Sunday at the Opera House

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Sunday, January 29, 2023 – 3pm

No, I wasn’t at the Sydney Opera House, it was much closer to home where I spent last Sunday at an event which was headlined as “Two Boys! Two Pianos! And a show that will knock your socks off!” It was my first visit to the Havre de Grace Opera House in the arts and entertainment district of a town in Harford County, Maryland.

Ronnie Carrasquillo and Kain Felix’s concert began on a few recognizable arrangements – Pachelbel’s Canon in D and The Prayer. Along with that, the pair put on their very best professional airs these two middle school boys could have. The varied mix of music – duets, classical and then contemporary allowed a them to drop their professional facade just a little bit toward the end and just have a little fun, like youth do. Concert piano may not be every 11 and 12 year old’s idea of having a great afternoon but these two were enjoying themselves, despite Ronnie’s admission of how nervous he was, which seemed to disappear once he began playing. From where I was sitting I could see a little into the wings. After each one’s individual performance, I could see the boys giving each other the thumbs up and high fives, encouraging one another. As their teacher Miss Julie said, the two have “great synergy” between them.

Not a page of sheet music was at the baby grand. Kain played all from memorization, which was impressive given the fact that his talent has already lead him into some complex compositions. Kain who has begun studying at the Maryland Conservatory of Music has started writing some of his own music such as two tunes he played, Lost and Found and Ripples. Some of the other pieces each boy played had unique elements, some improvisation, added in.

Ronnie has been Miss Julie’s student for four years and their great rapport was evident, yet he is preparing to advance his skills at the Maryland Conservatory of Music. Their teacher Julie Shaker has been very instrumental in her mentoring and their development, and all three seem to enjoy one another too.

One wonders where their futures in music will lead them but already their young talent did knock my socks off and in the process all I could think is how challenging it sometimes is to get my own emotions down on a piece of paper, so I ponder how can two boys with so few years of living on this earth turn their thoughts into writing a rather complex composition of musical notes or take music already written, then add to it and play it with such pleasing results? Innate, God-given gifts they have been given.

I’d like to thank Kain’s mom, Claudia Felix for giving me the the opportunity to see these two middle school boys first public appearance and display their hard work and young, admirable talent.

Kain’s Mom Claudia showing her support and congratulations at intermission. The two boys parents have much to be proud of.

A Musical Canvas

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St. Ignatius Church, Hickory, MD

A beautiful venue always adds to the experience when art of any kind is on display. St. Ignatius Church in Hickory, MD did not disappoint. It was where The Deer Creek Chorale, a multi-generational choral group exhibited their vocal talents late last Sunday afternoon. The singers, comprised of more than eighty members, from Baltimore and Harford County as well as a few voices from southern Pennsylvania have entertained not only in Maryland but at The Forbidden City Concert Hall in Bejing and Carnegie Hall and other impressive venues.

The non-profit organization is under the direction of Martha Banghart and her artistic staff which includes Julie Culotta, who founded the Deer Creek Youth Group nearly seven years ago. Now, youngsters age fifteen and over can have their interests and talents in the musical arts nurtured through the multi-aged group. As the audience “walked the rainbow trail” with the youth singers, lyrics encouraged others to be colorful, be bold and powerful, but most of all BE YOU! The youngsters are not just walking the walk, they are talking the talk as they learn by doing and being involved with what strikes their passions, choral singing.

The music of the evening brought a broad spectrum of compositions, many of which had colors in their titles such as Bein’ Green and Orange Colored Sky, sung by the youth. Deep Purple and A Red, Red Rose, True Colors and The Blue Ridge were a only a few sung by the adults. There were a few lively songs, but never riotous, such as Build Me Up Buttercup and a Big Yellow Taxi, sung by The Lady’s Six +1.

Susan Zantop, who is also a member of Deer Creek Chorale and Cultural Events Coordinator for the Maryland Center for the Arts, did a fine job of narrating which brought context to the music and how it tied into the visual arts portion of the program. Two award-winning artists, Joan Hodous and Bill Rothenbach presented their two paintings for silent auction, a oil and acrylic on canvas, respectively. The painters also provided commentary on their vision of what they brought to the canvas. Joan Hodous’ landscape was of Blue Ridge Mountains in the background flowing down to a hilly pastoral scene in the foreground. The colors on the canvas were subdued autumn hues. On the contrary, Bill Rothenbach who is a painter of abstract impressionism, his painting looked like a clash of fireworks of red, white and blue, which was a foretelling of what was to come next in the program – a patriotic melody of tunes. I was particularly struck by the masterful selection of voices which at one point sounded like fifes playing in the background of a 4th of July parade.

My impressions of “The Musical Canvas” were many but they can be summed up in just a few more words, “the concert was a wonderful respite before the busy winter holiday season sets in.”

As if the evening was not enough, when I walked out into the blustery air, the bells of the church pealed out “Amazing Grace” and it was indeed, a beautiful ending to Sunday performance of a fabulous community chorus, The Deer Creek Chorale. Thank you to the Maryland State Arts Council and the Harford County Cultural Arts Board for making the evening possible through their generous grants.

A Divine Knowing

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Two weekends ago when I walked into The Artists Emporium in Havre de Grace, Maryland little did I know there would be a bonus attraction other than seeing the fabulous From Italy with Love exhibit. Before my visit with oil painter Robin Capecci, while I was looking at all the wares in the gallery, a boy, his little brother and his mom walked in the doors. Gallery owner Robert Buden said hi to them as if he knew them and came over to me and quietly said, “this young man comes in after church nearly every Sunday, and plays our piano. You’ll want to listen in.” I could see the grand piano from where I stood.

Immediately I was completely blown-away and went over to talk with his mom. She told me her son, Kain (pronounced Kai-een) Felix, is twelve years old. For one-and-a-half hours this young talent went from classical composition to classical composition without any sheet music and without a break in between. One song flowed into another and I never heard one break in the music as if there was an “oops” he was trying to right. And to this untrained ear, I couldn’t detect any off notes or places where he went awry.

His mom, Claudia Felix, said she recognized his talent at 3 years old when he was given a kids toy piano. “Most children at that age,” she said, “just bang on the keys. Not him, I could see and hear that he was putting things together.” After he began playing the beginnings of a few harmonizing keys and a few very basic trills, she knew her son had something God-given. His interest has continued in music and after awhile she knew private lessons would be key to developing his talents.

Kain is drawn to classical music and is currently working with a wonderful mentor Dr. Thompson Duke of the Maryland Conservatory of Music who is teaching him to read the notes on more advanced sheet music. This has led to the beginnings of writing his own compositions.

On January 29th at 3pm at the Havre de Grace Opera House he will be making his debut public performance. Some of compositions he will play will be duets with another student, and he will also play some of the musical compositions he has written. I look forward to attending and I’m willing to bet many others are too. The Felix’s are a proud military family and it seemed especially important to Kain’s mom that I know that.

What a wonderful art-filled, spirit-filled Sunday I had. Thank you to all who made my day so completely enjoyable.

Featuring a Newly Published Artist

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Today’s blog post is written in honor of artist Richard Galusha, a Colorado Artist who I am so very excited for. Galusha Studios has a new publication hot off the press. Although giclee prints of Galusha’s vast collection of original artwork have been published, there has never been a book about the artist’s life and his work. Here is more about “An Artist’s Journey: Richard Galusha.”

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When you are a prolific painter like Richard Galusha, at some time in one’s long career, an artist’s collectors are interested in seeing a Retrospective Show. This means gathering a lifetime of the artist’s work for the public to view.

In the year 2020, two separate exhibitions will hang in art galleries in the United States giving collectors the opportunity to see nearly every canvas of Colorado artist Richard Galusha. The Steamboat Art Museum, in Steamboat Springs, Colorado is currently playing host to Galusha’s Retrospective Show until April 11, 2020.

On May 11, 2020 a second exhibition, will open in Abiline, Texas at the Center for Contemporary Arts. Paintings from the Wachter and Bradley collections comprise most of Galusha’s art being showcased for the month of May. Paintings include western art as well a varied mix of landscapes from mountains to oceans and faces of people from all over the world. The oils are representative of the wide range of the artist’s talent.

Many art aficionados and collectors are eager to know about the background of an artist whose work they are viewing and purchasing. Thus, Galusha Studios offers a newly released book which compliments the two Retrospective shows and allows the art enthusiast to have a more meaningful experience. “Through the very personal biography included in “An Artist’s Journey” and the art in the book, one feels he or she knows the artist more intimately,” says the author of the publication, Sue Batton Leonard.

The hardcover 12” X 12” coffee table sized book has two-hundred-twenty-eight pages of paintings in full color. Art educator, painter and Colorado art gallery owner Galusha’s retrospective exhibition catalog also incorporates photographic images of unique lifetime experiences he’s had that many people only dream about.  For instance, says Sue Batton Leonard, “a fortuitous meet-up with a football legend presented the artist with the opportunity to paint the athlete. What a thrill for Galusha who as a young man on the high school football field held the quarterback in great regard and wanted to be like him some day. The artist has had a storied career well worth writing about.”

Richard Galusha: An Artists Journey, allows the reader to walk through the door into the life of the painter from the time he was a child and spend time with his family. The biography covers his life until present day. The author states “If you have ever wondered why an artist becomes an artist, this biography is for you.” Galusha’s narrative is as entertaining as it is informative. The West Texas boy was raised in a large colorful family and as the story unfolds one begins to connect his heritage and his familial environment with how it has influenced him to live life “the artists way.”

For twenty years as a teacher this artist passed on his knowledge to his high school students and gave them an understanding of what it really takes to be an artist. His impressive design of a well-outfitted art department and classroom is a great example of how Galusha puts his professional best into everything he has ever done. What better example could his young students have had in seeing how one develops an admirable art career?

From reading the biography one will understand why Galusha connects with the subjects he paints, whether it is a landscape, a portrait, or wildlife. He has traveled the world, often far off the beaten path. His biographer says, “Once he is smitten with what he is seeing and experiencing, he prefers to capture it immediately on canvas “en plein air” rather than in his studio.”

Those with an appreciation for art and the creative life who are unable to travel to the Retrospective shows will enjoy looking at the treasure of images between the covers of the publication and reading about “Richard Galusha: An Artists Journey.” Ahhh…the beauty of a colorful art exhibition catalog that can be ordered by calling 970-819-2850 or (970) 870-1755.

That’s all for today from AllThingsFulfilling.com! See you back here soon as we go roaring into 20’s!

Unfinished Business for MLK

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“You will never say goodbye to the past, until you understand why the flashbacks haunt you.”Shannon L. Alder

Today on All Things Fulfilling, we’ll celebrate the birthday of one of the most influential civil rights activists of all time, Martin Luther King. His work to erase racial segregation and racial equality for all was tireless. Sadly, his unfinished business in Memphis is still a work in progress in our country.

We’ll take a trip through images to Memphis, Tennessee situated along the Mississippi River. The city’s cultural roots run deep and it’s known for his rich music heritage. Beale Street abounds with eateries of it’s famous barbeque and sounds of rhythm and blues, gospel, jazz. It’s also known as the birthplace of rock and roll.

The Orpheum Theatre is historically significant and today it plays an important role in educating children. Their belief is that “when kids find art, they find themselves.” Many celebrities have performed in this theatre whose beginnings date back to 1890, when it was then known as the Grand Opera House. In 1907 it was renamed at The Orpheum.

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Beale Street signed

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BB King books signed

miss pollys neon sign signed

blues cafe signed

 

girl sitting on window sill signed

Tragically, Martin Luther King’s life ended on April 4, 1969 in Memphis, Tennessee during a time of racial tension and upheaval. It was a period of unrest in my own life also. I write about this time in Chapter 21 Someone to Watch Over Her in my memoir Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected.

This blog is brought to you by award-winning author Sue Batton Leonard.

Ring in the Season

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I am thinking of Christmas bells today and how they traditionally herald in the season. There are many song lyrics sung by carolers that incorporate a story of tolling bells.
When I think of bell choirs, which are a beautiful addition to any church service, I can’t help but think of my lifelong friend Marge and her husband. Their acts of love in remembrance of their child is a lovely gesture that echos year after year in my heartstrings. Jessie suffered from a heart ailment and when she passed away as a tiny infant, the family requested that donations of kindness be given toward buying bells to build a bell choir for a church.

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On Christmas and Easter and a few other times throughout the year, Marge and her husband and their two surviving children ring the hand bells at their church in memory of Jessie and all the other children who are not here to celebrate Christmas and other holidays with their families.

Today I think of all the bell choirs who bring joy to people during the holiday season ~

“A bell’s not a bell ’til you ring it – A song’s not a song ’til you sing it – Love in your heart wasn’t put there to stay – Love isn’t love ’til you give it away!”
Oscar Hammerstein II

This blog is brought to you by Sue Batton Leonard, EVVY award-winning author of Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected.

 

 

Exploration Leads to Discovery

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“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” ~Vincent Van Gogh

I walked into Exclusive Collections, an art gallery on Main Street in Breckenridge, Colorado expecting to see the usual – local photography, paintings of mountain landscapes, silver jewelry, pottery and the like. Wrong!

Very exclusive art decorated the walls, including these images which you will recognize immediately. Only 30 very select galleries across the country are given permission to handle this art. I’d like to thank Jon Peroutka, Assistant Gallery Director for allowing me to take photos for All Things Fulfilling and also for sharing his vast knowledge of the artists.seuss 1

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Among Dr. Seuss art were works from other seldom seen artists, whose work is so highly regarded due to the privileged art collectors who desire their work.  Daniel Merriam a master surrealist whom I was familiar with from Chalk Farm Gallery in Santa Fe, sculpture artist Angela Mia De La Vega, Daniel Ryan, and Ascenio are all represented by this Breckenridge Gallery. Tuan, a sculpture artist whose work is in the permanent collection of the White House was also among them. If you are not acquainted with these artists, take a look at their websites and their C.V’s. Very impressive!

This winter larger shows of Dr. Seuss art and sculpture artist Angela Mia De La Vega will be exhibited. Keep your eye on Exclusive Collections website for the exact dates.

Just as inspiring are the philanthropic interests of Exclusive Collections who also have other galleries in five other cities – Las Vegas (Caesar’s Palace), Laguna Beach, California, San Diego and Beverly Hills.

I ended my lovely day in “Breck” with a delicious burger at Blue Stag Saloon. I was taken by surprise when the waiter appeared with the bill inside the covers of a paperback book, published in the 1970s. A creative presentation and a perfect ending to a great day trip.

As you can see from yesterday’s pictures, snow has already arrived in the upper elevations of Colorado!

This blog is brought to you by award-winning author of Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected,  Sue Batton Leonard.

 

 

A Window into Breck

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“Art is the window into one’s soul.” ~ Lady Bird Johnson

After yesterday’s blog, you baby boomers are probably thinking Breck refers to the old school shampoo we used when we were our teens in the 1960s. Remember using that? I thought if I used it, I’d look just like the “Breck Girl.”

No, for the next few days I will be blogging about a one day road trip I took to Breckenridge, Colorado, often referred to as “Breck.”  I found all kinds of fulfilling things to write about including a creative arts organization called BreckCreate. There is so much to tell, it can not be covered in just one blog posting.

The Breckenridge Arts District is a series of historic buildings located on an acre of land right up the hill from Main Street. It has become  an epicenter of creativity offering art classes, workshops, performance arts, exhibits and special artist-in-residence visits. I’d like to share some pictures with you of the district:

 

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Below: The Barney Ford Museum is also in the arts district. Barney Ford was a local entrepreneur who escaped slavery and became a man of extreme prosperity. For more information.

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A clan of visiting Aztec’s danced a spirit dance historically significant to their culture and the celebration of life the day I visited the town. Read more about the performance.

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indians 4 Art, culture, history and architecture holds a prominent place in the community of Breckenridge, Colorado. The scenic backdrop to the town, as it is in many Colorado communities, is stunning!

Do return tomorrow to All Things Fulfilling. I have more to share with you about BreckCreate.

This blog is brought to you by award-winning author Sue Batton Leonard.

Skits, Swaps and Songs

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We all have a place in the circle of life. Always remember who you are.” ~ Unknown

Who remembers singing rounds? I had forgotten all about that form of choral singing until I attended a Girl Scout Alumni Reunion the weekend before last. We sang many familiar campfire songs from my childhood. Skits were well done by some of the youth troops. They told stories about the G.S. founder Juliette Gordon Low and the history of the organization and cookie sales.


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I took SWAPS to trade with new friends who have found the same kind of meaningful connections through the Girl Scouts that I did many decades ago. If you have read my memoir, Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected, you probably already know from my chapter about the Girl Scouts what I took to trade with others.

I’d like to share a few pictures of the SWAPS I received from new acquaintances I acquired over the course of the evening. Each troop had their own swaps that they created to give to others.

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The swaps below were made by Sharon, a friend who is a beautician and hair stylist. She is an Alumni who enjoyed being a member of the youth organization during the same era as me. She made these swaps from emery boards, gauze and a little ribbon. The paper doll heads were made from clip art. Very creative and the girls who were lucky enough to receive them were so excited!

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The s’mores we ate around the campfire were gooey and yummy. I left the event singing a little ditty that baby boomers will remember if you were a member of the Girl Scouts.

I’ve got something in my pocket, it belongs across my face.
I keep it very close at hand, in a most convenient place.
I’m sure you couldn’t guess it if you guessed a long, long while.
So I’ll take it out and put it on, it’s a Great Big Brownie Smile!

A little trivia: The Brownie Smile Song was written by Harriet F. Heywood of Gloucester, MA in the late 1920’s when she was working as a Brownie Girl Scout troop leader.

See you tomorrow on All Things Fulfilling. If you have an Eagle Eye, you will see something in tomorrow’s blog that you’ve seen in some of my blogs and in my writings. I was pleased when I saw them hanging on the walls unexpectedly in an art space in Breckenridge Colorado when I recently visited.