About Dave Wheelan

Hope by Angela Rieck

Early spring has it all. The landscape is shaking off its winter doldrums.  Bright green shoots are appearing on seemingly dead shrubbery. The trees cast a light green or red tint, letting us know that large expansive leaves are growing inside of them. The grass has turned a bright green and evergreens are getting their color.  

But what this season offers the most is hope.  This is the going to be the year.

As I fill my bird feeders, I convince myself that this is going to be the year that I get something other than brown birds, black birds or squirrels.  I am not asking for much, just a cardinal or two, or a blue jay or a house finch. I am not even asking for goldfinches or woodpeckers, just some color.  This is going to be the year. I fill my feeders with sunflower seeds, Nyger seeds, mealworms and a sugar solution for my hummingbirds.

This is going to be the year that my gooseneck Loosestrife remains contained, this is going to be the year that my Astilbe blooms like it did in NJ.  This is going to be the year that my nonstop roses really are nonstop.

All around me is hope, the daffodils provide bright yellow color when the sun is hidden by clouds.  Multi-colored tulips stand upright saluting spring. Flowering cherry and pear trees provide soft, puffy, pastel pink and white clouds against the sky. The Red Bud trees send pink-purple branches into the sky. My Helleborus has abundant, bushes of flowers.

Yes, this is the year, we’ll get rain at just the right time, the coffee grounds will work and I will have blue Hydrangeas.  The crab grass will refuse to germinate.

I can feel the hope and promise in the cool air as I happily weed, fertilize, remove debris and mulch my garden.

Suddenly, I hear the unmistakable caw-caw sounds overhead, I look up to see blackbirds circling my yard.  

I go inside.  I am not ready to give up on hope just yet.

Angela Rieck, a Caroline County native, received her PhD in Mathematical Psychology from the University of Maryland and worked as a scientist at Bell Labs, and other high-tech companies in New Jersey before retiring as a corporate executive. Angela and her dogs divide their time between St Michaels and Key West Florida. Her daughter lives and works in New York City.


Mid-Shore Culture: The Little Museum that Can with Stuart Parnes

In an era of when America’s large cultural museums have become masters of blockbuster exhibitions, marketing savvy, and significant building projects, it is hard not to worry about the fate of the thousands of the smaller community-based museums throughout the country.

These pint-sized, mostly storefront operations could easily be seen as an endangered species given that their big brother/sister counterparts are increasingly taking center stage in terms of membership and philanthropy. But Stuart Parnes, the current president of the Oxford Museum, predicts a healthy future for these cultural gems.

And Parnes should know.

With a resume that includes directing the acclaimed Mystic Seaport and the Eastern Shore’s beloved Chesapeake Bay Marine Museum, as well as a well-established career as a museum consultant, Stuart is well versed on the positive impact these large institutions have their visitors and communities, but when he puts on his local volunteer hat,  it’s been interesting to note that it is to help lead the small but mighty Oxford Museum.

In his Spy interview, Stuart talks about how this tiny museum not only remains relevant but can even compete with its larger peers in hosting unique exhibitions. A case in point is the Oxford Museum’s upcoming plans to host a Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibition entitled Water/Ways.

Too large for the Oxford Museum’s venue on Morris Street, Water/Ways will be on display at the Oxford Community Center and St. Paul’s Church. At the same time, the museum plans to complement this significant exhibition with the work of the highly respected local photographer David Harp.

This video is approximately four minutes in length. Water/Ways will be from July 13 to August 24. For more information about the Oxford Museum please go here.


Maryland Journal: The Hopkins President’s Socialist Daughter with Ross Jones

Even today as you walk on the Johns Hopkins campus at Homewood in Baltimore, the fingerprints of its first president, Daniel Gilman, can be found everywhere. From the physical forms of classroom buildings and laboratories to the current undergraduate curriculum, Dr. Gilman’s intellectual contributions and legacy as a higher education genius are still intertwined with one of this country’s most distinguished research institutions.

But there is one part of this legacy that has gone missing from this narrative for many years. Beyond the countless ways that Gilman put Baltimore on the map, it was his other contribution, his daughter Elisabeth, that Ross Jones, author of the newly published Elisabeth Gilman: Crusader for Justice, believes she deserves much more attention.

To document Elisabeth’s life, which eventually led her to become one of the country’s best-known leaders of the Socialist party, was an easy task for Jones. A product of Hopkins himself, who eventually rose to become one of the school’s senior vice presidents, Ross immediately took up the biography project after his retirement. He believes that Elisabeth was the centerpiece of the socialist movement in Maryland.

The result is a book which is not only well-researched record of one of the country’s first truly independent women in the country’s political life, but documents a time when religion and socialism were strange bedfellows in the pursuit of American justice. He also tells the charming story of a progressive family at the beginnings of America’s modern century.

This video is approximately four minutes in length. Elisabeth Gilman: Crusader for Justice is published by Secant Publishing and is available on Amazon here.



Highway Robbery? Galena Mayor John Carroll on Delaware Tolls and Maryland Roads

Over the last several years, the southern tip of Middletown, Delaware has assembled an extraordinary retail experience specifically designed to attract Marylanders seeking tax-free shopping. Starting with a Walmart Supercenter and then followed by the addition of a cineplex, popular restaurants, and a half dozen national chains like Michaels, Marshalls, and Kohls, this once sleepy town had transformed itself into a major commercial zone for the Mid-Shore.

Complimenting that vision was the addition of a significant bypass for Route 301 to seamlessly connect with Delaware’s Route 1 and later Interstate 95. After years of construction, the state opened the new toll road a few months ago, saving commuters and second homeowners on the Shore close to 15 minutes in drive time to and from the Delmarva Peninsula.

That was the good news.

The bad news started immediately after the Route 301 bypass ribbon cutting. Maryland drivers noticed two things about the new traffic pattern. The first was it was impossible to access Middletown Warwick Road, where all these new stores were located, without using the new toll road. The second, with no warning, was provided about the excessive charge, for doing that. It was going to cost a driver $4.00 each way to exit Rt. 301 after only traveling less than 2 miles using EZ-Pass. It was even worse for those without it with a bill in the mail for $5.60 one way.

Perhaps Delaware’s goal was to make the history books as one of the most expensive toll roads in the United States. If that was the case, they succeeded. But in doing so, the state’s highway planners not only have angered Maryland drivers with kind of highway robbery but created the unintended consequences of severally damaging Maryland’s secondary roads like the Cecilton-Warwick Road for drivers seeking toll-avoidance routes.

And nowhere is this felt more than in the unincorporated village of Warwick where car traffic on Saturdays has risen from 20 to 30 cars per hour going through their small hamlet to up to a 1,000 or more vehicles per hour on roads never designed for this level of traffic.

While common sense would suggest that the first exit could be prorated based on the short distance involved with a simple software update for EZ-Pass toll collections, Delaware has no formal plans to make that adjustment.

One person who has been watching this closely as been Galena mayor John Carroll since the toll road was being planned some ten years ago. The Spy sat down with John in the town’s council room to talk about unfair pricing of the new highway and the incalculable damage to Maryland’s roads and the Upper Shore’s way of life.

This video is approximately five minutes in length.

Profiles in Philanthropy: Aric Rosenbach and the Easton Civil Air Patrol

It is always quite remarkable to witness the journey of an extraordinarily busy executive, fully engage in life and work, transition into an active community volunteer leader. There is a certain curiosity about this somewhat dramatic shift of purpose and what motivated that profound change.

A case in point is Wittman’s Aric Rosenbach. For decades, Aric ran a highly innovative software company that focused on how mainframe computers could “talk” to each other. This technology was quite scarce thirty years ago, and Rosenbach and his small team grew into a hugely successful firm working with dozens of Fortune 500 corporations with their computer needs. Business was so good that Aric learned to fly so he could commute from the Easton Airport to his company’s offices just outside New York City.

Life continued to go well for Aric, and his Sandy, until December 7, 2008, when at eighteen years old, their nephew died of a drug overdose. Their grief was so overwhelming for Aric that he decided he had to become proactive with kids and to protect them from a similar and tragic fate.

His answer was to to go all-in with the Civil Air Patrol.

Combining his love of aviation and how it can play an essential role in teaching young people critical life skills, Aric was drawn to the organization’s mission.

As Aric explains in our Spy interview, the CAP is not the same organization it was when it was first created to help find downed aircraft 70 years ago These days young men and women not only learn about search and rescue, but the importance of volunteerism, leadership and, most importantly for Aric, becoming “wingmen” for each other as they navigate through the challenges of teen life.

This video is approximately five minutes in length. For more information about the Civil Air Patrol in Easton please go to their facebook page here.


25 Years of Light, Water and Stone with Greg Mort and Shelley Robzen

Over the next several months, Massoniart and its owner Carla Massoni will be celebrating thirty years of exhibiting some of the best artists in the Mid-Atlantic region. It is a remarkable achievement for Carla and the greater Mid-Shore that this exceptional gallery, which could easily have been at home in the art districts of Washington or Philadelphia, will be shortly be entering its fourth decade.

And yet perhaps one of the most fitting tributes for this anniversary for Massoniart is actually one that celebrates two of the gallery’s most distinguished artists, painter Greg Mort and sculptor Shelley Robzen.

For twenty-five years, these peerless artists have shown their work together even though they have never collaborated in the true sense of the word. United by Massoni’s famous matchmaking skills, Greg and Shelley’s work seamlessly complimented to each other’s work through by their masterful use of light and structure without any premeditation or planning on their part.

But after twenty-five years, it was in Carla’s nature to shake it up a bit. For the first time, she asked the artists to compared notes and images or their work before their joint exhibition Light Water and Stone opened. Their challenge – no small task – was to capture the invisible element of light.

Last Saturday, the Spy visited with Greg and Shelley at Massoniart to talk about their twenty-five years with Carla, their work, and how they have attempted to satisfy this exciting challenge.

There will be numerous opportunities to meet with the artists including the Opening Reception on Saturday, March 30, 12-3 pm. The Chestertown April First Friday reception Friday, April 5, 5-7:30 pm.  An Artist Talk on Saturday, April 6 at 12 noon. And the closing reception on May First Friday, May 3, 5-7:30 pm.Private appointments may be scheduled and groups are welcome.  Contact: Carla Massoni, 410-778-7330, info@massoniart.comFor additional information please visit:  www.massoniart.com.


Op-Ed: Trump is Not in the End Zone Yet by Steve Parks

Sunday was arguably the best day in the presidency of Donald Trump. But “spiking the football,” as he and his supporters did after Attorney General William Barr released a barebones summary of the Mueller report’s conclusions, is premature. Especially since Donald isn’t in the endzone yet. It might be a fumble instead.

Sure, the president is the apparent winner in special counsel Robert Mueller’s twin conclusions of “no conspiracy” with Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and, on obstruction of justice, neither vindication nor exoneration. But Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein swiftly cleared Trump of obstruction, too. Outside of Barr, Rosenstein and Mueller’s team, no one knows what’s in the report outside of a few quoted sentence fragments contained in Barr’s three-page letter—four if you count the names of the letter’s recipients.

While Sunday was a bad day for Democrats who expected Mueller to buoy a possible impeachment case, the real winner may be House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who warned her party about the I-word absent “compelling” evidence against the president.

Still, Democrats and, for that matter, Republicans should insist that the Mueller report be released to Congress and the public expeditiously. Barr can be commended for releasing his summary just 48 hours after Mueller submitted his report. But that could also be interpreted as a rush to public-opinion judgment. Watch Trump’s poll numbers climb to or past 50 percent for the first time in his presidency before the Mueller report can be fully digested.

We should never lose sight of the fact that the 22-month investigation resulting in seven convictions and 27 indictments demands more exposure than a cursory summation by political appointees of a subject, if not target, of the investigation. There’s no question that Russians conspired, at least among themselves and Wikileaks’ Julian Assange, to tip the election in Trump’s favor. The only question, negated in Mueller’s judgment, is whether the campaign did more than accept help by foreign bad actors without explicit complicity. Wink-winks are hard to prove in counterintelligence investigations. Meanwhile, a judge could rule that even grand jury evidence may be made public in extraordinary circumstances. Besides grand jury testimony, the only excuse for suppressing parts of the report would be protecting intelligence sources and methods.

As for obstructing justice, a much closer call according to what little we know of Mueller’s report, everything should be on the table. Mueller possibly declined to recommend prosecution because of a Justice Department memo suggesting that a sitting president cannot be indicted. (Barr wrote a 19-page audition to that effect before Trump appointed him.) Another reason may be Trump’s refusal to be interviewed by Mueller, crippling the special counsel’s ability to assess possible criminal intent, for instance, in firing FBI director James Comey. Was it to shut down the Russian investigation, as the president himself admitted on national TV?

To pursue impeachment at this point is a fool’s errand likely playing into Trump’s re-election strategy. Democrats should be mindful of voters’ investigative fatigue. The best path is for appropriate House committees to obtain, hopefully voluntarily, the bulk of Mueller’s report and hold public hearings on its content. Impeachment should not be the goal. It would be futile with a Republican Senate majority that would defeat conviction and removal from office.

Better to concentrate on issues most Democratic presidential candidates emphasize: health care (not necessarily immediate Medicare for All), soaring prescription costs, making college education affordable, recognizing climate change as an existential threat to life on Earth and, yes, immigration reform—even if all such initiatives are thwarted by GOP Senate Leader Mitch McConnell.

  Democrats—and Republicans principled enough to defy Trump—should also pay attention to his latest outrages. On the very day it was announced the Mueller report would be released, a story that might have dominated the news was buried by rampant speculation. By Tweet, Trump overruled Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, who had announced expanded sanctions against North Korea. The president disregarded aerial surveillance revealing North Korea’s renewed activity at long-range missile sites hours after his failed summit with dictator Kim Jong-un. Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders cited his reasoning thusly: “President Trump likes Chairman Kim.”

Does that make you feel safer? No, it’s another Trump fumble.

Steve Parks is a retired journalist now living in Easton.


At the Academy: How Beethoven was Robbed of an Oscar with Rachel Franklin

Poor Alex North. He was the distinguished music composer who discovered at the world premiere of 2001: A Space Odyssey that Stanley Kubrick, the film’s director, had replaced his work with Richard Strauss’s Zarathustra.

That’s just one of the tidbits that Dr. Rachel Franklin shares with her students at the Academy Art Museum as part of her larger theme of the use of music in film and, in particular, the use of classical composers in contemporary cinema.

The Spy sat down with Rachel last week in the AAM library to talk about this unique relationship. The case study she offered was The King’s Speech and the monarch’s speech to the British Empire at the start of  World War II.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. To learn more about the Academy Art Museum’s classes please go here


At the Academy: AAM’s Love Affair with Photography

If there was any doubt about the Academy Art Museum’s commitment to photography, the galleries of the art center in Easton this spring should put that concern to rest.

From a display of photographic additions recently added to the AAM collection to the exhibitions of John Gossage and Matthew Moore, the Academy has assembled a robust demonstration of the institution’s love affair with photography.

The Spy talked to AAM director Ben Simons and curator Anke Van Wagenberg for a small download on these three remarkable exhibits.

This video is approximately two minutes in length. For more information about the Academy Art Museum please go here

Mid-Shore Arts: When Art and History Meet with Jason Patterson

College towns are typically blessed with, and perhaps even a bit dependent on, the academic version of “twofers.” With each talented faculty member recruited, there is a good chance that an equally gifted spouse or partner will be part of the package.

Examples in Chestertown are endless of this form of collateral benefits. A recent case came to mind when the Spy announced that Sabine Harvey, wife of Washington College’s Dr. Michael Harvey, had been appointed to run Chestertown’s beloved farmers’ market. This was just the latest of Sabine’s remarkable contributions to Kent County agriculture and gardening.

And this is undoubtedly the case with the arrival of Dr. Meghan Grosse,  a professor with the College’s communication and media studies program. Dr. Grosse’s partner, artist Jason Patterson, agreed to make the move East from his native Campaign-Urbana in Illinois and now has his studio in Chestertown.

In the months that followed his arrival, Jason almost immediately became Kent County Arts Council’s first artist in residence. A few months after that, he was invited by Sumner Hall to exhibit his art (on display until March 24), and around the same time became a Frederick Douglass Visiting Fellow at WC’s Starr Center.

The Spy sat down with Jason at the Spy HQ in Chestertown for a quick chat about his work and the unique opportunities that come when art connects with history.

This video is approximately two minutes in length. More information about Jason Paterson’s art work can be found here.

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