Avalon’s Weekend Marquee Update

The Talbot Spy sharing with our readers each week the MCTV produced Weekend Marquee with Tim Weigand as host. We hope you enjoy this short two minute preview of what’s coming up over the next few days.

Art Review: WarFront/HomeFront at the Kent County Arts Council Gallery

Silhouetted against a pinkish-red background, several doves perch on a rifle held high by a soldier’s arm. This poignant image is just one of many in “WarFront/HomeFront, Through the Eyes of Our Military” on view through December 3 at Kent County Arts Council. After languishing for years, the former Town Arts Building is open again and hosting a show that vividly celebrates the healing power of art.

Whether the glowing red background connotes blood and fiery violence or the radiant pink blush of sunrise, hope and love is not clear, and the tension behind this riddle tells the terrible truth that while war is waged to bring peace, peace never lasts.

“Birds over Peace,” Patrick Sargent (U. S. Air Force), screen-print on paper made from Walter Reed hospital scrubs, 13 ½ x 6 ½ inches, 2015

Created by Patrick Sargent, an Air Force veteran, at a workshop at Walter Reed National Military Center, “Birds over Peace” was screen-printed on paper made from worn-out scrubs from the hospital. Many of the show’s works were created in similar workshops, and many use handmade paper pulped from military uniforms by recovering soldiers in a powerful metaphor of transformation paralleling the soldiers’ transformative healing through making art.

“WarFront/HomeFront” is a heart-rending, provocative and soulfully beautiful exhibit drawn from the 600 works in the ART/ifacts Collection of The Arts & The Military, a grassroots organization that actively engages wounded veterans in the arts. They are joined by drawings and paintings of wounded soldiers from the Joe Bonham Project by artists from the Society of Illustrators and the International Society of War Artists.

Little boys love to play with toy soldiers, but the melted and mutilated toy soldiers scattered across Malachi Muncy’s “To Play Army” will never be played with again. The words scrawled across the paper pulp painting where they are imbedded blurt out a painful message that recurs throughout this show, “I Didn’t Know What It Meant To Play Army.”

“To Play Army,” Malachi Muncy (U. S. Army), pulp panting and ink with toy Army men embedded in paper made from pulped military uniforms, 11 x 17 inches, 2013

Military service was romanticized when Muncy was growing up as an Army brat, and like many young people with limited prospects, whether white, black, Latino or Native American, he chose the military as a way to obtain training and education. After two deployments to Iraq and a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder, he has turned to art, as well as other therapies, for healing.

Art engages experience on many levels. The viscous feeling of clay between the fingers and the sweep of an arm brushing color across a piece of paper are strongly physical. The artworks these actions create stimulate both eyes and brain in a process that probes memory and belief, digesting experience and feeling in order to work toward understanding.

Chosen by Guest Curator Tara Tappert, Executive Director of The Arts & The Military, and KCAC Co-Executive Director John Schratwieser, the exhibit includes paintings, drawings, ceramics, poetry, found object art, and many handmade paper works created from old uniforms. It’s a show in which art has a double mission, serving both as a therapeutic process and as a compelling advocacy tool teaching visitors about the inward experiences of individuals in the military.

It’s in some of the Joe Bonham Project drawings that personal stories come to life with intensely affecting strength. Civilian illustrator Jeffery Fisher’s watercolor “A Fitful Sleep” is a powerful image of a wounded soldier, arm bandaged, sheets pulled into sweeping diagonals, grimacing face turned away. The sense of aloneness in his nightmarish physical and mental pain is palpable.

“A Fitful Sleep,” Jeffrey Fisher (Civilian), watercolor and graphite on paper, 27 ½ x 18 inches, 2012

Through the process of creating, these wounded soldiers are able to discover ways to examine and express their wartime experiences in a safe and nourishing atmosphere. In one of the exhibit’s most inspired works, visitors may do the same. Across the gallery’s double windows hang several pairs of combat boots. These regulation boots have obviously been worn—despite the mandatory spit shine, they are scuffed and creased, each by an individual soldier. (No one wears a pair of boots in the same way as anyone else, as Van Gogh’s paintings attest.) Visitors are invited to write wishes, prayers or stories on paper provided and put them into the boots. Just a few days into the show, they were already brimming with handwritten notes which, at the end of the show, will be added to those collected from previous exhibits of the ART/ifacts Collection.

Interaction is crucial to the process of art, as it is to the process of healing. Wounded veterans worked together to pulp old uniforms into paper, to pose for drawings, and to organize workshops. It took great courage for them to open up through art to work on their own healing, and it takes courage to experience this show, but do it. You’ll be richer for the experience.

Mary McCoy is an artist and writer who has the good fortune to live beside an old steamboat wharf on the Chester River. She is a former art critic for the Washington Post and several art publications. She enjoys kayaking the river and walking her family farm where she collects ideas and materials for the environmental art she creates, often in collaboration with her husband Howard. They have exhibited their work in the U.S., Ireland, Wales and New Zealand.

Mid-Shore Arts: The Colors of Alison Cooley

As a select number of local art patrons know, there is a secret art gallery in downtown Easton. While it successfully fronts as a restaurant (in fact, one of the best on the Delmarva) the walls of Out of the Fire are continually changing to display some of the most talented local artists who have caught the eye of owner and art collector Amy Haines.

This month, A new artist has joined the ranks of the Out of the Fire portfolio. Alison Cooley relocated to Talbot County less than a year ago after her husband, Ben, assumed the directorship of the Academy Art Museum. Before that, the couple found themselves living in such diverse climates as the Island of Nantucket and the City of London before returning to the Mid-Atlantic region as well as close to Alison’s hometown of  Washington, D.C..

Those journeys played an essential influence in Alison’s work as she developed a unique color plate that reflected the sometimes severe microclimates of each setting. And those color choices have once again changed as she has adjusted to the Eastern Shore’s particular shades of green, purple and blue.

The Spy spent a few minutes with Alison at the Out of the Fire to talk about the importance of color, water, and paper in her work.

This video is approximately two minutes in length. For more information about Alison Cooley please go here

 

 

Spy Eye: Fired Up! Academy Art Museum’s Crafts Show Opens on Friday

Your first minutes at this weekend’s vibrant 2017 Academy Craft Show – Fired Up will give you even more proof of the delightful revitalization of the Shore’s own Academy Art Museum.  This regional jewel is becoming a ‘destination museum’ because of its exhibits, its creativity and its first-class events like the prestigious, juried, annual Craft Show happening October 20-22 in Easton.

Half the 70 artists are ‘new to this show’ for 2017. “That keeps us so fresh,” says Holly Fine, Museum Board member, artist, and 2017 Craft Show Chair. “The entire Shore should be proud,” she adds, “that so many nationally recognized artists ask to be invited into our show.”  This year, the applicant pool was twice as large as the show itself.  The large pool results from outreach by Fine and her team to high-caliber artists, aided by the Show’s growing reputation that now – apparently – travels alone and can sometimes get there first: “A number of artists,” Fine says, “are now finding us.”

The Academy Craft Show has grown in significance in its 20 years:  The 2017 show has more total artists than ever, more exhibits than ever, more artists-new-to-the-show than ever and more artists applying than ever and even a larger wait-list than ever.  And the Show’s public Raffle of artworks donated by show artists has more high-end artworks to win, than ever.

A teapot by ceramicist Lucy Dierks.

The 2017 artists hail from 18 states, coast to coast, including Maryland.  “So many,” Holly Fine says, “are at the top of their game, and certainly give us the ‘WOW factor’.”

The word “honored” signals they are talking about internationally celebrated ceramicist Bennett Bean who returns with his wisdom and quick humor to be the 2017 Academy Craft Show Honorary Chair and Visionary

Artist for all three days.  The phrase “real legend” signals that they are talking about the return of Mary Jackson herself, the MacArthur Fellow who preserved the Gullah tradition of weaving exquisite sweet-grass baskets.  And they say “thrilled” rightfully about so many other artists invited again, like J.J. Reichert who imagines and makes one-of-a-kind handbags that other people just, can’t.

And “exciting” is the word for every ‘new-to-show’ artist: Vermont goldsmith Jacob Albee combines gems and slices of meteorite – yes, meteorite – into pins, rings, wearable things men and women will happily attach to themselves.  Geoffrey Roth of Sedona styles ‘statement watches’ for men and women, timepieces of such immaculate precision that his work is deemed “watch engineering.”  Laurie Olefson makes sure you can actually use her “Optical Art,” her playful, pretty, eyeglass frames, through connections with actual Opticians.

Paul Willsea blows swirling colored luminous glass forms that will own the wall on which they will hang.  Designer Andrea Geer’s unique clothing gracefully floats on you while being completely cutting-edge.  Lucy Dierks’ ceramics mimic nature, hoping you’ll hear the clay birds perched on her teapots and vases.  Maryland’s Mea Rhee turns her clay vessels into the sweet bell-shape of Korean traditional dress and also turns an endearing pottery-salute to Asia’s elephants. 

Glass by glass blower Paul Willsea.

And this year, Shore businesses and neighbors set records as more than ever stepped up to sponsor the Craft Show and through it, the Museum; dozens of Shore businesses, starting with Easton Utilities, Ameriprise International and PURE Insurance.  “These businesses do not have to do this,” Fine says, “but they genuinely understand the critical role of art in a community’s overall health.” Fine also says the public should thank them: “We put every one of the sponsor names on the Craft Show website and encourage the public to take a look and learn who the good guys are.” However, she adds, “Support is never a spectator sport: Everyone can support the arts, this time while having real fun with the Craft Show.” “Every purchase of one Party ticket,” says Fine, “and one Show admission ticket, every Raffle ticket, helps the arts and yes, it matters.”

All 70 artists will be at all events on all three days at the Academy Art Museum in Easton.  The Preview Party with the Artists is Friday, October 20 from 6 to 9 p.m. “The party is elegant and fun,” says Fine. “There will be artists, oysters, libation stations, all to the music of Kentavius Jones.”

Raffle items this year are worth more than $75 each; most are worth many times that.  Yet Raffle tickets are only $5 each, and five tickets bundle for $20. They can be bought online at AcademyCraftShow.com.

Check out one more “first-ever,” AcademyCraftShow.com, the new, information-packed website.  Every 2017 artist is there, illustrated, profiled, and linked.  The donated Raffle artworks are there.  So are the names of the business and citizen sponsors who deserve public thanks.  And the links are active for everyone to buy their Admission, Raffle and Preview Party tickets online.

To be there, go here for all information and online ticket sales: AcademyCraftShow.com.BOX

The 2017 Academy Craft Show – Fired Up! The Academy Art Museum, 106 South Street, in Easton, Maryland

Preview Party with the Artists, Friday, October 20, 6 to 9 p.m. Tickets: $100 each and include complimentary show admission ticket and Raffle TicketShow Admission tickets for Saturday, October 21, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, October 22 from 10 a.m.  to 4 p.m.  Tickets: Museum members $10 each; Non-members $12 each. To celebrate the Show’s 20th year: ONE ADMISSION TICKET IS GOOD FOR BOTH DAYS OF THE SHOW! Academy Craft Show Raffle TicketsTickets: $5 per ticket OR Five-ticket bundle for $20. No limit on ticket purchases.

 

The 2017 Academy Craft Show – Fired Up!

The 2017 Academy Craft Show – Fired Up! happening this weekend.

The Preview Party with the Artists on Friday, October 20, 6 to 9 p.m. Awards & Brief Program: 7:30 p.m.

Craft Show Hours: Saturday, October 21, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday, October 22, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

70 Artists, Live Demonstrations, Raffle of Artists’ Works, and “Little Crafters” at the Academy Art Museum & Waterfowl Armory.

This weekend’s 2017 Academy Craft Show – Fired Up (AcademyCraftShow.Com) – the prestigious, juried show which has grown into a mainstay resource for the Academy Art Museum — is fresh and full of “firsts” for the Show’s 20th Anniversary.  This weekend, it brings 70 nationally-acclaimed artists to Easton from more than 18 states and a dozen fields of high-end craft. Breathtaking ceramics, sparkling glass, cutting-edge fashion and bags, precision-engineered watches, jewelry fused from meteorite and gems and much more.  The 2017 Academy Craft Show has more total artists than ever, more exhibits than ever; more artists-new-to-this-show than ever; more artists applying than ever; and even a larger wait-list than ever. And the Craft Show’s public Raffle of artworks donated by show artists has more high-end artworks to win, than ever.

All 70 artists will be at all events on all three days starting with Friday evening’s elegant and fun Preview & Awards Party featuring oysters, libation stations, and the music of Kentavius Jones.

The Craft Show is an important, major fundraiser for the Museum and a delightful way for the entire community to support its many community-based programs for all ages.

Spy Eye: Twenty Years of Art, Faith, and Friendship on Harrison Street

What has a Russian name, a Christian foundation, just turned twenty years old, and represents over thirty of the region’s best artists? If you answered the Troika Gallery in downtown Easton, you are correct.

In fact, Troika Gallery Fine Art Studio has been one of Talbot County’s most successful art galleries for most of that time. Humbly started in 1997 when it opened up in the Talbottown Shopping Center (now where Jo-Jo’s Cupcakes resides), Troika has matured to the point where it now offers art from less than a $1,000 to over $50,000. It is a remarkable case study of working artists coming together to build what Laura Era, one of the c0-founders, has called a special ministry, combining the talents of professionally trained artists and sculptors with a clear spiritual component.

The Spy has always been interested in this landmark art center on Harrison Street for some time, and finally had the chance to sit down with Laura and Jennifer Heyd Wharton, two of three co-founders (Laura’s mother Dorothy Newland retired in 2012) to talk about some of the history and personality of this popular art showcase, as well as their profound sense of faith, after twenty years of showing art as well as using the space to create their own work.

This video is approximately two minutes in length. For more information about the Troika Gallery please go here

Mid-Shore Arts: Marc Castelli’s ‘Swinging the Lantern’ at Massoni Gallery Begins October 20

For nearly a quarter of a century, Marc Castelli has been exhibiting his stunning watercolors of the workboats, watermen, historic log canoes and sporting events of the Chesapeake at the Carla Massoni Gallery in Chestertown, Maryland.  Swinging the Lantern, his annual one –man exhibition opens on October 20 and continues through December 2.  Collectors and friends will have the opportunity to visit with Castelli and attend the Collector’s Reception on Friday, October 20, from 6-8 pm.

The festivities continue the following week with the Sultana Education Foundation’s annual Downrigging Weekend from October 27-29.  Massoniart is proud to have been an event sponsor of this premier tall ship and wooden boat festival since its inception.  The Gallery is hosting a reception for the opening of Downrigging on Friday, October 27, 5-7:30 pm where they will welcome the return of the Kent County Watermen’s Association to shuck oysters out on the sidewalk followed by Sultana’s Fireworks at the foot of High Street.  During the weekend we sponsor an Open House on Saturday from 10-7 pm and Sunday From 11-3 pm.  But wait – there’s still more – plan to stay in the party mood through Chestertown’s First Friday Celebrations November 3, 5-8 pm and December 1, 5-8 pm.

During Downrigging, Marc Castelli will be honored with a special exhibition, Building Sultana – A Selection of Marc Castelli Paintings, at the Sultana Education Foundation’s new center. Between 1997 and 2001, Castelli captured the construction of the schooner SULTANA in more than 50 vibrant watercolor paintings. Taken together, these works represent one of the finest and most complete artistic surveys of the construction of a traditional wooden schooner produced over the last half century. Most of Castelli’s paintings of Sultana’s construction were rapidly acquired by private collectors, and haven’t been seen by the public for almost 20 years.  With the assistance of Marc Castelli, MASSONIART, and multiple private collectors, the Sultana Education Foundation is assembling a selection of these paintings for a special Downrigging Weekend exhibit. Also of note, Castelli’s “Building Sultana” exhibit shares its name with a new limited-edition book of his pen and ink drawings of the construction of Sultana that will be released during a special event at 6:00pm on Saturday, October 28 at Sultana’s Holt Center.

Castelli is considered a master of his genre.  He is on the water over 100 days a year gathering material to paint. Forty years of crewing on racing sailboats, and over twenty years actively participating on workboats has enabled him to get past the spectator view that represents the majority of marine and regional art.

The potential for abstraction, still life, figurative, atmospherics and sharp focus vignette, may exist in all the subject areas he explores but for Marc it is the strongest when on the water. It is the light, as it moves on and in water and is then reflected back on the watermen and their boats, that pulls at him.  Wherever he trains his focus, from the Sultana to the simplest of skiffs, he brings to the viewer a deeper understanding of the magic of the Chesapeake.

This year his annual exhibition, Swinging the Lantern, features over forty new watercolor paintings with a full range of subjects guaranteed to delight both collectors and those new to his work.

For additional information please contact Carla Massoni at 410-778-7330 or visitwww.massoniart.com. To learn more about Sultana Downrigging Weekend visitwww.sultanaeducation.org

CFF Preview: Tom Horton and the Rising Sea Levels of Dorchester County

The Chesapeake Film Festival has gone out of their way this year to emphasize the important theme of conservation, and has consequently assembled a first rate collection of the most current documentaries on climate change, sea level rising, and other global warming issues to screen in the last weekend in October in Talbot County.

Ranging from Leonardo DiCaprio to short films on forestry and the fishing, the festival’s curatorial hand has carefully vetted out the the very best in international filmmaking, but it is suspected that the film that will have the most impact locally is case study of rising sea levels in Dorchester County.

The local dream team of filmmaker Sandy Cannon-Brown, photographer David Harp, and environmental author Tom Horton, who were responsible two years ago for the popular Beautiful Swimmers Revisited, a documentary inspired by William W. Warner’s classic book on of the Chesapeake Bay, have now reunited to tell the sobering tale of the disappearing landscape of Dorchester and the possible for the thirteen other Counties.

The Spy caught up with High Tide in Dorchester writer and narrator Tom Horton a week ago at Bullitt House to talk about the film and its mission to send an important warning to the entire Chesapeake Bay region.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. For more information about the Chesapeake Film Festival please go here

Theatre Review: Garfield’s “Sylvia” a Winner by Peter Heck

Cast of “Sylvia”: Bryan Betley, Christine Kinlock, Will Robinson, Jennifer Kafka-Smith              Photo credit: Jane Jewell

Sylvia by A.R. Gurney, opening this weekend at the Garfield Center, is a romantic comedy about a man, his dog, his wife, and his mid-life crisis. – and, once you get beyond the surface, about the role of love in the modern world.

Directed by Bonnie Hill, the play is set in New York City sometime in the early 1990s.

Sylvia had its Off-Broadway premiere in 1995, with Sarah Jessica Parker (Carrie of Sex and the City) in the title role. It ran for 197 performances and received a Drama Desk nomination for Outstanding Play. Parker was nominated for Outstanding Actress, and the costume design by Jane Greenwood was also nominated. Oddly enough, it was 2015 before a Broadway production took place, although it had a number of productions elsewhere – including one at Church Hill Theatre in 1999, also directed by Hill.

Reportedly, Sylvia originally had trouble finding a Broadway production because potential backers found the play’s main plot device – a young woman playing the role of a dog – objectionable. Gurney’s answer was that the play was about connecting in an increasingly impersonal, alienated world, with the dog Sylvia the means by which the other characters ultimately connect.

Sylvia is part poodle and all beautiful after Greg takes her for a grooming. – Christine Kinlock and Will Robinson      Photo credit: Jane Jewell

The play begins as Greg, a middle-aged New Yorker, brings the dog Sylvia home after finding her in the park. Greg has left work – at a financial institution – early, and we soon learn that he is on the edge of burning out at work. Sylvia, who says at the outset that she loves Greg unconditionally, is a welcome relief from the cold business of commodities trading that makes up his day at work.

Sylvia the dog sits on the sofa with Greg – but only when Kate isn’t there!    Photo credit: Jane Jewell

But when Greg’s wife, Kate, arrives home, she makes it clear she has no interest in adopting a dog. Her career is just taking off, and the couple’s children are now in college, so they can begin to enjoy a more independent social life. Having a dog in the city would only burden them, she says. Greg convinces her to let Sylvia stay “a few days” to see how it works out. Of course, the few days extend to a much longer period – and the strain on the couple’s relationship builds, especially as it becomes clear that Greg is on the verge of losing his job.

Meanwhile, Sylvia goes about being very much a dog —  although a speaking dog who makes no bones about what she thinks and how she feels about things. Sylvia also tangles Greg up in the leash when they go for walks.  Kate sarcastically calls her “Saliva.”

The name “Sylvia” – imprinted on the dog tag that Sylvia wore when Greg found her – is particularly ironic to Kate as she teaches Shakespeare to teenagers.  She can’t help but be constantly reminded of the famous Shakespeare lyric, “Who is Sylvia?  Who is she/ That all our swains commend her?”

The relationship between Greg, Sylvia, and Kate soon takes on many aspects of a love triangle, although Kate is at first the only one who really understands what is happening. Her husband sees no problems with having a dog in a small New York City apartment.  She sees nothing but. Of course, in the end, as all romantic comedies should, love wins out. But it’s a close race in determining whose love for whom will win.

Jennifer Kafka-Smith as the wife, Kate –    Photo credit: Jane Jewell

Christine Kinlock, who recently appeared in Earl Lewin’s Orlando Rising at Church Hill Theatre and Shore Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, delivers an absolutely winning performance in the role of Sylvia. The role demands a good deal of the actor, with considerable use of body language to put over the character’s canine nature – tail wags, jumping up on furniture, and so forth. She makes good use of her voice to suggest barking, and her facial expressions are icing on the cake. Her reaction to seeing a cat on the street is hilarious, as is her “romance” with Bowser, a dog she meets in the park. Her performance alone is worth the price of admission.

Will Robinson, one of the stalwarts of the local theater community, plays Greg. He puts across the character’s amiable nature – and his goofy infatuation with his new “friend” – with considerable warmth. He makes Greg’s half-understood bumbling through a mid-life crisis and ignoring his wife for “the other’ almost forgivable. A very good performance – as we always expect when we hear that Robinson is onstage!

Jennifer Kafka-Smith is the perfect pick for Kate, a sophisticated woman finding her way as an English teacher after spending her early adulthood raising a family. Her objections to bringing a dog into a New York apartment are in fact reasonable, and her frustration that Greg doesn’t’ recognize them is palpable. She creates a sympathetic, likable character out of a role that could easily be seen as a villain – not easy to do but she makes it look easy.

The marriage counselor Leslie – played by Bryan Betley,    Photo credit: Jane Jewell

The fourth member of the cast, Bryan Betley, plays three very different roles – and plays them all well.  There is the fellow dog owner Greg meets in the park, one of Kate’s society friends (in a fabulous dress!), and an androgynous marriage counselor the couple visits.  Betley makes them all distinct and believable, using different voices and clothes to set the characters apart. A nice show of versatility!

The set, designed and built by Earl Lewin and crew from a concept and sketch by director Bonnie Hill, consists primarily of Greg and Kate’s apartment, with a wonderful view of the New York skyline projected on the back wall. The front corner of the stage doubles as Central Park, and the desk plays double duty as Kate’s and the marriage counselor’s offices. Simple but attractive – and with no set changes needed, it allows the play to move along briskly.

Set of “Sylvia” – ta contemporary living room with a view of the New York skyline.      Photo credit: Jane Jewell

The play maintains a nice balance between laugh-out-loud comedy and a tender look at the importance of love in the modern world. While it could easily be played very cartoonishly, Hill’s direction brings out both aspects of the play, making for an unusually rich performance. With all four actors delivering excellent performances, area theater-goers should make every effort to see this one.

Sylvia is an adult comedy, with some sexual references and frequently salty language – mostly from the dog, who expresses herself very directly and without filters. Parents might want to leave younger children home. Hill said the Church Hill performance cut much of the saltier language, but here the original script is presented almost intact.

Sylvia opens Friday, October 13 and runs through Sunday, Oct. 22. Performance times are 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, with 3 p.m. matinees on Sundays. Tickets are $20 general admission, $15 for the military or seniors aged 65 and older, and $10 for students.

Tickets are available online on the theater’s website or by calling the box office at 410-810-2060. The Garfield Center for the Arts at the Prince Theatre is located at 210 High Street, Chestertown.

Photography by Jane Jewell

Greg warily eyes the marriage counselor as Leslie asks him “What gender do you think I am?” (Will Robinson and Bryan Betley)     Photo credit: Jane Jewell

Greg and a fellow dog-owner discuss pooches and their partners. – (Will Robinson and Bryan Betley)      Photo credit: Jane Jewell

Sylvia at the park – where she meets Bowser, another dog, (Will Robinson & Christine Kinlock)      Photo credit: Jane Jewell

Kate & Greg – He sees no problems with a dog in a small New York City apartment.  She sees nothing but. (Jennifer Kafka-Smith & Will Robinson)  Photo credit: Jane Jewell

Phyllis is the friend Kate confides in about Sylvia. – (Bryan Betley)      Photo credit: Jane Jewell

Sylvia after her session with the dog groomer. Isn’t she beautiful? Greg thinks so. (Will Robinson, Christine Kinlock, Jennifer Kafka-Smith)                    Photo credit: Jane Jewell

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Taming the Monster at St. Mark’s for Fifty Years with Dr. Bill Wharton

There are very few examples of a partnership that has lasted 50 years where one partner speaks of the other as a “monster.” But that’s what Dr. Bill Wharton says about the St. Mark’s United Methodist Church’s 1962 Tellers organ that he has worked to master since he arrived in Easton as the Church’s principal organist in 1967.

In Bill’s case, however, the use of the word monster is one of great affection and respect. In his interview with the Spy to celebrate his fifth decade not only playing the organ there but also a lifetime career in teaching music on the Mid-Shore, the Centerville native talks about harnessing the power that comes with this colossal instrument with its 2,437 wood and model pipes.

By his own admission, Bill does not put himself in the 1st tier of organists but is extremely grateful that he studied with some of them. The first being Clarence Waters, his college organ tutor and mentor at Trinity College. And it was through his relationship with Waters that he gained access to the famed Marcel Dupré in Paris, considered one of the finest organists of the 20th century.

Bill also talks about the exceptional spiritual connection that music provides a church and its congregation, as well as his personal experiences of sensing the divine when witnessing the masters perform in the World’s great cathedrals.

In celebration of Bill’s 50th anniversary, St. Mark’s has commissioned a unique composition that will be performed by Bill in late November one of a series of official acknowledgments by the Church of how valuable his service has been to the music on the Mid-Shore.

This video is approximately five minutes in length. For more information about St. Mark’s and its music programs please go here.