Archives for September 2015

AAM Celebrates Abstraction with Work by Ken Schiano

The pairing of architectural training with a passion for abstraction has created stunning results in artist Ken Schiano’s work now on display at the Academy Arts Museum. Living on the Chesapeake Bay for the last two decades has certainly played a role in Schiano’s paintings and sculpture, but primarily he has relied on architectonic principles, especially in the use of materials and process. Together with an uncanny use of color and light, he has created powerful abstract presences.

Those qualities have made Schiano a busy man these days. He was recently selected as a semi-finalist for the 2015 Sondheim Art Prize and earned  Peggy and T. Denton Miller Award for excellence in Contemporary Art  at the AAM last year. He was also a finalist for a grant from the Adolf and Esther Gottlieb Foundation. He also recently completed a solo show at Massoni Art in Chestertown.

From his studio located in Tolchester, Ken talks to the Spy about his work and his passion for color, structure, and finding a balancing act that allows the viewer to see color and form in entirely new ways.

This video is approximately five minutes in length

Ken Schiano: Ituited Geometries
September 19  – November 8
Curator tour: October 21, 12 Noon
Academy Art Museum 
106 South Street, Easton




Op-Ed: What is Putin up to in Syria by Tom Timberman

There are four principal facts worth remembering when evaluating Putin’s “surprise” initiatives (Syria/Crimea/E. Ukraine), general bluster and super powerish assertions (UN speech): (1) the Russian economy is in serious trouble and is beginning to bite more and more people; (2) Putin needs to distract the population from their life style erosion; (3) Russian military is stretched very thin, particularly logistics and (4) appeals to past Russian glories, nationalism and sticking it to the US are popular.  However, the Ukraine adventure, the body bags and the costs are becoming a domestic problem. A new diversion was necessary.

And then there is the emotional issue: Putin has repeatedly said the collapse of the Soviet Union was the worst disaster ever to befall Russia; not the 26 million Russians who died in WWII or the loss to Japan in the 1904 war or the declining population, now less than half America’s etc. His strongest motivation is to return Russia to its former status as a feared, highly respected global power of which he is the personification.  His challenge: there’s no there there except the nukes.

Russia has been arming, resupplying and helping to finance the Assads for decades. In return, Moscow gained a small naval base at Latakia, it’s only Mediterranean port and a foothold in the Middle East.  It is this base that Putin is now upgrading with a larger runway and more support facilities and to which he’s sent combat aircraft, drones, tanks, antiaircraft systems and several hundred “advisors”.  

His announcement that Baghdad and Teheran are going to share intelligence about ISIS with Russia (no mention of Moscow’s contribution) is meaningless, unless Russia actually engages in combat. To date that has not happened.   

Actually, Baghdad’s loosening grip on Iraq governance, is far more threatening to US interests than Russia’s entry onto the scene.

Putin’s move grabbed headlines and provided him a stage to intervene in the Middle East.  He now postures himself and Russia as the powerful option to the US and as such to be taken seriously.  He has proposed a new coalition (Russia, Iran and Iraq??) that will support Assad and his government (now control 17% of Syria) and successfully fight ISIS.  

My view, wish the Russians well and encourage them to engage with ISIS, AQ, Al Nusra etc etc and possibly, bog down in a new Afghanistan, from which they were forced to withdrew after ten years.  My guess, that’s not going to happen for all the reasons cited above.        

Tom Timberman has, among his many assignments with the US Department of State, headed a provincial reconstruction team, embedded within a combat brigade in Iraq. He has also helped implement a new counterterrorism strategy in South East Asia as Senior Advisor for South Asia in the Office of Coordinator for Counterterrorism.

Keeping an Eye on Joaquin

Hurricane Joaquin became the 2015 Atlantic season’s third hurricane Wednesday morning, and hurricane watches and warnings have been issued for the Bahamas while we nervously eye its potential to affect the U.S. East Coast.

National Weather Service updates will keep you in touch with developing storm and flood warnings. Go here for updates.

Accuweather here.


It’s Banned Book Week—Get Yours at the Your Local Library

“Censorship is almost unheard of in America today, and book challenges are dwindling. We have librarians to thank for that.”  Maddie Crum at Huffington Post writes about the waning threat of censorship but makes a case for continuing Banned Book Week here.


Free Women’s Seminar Focuses on Managing Health and Financial Issues

Diana Johnson, vice president of Avon-Dixon, LLC

Diana Johnson, vice president of Avon-Dixon, LLC

“From a Woman’s Point of View — Nurturing Your Physical and Financial Well Being,” a free seminar offered by University of Maryland Memorial Hospital Foundation, will be held on Thursday, October 15, 9:30 – 11:30 a.m. at the Talbot Country Club, 6142 Country Club Drive in Easton.

The event will feature two presentations, “Update: The Expanded Clark Comprehensive Breast Center and the Use of 3-D Mammography,” by Roberta Lilly, MD, MPH, FACS, medical director, Clark Comprehensive Breast Center at UM Shore Regional Health, and “Measures Women Can Take to Prevent a Financial Crisis for Themselves and Their Families,” by Diana Johnson, vice president, Avon-Dixon Agency, LLC and Beth Spurry, president and owner, Tred Avon Family Wealth

Beth Spurry, president and owner, Tred Avon Family Wealth

Beth Spurry, president and owner, Tred Avon Family Wealth

Dr. Lilly holds a master’s in public health and is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons. She came to UM Shore Regional Health in 2012, and under her leadership, the Breast Center was awarded the NAPBC (National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers) stamp of approval in 2014. The NAPBC represents a commitment to quality care at the local and national level with ongoing monitoring of outcomes that meet or exceed national benchmarks. While providing timely, patient-centered care that adheres to the highest quality standards of breast care, Dr. Lilly is committed to helping patients become fully informed partners in their health care decisions. She also has a special interest in the impact of fitness and nutrition on breast cancer and is principal investigator of two ongoing studies designed to promote healthy eating and regular exercise among breast cancer survivors.

Diana Johnson is a life/health agent and an employee benefits broker/consultant with 26 years’ experience. Her professional designations include Certified Employee Benefits Specialist (CEBS), Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU), Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) and Life Underwriter Training Council Fellow (LUTCF). Diana’s industry accolades include “Insurance Person of the Year” (2003 and 2007) by the Eastern Shore Association of Health Underwriters (ESAHU); media chair and past president of ESAHU; and past president, National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA-Chesapeake). She is a member of UM Memorial Hospital Foundation’s Planned Giving Committee.

Roberta Lilly, MD, medical director, Clark Comprehensive Breast Center at UM Shore Regional Health

Roberta Lilly, MD, medical director, Clark Comprehensive Breast Center at UM Shore Regional Health

Beth Spurry is president and owner of Tred Avon Family Wealth in Easton. She is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) and a Certified Trust and Financial Advisor (CTFA). She is actively involved with a variety of local organizations, including The Women and Girls Fund, For All Seasons, The Sultana Education Foundation, the May Foundation and the Planned Gifts Committee of UM Memorial Hospital Foundation.

Light refreshments will be served. While admission is free, seating is limited and reservations are required; please RSVP by contacting Janet Andrews, 410-822-1000, ext. 5792 or


Cummings, GOP Tangle Over Planned Parenthood Spending

 Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Baltimore, on Tuesday warned that banning federal funds for Planned Parenthood would cut off vital health care services for low-income Maryland women.
“A lot of people who need these services are people who live in our districts. They live in areas that do not have these services,” Cummings told the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. The ranking member of the panel, Cummings is considering a run for the Senate.
Cummings said during his opening remarks at the contentious hearing that poor women in rural and underserved communities in his home state would lose “a host of healthcare services, including pap tests, breast exams and cancer screenings” if federal funding for Planned Parenthood stopped.
Planned Parenthood has seven locations in Maryland.
Planned Parenthood’s federal funding has been challenged by abortion foes after videos surfaced in July depicting employees trying to sell fetal tissue for profit. The videos were secretly recorded and released by David Daleiden, founder of The Center for Medical Progress, an anti-abortion group.
Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood and the hearing’s witness, said the videos were edited to frame employees in a false light.
A subpoena has been filed by the committee to obtain the unedited videos from Daleiden, but Chaffetz said that there is currently a temporary restraining order in California that is preventing the release of the videos.
Cummings said that House Democrats wanted Daleiden to testify, but the GOP refused. Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, stood by his decision that it would have been inappropriate to invite Daleiden without access to the videos.
Both Chaffetz and Cummings agreed that the committee will continue to try to retrieve the original videos.
A report by Coalfire, a cybersecurity and IT firm, was released earlier Tuesday, detailing that the viral videos were unedited. Many Republican committee members used this report during their questioning at the hearing.
Richards said that Planned Parenthood does not sell fetal tissue for profit, but the organization does allow fetal tissue donation for research from abortions or stillborn babies, with consent from the mother. Fetal tissue donation was made legal in 1993. Richards testified that less than one percent of Planned Parenthood centers facilitate fetal tissue donations.
Cummings argued that the Republican members of Congress are seeking to take away the constitutional right of women to decide what is best for their health.
“Do you want to align yourselves with the radical extremists who manipulate the facts and most importantly do you want to attack millions of women who have the constitutional right affirmed by the Supreme Court of the United States to make their own healthcare decisions with the advice of their doctors?” Cummings asked his Republican colleagues. “Based on the evidence of last week it appears you do.”
Several Republicans said that the federal government should not be supplying Planned Parenthood with federal dollars, when some taxpayers do not agree with the services and actions of the non-profit.
“What I don’t like, what I don’t want to tolerate, what I don’t want to come to is wasting government dollars,” said Chaffetz in his opening remarks.
Richards said that one in five women have sought care from the organization, and federal funding allows for birth control, STD testing, and breast exams to be provided. Richards also noted that Planned Parenthood does not use federal funding to pay for abortion costs, except in limited circumstances as outlined by federal law. These situations can include instances of rape, incest, or life-threatening pregnancies.
Planned Parenthood is reimbursed by the government for direct services to the health centers’ patients, and does not receive money up front.
“Republicans make it sound as if the federal government writes a check to Planned Parenthood each year,” Cummings said.
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said that the government should “take the money from the guys who are doing the bad things, and give it to the ones who aren’t.”
“There is one thing that we seem to be glossing over and moving around –it is the law. It is the law,” Cummings said, referring to Planned Parenthood’s services. “(People) may not like the law, but you are doing what is in the bounds of the law.”
Capital News Service


Letter to Editor: Dr. Carson Wrong on Possible Muslim President

Writing as religious educators and interfaith leaders, we are appalled at the stunning attack by Dr. Ben Carson, denying that a Muslim could serve as president of the United States. He presents himself as possessing an educated knowledge of Muslim law and ethics which, at best, is a veneer of disinformation, possibly polished by sources seeking to disgrace Islam and its adherents through subterfuge and paranoia.

Unfortunately, his words are attractive to a particular constituency in which this bigotry thrives. In so doing, Dr. Carson, who should know better, attracts the ignorance of those who know little, or who do not desire to know the truth. This type of appeal is called ‘demagoguery’.

We would like to think that Dr. Carson had a momentary lapse, but his self-confident, presumptuous explanation of his opinion, breathlessly devoid of any theological, legal or ethical knowledge, indicates otherwise. This demagoguery is unacceptable in American civil society.

Rather, Dr. Carson should dwell upon the calm, rational Americanism of President George W. Bush during what he called “the middle hour of our grief,” in Washington National Cathedral, just days after 9/11, and in other speeches.

“No one should be singled out for unfair treatment or unkind words because of their ethnic background or religious faith,” President Bush said before Congress. And in another address, “America rejects bigotry. We reject every act of hatred against people of Arab background or Muslim faith. We reject the ancient evil of anti-semitism … America values and welcomes peaceful people of all faiths – Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu and many others. Every faith is practiced and protected here, because we are one country.”

Peter E. Hyman
Rabbi, Temple B’nai Israel

Joel Marcus Johnson
Bishop of The Chesapeake, Ret’d.


The Talbot Boys Conversation: Bernard Demczuk on Unionville and Memorials

While the community conversation on the “Talbot Boys” has primarily focused on the future of the confederate soldier memorial on the Talbot County Courthouse lawn, the hamlet of Unionville, founded by eighteen African-Americans who had fought for the Union in 1865, has periodically been used by some as a counterpoint to those that suggest Talbot County has not equally honored the North’s veterans of the Civil War. The immediate effect was to pique the Spy’s curiosity about Unionville and its special history.

Screen Shot 2015-09-29 at 7.49.00 AMIn this case, we were lucky to find Bernard Demczuk, who resides part-time at a second home on the Choptank River, who not only holds a PhD from Maryland in African-American history but has done extensive scholarship on Unionville. In fact, the George Washington University teacher and assistant VP for D.C. Relations for the school, had spent so much time on the Shore doing research that he purposely found a place on the Choptank, which many local African-Americans had named the Freedom River since it served as a critical pathway to freedom.

In his interview with the Spy, Demczuk talks about the importance of Unionville, the unique character of the men who founded that community, and his personal thoughts on what should be done about the Talbot Boys.

This video is approximately nine minutes in length.



Out and About (Sort Of): The Pope and Mr. Boehner By Howard Freedlander

Only one person seemed to have listened to Pope Francis when he spoke last week before Congress. He was Speaker of the House John Boehner.

As we all know, Mr. Boehner resigned the past Friday morning as Speaker and from his 8th District Ohio seat in Congress. He could no longer cope with the disarray and dysfunction in the Republican Conference in the House of Representatives. He could no longer deal effectively with the far right in his Republican Party. Constant confrontation, not compromise, had become the ideal sought by roughly three dozen legislators intent on opposing, not governing.

In fairness, far left devotees reside in the Democratic Party. They are determined to block any changes in social programs, unyielding in their positions despite the crying need for fiscal responsibility.
The search for the general good evades both parties.

Back to the Pope and Mr. Boehner, a Catholic who for so long, apparently, wanted to bring the Holy Father to a powerful and visible perch in the people’s house in Congress. Mr. Boehner seemingly decided after spending time with the world’s leading spiritual figure to vacate his position and the institution he loved. The thought of resigning was not new to Speaker Boehner; he just needed a little inspiration, and that came his way after spending a precious few minutes with Pope Francis.

The Pope talked publicly about the crippling polarization that grips and paralyzes the U.S. Congress. He pointed to important matters left dormant, such as immigration. His soft voice bespoke civility, gentility and humility. The undercurrent to his remarks was a call to compromise. Only Mr. Boehner took it to heart, so it seemed.

Compromise not only is a dirty word in our Nation’s capital, but it represents a concept inimical to the extremes in both parties. It represents finding a middle ground, a quest to attain a result for the general good of American citizens. It represents reconciliation and negotiation. It represents civil discourse.
Our federal legislature eschews moderation. What an unproductive shame.

I am passionate about moderation—because it brings results normally helpful to our citizenry, our body public. It requires hard, frustrating work—yes, even compromise—to produce legislation for which citizens pay taxes to gain hopefully reasonable, albeit imperfect outcomes.

I have a sense that the far right condemns and avoids moderation at all costs, considering it outside their mode of political behavior, as they feel satisfied to shut down a government that produces little of value in their minds. Since government doesn’t work for them and presumably their constituents in their like-minded districts, why not shut it down?

Consequences from the chaos created by a government shutdown seem irrelevant. Boehner’s opponents so distrust the mainstream Republicans, not to speak of the Obama Administration and their Democratic colleagues in Congress.

Mr. Boehner rightly decided to step down, almost sacrificially, to enable him in the short time before he steps down at the end of October to enlist Democrats in preventing a government shutdown. He understands the consequences for the Republican Party as well as the nation when Congress shuts off funding for vital services.

When I speak of consequences, I think mainly about the economic impact thrust upon federal workers and contractors, not to speak of the volatile stock market and public concern about our fiscal structure. As we still are recovering from the Great Recession, a shutdown only exacerbates the fear and insecurity felt by our citizens.

I also fear the international reaction in our interdependent world. Our position as a stable economy is torn in shreds. Why trust us? Why invest in us? Why respect us?

At the same time I fret about economic security, I worry about our national security. A shutdown affects our military readiness; while we might exclude our military members from loss of pay and funding, we don’t necessarily afford the same protection to the civilian workforce that supports our uniformed services.
Pope Francis talked about civility, about concern for others, about caring about the poor and homeless and about immigrants seeking safety.

Mr. Boehner listened. Did others?

Columnist Howard Freedlander retired in 2011 as Deputy State Treasurer of the State of Maryland. Previously, he was the executive officer of the Maryland National Guard. He also served as community editor for Chesapeake Publishing, lastly at the Queen Anne’s Record-Observer. In retirement, Howard serves on the boards of several non-profits on the Eastern Shore, Annapolis and Philadelphia.

Academy Art Museum Showcases Juried Art Exhibition

The Working Artists Forum (WAF) is proud to announce their current exhibition of member artists’ work in the Selections Gallery of the Academy Art Museum.  Since 1979, WAF has been a juried organization of working professional artists from diverse professions and geographic locations who meet monthly at the Museum for demonstrations, group critiques and lively discussions.  Membership has grown from 13 original charter members to close to 100 members today.  WAF members actively show their work on the Eastern Shore, separately and together, and have pieces in private and corporate collections throughout the United States and abroad.  Members of WAF, a non-profit organization, have received numerous awards and prizes in countless competitions, and maintain a strong interest in pro bono work for the community, providing donations each year to art classes in our area schools.

This year’s Selections show judge was Lee Mills, an artist and member of the Artists’ Exchange in Rehoboth, DE.  Of the 36 member works submitted for this show, 22 were juried in.  The Best in Show award this year went to Linda Hall, for her watercolor, “Washday Reflections.”  The judge commented on the seductive, surreal quality of this painting.  “You see the wall and then the window with the reflection of the clothes line and clouds.  The clothes line becomes the cloud line.”  Judges’ Awards of Excellence went to Carol Argen Thomas, Nancy Thomas, and Judy Wolgast.  Honorable Mentions were given to Katie Cassidy, Janet DiNapoli and Carla Huber.

The WAF exhibition in the Selections Gallery (second floor) will be up through November 29, 2015. The Academy Art Museum is located at 106 South Street in Easton.  Hours of operation are Monday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm; TuesdayThursdayfrom 10 am -8 pm. Admission is $3 for non-members, children under 12 are free, Wednesdays are free for everyone.  For more information, call 410-822-2787 or visit














Janet DiNapoli--Out-of-the-Blue-fabric-and-oil-on-canvas-Hon.-Mention-Selections-2015

Janet DiNapoli–Out-of-the-Blue-fabric-and-oil-on-canvas-Hon.-Mention-Selections-2015