About Dave Wheelan

Making it Work on the Shore: Ace Moritz and Eastern Shore Brewing

The craft beer business was in its infancy when Adrian (Ace) Moritz started to work in the industry during the early 1990s in one of Vermont’s earliest local breweries, the Long Trail Brewing Company. It was hard to tell then that the local brew industry would become the booming business it has become, but it started a lifetime passion for Ace.

After leaving Long Trail, and deciding to leave a lucrative private sector career in New York, Ace and his wife decided to risk everything when they started Eastern Shore Brewing Company in St. Michaels in 2009 to follow his passion.

And over the course of the last nine years, Ace has learned a great deal about moving from the love of a home brewery to the complications and challenges that come with a full retail and wholesale operation. Those lessons have continuously change the business model as he continues to find the sweet spot between maintaining a sustainable business and remain competitive as craft beer takes over some of the smallest towns on the Eastern Shore.

This video is approximately six minutes in length. For more information about Eastern Shore Brewing please go here.

Profiles in Spirituality: St. Peter and Paul’s Father James Nash

The idea of being the leader of Saints Peter & Paul Parish could easily strike urbanites as the equivalent of being the classic country priest, whose time is spent leisurely ministering to a small flock of the faithful in a beautiful rural setting. But it didn’t take long for Father James Nash to dispel that myth very quickly from his modest office on Route 50 in Easton when the Spy caught up with him a few weeks ago.

In fact, Father Nash oversees an enterprise that is counted as one of the largest employers in Talbot County and includes an elementary school, high school, and three churches with membership in the thousands. And each week, he not only faces the normal challenges that come with any man of the cloth, but must manage over one hundred employees, fundraise for substantial building projects, and administer a $6 million annual budget during his spare time.

And yet none of this seems to weigh too heavily on the priest who left a successful accounting practice to find his real vocation within the Catholic Church. In our Spy interview, Father Nash talks about the business of St. Peter and Paul, but also about the timeless beauty of his faith, the teachings of Pope Francis, and his humble philosophy of leadership in caring for his parish.

This video is approximately six minutes in length. For more information about Saints Peter and Paul Church and School, please go here.


Recovery: Should I Stay or Go by Erin Hill

When you’re married to an addict, there’s a school of thought that makes it sound so easy to “just leave”. In my last post here, I discussed why sometimes you can’t just leave. And there are also those who are staunch in their beliefs of “till death do you part”. I have been in both situations. The first addict marriage – I left. The second – I stayed. So I have this point of view that is pretty unique. There is a difficulty in both decisions. Especially when children are involved.

In many of the groups for addict wives, or loving alcoholics/addicts, even when I was in Alanon – one of the first questions was “Do I stay or do I go?” – and I believe that the only one that can make that choice – is YOU. It’s an extremely personal decision and there are tons of variables that no one other than someone in your shoes is privy to. There are well meaning folks that are truly only wanting you to be happy, but they are not understanding of all of the nuances involved in being married to an addict or alcoholic. (And that goes for any addiction – drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, etc.)

There are a few questions that I’ve come to believe are paramount to making the decision to stay or go.

1)  Are you/your children safe?

Only you can determine what “safe” means. There have been times in the land of “should” that “those people” would have judged what safe meant for me and mine. Please know that those close to you – are saying things out of love and concern. Those in positions of authority (Social Services personnel, etc) may be acting under the expectations of their job, and not necessarily out of malice. However, when you ask ‘what should I do?’ you are deliberately relieving yourself of the responsibility to choose.

2) Are you in a position to leave if you choose that option?

There can be financial, physical, and/or legal obstacles to navigate. You may not be able to afford to leave right away – while I’d like to believe that there are systems and programs available for those who choose to leave, I also know that there are many broken systems. Do your research. Sometimes the programs and systems meant to assist, may not be available or appropriate for your situation.

3) Which choice will be to your benefit?

You may need to make a good ole pros and cons chart to help you decide. Play that “what if” game and feel into each choice – like a choose your own adventure book. Really spend some time with the realities of each choice. Your intuition will assist you here – if you can still hear it. I’ve found that many times we’ve had many ‘red flags’ (our intuition) that we’ve ignored – you may have to apologize and coax her back out. She’s there – I promise. The best choices aren’t always easy or simple.

4) Are you willing to work on YOU?

I’ve done it, and I’ve seen it – we leave one relationship and hop into another – and before we know it, there’s a string of broken promises, hearts, and unfortunately sometimes bones. You have (and need) the ability to work on YOU – I know it’s hard to believe, or admit, but we all bring with us some baggage. If we don’t work on unpacking and sorting through that baggage before we enter another relationship, it’s bound to be an eerily similar situation. Think of it like weeds – if you don’t get to the root of it, they’ll keep coming back.

Finally, do you feel like you can change your mind? (You can.) There are few choices that are final. You can usually choose differently if need be. (Again, if safety is an issue, you need to take that into consideration – if domestic violence is a pattern in your relationship, please consider working with a DV support!) When you feel like you need support, please seek it – find a 12 step group, a friend, your church family, a coach, or online peers.

The MRS (Marriage and Recovery Support) group may be helpful to you – and you can consider this your personal invitation. Search TheMRSGroup on Facebook or click here to join. I’m also organizing in person ‘The MRS’ groups to be held in Easton and Cambridge starting this summer. If you would like more information on those as the details come to fruition, you can sign up for weekly newsletters at www.beautifulmesslife.com

The Birth of the FABRICation at the AAM

The exhibition FABRICation is making its way around the country, and just recently landed at the Academy Art Museum by way of the West Virginia University Art Museum in Morgantown.

Co-curated by Reni Gower, professor in Painting and Printmaking at Virginia Commonwealth University, and Kristy Deetz, Art professor at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, FABRIcation features seven artists (Erin Castellan, Kristy Deetz, Virginia Derryberry, Reni Gower, Rachel Hayes, Susan Iverson and Natalie Smith) who incorporate a textile sensibility in their artwork through elements of fabric and fabrication.

Gower stated, “The exhibition was inspired by a rich array of historical textiles from drapery to quilt.  As such, the complex, multi-part works contrast our culture’s rampant media consumption with the redemptive nuance of slow work wrought by hand.  Individual works range from delicate illusions to layered constructions to architectural interventions.  Using a variety of materials that range from oil and acrylic paint, yarn, vintage clothing, aluminum screens, wool, silk, plastic, thread, vinyl, burlap, rug-hold, glass, recycled objects, and found fabrics, the artists interweave sensory pleasure with repetitive process to invoke introspection and reflection.”

This video is approximately two  minutes in length. For more information about the Academy Art Museum please go here.



Grading the Choptank’s Health with Riverkeeper Matt Pluta

Around this time every year, there is a certain amount of excitement and anxiety as the Mid-Shore Riverkeeper Conservancy (MRC) publishes its annual report card on the environmental condition of the Choptank, Miles, and Wye Rivers water quality status. And one of those individuals who is perhaps more anxious than most is Matt Pluta, the Riverkeeper for the Choptank.

His interest in the Choptank goes beyond the mere fact that it is by far one of the most complex parts of the Chesapeake Bay’s ecosystem. The Choptank also has the dubious distinction of being one of the most polluted, if not the most polluted, river in the entire region.

But as Matt points out in his interview with the Spy to discuss this year’s scores, the Choptank is really two very distinct spheres. And this year the organization made a decision to evaluate the Upper Choptank in the Lower Choptank as separate systems. The rationale being that each section news its water quality strategies as a result of the different ways that the water system is used.

The Spy talk to Matt last week about the overall health of the Choptank and what he anticipates to be the best approach to achieving better scores in the years ahead.

This video is approximately four minutes in length. For more information about the Mid-Shore Riverkeeper Conservancy please go here.

Mid-Shore Arts: Chesapeake College’s Rob Thompson on a Career Path in the Arts

When one thinks about a local community college, there is an immediate thought of such things as vocational training or preparatory work before entering a four-year college, but rarely thinking that young people should attend these institutions if they are considering a career in the arts. Chesapeake College once again challenges that assumption.

In fact, just in the field of the dramatic arts, approximately twenty-five students each year head to the Wye Mills campus as their first step in breaking into the competitive world of performing arts. Or, put another way, about the same number the College seeks for its new agricultural degree program.

That is one of the reasons that the Spy sought out a conversation with Dr. Robert Thompson who heads up the theatre/humanities program at Chesapeake College. And one of the take away messages of this short chat was the clear evidence that students can indeed find a pathway to a career in the arts.

This video is approximately four minutes in length. For more information about Chesapeake College and its theatre program please go here.

The Beauty of Catch and Release with Photographer Todd Forsgren

When you first look at Todd Forsgren’s photography, it is hard not to be slightly unnerved by the images that he captures. Some of the world’s most beautiful birds are photographed at the time they have entered into a ornithologists research net, and it’s difficult not to assume that the animal is under severe duress.

But after you find out that Todd has worked with some of the leading ornithology labs in the world on this project, and that it is part of an international effort to save these bird species, you warm up to this very brief moment of incarceration. In fact, you are left seeing them and their extraordinary grace on their own.

Todd’s photography, which is on display at the Academy Art Museum until the end of the month, is a striking reminder of how phenomenal these creatures are which makes it all the more important that they sometimes temporarily fall victim to a researcher’s net.

The Spy caught up with Todd as he was hanging his show to discuss his passion for his subjects, and the delicacy of his images.

This video is approximately two minutes in length. For more information about Todd Forsgren’s exhibition at the AAM, please go here.

Todd Forsgren: Birdwatcher And Ecologist
Academy Art Museum 
April 22, 2017 – May 30, 2017



Mid-Shore Arts: Fighting the Limitations of “Signature” with Marcy Ramsey

One challenge that many successful artists must confront is a simple fact that they have established a particular style, a clear signature, that defines their work. In many cases, it has taken them decades to build this kind of identification, and yet at the same time, this success can establish self-imposed boundaries that could lead to a stifling lack of room to grow and experiment.

That is one of the real dilemmas that face artists like Marcy Ramsey. For almost 20 years, Marcy through sheer discipline has been living and painting in the micro world of the Chesapeake Bay, and the astonishing aesthetic found its shoreline. While it has been extremely gratifying, every few years the rebel in Marcy wants to break out that box and this year’s show at the Massoni Gallery demonstrates her determination to find a new way to share the wonders of this unique ecosystem in a new light and color.

The Spy spent some time with Marcy at her studio on the Chester River to talk her about work.

This video is approximately two minutes in length. For more information about the Carla Massoni Gallery and Marcy Ramsey please go here

Marcy Dunn Ramsey | Balancing Act
May 12 – June 17
Opening Reception: Opening Cocktail Reception – Friday, May 12th, 5-7 pm
Open House – Saturday, May 13th, 11-3 Artist Talk 12 noon
Chestertown June First Friday Reception – June 2nd, 5-7:30 pm

An Architect Looks at Easton’s Future with Ward Bucher

As the town of Easton prepares for a significant investment from private and public sources over the next 20 years for housing, infrastructure, and commercial development for a Port Street plan as well as the space presumably being made available with the hospital relocation, it seemed like a good time to check in with an architect about such things. And one person, in particular, struck the Spy as a terrific resource to talk about design, historic preservation and commerce, and that was Talbot County’s, Ward Bucher.

It would be hard to find someone that has been looking harder at downtown Easton than Ward, whose architectural firm has worked on and invested in projects in this core part of town. And he also recently accepted a position on the Eastern Development Corporation board.

The Spy caught up with Ward at the Bullet House a few weeks ago to talk about Easton as it begins to take necessary steps in planning its future.

This video is approximately five minutes in length. For more information about Easton Economic Development Corporation and the Port Street Project please go here

The Form and Lines of Shelley Robzen at the AAM

Internationally known sculptor Shelley Robzen is one of four major artists that have exhibitions on view at the Academy Art Museum this month, but the Spy wanted to talk to talk to her first.

After looking at her work, we wanted to understand more fully how she creates her stunning marble and bronze sculptures, but also her lifelong quest to find new forms using these two very different materials to celebrate beauty itself.

This drive to capture the pure essence of form led her to leave the United States in 1974 to live and study with the great masters of sculpture and craftsmanship to Pietrasanta, Italy, an international center for sculptors who work in marble and bronze and has never returned to her mother country.

The result of this extraordinary journey can now be seen in the galleries of the AAM which has put a special spotlight on these perfect examples of form, volume, and line. Entitled Luminous Forms: Marble and Bronze Sculpture by Shelley Robzen, the art on display shows what Shelley calls, the “simplicity of line seeking the purity of form is the essence of my sculpture.”

The Spy found time to talk to Shelley a few hours before the opening reception for her show to talk about the nature of her work and the extraordinary labor of love it takes to create these sublime examples of shapes and form.

Shelley Robzen’s work with be on display from April 22, 2017 – July 16, 2017. She is represented by Carla Massoni Gallery in Chestertown. 

This video is approximately two minutes in length.