratio in Nature.”

“Modern-Day Fossils,” by Laurel, Md., artist Melissa Burley.

Several of the artists made sculptures exploring their concerns for the well-being of the earth. Melissa Burley, of Laurel, Md., created “Modern-Day Fossils” in which plastic bugs and leaves encased in glittering balls of amber-colored resin stand in for fossilized plants and animals.

Three of the artists created sculptures about the current severe decline in bee populations. Both Elizabeth Miller McCue of Yardley, Penn., and Bridgette Guerzon Mills of Towson, Md., constructed beehive-shaped sculptures made of many small hexagons. An intricate web of glistening wire, McCue’s is a ghostly skeleton of a beehive, long deserted by its denizens. Mills’s mixed-medium hive is more colorful, but while some of its hexagons are empty, others are mirrored so that visitors may see their own faces, implicating our human role in the disappearance of the bees but also suggesting that by promoting healthy ecosystems, we can be the agents of restoring their dwindling populations.

That possibility was the impetus for Ashley Kidner’s “Pollinator Hexagon V,” one of a series of sculptures this Baltimore artist has created in parks and art centers around Maryland. Like his other hexagons, this is a large circular garden filled with hexagonal sections where native pollinator plants are growing. Functioning not only as a work of art, its nine species of flowering plants provide a healthy source of nectar for the Arboretum’s bees.

This show is part of Adkins Arboretum’s ongoing exhibition series of work on natural themes by regional artists. It is on view through Sept. 30 at the Arboretum Visitor’s Center located at 12610 Eveland Road near Tuckahoe State Park in Ridgely. Contact the Arboretum at 410–634–2847, ext. 0 or info@adkinsarboretum.org for gallery hours.

Adkins Arboretum is a 400-acre native garden and preserve at the headwaters of the Tuckahoe Creek in Caroline County. Open year round, the Arboretum offers educational programs for all ages about nature and gardening. For more information, visit adkinsarboretum.org or call 410-634-2847, ext. 0.

National Music Festival Welcomes New Board Members and New Board Chair

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It’s early June, and as Richard Rosenberg and the National Music Festival fill the air with top-flight classical music (and our restaurants with hungry musicians) from Chestertown to Rock Hall and from church sanctuaries to Adkins Arboretum, the Festival itself is welcoming new board members and getting ready to install a new board chair.

Charles Taylor, Shelby Strudwick  and Jeff Weber are Chestertown residents who bring a range of expertise and experience in key areas to the NMF board, according to Caitlin Patton, the Festival’s executive director.

Taylor was a journalist and media relations professional in Washington, DC, and in Virginia for more than 37 years before retiring and moving to Chestertown in 2017.  Weber spent most of his career in the field of investment banking in Central Pennsylvania, providing investment management services to institutional funds such as endowments, pension plans, trusts, charities and mutual funds.  Since moving to Chestertown last year, he also has been sharing his considerable talent and skill as a photographer and videographer.

Strudwick was a successful fundraiser in San Francisco, where she lived for 35 years.  After raising money for her children’s schools, she spent years as a volunteer, helping to raise money for the San Francisco Ballet.  In 2015, Strudwick chaired a sold-out black tie gala that included a sit-down dinner for 1,200 and a post-performance party for 3,500.

As the National Music Festival board welcomes the three new members, there will also be new leadership at the helm.  Sandy Ryon will complete her third year as chair and step down soon after this year’s Festival, and NMF vice chair Robert Johnson will become the new chair.  Ryon will stay on as a board member forthree more years.

“This has been an absolute labor of love,” Ryon said, calling the music that the NMF musicians make each year, “the biggest miracle.”

“I just came from a rehearsal,” Ryon said, “two days after the musicians arrived in Chestertown, and the orchestra was playing as if they’ve been playing together all of their lives.  It’s just amazing.”

Ryon said she loves that the orchestra and ensembles will rehearse and perform this season in venues they’ve never used before, including First United Methodist Church and Bethel AME Church, we all as venues they’ve enjoyed before, such as Sumner Hall, the Chester River Yacht and Country Club, and many more.

“We were hoping that being in those venues will draw the attention of people who’ve never heard the music we play,” Ryon said, “and it’s obvious that that’s already happening.”

Johnson, who became active with NMF several years ago when he was invited to develop a strategic plan, said he was so impressed with the Festival’s educational mission and leadership that he accepted a bid to join the board.

“Most people don’t stop to think about what NMF does for Kent County,” he said.  “It is so much more than a two-week summer festival.  It’s also the fall-to-spring Resonance concert series and the wonderful Fiddlesticks! Program for young string instrument students.  As we grow, we enhance the economic base of the county, and that’s all good.”

During the two-week festival, the National Music Festival’s 120 musicians and staff,from 35 states and 11 countries, as well as out-of-town members of the Frederick and Annapolis chorales, stay as guests in Chestertown and area homes.  All in all, the 2018 Festival includes about 200 free and open rehearsals, and more than 30 concerts.

For information about programs, dates, venues and ticket prices (several concerts are free), go to www.nationalmusic.us.

RiverArts Film Festival Offers New Film Series and Filmmaking Workshop

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Pam Whyte

RiverArts, a dynamic, regional community arts center in Chestertown, launched a new program earlier this year that focuses on film as a visual art form and forum for social commentary. The RiverArts Film Society recognizes filmmaking as a complex and powerful art in our world and offers transformative cinematic experiences by screening films with diverse perspectives followed by thought-provoking discussions.  RiverArts is partnering with Sumner Hall and the Mainstay to show monthly films with talkbacks at their venues which offer large screens with an intimate, coffee-house ambiance.

The next series 1960’s Cultural Phenoms, curated by Pam Whyte, opens with The Graduate at 7:00 on June 15 at the Mainstay in Rock Hall. The Graduate is a biting satire/comedy about a recent East Coast college graduate who finds himself alienated and adrift in the shifting, social and sexual mores of the 1960s and questioning the values of society. It’s a groundbreaking film that helped set in motion a new era of filmmaking, mirroring the changes occurring not only in Hollywood but also the U.S. Today the influential film is ranked 17 on AFI’s 100 movies of cinematic milestones. The first series, curated by Robert Earl Price, featured three important films about African Americans – Nothing But a Man, Uptight, and Do the Right Thing.

In addition, the Society offers a series of filmmaking workshops and classes.  Coming up on Saturday, June 16 from 10 to 5:00 is an Intro to Filmmaking workshop taught by documentary film maker, Pam Whyte.  This will be a hands-on class where students will learn the fundamentals of motion picture production. Students will shoot and edit sequences assigned to them while games, demonstrations and analyses of professional films will be the basis for learning the language and personnel of pre production, production and post-production. There will be an emphasis on the basic techniques to create compelling, connotative shots and rhythmic editing.  To register for this class or find out more information on this and other classes, visit chestertownriverarts.org and click on Education in the navigation bar.

The RiverArts Film Society is a membership club with an annual fee of $30 for one person or $50 for two. Membership includes free admission to up to ten films per year that includes talkbacks and Q&A by engaging, knowledgeable presenters.More information about the film society, the film screenings, and filmmaking classes can be found on the RiverArts website.  Louise Miller and Lani Seikaly chair the RiverArts Film Advisory Board and welcome any ideas you have for future film screenings, classes or workshops.

Become a Short Attention Span Theatre (SAST) Sponsor

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Purchase a 10-minute for $10 sponsorship during Garfield Center for the Arts’ Short Attention Span Theatre playfest and you’ll see your name or a special message (keep it clean, folks!) projected on stage during intermission at all 9 SAST performances AND listed in the program booklet (if you choose). Businesses can purchase a sponsorship and include name, logo, and/or a message for $20. All sponsorship entries must be received no later than 3 pm on Friday, June 15th.

SAST will run for 3 weekends: June 22-24, June 29-July 1, and July 6-8. The play fest showcases a range of actors, directors and authors–featuring original works by local and regional playwrights. Performances are at 8 pm on Fridays and Saturdays and Saturdays at 3 pm. Tickets are $15, and $5 for students. Plays include some adult content and may not be suitable for children under 14. Purchase your tickets online at www.garfieldcenter.org, call 410.810.2060, or visit the Garfield Box Office at 210 High Street in Chestertown.

Please visit http://www.garfieldcenter.org/lights/ to sponsor. Thank you!

Liberty City Radio Theatre Comes to Chestertown

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After breakout performances in the Philadelphia Fringe Festival, the “new-style old-time” radio show sets up to transmit from Philadelphia to Chestertown, by way of Garfield Center veteran, Bill Arrowood, for just one evening, on Friday June 8 at 8pm.

Arrowood writes, “We have done several successful shows in Philadelphia, and I felt it was high time that I brought this show to the Garfield stage and share the fun we are having in the big city with all my friends back home.”

Liberty City Radio Theatre is a live radio show, with actors on stage taking on multiple roles recreating the golden era of the theater of the mind.  Newly written and adapted episodes for modern audiences complete with on-stage sound effects and live music mix a dash of nostalgia, a pinch of noir and an ample smattering of wit, mixed and served for a delightful and delectable evening for all ages.

At the Garfield Center, Arrowood last produced the River City Revue; Cavalcade of Comedy in 2014, as well as the Christmas program, “Live from WVL, It’s A Wonderful Life” in 2011.  The current production is a melding of the two shows and features five unique short episodes, musical performances and even a chance for audience participation. Musical accompaniment provided by Music Life’s Bill Drazga and a few other local surprises.

A portion of the proceeds from the show will be donated to KCHS Radio Station, WKHS, to preserve and educate a new generation of radio professionals.

Ticket are $15 general admission. For details about Liberty City Radio Theatre please visit www.libertycityradiotheatre.com. For ticket sales or to learn more about the event on June 8th, visit www.garfieldcenter.org, or call the box office at 410-810-2060. The Garfield Center for the Arts is located at 210 High Street in Chestertown.

The Bay Country Chorus to Perform at Avalon Theatre June 10

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The Bay Country Chorus is presenting an afternoon of fine music on Sunday June 10.  The Show will be held at the Historic Avalon Theatre in Easton beginning at 2 pm.

The show will have performances by the Bay Country Chorus, Harmony on the Bay, a ladies Sweet Adelines International chorus from Centreville and the Gospel Souls from St. Luke’s church in Cambridge all sung in the a cappella style. Special guests at this event will be the Pride of DelMarVa, an award winning male barbershop chorus from Milford DE.

Tickets are $15.00 and are available through the Avalon theatre box office (410-822-7299) or on their web site the (avalonfoundation.org).

National Music Festival’s Richard Rosenberg to Give Pre-Festival Talk

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The National Music Festival is gearing up for Season 8, June 3-16. But even before the music starts, there is an event offered to tempt your musical appetite.

At 6:30pm on Wednesday, May 30 at Sumner Hall, NMF Artistic Director Richard Rosenberg will give a Pre-Festival Talk. The talk is free and open to all. Maestro Rosenberg will discuss some of the music to be performed at the 2018 Festival, especially the orchestral repertoire, giving the history of the composers and their compositions and describing why he loves this music and why he has programmed it at the Festival.

NMF musicians arrive on June 1 and 2, and begin rehearsing on June 2. Concerts begin June 3; the Festival opens this year with a free performance by the Festival Concert Band and students participating in NMF’s Fiddlesticks! Youth Strings Program. This concert will begin at 3pm in Fountain Park. Bring a chair or blanket to sit on; NMF will also be selling chairs with the Festival logo.

Tickets and information are available at nationalmusic.us or at Festival Headquarters at the Visitor Center in Chestertown (Monday-Saturday 10am-5pm; noon-5pm Sunday). Single tickets range from $10-$20. It’s not too late to purchase a Festival Pass – for $250 the Pass provides preferred seating at all ticketed concerts guaranteed until ten minutes prior to every performances, plus a souvenir Festival Guide and invitation to a Pass-holders reception on June 3.

Pippin Opens at Church Hill Theatre

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Pippin opens on Friday, June 8, at Church Hill Theatre and will run for nine performances, through Sunday, June 24.  Performances are at 8 pm on Fridays and Saturdays and 2 pm on Sundays. Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for students. CHT’s June musicals often sell out early, so reservations are strongly recommended.

Sylvia Maloney directs this melodic and enchanting story of love and the meaning of life set in the time of Charlemagne. Pippin, by Stephen Schwartz with book by Roger O. Hirson, opened on Broadway in 1972.  It has been an international crowd-pleasing favorite ever since. In the Church Hill Theatre revival, Ray Remesch is the Musical Director and Cavin Moore is the Choreographer.

From L-R: Bryce Sullivan, Quentin Bergenholtz, Max Brennan, Mackenzie Campbell, Mark Wiening (behind), John Crook, Cody Turner, Elliot Morotti.

Both Pippin and his father, Charlemagne, are historical figures from the early Middle Ages.  In the fictional plot, with the help of troupe of minstrel players, Pippin embarks on a quest to find life’s purpose. Mackenzie Campbell portrays the Leading Player, head of the mysterious troupe.  Mark Wiening plays Pippin and Bob Chauncey is Charlemagne. Becca Van Aken plays Pippin’s love interest, Catherine with Debra Ebersole is his grandmother, Berthe. Bryce Sullivan plays Pippin’s half-brother Lewis, Lori Armstrong is Pippin’s stepmother Fastrada, and Cullen Williams plays Catherine’s son Theo.

The ensemble are the performance troupe and take on all other characters; they are Delaney McCreary, Grace McCreary, Maya McGrory, Ellie Merton, Katie Staley, Erin Tomassoni, Quenton Bergenholtz, Max Brennan, John Crook, Elliott Morotti, and Cody Turner.

Catherine (Becca Van Aken) and Pippin (Mark Wiening) celebrate their newly discovered love.

Live music is a key part of CHT musicals. Ray Remesch, who conducts from the piano, leads a talented orchestra. Peter Cailloux plays the French horn, Susan Dabney and Jane Godfrey are on violins, Ron Demby shares his talent on reeds, David James and Rich Matties take on trumpet and trombone, respectively, while Jordon Stanley handles percussion, with Quinn Parsley on bass. Songs from Pippin, one of the first Broadway shows to incorporate rock music, were recorded and made famous by Michael Jackson, the Supremes, Dusty Springfield, and Petula Clark.

The production staff and crew provide additional theater magic. Sam Angelini, Steve Atkinson (also the production photographer), and Jim Johnson share duties as Stage Managers. Brian Draper created the Art Set Design and collaborated with Michael Whitehill on set design and execution. Doug Kaufmann helms lighting whilst Tina Johnson, Erma Johnson, and Liz Clarke create the costumes. Christian Graham serves as Magic Consultant

Reservations (strongly advised well in advance) can be made by calling the box office at 410-556-6003 or online at www.churchhilltheatre.org

Jeanne Saulsbury and Jody Primoff Featured in The Artists’ Gallery on First Friday

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On First Friday,The Artists’ Gallery will open with a body of new oil paintings by Jeanne Saulsbury in “From the Land of Pleasant Living.”   As a native of the Eastern Shore, Jeanne “loves to wander the area and seek out reminders of days past in antique shops.”  For this show, she “chose to honor things that contribute to the uniqueness of the area, from an old Natty Boh beer can to a slice of a ten layer Smith Island Cake.” Included in the show will also be paintings of oysters, fancy oyster plates and of course, Maryland blue crabs.

Jeanne Saulsbury paints from her studio “Shady Grove” in Ridgely, MD.  After college, she painted and studied watercolor for 25 years, but switched to oils when the Plein Air Easton Art Festival began about fourteen years ago.  She found that for her, “oils were the answer to catching the light in and out of doors.” Saulsbury is a member and past president of the Working Artist’s Forum in Easton, an exhibitor with The Artists’ Gallery and a member of the Caroline County Arts League.

‘From the Window’, by J. Primoff

On First Friday, Jody Primoff will also be featured and will be showing her delightful paintings created in mixed media, acrylic, ink, and watercolor.  For many years, Jody has found the Eastern Shore to be a never ending source of inspiration for her work with its water vistas, enormous skies and ever changing weather.  Please be sure to drop by The Artists’ Gallery on First Friday to see Jody’s beautiful work, as June will be Jody’s final month exhibiting with the gallery.

Also in June, new and innovative jewelry designs by Massachusetts based artist, Michele Armitano (MAFA) will be showcased.  Michele works primarily in sterling silver and semi-precious stones and finds creative inspiration from the natural beauty she discovered while living in Venezuela.

The public is invited to visit The Artists’ Gallery on First Friday, June 1st, from 5-8 p.m. for light refreshments and to meet the artists.  Works by Jeanne Saulsbury, Jody Primoff and Michele Armitano will be featured throughout the month of June.  The Artists’ Gallery is located at 239 High Street in Chestertown and is open Tuesday-Saturday from 10-5 and Sunday from 12:30-4:30.  For more information, please visit www.theartistsgalleryctown.com or call the gallery at 410-778-2425.