Delmarva Review: Entropy by Adam Tamashasky


I don’t know that much about entropy
except that I don’t call my brother much anymore.
Holidays and birthdays, ours and our kids’,
but the bonds weaken over time.
It’s enough now to leave a voicemail.
Our lives, like leaves, have branched apart,
though a thin root keeps us, briefly, in touch.
But I see these October leaves around my feet now,
and I can’t tell which ones grew up together.

I’ve taught my daughters so many lessons—
how to hold my hand across the street,
how to hold on to me in the deep end—
but now I wish I’d offered better lessons:
what their sisters’ hands in theirs can feel like,
how not to let go during the fall.

Maryland poet Adam Tamashasky teaches at American University. One of his poems in Delmarva Review was just nominated for a Pushcart Prize. His poetry has also appeared in Cold Mountain Review, The Innisfree Poetry Journal, and 491 Magazine. He grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, and went to the University of Dayton for his undergraduate degree and to American University for his MFA.

Delmarva Review is a literary journal of national scope, with regional roots. The nonprofit review discovers and prints compelling new fiction, nonfiction, and poetry from authors within the region and beyond. It is supported by individual contributions and a grant from the Talbot County Arts Council with funds from the Maryland State Arts Council. Visit: Order copies at

Elvis is in the Building: TAP Presents Four Weddings and an Elvis

For TAP director John Norton, Four Weddings and an Elvis had so many things going for it to make it the kick off of the 2019 Tred Avon Players season.

The first, of course, was Elvis. The second was that it was funny, and finally, despite great reviews, rarely been performed since Nancy Frick wrote it in 2010. All of which made it a perfect production for TAP and its loyal audience.

But that is only part of the reason that director Norton is excited about the TAP Elvis production. In his short Spy interview, John has added a special twist to each performance with a raffle of a lifesize Elvis to take home with the lucky winner.

The Spy caught up with John at Bullit House last week to talk about the play and the fun that comes when Elvis is in the building.

This video is approximately two minutes in length. For more information and tickets please go here



One Year Later: The Liza Ledford Touch at the Oxford Community Center

Towards the end of this interview, Liza Ledford, Executive Director at Oxford Community Center (OCC), summarized the past year since taking over. She hoped, she said, that people who came to the center would leave inspired. She also wanted OCC to remain relevant. In retrospect, this seems to be precisely what’s happened. Then again, this is what Ledford knows best. Before OCC, some of her production and marketing skills were put to use in the Hollywood film and entertainment industry for the likes of Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment, Universal Pictures, and Sony Studios. “Working in the movies or in other marketing capacities, it’s always been about selling an experience. You’re not selling an item that people can go home with, and you’re not selling anything tangible. I want people to have a positive and moving experience. That has carried over from all my jobs,” she said.

Liza Ledford, Executive Director, Oxford Community Center

This talent converts well for the growth that OCC saw in 2018, made possible by the generosity of annual fund donors. For Ledford her year began with getting to know the community, figuring out the personality and spirit of Oxford. “It was a wonderful year of learning,” she says. “This town has the most unbelievable people—really eclectic, really sophisticated, really concerned and passionate. It’s hard to find something that will wow them, and that’s been the fun of getting to know this town for me.”

Finding something new and different was only part of the challenge. Ledford also learned that the community appreciates and is loyal to what has been successful in the past, including a St. Patrick’s Day and 4th of July event, an appearance by The Fabulous Hubcaps, Casino Night, model boat show, etc. In between these larger events are the daily, weekly, or monthly programs, some new and some ongoing, that are a major part of their role to serve Oxford and beyond. These include: Aerial Fabric Exercise workshops, meditative yoga (Anahata) classes, games and trivia nights, cooking, health and art classes, a possible collaboration with Tred Avon Players, Oxford Kid’s Camp, Cars and Coffee, etc.

On a grander scale and with an eye towards the future, Ledford continues to nurture the connections she created last year. One partnership that extended outside of Oxford brought to the Center the sold-out Anderson Twins jazz concert in December. The joint project with Chesapeake Music’s Jazz on the Chesapeake attracted people beyond Talbot county. “We can’t afford to do this on our own, but with partnerships, we can bring this kind of amazing talent to Oxford,” she said, citing how local businesses, B&Bs, restaurants, stores, etc. benefitted. Current discussions include bringing bi-annual prestigious jazz events to OCC, with the next offering being Sammy and the Congregation on May 25th.

Cars and Coffee

Currently on her radar are the preparations for one of OCC’s most popular events, the Fine Arts Fair, which this year celebrates its 35th anniversary on May 17-19. Whatever Ledford and her group are doing, the Economic Development and Tourism office has taken notice. “They’re pitching us to destination and travel writers, and we have to give them something to talk about. We have to let people know why they need to come to Oxford that weekend.” Crediting Jody Ware, OCC’s Fine Arts Coordinator, Ledford says: “This year Jody’s intention is on the artists themselves. She’s broadened her outreach to national level artists so the caliber will continue to be better this year than even in the past. It’s going to be exciting to see who will be here and how we can make the experience of coming here just a little more dynamic with the whole town. Which is why the tourism board said they’d pitch us, and that’s never happened before.” With help from partners and sponsors, she envisions expanding the Fair into a Festival and offering not only incredible art and artists but also attracting foodies, local winery and craft brewers, all while celebrating the 35 years of history in Oxford.

In planning stages are self-guided walking tours for that weekend and then again on July 14th for Paint Oxford Day during Plein Air. The tours, which will be Oxford specific, will categorize vanishing landscapes, and highlight the influence that water has on culture and life. “One of the impacts Oxford had is when Holland Island disappeared because of water,” she said. “We inherited some of those homes, and we inherited people from other islands that have disappeared. So, we’re going to identify some of the Holland houses, maybe invite some artists to paint some of these special places, the Art Academy can offer a watercolor workshop. This is how it spirals, with one conversation leading to the next and becoming a great partnership.”

Paint Oxford Day

Another alliance being cultivated is a collaboration with Busy Graham from Carpe Diem Arts to bring music to OCC. “(Graham) has her finger on the pulse of who is new and accessible and around the region,” says Ledford. “So, working with her as our curator, if you will, she’s going to supply us with some great music, and we can have a Friday night lounge kind of vibe, more regularly. If you’re coming to the Eastern Shore for the weekend and you want to do something we’re going to have some music going on more often.” Watch for the February 8th Black History Month Concert, which will be the next partnership with Carpe Diem Foundation & John Wesley Preservation Society.

Other events recently added to the calendar include:
March 30, 31 – Mr. Morris, Mr. Morris Spoken Word Show in partnership w/TAP & RMI
April 5th – Sara Jones
May 26 – Broadway Jukebox 2 – in partnership with Brown Box Theatre
June 21-23 – Shore Shakespeare
Oct. 18 -20 – Garden Club hosting 12 clubs

As Ledford shared her vision for even beyond this year, it’s hard to not circle back to the experience and enthusiasm she brings to OCC and the partnerships she hopes to expand. “I would love us to be an extension of all the great venues in this area like The Avalon or the Academy Art Museum. I want us to be known for finding unique things. I want people to ask, ‘How did they get that person?’ I want people to say, ‘I better buy my ticket today, or it’s going to be sold out.’ I definitely want us to have our own personality. I want people to be curious about what we’re doing next. I want us to be another venue that everyone wants to know about; I want them to ask: ‘what unique cool things did they produce?’ I want people to be exposed to Oxford and its uniqueness. That’s what keeps me so excited. It’s always so fresh; there’s always someone new who walks in and has a story or connection. How to fit everything in and how to make sure everyone knows about what’s going on is always my day-to-day quest.”

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Val Cavalheri is a recent transplant to the Eastern Shore, having lived in Northern Virginia for the past 20 years. She’s been a writer, editor and professional photographer for various publications, including the Washington Post.

David Blight to Speak at Washington College on February 7

Eminent Yale historian David W. Blight’s new book Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom is the first full biography in decades of the most famous African American of the 19th century. Born into slavery on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, Frederick Douglass escaped north, and went on to become a celebrated orator, leading abolitionist, brilliant statesman and one of the most significant writers in American history. As Blight demonstrates, throughout his long life Douglass never stopped ferociously fighting with his “voice, pen, and vote” for civil and political rights.

Blight will speak at Washington College on Thursday, February 7. The event, which is free and open to the public, begins at 5:30 p.m. in Decker Theatre, Gibson Center for the Arts. Books will be for sale, and a book signing will follow the talk. The program is sponsored by the Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, the Department of History, and the American Studies Program.

A New York TimesWall Street Journal, and Time top 10 book of the year, Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom captures the complexity of Douglass’s public and personal life with detail and insight. In a recent Washington Post review, Starr Center Director Adam Goodheart wrote that the book “is not just a deeply researched birth-to-death chronology but also an extended meditation on what it means to be a prophet. … In Blight’s pages, [Douglass’s] voice again rings out loud and clear, melancholy and triumphant — still prophesying, still agitating, still calling us to action.”

The author of several other acclaimed works on slavery, race and the Civil War era, David W. Blight is Class of 1954 Professor of American History and Director of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at Yale University.  His books include American Oracle: The Civil War in the Civil Rights Era; and Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory, which won the Bancroft Prize, the Abraham Lincoln Prize, and the Frederick Douglass Prize, among other awards. Last February, Blight received Washington College’s Award for Excellence in recognition of his scholarly work and his work in the world of public history in furthering research and conversation on slavery and its legacy.

About Washington College

Founded in 1782, Washington College is the tenth oldest college in the nation and the first chartered under the new Republic. It enrolls approximately 1,450 undergraduates from more than 39 states and territories and 25 nations.With an emphasis on hands-on, experiential learning in the arts and sciences, and more than 40 multidisciplinary areas of study, the College is home to nationally recognized academic centers in the environment, history, and writing. Learn more at

The Road of Photographer Constance Stuart Larrabee: A Conversation with Author Peter Elliott

For those who remember Constance Stuart Larrabee, particularly those living on the Mid-Shore, it will always be gratifying to know that at the very end of her life Constance knew there was a high degree of attention paid to her photography.

While the native South African had been living on the Mid-Shore for more than forty years, she was intentionally reserved on talking about her work as a documentary photographer in the years before marrying a former military attache, Colonel Sterling Loop Larrabee, in 1949. If locals knew anything about Larrabee, it was for her reputation as a successful breeder of Norwich Terriers, not as South Africa’s first female World War Two correspondent. She clearly preferred it that way for reasons still not entirely known.

It was only when she was seventy that a close friend, Ed Maxcy, convinced her to share her portfolio of images from her visits to rural South African villages, the war, the streets of Johannesburg and, later, Tangier Island on the Chesapeake Bay. She began working with such distinguished institutions such as the Corcoran Gallery, Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art, Yale’s Center for British Art, Washington’s National Museum of Women in the Arts, as well as our own Washington College and Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, through much of the eighties and early nineties on several well received exhibitions. All of which gave Larrabee the certain knowledge that her lifetime contribution to photography had been well-noted before she died in 2000.

But for those who have never heard her name, or seen her stunning images, there is good news to be had. Almost twenty years after her passing, fellow South African and author Peter Elliott has just completed a new biography of Larrabee after two years of extensive research.

Elliott, retiring to the South of France after a distinguished career as a London-based corporate attorney, began his new vocation as a writer on history and art, and had stumbled on Larrabee’s war photography while researching South Africa’s role in World War II.

Awed by their composition and warmth, Peter has meticulously tracked down every one of Constance’s documentary projects as well as applied a critical appraisal of her work, including a few myths she created along the way on her technique, in the newly released Constances: One Road to Take: The Life and Photography of Constance Stuart Larrabee published by Cantaloup Press.

Through the wonders of technology, the Spy interviewed Peter via Skype from his home in Languedoc, France to talk about Constance, her photography, and the lasting legacy of her work.

This video is approximately twenty-eight minutes in length. Constance: One Road to Take: The Life and Photography of Constance Stuart Larrabee can be purchased at the Book Plate in Chestertown or on Amazon here.



Hush Now: A Poem by Stan Salett

Hush Now

Hush now, listen to the moment,
Hear the silent sounds of memory,
Do not speak, do not think, just listen.

And what may come to you,
After the trumpets and salutes,
After the crowds and hurried movements,
Is the silence.

The moment when past and present
And future are one,
When Aha! has become Ahh.

Swallow deeply, close your eyes,
You are here, you are alive,
You are one.

Stan Salett has been a policy adviser to the Kennedy, Carter, and Clinton administrations and is the author of The Edge of Politics: Stories from the Civil Rights Movement, the War on Poverty, and the Challenges of School Reform. He now lives in Kent County, Maryland. 

Mid-Shore Arts: Composer and Singer Barbara Parker on Being the New Kid on the Block

It is hard to think of another community where such a shockingly large number of people who live here can name at least five of the most outstanding female vocalists in the area. Remarkably different in their gifts and generous in their support, these professional artists have set a high bar for any newcomer.

That is what visual artist and writer Barbara Parker realized when she decided to take her love of words and combine them with music around 2005. That may seem like a long time ago, but in her Spy chat, she still feels she is still just catching up to these masters who she has admired since arriving in Kent County in 1982.

Collaborating with pianist Joe Holt, another great Kent County master, Barbara has started to perfect her performance style. Using a repertoire of her compositions which were developed with Joe’s arrangements, the twosome has steadily grown a following on the Mid-Shore. Many of whom will no doubt be there when the twosome headline a reception and concert at the Brampton Inn on January 19.

In her Spy interview, she talks about her love of lyrics and music, the awe she has the local talent this small rural community has to offer, and how grateful she has been for their influence and guidance.

This video is approximately two minutes in length. Additional video generously provided by Steve Payne.  Tickets and information about the Brampton Inn concert can be found here.


Mid-Shore Arts: The Case for Entering Plein Air with Diane DuBois Mullaly

This is a particularly intense time for painters deciding whether to enter into the Plein Air competition that takes place every year on the Mid-Shore and sponsored by the Avalon Foundation. That’s because they only have a few weeks to decide before registration closes on January 25.

Entering this event is not a decision to be taken lightly. Artists are signing up for a very demanding international competition, which all takes place, rain or shine, in some of the Eastern Shore’s hottest conditions in July. It also requires painters to do their work in only five days with a minimum of two finished pieces to be presented for review.

And yet, artists like the accomplished Diane DuBois Mullaly make the argument that without those unique demands, they would not have produced some of their best work. To decide locations and paint quickly, is all part of the challenge for Diane.

To help those local artists that haven’t made up their mind yet, the Spy sat down with Diane to talk about why she loves Plein Art, the fun of pushing one’s self, and the great joy of socializing and learning from her fellow painters each summer.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. To enter Plein Air Easton – 2019 please go here.



Art Review: Review: 60th Anniversary Members Show at the Academy Art Museum by Mary McCoy

There’s a double celebration going on at the Academy Art Museum. Formally marking the culmination of a year-long celebration of this flourishing community museum’s 60th anniversary, its Annual Members’ Exhibition, on view through January 13, is very much a celebration of the vitality of art on the Eastern Shore. With works by 184 artists, an impressive number for our rural area, it’s a lively, colorful show and if the cliché may be excused, has something for everybody.

As might be expected, there are many beautiful Eastern Shore landscapes with shimmering water, quiet marshes and farmlands. Some of these paintings and photographs are realistic, some are more abstract or even cartoonish, but together, they sketch a rich portrait of this region. Towering clouds dwarf a cluster of barns in Gail McConaughy’s lush “Storm Building,” while sunset’s afterglow casts a blush of pink on the calm water around a small boat in Diane DuBois Mullaly’s “By the Light of the Moon.” There are boaters, crabbers, clammers, docks and a lighthouse, as well as herons and ospreys and even a slightly cynical chicken in “Grandma Poses” by Irene Aspell.

Gail McConaughy, “Storm Building,” oil

But in addition to landscapes, there are portraits, ceramics, jewelry, fiber art, sculptures, still lifes, and an impressive array of floral art. Some of the most memorable are Katherine Allen’s elegant fabric collage with its sooty paint stains spritzed with hand-stitching and French knots, Pamela Into’s unusual pair of vases molded from bok choy leaves, and Abby Ober Radford’s understated “Roses, Roses, All the Way” with its luscious brushstrokes just barely fleshing out rose petals and glints of light on a stack of teacups.

Katherine Allen, “My Year of the Dragon,” fiber collage

Several of the works will tease at your thoughts even after you’ve left the exhibit. Matthew Moore’s photographs of three empty pedestals, each surrounded by grass and fallen leaves, is strangely haunting and conjures questions of what memorials they may have held and how they came to be missing. Startlingly alike with their shaggy white hair and irascible expressions, two self-portraits by twin brothers, David and James Plumb, will make you wonder about sibling relationships and the nature of individuality. And while Kevin Garber’s tiny rhinoceros sheathed in colorful postage stamps from around the world seems at first to be a cheery little sculpture, a closer look turns it worrisome. The stamps covering its body depict exotic animals and plants, while those on its pedestal show symbols of the countries that produced them. Given the rhino’s dangerously falling population, poaching and endangered species leap to mind, as do politics and nationalism.

Kevin Garber, “Endangered,” mixed media

To help commemorate its 60th anniversary, the Museum suggested artists might submit works with 60 as their theme, resulting in several depictions of its picturesque exterior (still topped by its 1820 school bell tower), as well as a number of works incorporating the number 60. These include Peter Hanks’s painting of a gigantic crab weighing in at 60 on a scale that spells “Happy Birthday” and Constance Del Nero’s inventive “Population” with its tiny blister packs sculptured into 60 cartoon faces. One particularly satisfying work is Scott Sullivan’s sketchbook containing 60 skillfully drawn charcoal portraits.

Matthew Moore, “Pedestals,” pigment print

This show is itself a portrait of the broad spectrum of artists here on the Eastern Shore. There are many levels of accomplishment included, from more amateur works to pieces by artists such as William Willis, Katherine Allen and David Douglas who have been featured in solo shows at the Museum, as well as Matthew Moore, whose thought-provoking series of photographs, “Post-Socialist Landscapes,” will be exhibited at the Museum in March and April.

The sheer bounty of artworks in this exhibit makes it a spirited celebration of the Museum and its community of artists. Formerly held in the summer months, it makes for great holiday viewing and reinforces the sense that, with its full schedule of exhibits, classes, events, concerts and outreach programs, we are fortunate to have such an active and engaging community museum in our midst.

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

Mid-Shore Arts: A Review of Jo Smail and Paul Jeanes at the Kohl by Mary McCoy

You can tell from the title that “Clippings, Voids and Banana Curry” is going to be fun. On view through December 9 at Washington College’s Kohl Gallery, it brings together the work of Jo Smail and Paul Jeanes, two artists from very different backgrounds, who became friends when both were teaching at Maryland Institute College of Art.

At first, it seems to be an odd pairing. Jeanes’s large, powerful paintings unquestionably dominate the gallery with their stark black-and-white slanting shapes, but it’s Smail’s tiny collages that will draw you in like magnets. Shortly, you almost forget about Jeanes as you slip into reading the ’50’s and ’60’s vintage recipes, smiling at the ads for outmoded ladies’ undergarments, and shaking your head at the strangely polite newspaper articles on issues surrounding apartheid.

Jo Smail, collages: digital prints, acrylic and cardboard on paper mounted on board

Smail was born and raised in South Africa, and when she brought a bag full of her mother’s old recipes (including one for banana curry) home from a recent visit, she discovered articles and ads on the back of some of the recipes clipped from newspapers that stand as cultural artifacts of the country during its apartheid years.

Although Smail is primarily an abstract painter, she layered scans of the clippings along with many handwritten recipes and old envelopes into playful compositions of understated color and texture. Floating an inch or so from the wall, these dozens of collages seem to dance, one after another, across the walls of the gallery in a collection hovering between nostalgia and immediacy. Simultaneously engaging and edgy, they call to mind a time when cheerful Afrikaner women, in dresses tailored to the latest American pointy bras and waist-trimming foundation garments, ostensibly found fulfillment in whipping up new recipes every day, while blissfully ignoring the race-based poverty outside their kitchen doors.

Unframed and eschewing the usual rectangular format, Smail’s collages take their complicated shapes from the multiple angles of the clippings, punctuated here and there with offhand painted shapes. Sometimes gestural, sometimes almost evoking an object (one resembles a cartoon time bomb), these painterly elements nimbly introduce a certain animating awkwardness, possibly a metaphor for the deep flaws in the prim culture evoked by the clippings. Casual and often comical, her collages hum with a portentous tension not unlike that underlying our own times.

Paul Jeanes, “Projection Painting #3,” oil on linen on panel

Curiously, Jeanes’s paintings and inkjet prints possess a similar bracing tension, though it reverberates more in the body than the mind. Jeanes teases optical quandaries by playing mercilessly with perspective. What our eyes want to interpret as the four panes of a window in “Project Painting #3” just won’t quite come together. The edges of the “panes” tilt in irreconcilable directions and don’t quite line up.  Sometimes, they even shift directions as if bending back or forward. It’s a visual conundrum that both fascinates and sets your teeth on edge.

To complicate matters further, there’s a creeping realization that super-subtle angled shapes deriving from nothing more than a change in the sheen of the black paint float behind the white shapes. As you grow attuned to these nuances, you begin to notice that the empty white “panes” are not voids, but are alive with evidence of underpainting mingled with the woven texture of the underlying linen panel. A weird sensation of physicality vies with the painting’s tense geometry as the very idea of illusory space held within a static picture plane dissolves.

In his inkjet prints, Jeanes hints that his process begins with observations of actual objects or places. There’s no telling what they really are (a theater stage? a book? a sunbeam slanting across a floor?), but he photographs phenomena that interest him then prints them and cuts them up, rearranges them, experiments, and finally, projects them onto linen or canvas to create his final paintings. Unlike Smail, he prefers his sources to remain anonymous, and he works on a large enough scale that you feel like you could walk into one of his paintings and be lost in an hallucinatory world of shifting perspectives.

More than 30 years her junior and with less exotic roots in North Carolina, Jeanes nonetheless approaches the creative process with the same open, exploratory spirit that Smail cultivates. Curiosity and playful humor energize both artists’ works and make them fun to look at, but it’s the tension of incompatible viewpoints that keep them loitering in the mind. The impossibility of the coexistence of privilege and equality summoned by Smail’s collages and the irreconcilable viewpoints implied by Jeanes’s paintings prod and probe at our settled understandings of the world we live in.

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

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