40 Years of MUST: Director Dave Ryan Talk Public Transportation on the Eastern Shore


From a very small office in a remote section of Cambridge, Maryland Upper Shore Transit’s Dave Ryan manages a fleet of over 100 vehicles dedicated to providing public transportation through the Delmarva region. It fact, second to Baltimore’s own transportation system, the Delmarva Community Services (MUST’s nonprofit parent organization) could be operating the second largest transit system in the state.

In his interview with the Spy, Dave talks about the slightly “below the radar” public transportation system known Maryland Upper Shore Transit (M.U.S.T.) which will be celebrating their 40th year of service this year. While M.U.S.T. was created to serve citizens with developmental disabilities and senior citizens, the organization has increasingly had to expand its scope to help other communities and people of need.

The video is approximately six minutes in length

Hot Idea for Small Biz: “HotDesks”

Screen Shot 2014-04-04 at 1.15.49 PM

As technology advances, its impact on the business world has been felt in the ways people work and the spaces in which they work. The term Hot Desks initially referred to spaces in corporate work environments where employees would share the same desks on alternating work schedules. The term evolved, referring to open think-tank spaces at high tech companies, where “computer geeks” and other creative thinkers would hang out in large open rooms with communal tables and comfortable seating to brainstorm and bounce ideas off one another.

This new work-space concept evolved once again into urban co-working spaces for independent self-employed people to have a place for sharing ideas, networking and getting out of the social and mental isolation of home offices–without the distractions and limitations of the café scene.

Some of the pioneer versions include San Francisco’s loft living/work space The Hat Factory and Citizen Space. One can now find co-working spaces of all sorts in any large city around the world, especially London and across Europe. For-profit companies such as DaVinci and Link, have hundreds of these “virtual offices” around the country, including DC, Baltimore and Annapolis.

Mike Thielke, executive director of the non-profit Eastern Shore Entrepreneurship Center (ESEC) in Easton has brought this new creative concept to the Eastern Shore, but at an affordable rate for small businesses and entrepreneurs, along with the addition of various educational and support services geared to the start-up entrepreneur.

The co-working concept is just one of many new ideas Thielke has brought to the Eastern Shore business community. (ESEC) is a nonprofit organization working to “help entrepreneurs venture ahead through incubator programs and initiatives and to create an entrepreneurial ecosystem that results in personal wealth creation, which in turn adds to the growth of community resources and services.”

ESEC targets its resources to help business owners and entrepreneurs succeed by creating greater access to capital through loan programs and monetary awards for its annual business plan competition, offering programs that develop entrepreneurial skills and knowledge, and hosting an annual entrepreneur conference.

ESEC’s “HotDesks” co-working space is located in the Tri-County Office Complex just off Rt. 50 near Wor-Wic Community College in Salisbury, and is one of several such spaces Thielke envisions for the Eastern Shore. He hopes to find donated space in Easton and Chestertown as well.

The Salisbury HotDesks space features a large room with tables and desks, an enormous white board for brainstorming, high-speed wifi, a kitchenette providing coffee and snacks, three conference rooms, use of a printer/copier/scanner, and receipt of mail or package deliveries.
Says Thielke, “Co-working, at its core is about reciprocity – the giving and exchanging of information. It’s the most collaborative, encouraging, authentic type of networking that you can engage your business in.”

Thielke considers his HotDesks environment to be more than just a co-working space; it’s also a business incubator. Business incubators are programs designed to support the successful development of start-up and early stage entrepreneurial companies through an array of business support resources and services. According to Wikipedia, successful completion of a business incubation program increases the likelihood that a startup will stay in business for the long term; some studies found 87% of incubator “graduates” stayed in business, in contrast to 44% of all start up companies.

“Business support events are structured in such a way that you can come in and get a modest amount of work done, get your burning business questions answered, learn about a new tool that can streamline your business, make a new friend who could potentially become a project partner or introduce you to a client, and most importantly – have a genuine, engaged conversation with other local entrepreneurs and share about your business.   It’s a casual environment, worlds away from walking into a giant room filled with people you don’t know, and trying to explain what you do in an elevator speech.”

“Just come over, grab some coffee, open up your laptop, get some work done and make some new friends who are doing all sorts of interesting things in their businesses.”

Membership options range from $50 for one day-a-week membership to $150 per month for full-time, seven-day-a-week membership, or $25 for a one-time drop-in visit. Members use magnetic card access to the space, and can be there day or night, 24-hours-a-day.

Danny Flexner is a Salisbury graphic artist, web designer and game developer for his own company Radiant Impulse (with partner Mike Astarb).  Several months ago, he became a member of Hot Desks, after finding out about it from a fellow computer tech.

“This facility is a wonderful opportunity to meet other people who you can collaborate with, a good place for a collision of ideas, a way to meet those who can oftentimes give input and valuable insight with problem projects.”

Flexner also finds it a great networking place to find additional clients. “Sometimes there’s a situation where there are other developers working on something and they need graphics from me.”

He also finds the environment conducive to new thoughts and ideas.

“The large space is wonderful, one of my favorite things is the giant whiteboard for mind mapping, brainstorming, or fleshing out ideas. There aren’t a lot of places for ambitious entrepreneurs or someone with ideas who doesn’t know what to do with them. When I’m there I can really focus on my work without distractions, day or night. “

Flexner says that the more people become members, the better the environment is for everyone. “It’s the people who really make the space worthwhile.

Jeremy Heslop is the owner of the computer technology business OmniTech and the chair of the Tech Members Group of the Wicomico Chamber of Commerce. For nine years, he’s run his business from a home office in Eden, but recently joined HotDesks this past summer.

Heslop often finds it distracting to work at home with young kids who want attention, even with a separate office space. “And cafes are way too distracting and limited in the work space.”

At HotDesks, he has found the ideal environment, a place free of distractions yet a place he can find camaraderie, support and a free exchange of ideas as well as business connections and referrals.

“I especially appreciate the private separate room for making and receiving phone calls, so it’s not distracting even when others are there. It makes for a better experience for getting the work done than going to a cafe or home. And as you get to know people, there are more business opportunities. It’s a great place, and will only get better as there are more participants.”

There are plans for future events to be hosted at the site, which may be open to the public, such as the recent workshop on 3D printing for those interested in learning more about 3D Printing/Additive Manufacturing and networking with experts in the field.

“We are also talking about simple events like Meetups, to more elaborate events like Business Startup Weekends or a NASA Space Apps Challenge,” adds Thielke. All HotDesks members are eligible to attend scheduled events or activities at HotDesks locations free of charge in the event there is a fee for the public.

Go to HotDesks.org for more info.

–Elizabeth Alexander

Arts Snapshot: The AAM Welcomes a Picasso


Thanks to a very productive artist, who actively worked for almost three-quarters of a century, even small art museums have been lucky to have a Pablo Picasso in their permanent collections. The Academy Art Museum has recently joined the ranks of those fine institutions with the recent acquisition of one of the artist’s prints from 1937.

In May 2013, the Museum added to its collection Sueño y Mentira de Franco (Dream and Lie of Franco), a print in a portfolio by Picasso. AAM Curator Anke Van Wagenberg highlights for the Spy the unique features, including its special connection to Picasso’s masterpiece Guernica that motivated the museum to make the purchase.

The video is just under two minutes in length


Editor Note and Video: The Talbot Spy’s New Future


Dear Readers,

We would like you to know that the Talbot Spy has crossed a significant milestone in its short life. This month, the Spy, in partnership with the Mid-Shore Community Foundation, has begun operations as part of the nonprofit Community Newspaper Project.

Our intention from the very beginning was to operate the newspaper as a community asset, owned and operated by the community itself. Like national public television and radio, we believe the internet can and should play an important role in providing timely, content for and by the local community. By becoming a nonprofit, the Talbot Spy has taken a major step toward making that a reality for the greater Talbot County region.

The transition toward becoming a nonprofit will not result in any major changes in the Spy’s editorial focus or content. However, it will allow us to pursue a wider range of funding revenue sources. As a nonprofit, we are now able to seek support through tax-exempt donations, memberships and grants to ensure free public access to the Spy.

We have also assembled an extraordinary board of advisors, with a full range of talents and backgrounds, to help guide the Spy’s news coverage and educational service to the Mid-Shore.

And with sustainable funding and advisor input, the Spy can continue to grow and mature as the leading source of news, culture and arts information on the Upper Eastern Shore.

Our readers can support the Spy by joining our new membership program by clicking here.

For those in a position to provide more substantial philanthropic investment for the Talbot Spy, please click here.

Thank you for your steadfast support since we started the Spy.  With over 225,000 annual readers like yourself, we look forward to serving Talbot County for many years to come.

Jim Dissette
Managing Editor
The Talbot Spy

Square TS logo

Dave Wheelan
Executive Director
Community Newspaper Project

Screen Shot 2014-03-24 at 8.53.51 AM

Berlin: The Making of Small Town “Cool” on the Eastern Shore

Screen Shot 2014-04-01 at 12.02.53 PM

Recently the Eastern Shore town of Berlin, MD, won Budget Travel Magazine’s 9th annual America’s Coolest Small Town contest, garnering first place in the category which included nine other winners in the top ten list for the year.

main street Berlin

Main Street, Berlin, Maryland.

Berlin’s citizens-and fans from around the U.S. and beyond-helped the town win through online voting after it was nominated last fall by members of the Worcester County Tourism Office. Once everyone weighed in with their nominations, the editors reviewed all the nominations, “along with any other gems they discovered on their own,” to narrow the list to 15 finalists, using preliminary votes as a guide, but also looking for diversity in geography, attractions, architecture, as well as “regional and cultural diversity.”

After more than a month of online voting, which began in mid-January and ended February 25, Berlin, MD, earned the title of “Coolest,” receiving a record 28 percent of the votes among the 15 finalists. Total votes cast were 137,819, with Berlin receiving 39,285 votes.

Budget Travel magazine editors tallied up the nominations, “added a dash of editorial discretion,” and came up with a list of 15 finalists-cool burghs from Upstate New York to the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California, from northern Colorado to the Everglades, and, of course, the Maryland shore. Each of these ten towns will be featured in an upcoming story on BudgetTravel.com and in Budget Travel’s tablet edition. BT editor Robert Firpo-Cappiello is also making the rounds of the talk shows to promote the towns and his publication.

The second place winner was Cazenovia, NY, followed by Buckhannon, WV; Travelers Rest, SC; Mathews, VA (on the Chesapeake Bay); Nevada City, CA; Rockport, TX; Estes Park, CO; Galena, IL and Elkin, NC. Berlin Mayor William “Gee” WIlliams III earned a growler of craft beer from second-place finisher Cazenovia’s mayor, Kurt Wheeler.

Lisa Challenger, Director

Lisa Challenger, director of the Worcester County Tourism office in Snow Hill, spearheaded the campaign to win the America’s Coolest Small Town contest.

Lisa Challenger, director of the Worcester County Tourism office in Snow Hill, spearheaded the campaign to win the coveted title. It became a major focus for everyone in her office, rivaling any political campaign; they held weekly strategy sessions, created a graphic containing a link to the voting site which they used in signage and “I voted” stickers handed out by local businesses. Challenger recruited the Governor’s office to use its contacts to encourage daily voting, and utilized blurbs in social media like Twitter, Facebook, and various state and regional newsletters. The town will now be allowed to use the first place moniker along with the Budget Travel logo in various publicity materials

According to Budget Travel magazine editor Robert Firpo-Cappiello, “to be considered, the town must have a population under 10,000. It also needs that indescribable something: independent shops, a sense of energy, an epic backyard, culture, delicious coffee. In other words, cool doesn’t necessarily mean quaint: We want towns with an edge and a heart.”

Although Berlin has the “epic backyard” nearby in one of the most pristine natural beaches teeming with wild horses at Assateague, an impressive variety of locally owned shops and galleries, popular non-chain restaurants with great coffee, one probably would not describe Berlin as edgy; but it certainly has heart. Not exactly an urbane hip culture for thirty somethings, it’s more the baby boomer crowd who visit or relocate to enjoy the nostalgic look of the place with its late 19th century architecture and picturesque turrets, perusing the numerous antique shops that beckon a walk down memory lane. Many of the folks staying in nearby Ocean City will also visit Berlin for a vastly different atmosphere and shopping experience, or to try some of the gourmet eateries in town. Others come from the various campgrounds nearby, and many arrive in large tour busses from the northeast, descending on the town en masse to the delight of business owners and occasional consternation of locals trying to walk down sidewalks filled with meandering tourists.

On any given day, whether off season or weekday, one can observe large numbers of visitors of all ages strolling through the main street shops and restaurants, or taking a peek inside the historic Atlantic Hotel–a visual anchor for the town, nestled within the convergence of four main streets, a spot featured in several major feature films shot on location in Berlin.

The historic Atlantic Hotel is a visual anchor for the town and  featured in several major feature films shot on location in Berlin.

The historic Atlantic Hotel is a visual anchor for the town and featured in several major feature films shot on location in Berlin.

The most famous was Runaway Bride starring Julia Roberts and Richard Gere, directed by Gerry Marshall and filmed in various locations around the historic area. Tuck Everlasting starring Ben Kingsley, William Hurt and Sissy Spacek was also shot in the same main street area, transforming it into a 19th century town with dirt streets; many of the period-style fictional business signs still adorn the shop windows for posterity. Berlin business owners continue to market the movie location aspect to visitors, with signage and photos of the shoot prominently displayed in the various shops.

Ask any who were here during the filming, and each has a story or two to tell. Many were involved as extras or gophers for the film crew. Dee Gilbert, owner of The Nest, an eclectic collection of furnishings, housewares, gifts, and original art, previously owned the video store when the “Tuck” crew arrived in town. She became an assistant location manager, meeting with homeowners and shopkeepers to notify them of closed streets and sidewalks. Gilbert recalls being recruited for all sorts of tasks, including driving Sissy Spacek to the hair salon and performing as an extra along with her husband.

Jack Gerbes, Director of the State of Maryland Film Office, discussed some of the reasons why Berlin was chosen for these film shoots. “For Tuck, the big thing the director and production designer were looking for was a main street that fit the early 1900s architecture, and because Berlin has that, and no visible utility poles, that’s a huge advantage. Even in Runaway Bride or other modern films, the underground utilities make it easier for crane or tracking shots to move easily, following the actor as s/he walks down the street.”

“For Tuck, the film office presented options from Cumberland down to Berlin. We looked at Annapolis, Snow Hill, Chestertown, St. Michaels, we hit various towns on that day of location scouting– myself, the director, the production/costume designer, arrived late in Berlin and stayed over at the Atlantic Hotel. The director walked outside that evening, looked around and said ‘this is it.’ It has that nostalgic look, and what’s great about Berlin is the architecture on main street, the angle of streets all converging. The next morning, Mayor Haley was very positive and helpful.

It’s important that creatively it works but also the cooperation from the town and the businesses is a factor, there they all saw the benefits immediately. The town has a great vibe to it.”

Berlin has a strong positive sense of community, with locals banding together for numerous annual events and celebrations, like the street party already arranged for Saturday, March 29 from 1-6 pm to celebrate their “coolest small town” designation with music, dancing, marching band, performances, food and beverages. It will surely feature a rousing chorus of “Cool Berlin,” by local songwriter Steve Frene, written especially to promote the town’s campaign for the top spot.

Other annual events include the Berlin Fiddlers Convention, New Year’s fireworks, Victorian Christmas featuring carolers in vintage costume and horse-drawn carriage rides, and the annual parade and bathtub races.

Forty seven well-preserved structures are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and represent nearly two centuries of architectural heritage from three distinct periods: Federal, Victorian, and 20th Century.

Magnolias, sycamores, tulip poplars, bald cypress, and ginkgo trees line the streets and add to its historic ambiance.

The main street was once the path taken by the Assateague and Pocomoke Indians well before the colonial period. Later, it became the Philadelphia Post Road, the main route connecting the centers of commerce to the north and west. This area was part of the Burley Plantation, a 300-acre land grant dating back to 1677. At the corner of the Philadelphia Post Road and Sinepuxent Road, now South Main Street and Tripoli Street, colonial travelers stopped at the Burleigh Inn. “Berlin” is said to have come from a contraction of the words “Burleigh” and “Inn”. Since the late 1980s the town has undergone considerable revitalization of its historic downtown commercial district and adjacent residential areas, including the upgrade to underground utilities so vital to preserving its historic look and making it a prime film location.

The small town comprises only 2.2 square miles and has less than 5000 residents; of the thousand or so new residents in the past ten years, it’s been mostly retirees, but also younger professionals arriving to work at the local schools, or Atlantic General Hospital and the many supporting medical offices. If you include the long-time residents or those born and raised there, Berlin has a diverse population both in age and income. The racial makeup of the town is similar to most Eastern Shore towns: 64% White, 32% African American, less than one percent Native American, 2% Asian, and Latino of any race were just over 3 % of the population. The age of the population was more diverse, with 26% under the age of 18, 7% from 18 to 24, 26% from 25 to 44, 20% from 45 to 64, and 20% who were 65 years of age or older, this was before the great influx of retirees in the past ten years.

Half of new residents are originally from the Eastern Shore, others are from the DC, Baltimore and Philadelphia areas. There are a few new 55+ housing developments close to the historic area, and there’s Gull Creek Senior Living, a non-profit assisted living center that combines apartments with additional services like group meals, activities and medical services for older seniors, located just across the highway from town near the local park. Residents make regular visits to the town for shopping, dining or visiting the library on Main Street.

With all the national publicity Berlin is now receiving, one imagines it won’t stay so small for long, but hopefully it’ll stay “cool.”

Shore Architecture: A Serene Sanctuary

Screen Shot 2014-03-28 at 7.52.46 AM

Winding along the densely forested drive, you sense you’re approaching something 
sacred; a natural sanctuary far from the madding world. There’s a gentle calmness to 
this land, filled with tupelo, oak and maple trees embracing five pavilions and a 
tower, which appear very gradually through the woods.  Camouflaged by brown wood 
cladding, myriad glass windows and copper roofs, these impressive structures nestle 
discreetly alongside the woods and seem to peer pensively down the colorful sloped 
gardens leading to a peaceful creek below.

The couple who inhabit this special place are native Californians, influenced by their 
love of the outdoors and sailing when deciding to build in a wood’s clearing on a bend of a secluded creek that winds around their property, 
hence the name of their home.

Linked by their corners, four of the five pavilions are visible from the creek.

Linked by their corners, four of the five pavilions are visible from the creek.

Winding Creek is a strikingly singular creation, a thoughtfully designed living space 
by Chestertown architect Peter Newlin and completed by an impressive team of artisans 
and builders.

Newlin describes this house as: “a string of places staged along a gentle rise for the vistas of the creek they afford, and as a winding path from place to place to make our experience of where we are in the landscape more intimate.”  For example, he says “the stair to the master suite is a climb into the dappled sunlight of the woods to the south, and from the second floor it is a descent into the foliage of the understory and forest floor.  There are other paths and places looking into these woods.”

Five pavilions of graduated size in volume and height comprise the living space, along with a complementary garage.  Viewing from the creek, the master pavilion is the largest, containing core family activity spaces: living, kitchen and dining, along with the second-floor master suite.

The entry path curves through the woods from the garage (in the distance) to the entry pavilion on the right.

The entry path curves through the woods from the garage (in the distance) to the entry pavilion on the right.

The architect’s explanation for why the pavilions are shaped and placed as they are.

The architect’s explanation for why the pavilions are shaped and placed as they are.

One must “take a walk through the woods” to approach the entry pavilion, and views 
from this greeting space are equally scenic.

Newlin’s love of nature – especially the Eastern Shore woods and waterways – is evident in many of his designs. His signature style typically features abundant light through numerous skylights and windows, organic elements such as natural wood siding, masonry and metal roofs, enhanced by exceptional interior woodworking.

Newlin obtained a degree in history and spent several years as a carpenter working on restorations for an architectural historian. Discovering a love of historic craftsmanship, he then earned a masters in architecture; his love of historic elements is still evident.  He also has a mindful approach to design; quoting philosophers about the need for creating joy and connection to the natural world in his spaces.

“We have paths through our houses and places inside and out where we dwell.  Our paths 
and places can offer us every day joy if the places are where we can enjoy a natural 
vista, and the paths treat us to glimpses of the ever-changing beauty of where we 

Most of the important rooms have creek views in two directions, but the Living Rooms is the most airy of all.

Most of the important rooms have creek views in two directions, but the Living Rooms is the most airy of all.


The covered wood walkways along the creekside of the home have a delicate simplicity; together with the high slanted copper roofs, they evoke a subtle Japanese appearance to the exteriors.  The owners’ collection of large metal sculptures of beetles, birds and 
other creatures along the walkways enhances this Zen-like element.

“When I was  working as a carpenter, I fell in love with the Eastern 
Shore’s landscape: the subtlety of its terrain, its woodlands, fields and hedgerows, 
the openness of its shorelines.  At some point I realized the most important thing a 
house can do for those of us so lucky to live here is, create an intimacy of access to that 
beauty.  In my view, it is best if our houses are not self-important in this subtle 
landscape.  I like it when they quietly open themselves up to the wonders outside.


A tower filled with windows houses a curved stair which climbs pass views of the woods.

A tower filled with windows houses a curved stair which climbs pass views of the woods.

Newlin explains his concept for the muntin-enhanced windows, rather than an open 
picture-window style. “The muntins parcel the views to bring the scale down to become 
more intimate.”   This also gives the outdoor views the look of individual framed 
paintings or photographs, which change with one’s vantage point.The living area is a dramatic and breathtaking introduction to the space, with light 
pouring in from vaulted ceilings bursting skyward surrounded by eight-foot-high outer 
walkways, giving the subtle impression of  a Moorish courtyard. This open living area 
fills with light from countless large windows oriented to capture the sweep of the 
creek as it bends around the landscape.

The wood trim around the windows and doors has a delicate offset to cast a slight shadow, which softens them. This same profile also appears in the wood cabinetry that abounds throughout the house. 

High criss-crossed Beams in the vaulted ceiling mirror the window designs and add 
dimensional form as well as function as tie joists, upon which dangles an enormous 
carved folk art angel peering out the window.  High above her is a unique ceiling fan 
with elements of bicycle gears and boat sails, a nod to the owners’ favored 

Newlin oversees every design detail, including the layout of the wood floors and tiles 
in wonderfully geometric patterns. Colored porcelain tile along the interior walkways 
gives the appearance of natural stone with copper dripping through the robin’s egg 
blue, exquisitely highlighted by rich two-toned wood work along the outer edges.

Architect Peter Newlin

Architect Peter Newlin. Photo credit: Elizabeth Alexander

His design of a towering brick, plaster and bluestone hearth gives another folk art 
touch, while moving the eyes upward to the extensive exposed chimney. The impressive 
structure is steel reinforced, and one of many masonry creations designed by Newlin 
and executed by master mason Jonas Miller.

The entire Winding Creek home feels like an art gallery, with endless views of the 
natural surroundings, simply another element of the abundant artwork filling the home, 
along with an eclectic collection of  pottery, glass and large-scale paintings.  Even 
the laundry room features two large  paintings and colored glass vases in its windows.

The open floor plan guides you effortlessly through the dining room with its brilliant 
Vicco von Voss table into the equally light filled kitchen, with views of the forest, the 
summer house, the gardens and the water.

The screened summerhouse is the fifth pavilion, and freestanding for outdoor entertaining, 
dining, meditating or even sleeping in the warmer months, giving the owners even more 
of a natural connection unencumbered by walls.

The Summerhouse is freestanding to capture summer zephyrs and sweep of the Creek.

The Summerhouse is freestanding to capture summer zephyrs and sweep of the Creek.

The absolute zenith of the house is the ample tower, and the master bedroom to which 
it leads. A wide circular staircase winds around on narrow rises of elegant hand 
crafted wood; a rise so subtle you feel as though you’re gliding as you caress the 
delicately carved hand rails created by noted wood artisan Vicco Von Voss.  Inside the 
center of the winding staircase is a lift for bringing laundry to the basement, heavy 
items above or whenever heavy lifting is needed.

When asked what one word would describe the feeling of living in this home, the owners 
each replied, “alive” and “relaxed.” Their senses are awakened by the man-made art and 
beauty of the home, as well as the constant visual connection to  the natural world 
surrounding them. “There’s the geese talking, the foxes scampering through the woods, all the other 
birds singing.”

No where in the house might they feel more in touch with nature than their master 
suite, with elements of a tree house and a cruise ship’s cabin. Perched high in the 
air, it features a minimalist look of bare white walls and built-in European birch 
furniture, with an enormous picture window overlooking forest, water and sky.  Bereft 
of window coverings, one is most certainly awakened by the dawn and the symphony of 
birds and other creatures, and feeling quite alive and relaxed.

Although the bed and cabinetry are architect-designed, the room’s focus is on the creek and trees.

Although the bed and cabinetry are architect-designed, the room’s focus is on the creek and trees.

Befitting its numerous nods to nature, Winding Creek is designed for passive solar 
heat gain in the winter and chimney-effect natural ventilation in the summer, and 
offers radiant heated floors. High tech lighting design features controls that allow 
one to monitor ten areas from one small light switch. Newlin and his Chesapeake 
Architects firm are experts at designing energy-conserving buildings, with a track 
record dating back to the 80’s, when  Newlin won the “Most Innovative Design Award” 
from Delmarva Power for the “Quality and Energy-Efficient Design” of the passive-solar 
Galena Bank.

Something this detailed and intricate is not built in a day, indeed it was three years 
of design, consultation and building until final completion. Says Newlin, “It 
typically takes a year to design a custom house, and many meetings with the 
owners to be sure at every step that what we are proposing will be a good match for their needs and how they want to live.

“The owners had no concept in mind at the outset except that they wanted a modest 
house.  Our design comes from our perceptions of how to make the most of the natural 
assets of the landscape, the water views, the terrain and the beauty of the woods. “
They admit that they only had one requirement– a copper roof, more for sustainability 
than beauty; they now have both.

Now they also have a lifelong dream fulfilled…. of living in a home as serene as its 

Where Credit Is Due, Newlin recommends:

The General Contractor, 
Patrick Jones, who is a fine craftsman himself, as well as a master builder. Peter says: 
”You’ll get your money’s worth from his attention to detail, commitment to 
craftsmanship and honest business practices.”  410-708-0648

John Ramsey – Custom Lighting Fixture Designer & Manufacturer.  “If you want true 
craftsmanship and/or historical authenticity, see John (www.deeplandingworkshop.com).

Jonas Miller, Preservation Mason – “Whether for restoration or contemporary design, if 
you want every brick in its proper place, the perfect mortar mix, and every joint 
struck artfully, Jonas is your man.”  302-382-4648

Vicco von Voss “A master furniture designer, who has worked with us to create 
especially artful handrails, curved and furniture. He designed and built the Living 
Room’s coffee table and the dining table to complement the interiors of the Winding 
Creek.”  http://www.viccovonvoss.com/

Woody Labat, Cabinetmaker – Juniper Cabinet & Millwork – “A craftsman who brings to the table skills that were honed when he was a yacht builder.”  410-924-4502

Peyton Bradley—“A master at staining and varnishing who brings out the deep, natural beauty and character of woods,” Peter suggests, “if you love wood, don’t go varnishing without her.” 410 507-0667

Photographs by Ched Bradley, unless otherwise noted.

Arts Snapshot: The Lines of Linn Meyers


The love of lines for Linn Meyers started, at least at the subconscious level, when she would watch her father, an architect working in the days before CAD software, draw thousands of them when she was growing up. In later life, she has skillfully used her own mix of thousands of painstakingly drawn lines to create striking images on both the micro and macro points of contact with her art.

The Spy spoke to Linn last week about her approach to her work, now on display at the AAM, and how she always needs to navigate carefully between beauty and preciousness.

The video is approximately two minutes in length.


Hannah Gill: A Different Kind of Sweet Sixteen


While most sixteen year olds look forward to weekends with high school friends, St. Michael’s Hannah Gill is more than likely to be found these days in a recording studio in New York City. Several times a month, Hannah catches the Amtrak to work closely with musician and producer Brad Hammonds for intense rehearsal and recording sessions before climbing back on the train on Sunday evenings.

This unlikely collaboration is the result of a Talbot County friendship between Brad’s father and Hannah’s dad and a desire for the two of them to work together. While Brad might have originally thought this was simply extending a favor to listen to Hannah a few months ago, it didn’t take long for him to realize, like everyone who first hears Hannah sing, this is was not your typical teenager.

The Spy briefly caught up with Hannah at her debut album release event at the Avalon last Thursday night.

The video is approximately two minutes in length 

Leadership Lessons From a Young George Washington, by Mitchell Reiss

Screen Shot 2014-02-16 at 8.01.37 AM

Surrender, humiliation, and poor management are not what comes to mind at this time of year when we salute the memory of George Washington. We honor instead the Father of his Country, the leader of the Continental Army, the modern Cincinnatus who surrendered his sword and general’s commission at Annapolis after independence, and the first President of the United States, elected unanimously.

But the young Washington, often overlooked, made many missteps and bad calls, as at Fort Necessity in 1754, where poor planning and misjudgment resulted in appalling casualties, humiliating defeat by the French, and the seizure and publication of his personal diary. Indeed, the inexperienced commander could be impetuous, highly emotional, and even reckless at times.

How did that young man with ambitious dreams become one of our country’s greatest political and military leaders, the gold standard by which we judge our leaders today? What can we learn from Washington’s unlikely and awe-inspiring ascent from military failure to statesman and founding icon?

To help us answer these questions, Washington College, which General Washington and his officers helped create in 1782 as the new nation’s first college, asked five eminent historians to discuss Washington’s virtues and explain what made him a giant among his contemporaries, the greatest leader of his day, respected and admired around the world.

What emerged is a complex portrait of leadership, revealing some of the many elements that formed Washington’s character and his deliberate effort to be a new type of leader for a newly democratic society. He displayed an amalgam of virtues, some rooted in his eighteenth-century society and others that are timeless.

“Physical courage under fire,” writes Stephen Brumwell, author of George Washington: Gentleman Warrior, was central to the honor code of Washington’s day. Yet even by that standard Washington was exemplary. He did not just lead his men into battle, his calming presence rallied his men to victory in the battle of Princeton in January 1777 and at Monmouth the following year. His suffering with his troops during the winter of hardship at Valley Forge is famous; less well known is that he never took leave during the entire war.

Whether in battle or in office, Washington had a highly developed sense of honor and what constituted honorable behavior. According to Professor Richard Beeman, Washington was “motivated in his public life by civic virtue. . . . His ability to subordinate his personal interests to the public good in all public behavior and demeanor served as examples for others to follow.” For example, Washington refused to accept any pay for his service as either commander-in-chief during the Revolutionary War or later as president, despite the financial hardship this caused him. Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Gordon S. Wood insists, “Above all, he was wary of being perceived as having a private interest or stake in something. . . . He had a strong moral sense of how he should behave.”

Washington also learned from his mistakes and surrounded himself with talent. Author Richard Brookhiser reminds us that Washington “drew upon others who were in some sense smarter than he was, but he himself knew what to do and where he wanted to go.” It took remarkable self-confidence to hire Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay as his first cabinet officers. They were men of “true ability, all much smarter than he was,” says best-selling historian Joseph Ellis. A lesser man would have feared being overshadowed or diminished by these ambitious rivals. Not Washington, who wrote that “much abler heads than my own” were needed to achieve the larger mission of uniting the still fractious states and forging one country from many contentious individuals.

Washington prepared himself intensively for leadership by emulating successful people he encountered and by following a volume of 110 Rules of Civility and Decent Behaviour, which he meticulously copied as a kind of how-to manual for self-made success. Maintaining a fastidious appearance, refraining from public displays of emotion, and generally keeping quiet in good company, he became the George Washington we recognize today, the iconic man Brookhiser dubs our “founding CEO.”

What leadership lessons can Washington teach us? How do ideas of leadership today compare with those of the self-educated and self-made Washington?

We spoke to three more experts about those questions. The leadership characteristics most needed today, according to Paul Volcker, former chairman of the Federal Reserve, are “a steadiness in purpose, personal courage, and unstinting allegiance to the common good—the public interest.” Rebecca Rimel, president and chief executive of the Pew Charitable Trusts, agrees that “leadership is not about self, but about stewardship: the care and cultivation of resources not your own.” However, she cautions that leadership is more challenging today than before because of the “rapid pace of change. Effective leaders must be able to embrace uncertainty, and be both flexible and comfortable with the challenges and opportunities that come with it.” Dr. Ralph Snyderman, chancellor emeritus at Duke University, says that “heroic leadership is harder today,” because one answers to more stakeholders than before and must demonstrate greater transparency and accountability and less deference to specialized expertise.

All these people believe that leadership can be learned but society needs to do a better job of providing more opportunities for young people and role models for them to emulate. And they believe that effective leadership must be guided by a strong moral compass and unshakeable ethics. Washington certainly would have agreed.

On this President’s Day, we would do well to honor not only George Washington’s singular accomplishments but the emerging leader who grew into the Father of his Country, who developed discipline, cultivated courage, and learned from his early experiences. The leadership lessons of the young George Washington are more than relevant today. They speak directly to a new generation of young people who aspire to lead our communities and our country.

This article is by Mitchell B. Reiss, the 27th president of Washington College, in Chestertown, Maryland.

Reprinted from the Forbes Leadership Forum from February 12.

Review: artNOW Philadelphia at the Kohl Gallery by Mary McCoy


On the same day that “The Monuments Men” started playing at the Chester 5 Theatre, a new exhibit called “artNOW Philadelphia” opened at Washington College’s Kohl Gallery. The two could hardly be more different in their approach to art but they both make you think a lot about its nature and value.

The movie is an entertaining story that would warm the heart of any art lover. It’s a film based on the true story of the rescue of thousands of masterpieces of art stolen by the Nazis in World War II. Over and over again, you gasp as the actors discover a Michelangelo, Van Eyck or Rodin hastily stashed in a mine or a castle, and more than once the question is asked, “Is art worth dying for?” Of course, the answer is yes.

In the Kohl exhibit, the questions are very different and the answers far more elusive. On view through March 7, artNOW Philadelphia is the third of the College’s series of exhibits featuring work by prominent young artists from nearby cities. It’s a show that asks a lot from the viewer, probably more than most will want to bother with.

Assistant Professor Benjamin Bellas makes his aim in curating artNOW abundantly clear in his accompanying essay. Set in the form of a detailed definition of the words “challenging” and “challenge,” it’s a provocation to do your best to comprehend the assembled work by these seven artists from Philadelphia, work that is by turns discomforting, humorous, irritating, inspiring, opaque, and highly thought provoking.


Amze Emmons’ “Modern Popular Movement,” graphite, gouache, acrylic on panel, 20 x 24”, 2011.

“The Monuments Men” presents art that’s breathtakingly beautiful (as well as familiar to anyone who’s taken an art history class) but in this exhibit, even when it’s present, beauty isn’t the issue. Julianna Foster’s photography-based images are eerily lovely, and Amze Emmons’s illustrative drawing style is exquisite in its clarity and simplicity. On the other hand, Leslie Friedman’s neo-Pop Art installation is purposefully crass and annoying. As if Andy Warhol was still alive and well, its row of silkscreened green nudes line up across from a pile of oversized multi-colored Coke cans and sugar substitute wrappers where an endlessly repeating video loop shows a masturbating woman.

Like the other artists in this show, Friedman is less concerned with the aesthetics of art than with the ways we communicate and build our belief systems. Her in-your-face look at consumer culture’s passion for overstimulation and vacuous pleasure is fairly predictable, but it offers a cursory nod to the fact that in a world of titillating underwear ads, graphic news videos and online pornography, art long ago lost its power to shock.

Tim Portlock’s work also considers consumer culture but in a more penetrating way. His urban landscape sprawls into the distance under windswept clouds bathed in the kind of transcendent light you’d find in a 19th century painting by Albert Bierstadt or Thomas Cole, artists who celebrated the scale and rugged beauty of the American landscape. At six feet wide Portlock’s archival inkjet print, “Clone,” shares the expansive quality of their inspiring vistas, but under its heaven-lit sky is a flat, gray landscape of empty buildings. Houses, restaurant and big box stores are all up for sale as new construction waits unfinished. Reacting to the thousands of buildings standing abandoned in Philadelphia, Portlock reconsiders the American dream, suggesting that in the postindustrial age, capitalism’s faith in unlimited growth is no longer viable.

Ryan Wilson Kelly and Marc Blumthal also play with how our perceptions of America’s history and values have been shaped. Blumthal impishly cuts and pastes a speech by George Bush into a rousing jumble of nonsensical phrases that retain a very American-sounding flow of political rhetoric, while Kelly has great fun turning our nation’s history into myth. His video, “The Wizard Franklin,” is an engaging little story that retells the American Revolution in condensed form, turning three of the founding fathers into beings of mythological stature.


Leslie Friedman, “Tastier”, 2013

In many ways, there’s a wide gap between “The Monuments Men” and “artNOW,” but both make you ponder art’s raison d’état. Many of the paintings and sculptures in “The Monuments Men” were commissioned by patrons of the church with the purpose of educating and inspiring by illustrating stories from the Bible for an illiterate congregation. Some might also call it propaganda or even brainwashing.

The artists in this show all use art as a method of investigating the impact of how information is presented. Living as we do in the Information Age, we see images of disaster constantly. Amze Emmons borrows such images from the media, honing, editing and splicing them to suit his purposes. His work distills instantly recognizable signs of poverty, environmental degradation and refugee displacement into engaging, beautifully drawn and cheerfully colored scenes. Disaster is commonplace, they seem to say, but it’s okay, life goes on. We’re constantly bombarded with this message, so why should we not believe it? Why worry?

Whether in terms of politics, culture or human nature, artNOW is intended to raise questions. If you want to get something out of this exhibit, you need to spend time with it. If you don’t, you won’t begin to understand the layers of meaning and intercultural discourse that went into Ruben Ghenov’s work. His paintings are consummate exercises in spatial gymnastics, abstractions that promise glimpses into complicated realities without offering specifics. You can simply appreciate his prodigious skill, or you can take the sparse clues he and Bellas offer in the catalogue and do some research. The internet is the perfect place to start. For Ghenov, as for all artNOW’s artists, you’ll find websites and links to articles and interviews, as well as to related work by other artists, poets and writers, and you’ll be launched into a process of reading, investigation, consideration and synthesis.

This show is all about being willing to explore and go beyond the boundaries of convention to open to new ideas. Julianna Foster has a magical way of questioning conventional thinking. She “documents” what she terms a “fantastic event that allegedly occurred” with images of patterns of lights suspended in the night air, strangely shaped clouds over water or low hills, and a house apparently floating in the sea. Obviously, whatever this mysterious occurrence was, it can’t have been real, yet allegedly there were witnesses.

Foster is asking a series of questions. How do we take in something that we can’t conceive of being true? Why is it so difficult to admit the existence of something outside the bounds of accepted knowledge? And if it’s a challenge to an individual’s belief system, how much more so for the established institutions of government, science and religion?

In assembling the work of these artists, Bellas dares students, viewers and citizens in general to take the initiative in searching out greater knowledge and widening our perspectives. The rescue efforts of “The Monuments Men” were aimed at not just at recovering beautiful objects but also the ideas and ideals spawned during a thousand years of culture. ArtNOW challenges us to practice learning and thinking creatively, for these are the most necessary skills we humans can possess in these times of unprecedented global change.