Local Author Sophie Moss’ ‘Wind Chime Summer” Becomes Third Novel

Local author, Sophie Moss, recently released a new book in her series of love stories set on the Chesapeake Bay. Wind Chime Summer, the third book of the Wind Chime Novels, is a heartwarming story about a female veteran struggling with PTSD, who reclaims her passion for cooking—and life—on a Chesapeake Bay oyster farm.

Each of the Wind Chime Novels features a military hero or heroine and explores economic, social, and cultural issues that are particularly relevant to the Eastern Shore. The first book, Wind Chime Café, deals with the impacts of an impending development on a pristine island community. The second book, Wind Chime Wedding, is about saving an island elementary school. And the third book, Wind Chime Summer, is about saving the Bay through oyster restoration.

Three years ago, Moss moved back to the Eastern Shore to research and write the series, which is set on a fictional island loosely based on Tilghman Island. “One of my favorite things about writing a new story is getting to know the place where my characters live,” Moss said. “I’ve always been drawn to island settings, both in reading and in writing. There’s something so soothing about being surrounded by all that water. The pace of life is slower. Neighbors look out for each other. Everyone knows everything about everyone. Having grown up on the Chesapeake Bay, I have a deep love and respect for the area. I feel so fortunate to be able to share the rich culture and traditions of this place through my stories.”

The Wind Chime Novels are a series of standalone love stories, each featuring a wounded soul who returns to the island to heal and ultimately finds true love. “The Wind Chime Novels are stories about coming home,” Moss continued. “They are stories about rediscovering your roots, reconnecting with childhood friends, and realizing that sometimes the one place you turned your back on is the only place that can make you feel whole again.”

Moss will be signing copies of Wind Chime Summer at the News Center on Saturday, December 16th from 1-3PM. Her books are available for purchase locally at the News Center in Easton, Chesapeake Trading Company in St. Michaels, and Crawfords Nautical Books on Tilghman Island. Wind Chime Summer is Moss’ sixth published novel. She is a USA Today bestselling and multi-award winning author.

To learn more about the author and her books, visit her website at www.sophiemossauthor.com.

Checking in on the Avalon with Al Bond and Jessica Bellis

The last time the Spy had a chat with the Avalon Foundation folks was approximately two years ago at a time of real celebration. After months of political debate, some of it being slightly harsh by Talbot County standards, and good old nail biting, the staff and volunteers accomplished their long-term goal of buying Easton’s major performance theater on Dover Street.

And while there was a perceptible sense of relief that this lengthy process had reached its end, the Avalon was still not out of the woods. Not only did the organization face $2 million in deferred maintenance for the building itself, last minute changes in the sales agreement had added almost another half million to their capital fund requirements. It was hard for anyone involved not to be intimidated by the need to raise a staggering amount of public and private support and very quickly.

Fast-forward to the end of 2017 and both Al Bond and Jessica Bellis, the management team at the Avalon Foundation, don’t hesitate in saying that the last two years has been the best on record for the Foundation and its newly acquired theatre and listening room.

Not only were the capital funds successfully raised, but both the primary stage and the Stolz Listening room are now averaging 150 performances a year as well as hosting 30 outside organizations with an additional 90 events. At the same time, the Foundation continued to break records for the Plein Art festival as well as maintaining its 4th of July celebration, sponsorship of Easton Farmers Market, and expansion of MCTV programming.

If there were any negative aspects of the last 24 months, it has been the mild frustration expressed by Al and Jessica that the vast majority of the building’s most significant improvements are invisible to Avalon patrons.  With such successful completion of such unsexy projects of repointing the brickwork, improving backstage equipment, replacing heating and air conditioning, hardly any of this is noticeable to the theatergoer.

The Spy caught up with Al and Jessica last week to talk about the last two years. We also discussed the remaining projects, many of which will be more obvious to its guests, like the renovation of its public bathrooms and new paint for the theater. They also hint at more exciting programs to come that may go beyond their primary physical location as well as having high confidence that the Mid-Shore region will continue to support live performance for many years to come.

This video is approximately five minutes in length. For more information about the Avalon Foundation please go here


Steampunk Crab Workshop at A.M. Gravely Gallery on January 13

Spaces for the Steampunk Crab workshop at A.M. Gravely Gallery are filling up fast. The workshop is on January 13, 2018, 1 to 4pm. For those artists not familiar with the steampunk genre or style, please see description below. For $25 you get EVERYTHING and takes only 2.5 hours to complete. The crab is 6 inches wide. Fun! The Gallery will not make money form this workshop but will donate a percentage to the St. Michaels Museum on St. Mary’s Square.

For more information, call Candace at 410/827-4700.

Steampunk is a subgenre of science fiction or science fantasy that incorporates technology and aesthetic designs inspired by 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery. Although its literary origins are sometimes associated with the cyberpunk genre, steampunk works are often set in an alternative history of the 19th century’s British Victorian era or American “Wild West”, in a future during which steam power has maintained mainstream usage, or in a fantasy world that similarly employs steam power. However, steampunk and Neo-Victorian are different in that the Neo-Victorian movement does not extrapolate on technology and embraces the positive aspects of the Victorian era’s culture and philosophy.

Steampunk most recognizably features anachronistic technologies or retro-futuristic inventions as people in the 19th century might have envisioned them, and is likewise rooted in the era’s perspective on fashion, culture, architectural style, and art. Such technology may include fictional machines like those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, or of the modern authors Philip Pullman, Scott Westerfeld, Stephen Hunt, and China Miéville. Other examples of steampunk contain alternative-history-style presentations of such technology as steam cannons, lighter-than-air airships, analogue computers, or such digital mechanical computers as Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine.

Steampunk may also incorporate additional elements from the genres of fantasy, horror, historical fiction, alternate history, or other branches of speculative fiction, making it often a hybrid genre. The first known appearance of the term steampunk was in 1987, though it now retroactively refers to many works of fiction created as far back as the 1950s or 1960s.

Steampunk also refers to any of the artistic styles, clothing fashions, or subcultures that have developed from the aesthetics of steampunk fiction, Victorian-era fiction, art nouveau design, and films from the mid-20th century. Various modern utilitarian objects have been modded by individual artisans into a pseudo-Victorian mechanical “steampunk” style, and a number of visual and musical artists have been described as steampunk.

Photographs by Lynn Teo Simarski on View at Adkins Arboretum

“Spikerush” by Lynn Teo Simarski

During the six years she lived aboard a boat on the Chesapeake and its tributaries, photographer and science writer Lynn Teo Simarski often slipped her kayak into the water to explore the delicate borders where water mingles with land. In her show Emergent: Visual Sips from the Waterline, on view through February 2 at the Adkins Arboretum Visitor’s Center, her digital photographs tell the stories of the remarkable plants she found in the region’s quiet coves and marshes. There will be a reception to meet the artist on Sat., Dec. 16 from 3 to 5 p.m.

Sliding along low in the water, the kayak gives Simarski a close-up, intimate view of every detail of the shoreline. In photographs that range from spare black-and-white images of slender marsh grasses and their dancing reflections to masses of lotus leaves floating in water rippled with brilliant autumn colors, she distills moments of beauty and playfulness that few people get to see. There are softly rising mists, dramatic slanting shadows and an occasional dragonfly perching weightlessly on a bit of grass.

Simarski, who lives in Alexandria, Va., when she and her husband aren’t aboard their 40-foot trawler, Bright Pleiades, said, “I kayak as much as I can. That’s really my favorite part about having lived on the boat.”

In a perfect image of the interconnections of earth, water and sky, sprightly blades of grass emerge from satiny reflections of the clouds above in “Skygrass.” Simarski’s fascination with emergents—plants that are rooted in the underwater soil but grow up into the air—continually draws her to the fragile edges of the water where these aquatic plants perform a vital role in the ecosystem by providing shelter, food and breeding places for countless creatures.

The majority of the show’s photographs come from the Chesapeake region, but Simarski shot a few of them in Maine, Wisconsin and South Carolina. Interestingly, except for some tassels of Spanish moss dangling from a leafy branch, it’s hard to tell the difference. There’s a certain universality in the elegant calligraphic gestures of blades of marsh grass and the ever-changing effects of light, mirrored skies, turning tides and shifting seasons.

With its perky bright green stalks tipped with gold, Spikerush” is a jaunty image. A type of sedge, it’s small and grows just barely above the water’s surface. Simarski found it with tiny concentric rings dimpling the water where its stalks meet their own reflections.

“This is one that was not from a kayak,” she explained. “It was spring, and I was going for a walk at the marina in Galesville, Md., where we keep our boat. I saw these patterns in a ditch, and I was just stunned. Here were these rushes only about three inches high. So, I ran back to the boat and drove back over so I could stand on the car and look down at the ditch to get the viewpoint I wanted.”

In addition to her photography, Simarski has written articles on the Bay for Chesapeake Bay Magazine and Bay Weekly. She and her husband, Guy G. Guthridge, are currently working on a book called Chesapeake Winter about their years living aboard their boat and their conversations with scientists, watermen and others about the Bay’s future. They are planning a trip to Florida along the Intracoastal Waterway.

For Simarski, the margins of water and land are endlessly compelling. Speaking of her love for these vulnerable, ever-changing perimeters, she said, “The boat enables me to go to these places you can’t get to by road and put the kayak in. The boat is our magic carpet.”

This show is part of Adkins Arboretum’s ongoing exhibition series of work on natural themes by regional artists. It is on view through Feb. 2 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.

Cast Chosen for Church Hill Theatre Production of Biloxi Blues

Director Michael Whitehill has announced the cast for Neil Simon’s Biloxi Blues, the lead off production in Church Hill Theatre’s 2018 season. The Tony Award winning play is set at boot camp in Biloxi, Mississippi during World War II. Loosely autobiographical, the comedy pits the cruel and caustic Sgt. Toomey against the draftees, especially the sensitive Arnold Epstein. His friend Eugene Morris Jerome channels Simon’s own memories of military service as a fledgling author. This classic coming-of-age tale includes danger, sex, love, prejudice, bravery and some pretty salty army talk.

Fresh recruits on their bunks in Church Hill Theatre’s production of Neil Simon’s Biloxi Blues. Clockwise from the top left: Robbie Spray, Jeff Rank, Troy Strootman, Morgan Jung, Timothy Daly, Anthony Daly.

Arnold Epstein will be played by Robbie Spray and Eugene Morris Jerome by Troy Strootman. Other draftees are Anthony Daly as Roy Selridge, Timothy Daly as Joseph Wykowski, Morgan Jung as Don Carney, and Jeff Rank as James Hennesey. John Haas takes the role of their nemesis, Sgt. Merwin J. Toomey. Kendall Irene Davis is the sweet Daisy Hannigan and Christine Kinlock is the not-so-sweet Rowena. Scarlett Chappell completes the cast, playing a USO dancer.

Whitehill, one of Church Hill Theatre’s most experienced directors, most recently directed the thought-provoking Doubt: A Parable.  His production team for Biloxi Blues includes Sylvia Maloney, Laura Crabtree, Steve Atkinson, Katie Sardo, Douglas Kaufmann and Brian Draper.

Biloxi Blues will open at Church Hill Theatre on January 19, 2018, and run through February 4, with weekend performances at 8 pm on Fridays and Saturdays and 2 pm on Sundays.  Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for members, and $10 for students, with special prices for groups of ten or more. CHT offers 2 for the price of 1 tickets on opening night, Friday, January 19, to those who reserve by phone. Reservations can be made by calling the box office at 410-556-6003 or online at www.churchhilltheatre.org

Christ Church Easton Celebrates Advent

This Sunday, December 10, Christ Church in Easton will present music of the Advent season in two contrasting lineups.  During the morning 11:00 service, the Christ Church Brass will present two selections transcribed for brass from George Frederick Handel’s Messiah as well as other seasonal selections including J. S. Bach’s, Shepherds Wake!  A Voice is Calling often referenced as Wachet auf, ruft us dir Stimme.  Additionally, the Christ Church Choir will present Charles Villiers Stanford’s Benedictus in C, a majestic and powerful example of the English repertoire.  Prelude music will begin at 10:50 am.

At 4:00 pm, the music ministry will combine to present Advent Lessons and Carols which will include the Christ Church Choir, the Choral Scholars, St. Peter’s Carillion (the adult handbell choir), the Christ Church Boychoir, harp, oboe, flute, and organ.  The program, officially part of the Christ Church Concert Series, is a service of Advent music developed at Salisbury Cathedral and St. James Cathedral in Chicago.  Among the various musical selections are the work of composers including Palestrina, Johann Sebastian Bach, Elizabeth Posten, Francis Patrick O’Brien, Malcolm Archer, and others.  A freewill offering will be received, and the public is cordially invited to attend.  Support for this musical feast is given in part by the Talbot County Arts Council and the Maryland State Arts Council.  Doors open at 3:30 pm.  The church is located at 111 S. Harrison Street in downtown Easton.

Mid-Shore Arts: Artist Emily Lombardo Has a Three Year Chat with Goya at the AAM

One of the first things that must be said in prefacing our Spy interview with artist Emily Lombardo is that her current exhibition, The Caprichos: Goya and Lombardo at the Academy Art Museum, is not complicated for the audience to comprehend.

Two artists, separated by some 300 years, offer similar and sobering images of their contemporary society’s failures. For Francisco Goya, his eighty etchings, which make up the original work known as Los Caprichos, reflected the terrors of the Spanish Inquisition and the moral bankruptcy of the Catholic Church among many other social illnesses of his time.

For Emily Lombardo, who, as a young art student in Boston would spend her afternoons at the Museum of Fine Art observing Goya’s work, Los Caprichos offered her an entirely new gateway to express her moral outrage at today’s injustices as well as, you guessed it, the moral bankruptcy of Catholic Church and its more recent sins related child sex abuse.

The challenge for the audience is to go beyond these often dark images and see how these two worlds both contrast and connect with each other in this remarkable exhibition organized by the AAM’s curator Anke Van Wagenberg.

The Spy caught up with Emily before the opening of The Caprichos: Goya and Lombardo to talk about this extraordinary undertaking (it took both artists three years to complete their work) and some suggestions for visitors and they observe these two worlds which fill the Museum’s two primary gallery spaces for the next few months.

This video is approximately four minutes in length. For more information on The Caprichos: Goya and Lombardo please go here


Carpe Diem Arts and SMCC Present “A Winter’s Eve of Revelry”

Carpe Diem Arts and St. Michaels Community Center join together again in presenting the second annual “Winter’s Eve of Revelry” at St. Michaels Auditorium on Sunday, December 17 at 3 pm.

Enjoy Scandinavian, Ukrainian and Bulgarian song and dance in celebration of the holidays. Talented musicians include Andrea Hoag on fiddle with Melissa Running on nyckelharpa (a traditional Swedish keyed fiddle); Jonathan Een Newton on the Norwegian Hardanger fiddle, with singers Molly Hickman and Corinne Ducey; Lyuti Chushki Bulgarian Ensemble; the Slaveya vocal ensemble, along with members of the St. Michaels Middle High School Chamber Choir under the direction of Amy Effler.

Gerdan: Soul of Ukraine features the world-renowned duo of Andrei Pidkivka (flute) and Solomia Gorokhivska (violin and vocals).

As an additional attraction, the St. Michaels Middle High School chapter of the National Art Honor Society will be selling greeting cards along with small prints of student artwork in an effort to raise funds for our Artist-in-Residence Program. Student artists will be present to share their artwork and enthusiasm about the SMMHS program and its school-wide impact.

The St. Michaels Auditorium is located at 200 Seymour Ave. at St. Michaels Middle and High School.

Tickets are $10-25 (general admission, sliding scale: pay-what-you-can) and are available for purchase at the door. The event is FREE for children and students ages 18 and under.

More info: www.carpediemarts.org/celebrations-at-st-michaels-auditorium or contact busygraham@carpediemarts.org 

This concert is presented with support from the Talbot County Arts Council with funds from the Maryland State Arts Council with revenues provided by the Maryland State Arts Council, the Mid-Shore Community Foundation, Artistic Insights Fund, Dock Street Foundation, and Carpe Diem Arts individual contributors.

Winners of St. Michaels Art League Member Show “Around the Town”

A month long art show titled “Around the Town” was held in October at the St Michaels Library. The St. Michaels Art League is pleased to announce the winners of this show that was judged by Brad Ross of the Art Academy Museum

“Sunset from the Drawbridge” by Sandy Alanko

The first place winner was Sandy Alanko for “Sunset from the Drawbridge”; Second place was Kathie Rogers for “Flow Blue”, and third place went to Arlene Zachmann for “Autumn on the Porch”.  Honorable mentions were also awarded to Leah Bell for “Pride”; Camille Woodbury for “Fall Leaves”; and Anne Allbeury Hock for “Bar Neck Cove House”.

This program and many of the programs for the league are funded in part by a grant from the Talbot County Arts Council with revenues provided by the Maryland State Arts Council.

Visit www.smartleague.org for more information on the league and its events.

Troika Gallery 20th Anniversary Group Show Continues to New Year’s Eve

Troika Gallery, showcasing “The Finest of Fine Art” in historic downtown Easton, continues to celebrate its 20th Anniversary Group Show through December 31, 2017.  Original works by 36 of the gallery’s renowned artists are on display with new work constantly refreshing the exhibit spaces.

Plan on visiting on December 1, 2017, from 5:00 to 8:00 pm during the First Friday Gallery Walk and the Easton Moonlight Madness Shopping Event.  This Christmas in Easton event will include festive events in the heart of downtown including pictures with Santa.   Troika will have a reception with fine food and wine.

Peony Blooms in Winter, oil on canvas, 31″ x 49″, by Victor Nizovtsev

Troika Gallery artists include; Jorge Alberto, Kenn Backhaus, Dmitry Dorokhin, John Ebersberger, Deborah Elville, Laura Era, J.A. Ferrier, Kevin Fitzgerald, David Buckley Good, Andrew Schuler Guerin, John Davis Held, Mark Hiles, Matthew Hillier, Bo Jia, Jeanette Le Grue, Ken Lehman, Lynne Lockhart, Peter S. Loonam, Kirk McBride, Lou Messa, Raoul Middleman, Terry Miller, Dorothy F. Newland, Victor Nizovtsev, Brendan O’Neill, W. Stanley Proctor, Christopher Richard, Julie Rogers, Ann Didusch Schuler, William Storck, Carol Lee Thompson, David H. Turner, Paula Waterman, Jennifer Heyd Wharton, Chris Wilke, Vladislav Yeliseyev and Mathew Zoll.

Enhance your holiday this year with a gift of art or a commissioned portrait of a cherished family member, friend or pet.  Laura Era and Jennifer Heyd Wharton, Troika Gallery owners and professional artists are members of the  Portrait Society of America and have been painting portraits for years. While in Troika Gallery browse their  studios to see completed and commissioned works in progress.

Since 1997 Troika Gallery has offered “The Finest of Fine Art” and is the longest operating gallery on the Eastern Shore.   Selected numerous times as the Best Art Gallery by What’s Up Eastern Shore magazine, the congenial atmosphere found in the gallery has created a beloved gallery with loyal followers. Whether you are an art collector, an art lover or an art browser, you will enjoy your visit to Troika Gallery.

Laura Era, Jennifer Heyd Wharton, and Gallery Manager Peg Fitzgerald will graciously share their art expertise and welcome you to visit the 20th  Anniversary Group Show which will be on view until New Year’s Eve.  Troika Gallery is located at 9 South Harrison Street and is open every day from 10 am until 5:30 pm and Sunday by appointment, 410-770-9190,  www.troikagallery.com.