Academy Art Museum Announces September Events

Bennett Bean, M# 1806 Triple on Base, 2015 Pit fired, painted and gilded earthenware clay Photographed by Barbara Livar.


Exhibitions are generously supported by the Maryland State Arts Council, the Talbot County Arts Council and the Star-Democrat.

Bennett Bean: Be Careful What You Fall in Love With
September 16–November 5, 2017
Curator-Led Tours: Wednesday, September 20, 11 a.m. Wednesday, November 1, 11 a.m.
Bennett Bean (1941) is an American ceramic artist best known as a ceramicist for his treatment of vessels post firing. He works in a range of media including stone, precious metals, wool and silk weaving, and painting. The Easton exhibition, his first solo museum exhibition.

David Driskell: Renewal and Form, Recent Prints
September 16–December 31, 2017 (with interruption from October 18–22 for Craft Show)
Noted artist and scholar, David Driskell, PhD, (1931) is widely respected as an artist, curator, educator, and scholar of African-American art. He is Professor Emeritus of Art at the University of Maryland, College Park, and where the David C. Driskell Center for the Study of the Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora honors his contributions to the field. The exhibition comes to Easton from the Center for Maine Contemporary Art, in Rockland, ME, and was curated by Greenhut Galleries in Portland, ME.

David Driskell, The Hibiscus, Linocut.

Helen Siegl: Fantasy Creatures from the Museum’s Collection
September 16–November 26, 2017
Helen Siegl (1924–2009) used an unusual printmaking technique—often combining various kinds of blocks and plates to create an image, including handmade plaster blocks. She designed these when wood was scarce in Vienna during World War II. Siegl gained a reputation for both her individual signed and numbered prints and for her book illustrations.

Annual Members’ Exhibition
Continuing through September 4 (Labor Day), 2017
The Academy Art Museum’s Annual Members’ Exhibition is an exceptional tradition which represents the best of the region’s artists and offers an opportunity to view the creative talents of colleagues and friends.


Academy Art Museum Instructors’ Open House
Saturday, September 9 10 a.m.–3 p.m.
Come meet the Museum instructors, view their work, watch art demonstrations, and enjoy refreshments while learning about fall courses at the Museum.

Helen Siegl, Goose Waddle, Woodcut on tissue paper, AAM 2012.012.34.

Craft Show Luncheon Lunch with Bennett Bean
Friday, September 15, 2017, Noon–2 p.m.
Scossa Restaurant
$140 per person (Limited Seating)
Enjoy an intimate lunch of classic northern Italian cuisine prepared by award-winning chef and owner Giancarlo Tondin of Scossa Restaurant and listen while ceramic artist Bennett Bean shares his inspiration for his prolific body of work.

Open MIC
September 11, 7 to 9 p.m.
Theme: Changes
The Academy Art Museum’s Open Mic is a monthly occasion for our community to share and appreciate the rich tapestry of creativity, skills and knowledge that thrive in the region. Contact Ray Remesch at for additional information.


Kittredge-Wilson Lecture Series

These lectures feature an exciting array of speakers who impart a diversity of perspectives on subjects such as art, architecture, history and literature. Series Tickets: (6 lectures) $125 Members, $150 Non-members. Pre-registration is suggested. Register online at

Museum Instructor

Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting: Inspiration and Rivalry
Arthur K. Wheelock Jr. Curator of Northern Baroque Paintings, National Gallery of Art, Washington
Friday, September 29, 6 p.m.
Individual Tickets: $24 Members, $29 Non-members

Andrew Wyeth: In Retrospect
Brandywine River Museum of Art
Wednesday, September 6
Cost: $72 Members $87 Non-members (includes admission, guided tour)

Black, White & Abstract: Callahan, Siskind, White
Baltimore Museum of Art
Wednesday, September 27
Cost: $55 Members $66 Non-members



Mini Masters Academy
An Early Enrichment Program for Children ages 2–4
In Partnership with the Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center
Morning or Full-Day Program – Classes begin September 6, 2017
Mini Masters Academy introduces young children to new ideas through a thematic approach to learning that emphasizes relationships and the ability to make meaningful connections. The rich resources of the Academy Art Museum offer a wonderful venue for teaching these sensory explorations. Enrollment is ongoing. Contact Janet Hendricks for program details at jhendricks@academyartmuseum or (410) 822-2787.

Home School Art Classes
Fridays from 1:00-2:30 p.m.

Early Fall Session: September 8–October 13, 2017
Ages 6 to 9 years (Please do NOT register 5-year olds in this class)
Constance Del Nero
Ages 10+
Susan Horsey

Andrew Wyeth Winter, 1946 (detail) Tempera on board North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh.

Fall Session: October 27–December 15, 2017 (Note that there are NO classes on November 10 or 24)
Ages 6 to 9 years (Please do NOT register 5 year-olds in this class)
Constance Del Nero
Ages 10+
Susan Horsey
Cost (per session): $90 Members, $100 Non-members
After the first full-priced tuition, siblings attend for $60/67! Pre-registration is advised as space is limited in each group.

After-School Art Clubs
Students Grades 1 – 8
Instructor: Susan Horsey
Students Grades 4–8
Eight Thursdays: September 21–November 30 (No class on October 19, November 9 or 30)
3:45–5:00 p.m.
Cost: $120 Members, $130 Non-members

Mini Masters at the Academy Art Museum

Li’l Kids After-School Art Club
Students Grades 1–3
Eight Fridays: September 22–December 1 (No class on October 20, November 10 or 24)
3:30–4:30 p.m.
Cost: $115 Members, $125 Non-members



Photographing the Log Canoe Races
Instructor: Jay Fleming
1 day: Saturday, September 9
Cost: $335 Members, $402 Non-members (includes the boat fees)

Botanical Watercolor Workshop
Instructor: Hillary Parker
3 days: September 22, 23 and 24 Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m.–4 p.m.
Cost: $225 Members, $270 Non-members

Jay Fleming

Adult Classes


Introduction to Basic Drawing
Instructor: Katie Cassidy
6 weeks: September 12–October 17 Tuesdays, 10 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
Cost: $185 Members, $220 Non-members

Intermediate Drawing: Interiors and Still Life
New Instructor: Daniel Riesmeyer
5 weeks: September 20–October 25 (no class October 18)
Wednesdays, 10 a.m.–1 p.m.
Cost: $175 Members, $210 Non-members

Portrait Drawing
Instructor: Brad Ross
5 weeks: September 21 – October 26 (no class October 19)
Thursdays: 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Cost: $165 Members, $198 Non-member

Matthew Hillier


Beginning Painting: Studies in Color
Instructor: Sheryl Southwick
September 12, 14, 19, 21 and October 3 and 5
Tuesdays and Thursdays: 9:30 a.m.-Noon
Cost: $135 Members, $162 Non-members

Painting Birds in the Landscape
Instructor: Matthew Hillier
6 weeks: September 16–October 28 (no class Oct. 21)
Saturdays, 10 a.m.–1 p.m.
Cost: $190 Members, $228 Non-members

The Next Step – Oil Painting for New or Returning Painters
Instructor: Diane DuBois Mullaly
3 weeks: September 16, 23, October 7
Saturdays, 10 a.m.–2 p.m.
Cost: $150 Members, $180 Non-members

Sheryl Southwick


Still Life in Pastel
Instructor: Katie Cassidy
4 weeks: September 13–October 4
Wednesdays, 10 a.m.–1 p.m.
Cost: $160 Members, $192 Non-members


Watercolor: Beginning Watercolor Painting
Instructor: Heather Crow
5 weeks: September 12 – October 10
Tuesdays, 1 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Cost: $160 Members, $192 Non-members, (plus, a $10 Materials Fee payable to instructor at first class)


Mulberry Paper Collage Workshop: Scrap Happy Mornings
Instructor: Sheryl Southwick
1 day: September 20, Wednesday, 2–4:30 p.m.
Cost: $45 Members, $54 Non-members, (plus materials fee of $6 due to the instructor at first class)

Printmaking Exploration Evenings
Instructor: Sheryl Southwick
3 sessions of 4 weeks: Session I–Sept. 12, 14, 19, 21, Session 2–October 10, 12, 17, 24, Session 3–November 7, 14, 16, 21
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 5:30–8 p.m. Cost: $80 Members per session, $96 Non-members per session (plus $25 materials fee paid to instructor on first day.)


iPhone Class
Instructor: Scott Kane
Class 1: 2 Days, Wednesdays, September 6 and 13
Wednesdays: 6–8 p.m.
Cost per class: $50 Members, $60 Non-Members

Organizing, Taking, Storing and Sharing Photos with Your Smart Phone
Instructor: Scott Kane
Class 1: 2 Days: Wednesdays, September 20 and 27
Cost per class: $50 Members, $60 Non-members

For additional information, visit or call the Museum at 410-822-2787.

Mid-Shore Art Notes: Notes from Venice

The Spy is always interested in knowing what Barbara Paca is up to.  The Oxford-based scholar, designer, and curator of the recent and highly successful art exhibition celebrating the life and work of the Talbot County artist Ruth Starr Rose has now turned up at the Venice Biennale for a few months to bring a well-deserved spotlight on another underappreciated artist from the early 1920s. In this case, it’s the Antiguan artist, Frank Walter.

Known by some as the 7th Prince of the West Indies and Lord of Follies, Walter born in Antigua in 1926. Tracing his lineage back to the slaves of sugar plantation owners, he produced remarkable portraits of island life as he worked his way into being the first black man there to manage a sugarcane plantation.

Paca’s interest of Walter’s work led to the installation of Frank Walter, The Last Universal Man (1926-2009) in the Biennale this year. Pulling together his paintings, sculpture, audio recordings, and writing, it marks Antigua and Barbuda’s inaugural representation at the legendary Venice event.

The Spy got a few postcards from her to share the other day.

For more information about Frank Walter, The Last Universal Man (1926-2009) and the Venice Biennale please go here

Baltimore’s Sylvia and Eddie Brown attend opening of Antigua & Barbuda’s inaugural National Pavilion at Venice Biennale Left to Right:
His Excellency, Sir Rodney Williams, Governor General Antigua & Barbuda, Bikem de Montebello, Barbara Paca,Eddie Brown and Sylvia Brown

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SMAL Honors David Grafton at A.M. Gravely Gallery August 12th

Garden Nymph by Kathy Kopec

The public is invited to a reception on Saturday, August 12 from 5 to 7 PM for the St. Michaels Art League show “Endless Summer” now on display for sale at the A.M. Gravely Gallery. An award will be given in honor of David Grafton who recently passed away. David was a well know Easton artist and gallery owner. He will be greatly missed. This award will be given to the art work that received the most votes from visitors to the gallery. The award is called The David Grafton People’s Choice Award. The reception is held in conjunction with Second Saturday Art Walk in St. Michaels. Refreshments will be served and offers an opportunity to meet the exhibiting artists and discuss their work.

“Endless Summer” will continue through Sunday, October 1. The gallery is located at 408 South Talbot Street in St. Michaels and is open Friday through Monday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Stop by the reception and enjoy refreshments while meeting the artists and viewing their work, including the winner of The David Grafton People’s Choice Award. For more information visit

Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra Celebrates 20th Anniversary Season

The only symphony orchestra on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, the Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra (MSO), is celebrating 20 years of bringing enchantment to audiences from Ocean City, MD to Wye Mills, MD. This year, in celebration of its 20th year, the MSO will also host a special performance at the French Embassy in Washington, DC and at the Todd Performing Arts Center at Chesapeake College in Wye Mills, MD. In addition, the orchestra will perform across the Eastern Shore at the Historic Avalon Theatre, Christ Church and Church of God, all in Easton, MD; the Community Church in Ocean Pines, MD; the Mariner’s Bethel Church in Ocean View, DE; and the Ocean City Performing Arts Center within the Roland E. Powell Convention Center in Ocean City, MD.

Maestro Julien Benichou

According to Maestro Julien Benichou, “The Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra is on the move and we are proud of the program we have developed for our 20th Anniversary, ‘Reaching Ever Higher!’ season. Our fall program kicks off with ‘East and West of the Rhine’ concerts in late September and early October, featuring the music of Ernest Chausson, Camille Saint-Saéns, Maurice Ravel, and Johannes Brahms.”

Highlights throughout the year include an “Autumn Legends” concert in early November showcasing the works of Vivaldi, Haydn, and Alwyn. Audiences can ring in the holiday season with “Holiday Joy,” in early December celebrating the spirit of the holidays with traditional seasonal favorites. The orchestra’s “Toast to the New Year” will celebrate the New Year with revelry and music on both New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. For the first year, the MSO will present a February concert, “A Roaring Movies Valentine,” featuring music from the Roaring Twenties and silent pictures. In March, the orchestra will premiere a commission from composer Camila Agosto, a highly inspiring and creative young artist whose music blends acoustic and multimedia elements, in “In Their Twenties,” along with the music of Mozart and Bizet composed when they were also in their twenties. The season finale in April, “Heavenly Music: Mahler, Janice Chandler, and Leon Fleisher,” is a concert not to be missed, including a culminating performance featuring pianist Leon Fleisher.

The Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra

Jeffrey Parker, President of the Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra, comments, “Few communities our size can boast, or sustain, such a cultural undertaking, and although very challenging, we have managed throughout the years with the continuous support of our dedicated and growing audience.”

The MSO’s mission is “to enrich life in the Mid-Atlantic region through the power of live classical music.”  The orchestra performed its first concert, under the direction of founder and Music Director Donald Buxton, at the Ocean City Convention Center on November 21, 1997.  Maestro Buxton conducted the orchestra until June 2005.  Under his tutelage, the MSO established itself as the provider of quality symphonic music throughout the multistate peninsula.  In September 2005, Maestro Julien Benichou assumed the role of MSO Music Director. Benichou, a native of France, has been thrilling audiences with his innovative programming, graceful and expressive style of conducting, and spontaneous communications from the podium.  As a testament to the caliber of the orchestra today, in June 2008, the MSO was invited to perform a pops concert sponsored by the Freeman Foundations.  Since then, the MSO has opened the Freeman Stage’s performance season every year in June and performed the closing concert of the Freeman Stage season on Labor Day weekend. 

The Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra is supported in part by the Maryland State Arts Council, the Talbot County Arts Council, the Worcester County Arts Council, Sussex County, Delaware and the Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore, Inc.

Season subscriptions for the 2017 – 2018 season of the MSO are now available online at, or by telephone (888) 846-8600.  For further information, visit

Spy Report: Academy Art Museum Members Take Over the Galleries

About this time every year, the members of the Academy Art Museum stage a very polite coup d’etat on South Street and take over the walls in every gallery to share their artwork with the community. From oil paintings to sculpture, and photography to watercolors, over two hundred objects fill the Museum from July 29th through September 4th.

This tradition has been a part of the AAM since it first opened its doors in 1958, and also one of the most popular programs as friends and family members see these artists work in a museum setting. It was has become an important exhibition for Museum staff to see new talent, some of whom are invited to show their art in a one person show.

The Spy spoke for a few minutes with Ben Simons, the director of the AAM, as well as its curator, Anke Van Wagenberg, on the 59th year of the and sampled some of the art on display at the Annual Members’ Exhibition.

This video is approximately two minutes in length. For more information on the AAM Annual Members’ Exhibition please go here

Tred Avon Players Performs “The Odd Couple” August 10-20

Tred Avon Players performs one of Neil Simons’ most well-known plays, The Odd Couple, directed by Ed Langrell with Assistant Director Alison Lynch.  The play opens August 10 and runs through August 20 at the Oxford Community Center as Simon celebrates his 90th birthday this July.  He was born Marvin Neil Simon in the Bronx in New York City. During his long life he married Diane Lander, Marsha Mason, Joan Baim and is currently married to Elaine Joyce.

He is a writer and producer. Almost every one of his 30-plus plays, mostly Broadway comedies, has also been adapted into a motion picture. Simon has received more Oscar and Tony nominations than any other writer in the history of show business. He became so successful financially that he backs his own plays.

L-R sitting: Zack Schlag, Bill Gross, Patrick Fee, Paul Briggs, Brian McGunigle. L-R standing: Lisa Roth, Bob Chauncey, Annie Dietz

As Simon once mentioned of his writing, “I don’t like writing for comedians. I like writing for actors. The best comedians are the best actors.”Among his most well-known plays are Brighton Beach Memoirs, Plaza Suite, Biloxi Blues, Barefoot in the Park, The Prisoner of Second Avenue, The Sunshine Boys, Broadway Bound, Sweet Charity, Chapter Two, Lost In Yonkers, for which he received a Tony Award and a Pulitzer Prize, and The Odd Couple.

His brother, Danny Simon, began writing the The Odd Couple and unable to finish he asked Neil to take it over. Neil did in exchange for sole author credit, however, he continues to pay Danny 10% of everything the play generates. Simon based the play on his brother’s divorce.

Sitting L-R: Annie Dietz, Bob Chauncey, Lisa Roth, Standing: Bill Gross.

Neil Simon sold film and TV rights to Paramount Pictures in 1967. Paramount produced two theatrical films, three live-action TV series and an animated series based upon the play. In 1968, The Odd Couple was made into a film starring Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. An updated version of the 1965 show appeared in 2002 with the title Oscar and Felix: A New Look at the Odd Couple.

An ABC sitcom featuring Tony Randall and Jack Klugman ran from 1970–75.  In the fall of 1975, ABC aired a cartoon version of the play entitled The Oddball Couple, in which the roles were played by a cat and dog named Spiffy and Fleabag.

In 1982, ABC aired a new version of the series, The New Odd Couple starring two African American actors, Ron Glass and Demond Wilson.  Simon also wrote a female version about two women, Olive Madison and Florence Ungar.

Tred Avon Players will perform the original stage play showcasing the two mismatched roommates, a fastidious, hypochondriac Felix Ungar (Bob Chauncey) whose marriage is ending and the sloppy, easygoing recently divorced Oscar Madison (Bill Gross).

L-R around table: Zack Schlag, Patrick Fee, Bill Gross, Bob Chauncey, Paul Briggs, Brian McGunigle.

Felix, a neurotic, neat freak news-writer is thrown out by his wife and moves in with his friend Oscar, a slovenly sportswriter. Oscar enjoys life, with careless spending, excessive gambling, and a poorly kept house filled with spoiled food. Felix, however, is incapable of enjoying anything and only finds purpose in pointing out his own and other people’s mistakes and foibles which is extremely annoying to those around him including their friends and poker buddies.

The four Poker buddies bring along their own wit and laughs to the card table. Murray (Patrick Fee), Speed (Brian McGunigle), Vinnie (Zack Schlag), and Roy (Paul Briggs). Excitement seems to come into their lives with a visit from upstairs neighbors, Cecily (Anna Deitz) and Gwendolyn Pigeon (Lisa Roth), a pair of giggly English sisters. The former is a divorcee and the latter is a widow.

Director Ed Langrell brings out the best of the characters to create a hilarious and laugh filled performance.  The production crew includes assistant director, Alison Lynch; producer, John Norton; stage manager, Rob Lynch; stage crew, Bill Roth, Lynne Heller, and Madeline Webb; costumes by Janet Pfeffer, Barbara Mann, and Lisa Roth; Light design by Skipper Marquess and tech by Tom Gross; Sound design by Patrick Fee. Set design and construction by Lawrie Jessup.

Performances are Thursdays, August 10 & 17 at 7:30 pm.  Fridays and Saturdays August 11, 12, 18, & 19 at 7:30 pm, Sundays August 13 & 20 at 2pm. Tickets are $20 adults, $10 for student.  Call for reservations 410-226-0061.

Trippe-Hilderbrandt Gallery Rolls Out the Welcome Mat for Plein Air-2017

Trippe-Hilderbrandt Gallery welcomes Plein Air Easton! with special demonstrations by gallery artists and Plein Air Easton competitors watercolorist David Csont, oil painter Leonard Mizerek, oil painter Elise Phillips and Botanical artist Lee D’Zmura will be giving public demonstrations of their individual painting styles on Friday July 21 at the gallery. Csont, Phillips and Mizerek are competing in their 8th straight Plein Air Easton!

In addition, there will be a special Gallery Walk in Easton on Saturday July 22 with all galleries open until 8 pm and serving refreshments.

David Csont giving his demo in 2016

Leonard Mizerek nurtured his artistic love of nature while growing up in the Brandywine Valley. His early influence was with the Pennsylvania Impressionists and Brandywine School. Mizerek is one of 26 Fellows of the American Society of Marine Artists. Throughout the last few years,

Leonard participated in several invitational Plein Air events including Mystic, Annapolis, winning Honorable Mention and Easton Md. winning Second Place in the Quick Draw event. Len’s demonstration at the gallery will be from 10:30-12 at the gallery on Friday the 21st.

“Where most people see the ordinary, I envision a painting.” says award winning oil painter Elise Phillips. Elise was born in Wayne, Pennsylvania into a family with an extensive background in the fine arts. Her great, great grandfather founded Newman Galleries in Philadelphia in 1865, and today she is the fifth generation of the family involved in the arts. Her demonstration at the gallery will be from 12:30-2 on Friday the 21st.

Watercolor has been a passion of David Csont and is evident in his painting and illustration style. Over 25 years he has developed a colorful, painterly approach, rooted in the tradition of English watercolorists.. Ever cultivating his technique, he can be seen painting traditional plein air watercolors as he travels the world. David will be giving a demonstration at the gallery on Friday July 21 from 2-3:30 PM.

Botanical Artist Lee D’Zmura will be giving a demonstration of her technique at the gallery Friday morning from 10:30-12. Talbot County artist Lee D’Zmura is an award winning botanical artist whose experience in landscape architecture enriches her watercolors fine detail in her paintings is in part the result of years of technical drawing. Her watercolors are an attempt to capture the beauty and delicacy of the individual specimen with botanical accuracy.

In addition to demonstrations on Friday, Trippe-Hilderbrandt Gallery will be joining other Easton galleries for a special gallery walk Saturday July 22 from 5-8. For more information please call 410-310-8727.


Mid-Shore Arts: Working with Wood in Chestertown

Robert Ortiz has established himself as one of Chestertown’s most admired entrepreneurs, creating fine furniture that blends Japanese and Shaker traditions into something contemporary and distinctive. His two lines of furniture — named for his children, Daniel and Sofia — combine simple shapes and combinations of different woods.

A furniture maker for 30 years, Ortiz has had his studio in at 207 C S. Cross Street in Chestertown for the past 20 years. In addition to its primary function as a woodworking shop, it occasionally hosts concerts by the Pam Ortiz band, in which he accompanies his wife on percussion, guitar, and vocals. It has also doubled as “Olivander’s Wand Shop” during Chestertown’s Harry Potter Festivals.

Recently, Ortiz has launched onto a new aspect of his craft – passing along his knowledge and methods to others. Here’s what he told the Chestertown Spy about his new project in a recent interview.

Bob Ortiz with a table like those he shows his students how to build

“Since 2008 when the financial crisis happened, most people who have small businesses — if they’re not still recovering — are trying to figure out how to move into the future. . I spent about eight years trying to figure out how to survive in the furniture business, because like many small industries it’s completely different than it was prior to 2008.

I think of 30 years of making furniture as two generations.

“The first generation of people I made furniture for, they’re retiring, downsizing, moving into assisted living, in some cases passing on. I asked those folks, what are they doing with their artwork and their furniture, with their silver, china, and most of them tell me they’re taking it to second-hand stores. Their children don’t want it, their grandchildren don’t want it. The generation that’s replacing that older cohort are in a very different place than my parents or my grandparents were. They’re starting families much later; they’re moving through different careers, different jobs every year, so that stability isn’t there. They’re living with a lot more debt.

“So over the years, I’ve been asking myself, what’s the strategy here? Who wants furniture; who needs furniture? And the more I listened to people and read articles, I realized that there are two things going on. One thing is, that the generation that is just about starting to retire or recently retired they no longer want to buy art or craft: they want to make it. The other interesting thing is that their children and grandchildren are not buying hand-crafted furniture. So about a year and a half ago I came up with this idea that I call the Chestertown vacation workshops.

“Basically, it’s this: come and spend a week with me. It’s one on one, it’s not a group thing. Immerse yourself in the making of a beautiful object that’s useful. I’ve been making this line of furniture now for 20 years, and so my comfort with it, my ability to pass along what I’ve learned in those 20 years, is part of what the workshop’s about.

“I try to be real clear; this is not about starting a woodworking school. If you’re coming to one of my workshops, it’s about come, spend a week, we’ll go from soup to nuts. Picking out the wood, making the pieces, designing them, putting them together, and at the end of the week you get to take it home.”

Part of the Robert Ortiz Studio

Who are the workshops aimed at? Ortiz said, “I’ve had people with a little bit of woodworking experience, people with no woodworking experience. I’ve had men and women who spent their career behind a desk, who finally want to get out from behind that desk and make something. I’ve had several women who weren’t allowed to take shop in high school who finally said, you know, I’m going to make myself something.”

The Spy asked, “What kinds of skills are they going to need for the workshop?”

Workshop participant and project.

Ortiz said, “To a certain extent, when you come here, I don’t care if you’ve been a CEO, I don’t care if you’ve been a lowly worker – everybody is a private here, except for myself. The most important thing is for people to be willing and able to concentrate and to follow directions. The one skill that is really helpful is that you’re a problem solver. If you’re a good problem solver, it goes quickly. If not, we have to spend a little more time making sure that when it’s time to make a cut or put something together, that you’re able to do it right.

“Somebody who doesn’t have a lot of experience, or who has no experience, may wind up saying to themselves, well, gee, how am I going to take that workshop? Well, what I tell people is, you know all those people who are climbing up Mount Everest with a guide?  Most of those people – they’re not mountain climbers. They’re people who pay a lot of money to have somebody shepherd them up the mountain, hopefully they make it, hopefully they come back down the mountain and have a wonderful experience to talk about. Well, in my case, I’m shepherding you through the process of making a piece of furniture. My job actually ends up being to make all the test pieces to give the student the confidence that they’ll be able to make the cut.”

Ortiz takes a good bit of pride in the quality of work his students are able to produce. He said, “Back in October I had an alumni weekend. I invited everyone who had taken a workshop to come and bring their piece of furniture and have it out on the floor. It was during the studio tour that happens in Kent County, because I wanted other people to see what participants had made, and the quality of what people were able to achieve. On my website, I have lots of photos of things that people have made, and you’d be pretty amazed. And I had a CEO last week who told me his doctor told him he needed to find something to do as a hobby. So he hadn’t taken wood shop since high school. I was pretty amazed. He didn’t answer his phone once during the course of the week. So I think the most important thing is to leave your daily routine behind you and be able to immerse yourself in the craft and in all the nuances and all the focus that it takes in order to make something with your hands and make it beautiful.

Alec Dick of Chestertown making a table in an Ortiz workshop

“The process – most of these pieces take about five days. And in those five days, my hope is that people are willing to come into my world, see how I spend my day. And my day involves focusing on the work that I’m doing, focusing on the details, and trying to get my students, the folks who are taking my workshops, to focus on those details just as much as myself, so that at the end of the week they take home this piece that’s as good as, or nearly as good as, something that I’ve made.

“I mentioned earlier that older people are giving their furniture, their silver, their china to second-hand and thrift stores. The kids don’t want the furniture that their grandparents or parents bought. What he said took me by surprise and it opened up a door that I just wasn’t thinking was there. He told me he brought home the first piece of furniture that he made from the workshop, and in the course of a couple of weeks, his three sons came to visit. And each of them said to him, “I want that when you die.” So it became clear to him, ‘Well, OK, I need to make three pieces of furniture, one for each.’

“But what’s interesting to me is, now we’re talking about a heirloom that’s going to stay in the family, hopefully for several generations.”

Workshop participants and project.

Ortiz knows what that means. Among all the fine pieces in his shop, he showed the table his computer sits on. “That’s a table that my father made when we lived in a little apartment in Greenwich Village when I was a kid. My father had no workshop – he was a factory worker, he was a metal worker.  But that was a formica and metal table that he made. It’s always something that I’ve kept close by. And I guess to a certain extent the workshops are just a continuation of that. So – that’s what the workshops are about. The workshops are about legacy; the workshops are about coming and having fun; the workshops are about something, take it home, get to say every day, ‘I made that.’

The other thing that folks should know, I’m also willing to entertain other people’s designs. It sometimes costs a little more because I’ve got to figure out how we’re going to make them within the time frame.”

For more information about the workshops, and about Ortiz’s furniture, visit his website.

Furniture from the Daniel and Sophia furniture lines, made by Bob Ortiz in his Chestertown Studio:





See the Magic of Willy Wonka and Dr. Seuss at Church Hill Theatre

Talented local youngsters will entertain audiences of all ages in performances of Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka KIDS and Seussical JR. at Church Hill Theatre from Thursday, July 20 through Sunday, July 23. For almost 20 years, Green Room Gang campers have honed their acting, singing and dancing skills to produce fully staged musical productions.

Mischievous Oompa Loompas put naughty children in sticky situations in CHT’s Green Room Gang Junior production of Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka KIDS.

Mischievous Oompa Loompas put naughty children in sticky situations in CHT’s Green Room Gang Junior production of Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka KIDS.

Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka KIDS is a colorful musical adapted for children from Roald Dahl’s unforgettable book “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” as well as the 1971 film “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” starring Gene Wilder.

The cast of CHT’s Green Room Gang Senior production of Seussical JR. welcomes audiences to the wonderful world of Dr. Seuss.

Seussical JR. is a fantastical musical adventure co-conceived by Eric Idle (of “Monty Python” fame) that transports audiences to the wonderful world of Dr. Seuss and includes such memorable characters as the Cat in the Hat, Horton the Elephant, and the tiny Whos of Whoville.

The colorful characters of Dr. Seuss come to life in the CHT’s Green Room

Becca Van Aken served as director to younger performers in Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka KIDS and Shannon Whitaker directed the middle and high schoolers in Seussical JR. Interns Georgia Rickloff and Iz Clemens ably assisted the directors with instruction and production. Shelagh Grasso and Sylvia Maloney, retired educators and avid CHT volunteers, served as producers for the camp. A small staff provided overall technical support for the productions, including Carmen Grasso and Brian Whitaker who designed and built the set, Tina and Erma Johnson who created the costumes, and Nic Carter who was responsible for the light design.  S.G. Atkinson was the photographer. Several past GRG students volunteered as camp helpers, and many parents and other volunteers helped with costumes, sets, props, and backstage responsibilities, making this annual production a true community effort. 

Looks like somebody found a Golden Ticket! Join Green Room Gang Junior as they journey into Willy Wonka’s magical factory in Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka KIDS.

Horton the Elephant searches frantically for a very special clover in the CHT’s Green Room Gang Senior production of Seussical JR.

Shows will be on the evenings of Thursday, July 20 and Friday, July 21 at 7 pm and there will be matinee performances on Saturday, July 22 and Sunday, July 23 at 2 pm. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students; only cash or check will be accepted for this production. At these shows, audiences will also have the opportunity to participate in Church Hill Theatre’s “Sweets for Stucco” fundraiser to support their historic exterior stucco restoration, which is a $19,000 project.

The theatre is located at 103 Walnut St. in Church Hill, MD, 21623

Reservations for CHT’s Green Room Gang 2017 performances can be made by calling the Church Hill Theatre office at (410) 556-6003. 

For more information, visit the theatre website, contact theatre manager Nina Sharp by email at or call the Church Hill Theatre Office 410-556-6003

Learn, Paint, Be Inspired at Plein Air Easton

Words of Advice – Do not be afraid! Bring your paints, set up your easel, ask questions and make friends. We’ll point you toward opportunities for anyone (not just the 58 juried artists) to paint, and every opportunity to watch and learn. Jump on in!

Events for every Artist to Consider:

The 58 competition artists will be painting all around the area for many days however, events held in Oxford and Tilghman early in the week will give you a chance to identify painters to watch while they are likely to be painting in a concentrated area.

July 13:


The Tilghman Watermen’s Museum hosts the first paint out, so artists are fresh and full of energy. The artists will bring their completed works and meet up at Harrison’s at 6pm so consider visiting and stay for a drink at Harrison’s so you can take in all of the works created that day.

July 16:


If you missed it last year, don’t miss it again. Oxford will host its second annual Paint Oxford Day. Taking place on Sunday, July 16th, local businesses will offer specials and the day will conclude with live music, a free reception, exhibition, and sale at the Oxford Community Center from 5 to 6:30 pm. A $1,000 artist’s choice prize will be awarded. This event is sponsored by the Oxford Business Association.

July 17:

Easton – Avalon

10am – FREE Demo and FREE Samples (for the first 30 attendees) from Winsor & Newton, (acrylic medium) at the Avalon Theatre. Demonstration by Tony Zatzick from Winsor & Newton on the Avalon Theatre stage. Learn and be inspired amidst a great art exhibition also in the theatre. Plan to attend Tony’s afternoon Paint-Out and stay for lunch in between with Rise up Coffee and Hill’s Cafe & Juice Bar onsite.

2pm – FREE Paint Out Meet Tony Zatzick in the Avalon Lobby and walk to the Historical Society Gardens for this relaxed and FREE paint out.

July 18:

Easton – Avalon

10am AND 2pm – FREE Demo and FREE Samples (for the first 30 attendees) from Winsor & Newton, Avalon Theatre, 10am (watercolor) or 2pm (oil) – Demonstrations by Tony Zatzick from Winsor & Newton on the Avalon Theatre stage. Learn and be inspired amidst a great art exhibition also in the theatre. Plan to attend both of today’s demos and stay for lunch in between with Rise up Coffee and Hill’s Cafe & Juice Bar onsite.

July 19:


10am to 12pm – FREE Outside Studio Demo with Crystal Moll, PAE Alumnae. Crystal works strictly on location. Drawn to urban landscapes, she investigates the colors reaction as it is bathed warm in sunlight or cooled in shadow. Most of her pieces require 2-10 visits often working over weeks… a painting may become ‘caught’ in a season so work will commence the following season. Meet in the Avalon Lobby and join her at an outside location as she chases the sun for a 2 hours. She also owns the Crystal Moll Gallery in Baltimore, where she displays not just her work but the work of many fine artists with an emphasis on plein air painting.

8:30 to 11pm – Paint a Nocturne. Plein Air Easton will shut down Harrison Street in front of the Tidewater Inn. Set up in the middle of the street and paint safely alongside your friends and competing artists. This is an easy, no stress, no exhibition paint-out; just bring your paints and enjoy the camaraderie.

July 19, 20 and 21:


10am – Rehearse Quick Draw. Online registration required and spaces limited. Sign up for one day or all three days to practice your Quick Draw painting skills. Work on composition or colors, take the time to understand the light and shadows, and receive instruction and critique from educators and professional painters. Opportunities each day to win prizes and scholarships.

Wednesday Session – This session is free, however, you must provide proof that you are (or have been) enrolled in a weekly class or demo at Chesapeake Fine Art Studio during 2017. Apply Online. Wednesday Judge = Rita Curtis
Thursday Session – $30 per artists. Apply Online. Thursday Judge = Christine O’Neill
Friday Session – $30 per artists. Apply Online. Friday Judge = Charlie Hunter

July 21:


9-11am – FREE Demo and Lecture with Joe Gyurcsak, PAE Competition Artist. Join us at The Easton Historical Society Gardens for a great demo and lecture session on plein air painting with Joe G! He will create a vibrant and spontaneous painting in the open air covering all the principal elements on abstract-realism and impressionism. Joe is one of the 58 competition artists and who has also participated Forgotten Coast Plein Air, Door County Plein Air and 4th time Faculty at the Plein Air Convention.

July 22:


10am – Quick Draw. Paint and Compete in the Largest Quick Draw in the Country, Harrison Street, Easton (registration required – apply online or in person) 2 hours of painting alongside hundreds of other artists, a 2-hour exhibition with brisk sales and a chance to win awards.

July 21, 22 and 23:


Demonstrations by Competing Artists @ Local Color, Tidewater Inn – Hosted by the Working Artist Forum. Do not miss demonstrations from some of Plein Air Easton’s previous award-winning painters (Sara Linda Poly, Trey Finney, Charlie Hunter, Jason Sacran and Hiu Lai Chong). Tip: While demons are free, seating can be limited, so arrive early for the best view.

Show Hours

· Friday, July 21, 12 Noon – 6:00PM
· Saturday, July 22, 10:00AM – 8:00PM
· Sunday, July 23, 9:00AM – 4:00PM
Free Demonstrations by Plein Air Easton’s 2016 Competition Award Winners

· Sara Linda Poly (Friday 1:00pm-3:00 pm) Judge
· Trey Finney (Friday 3:30pm -5:30pm)
· Charlie Hunter – Saturday (2:30pm -4:30pm)
· Jason Sacran – Saturday (5:00pm -7:00pm)
· Hiu Lai Chong – Sunday 9:00am -11:00am (Pastry buffet)
· Camille Przewodek – Sunday 11:30 – 1:30

July 23:


2pm – Plein Air Easton’s Judge’s Talk, Armory. Ever wondered, “What was that judge thinking?” West Fraser, this year’s judge, will explain his award choices in the festival’s culminating event. It is a great opportunity to learn what constitutes a winning painting, and a chance to say goodbye to newfound friends.