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.

In a Place Together: Art & History

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It’s not a museum. It’s not a place of artifacts; it’s a place of ideas.”
– Jeanie Kahnke

Last Friday night I attended a wonderful gathering – the annual fundraiser for the Historical Society of Baltimore County.

“Mingle at the Mill” included food, drink, music, sales of HSBC publications and an informative talk about the historic preservation work that has been involved in turning the pre-revolutionary grist mill into a fabulous art gallery. The current fine art exhibit on display “Harvest” at the Manor Mill Gallery is from artists Minas Konsolas, Jimmy Rouse, Finch Turner, Kim Weiland and Bo Willse paintings.

(Note: If you are interested in any of the artwork, please contact Lynne Jones at the Manor Mill Gallery, Monkton, MD)

As I visited with various individuals at the event, I became keenly aware the appreciation of history is not a lost art, and there were many people with great knowledge of the upper Baltimore County’s strong, rooted in history heritage. I listened with great interest to the owner of the property talk about the steps involved in bringing the mill to it’s current state. The work is not yet done! I was so happy to hear getting the waterwheel functioning again is in the plan. It will be so important from an educational standpoint. As it’s been said “Tell me, I forget; show me, I remember; involve me, I understand.

Historical societies are challenged to find new ways of keeping the past alive in to this modern day world. Historical preservation work going on all over the country helps to facilitate a better understanding of times past or “back in the time of our country’s early founding and building.” For people, especially students, who find reading history books tedious or grueling, experiential learning is probably the best solution.

The Manor Mill Gallery is a place of ideas where art and history have come together. The selection of The Manor Mill Gallery was a fitting choice of a venue to host a historical society gathering because many of those who are interested in history also have an appreciation for art. In this writer’s opinion, the more we can gather all fields of the humanities together, the more people will understand the term “the humanities” which tends to be a puzzler or a head-scratcher as to what the term really means. The Maryland Humanities Council’s definition well explains it. Here is their mission statement.

The Manor Mill Gallery in Monkton, Maryland is a place that I am ever so happy to return. Seeing the progress that has been made is impressive. Much has been done since I was last there on Easter weekend. The ell off the main structure whose historical integrity has been altered as little as possible has been converted into workshop/office space, “the loft,” and restrooms. Of course they’ve had to accommodate for heat, electricity and running water to make it a public place.

Those at the helm of the project, Gallery Manager Lynne Jones and the owner, their hearts and souls are really in it and it shows. For more information on this historic grist mill, and the historic Monkton Hotel, please visit their respective websites.

Thank you to Scott Batton of Batton Builders for inviting me to the event. I would not liked to have missed it. And as you can see, a builder involved with historical homes and structure preservation does not want to miss anything either. Scott inspected the property from the foundation up to the third story above ground, where the loft is, pondering every bit of it.

The cellar, in itself, tells a foundational story.

In some of the cellar, one must be as only as big as a basement troll to enter into the spaces.

Loft on 3rd level above ground.

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.

Divine Encounters

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“All is grace. Nothing happens by chance, everything happens for a reason. ” – Joel Randymar

If you missed Part One of this three part blog series, follow this link because it is significant to the surprise which awaited me at The Artists Emporium in Havre de Grace, Maryland last Sunday. Gallery owner and curator, Robert Buden could not have been more accommodating when I walked in the doors – he provided me with a wonderful opportunity to talk with artist Robin Capecci about her recent painting trip abroad and to have what ended up being a private showing of ten new paintings she came home with along with others from a trip years ago. Thus, the “tag line” of her exhibition From Italy with Love. Her oils are on display at the Artist Emporium until November 26th.

When Robert introduced me to the artist, I said I was an art blogger and apologized for having arrived unannounced, “Can you spare a few minutes with me? I asked meekly.

“What artist doesn’t like to talk about her art?” she replied, as we walked together to the first of her new paintings. Curious me nearly bombarded her with questions. She was so giving of her time and so touchingly expressive of her love behind her passion for art which began at age five when she asked her mom what could she draw. They began setting up still life subjects, beginning with a single toy. From then on, she said, her love for art has not waivered as she’s moved from drawing with lead pencils, to charcoals and then began introducing color into her repertoire and finally oil paint. Her love of representational paintings of still life compositions endures until this day. She also is accomplished at portraiture and landscapes and street scenes.

At her first painting, she pointed something out to me, “See this below my signature?” she asked. I saw a painted cross. Then she began her wonderful story-telling of how her faith in God has sustained her throughout her self-taught art career. Aside from a very occasional painting workshop here and there, she never went to art school. She knew from a young age she had something special and she needed to develop it. Her early vision for herself as an artist included travel so she also began studying the Italian language on her own. She interjected many Italian phrases and words throughout our visit together, and to my unschooled ear, she sounded completely fluent.

Throughout our hour-and-a half together she often expressed how God has provided windows of opportunity and just the right people in her life. Such was the case on her recent solo trip to Italy. She is a very petite woman, much like me, and I when asked how did she handle going alone with a month’s worth of clothing and all the painting supplies, she told me the most heart-warming stories of how complete strangers, people who spoke no English or Italian were there at every turn when she needed them, and how they helped her. Many went completely out of their way to get her to where she needed to be.

“Make’s one believe in the goodness of humanity.” I remarked. Again she reiterated she’s seen evidence of it throughout her life as an artist.

She took time to discuss any of the paintings I inquired about, and we particularly honed in on her classic still life paintings. ‘I love classic representational art. It is my favorite,” I remarked. Some might argue the lack of creativity in it, however, I believe it is the best form of art to see the true skill of an artist and there is no doubt in my mind with no formal training her gift comes from God, as was exhibited in “true masters of the art world” throughout history.

I’d like to end this blog post by saying thank you to Robert Buden, Gallery Owner and Curator of The Artist’s Emporium and to Robin Capecci. She is a very warm, kind individual. I loved every minute she gave me of her generous time and her words about faith and art.

(In the dress Robin is wearing is the image of one of her paintings. A clothing manufacturer in Montreal made it for her.)

Do return next Sunday on November 13 because there was someone else, a twelve-year-old boy, I encountered on the same day. An incredible talent I wish to share with our readers.

Divinely Gone Astray

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Last Saturday there was an art event I wanted to attend at the Artist’s Emporium in Havre de Grace, Maryland however, the day got away from me as I found myself routing out and creating a few gifts for the newest baby in the family coming the end of January. I am so excited for my niece and her husband. That evening I was struggling with myself over how I hadn’t allocated my time well that day. I could have put down what I was doing to attend Robin Capecci’s From Italy with Love art opening. So before I feel asleep that night I determined that I would still go to the exhibit the next day, on Sunday, after church. The next morning I was still sad I missed the opportunity to meet the artist, but decided not to beat myself up over it anymore. I thought, perhaps there was some good reason why I didn’t follow through with my plan the day before.

Fast forward: Shortly after I walked into the Artist’s Emporium on Sunday, I made a realization. The timing was divinely given. Since there was not a mass of people as there were the day before at the show’s opening and because the artist was also present the next day, I was rewarded with an hour-and-a-half spent with the artist and a private showing. What a warm person and storyteller Robin Capecci is. She communicates so beautifully from the heart what is behind her art.

Please come back for two more posts in this series on Sunday, November 6th and Sunday, November 13th. I can’t wait to tell you about my visit with the artist, which was filled with an enormous amount of information which I need to process and finish writing down. And in the third post of this series, on Sunday, November 13th I will be featuring an incredible 12 year-old boy, an unbelievable talent who I encountered on the same visit to the Artist’s Emporium.

I even came home with some Italian treats to enjoy with my late afternoon cup of tea. Come on back on Sunday, November 6, 2022, three days from now.

Featuring: Maryland Center for the Arts

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The Maryland Center for the Arts being planned in Bel Air, Maryland is a multi-phased project which will not only include art space, but it’s surroundings will be notable for the nature plot on which it sits. The 41 acres of land gifted by a community member, Emily Bayless Graham will preserve much of what is there and has been used as the Bear Legacy Trail. To listen to a short interview from Executive Director Robert “Bob” Willenbrink, Ph.D., please visit the website.

The plans have been approved, and because they are quite extensive for what will provide space for galleries, art workshops and if all goes according to the wishes of those at the helm, will include an outdoor amphitheater. The best way to read about the project is to visit the website and look at the renderings.

This region is becoming a mecca for artists and arts enthusiasts, in part because it has a different vibe than the art scene in the cities of Baltimore, Washington, DC and New York. Those who enjoy the boating life, can travel the Susquehanna River, a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay and take in some art and culture while in the area.

We look forward to seeing the development of this project and Harmer’s Town Art Center which are endorsed by the State of Maryland and other private and individual funding.

Mid-Atlantic Art Corridor

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There are two significant art centers being built right here in Harford County, Maryland – Maryland Center for the Arts and Harmer’s Town Art Center. Space has been secured for both and there is solid interest and investment in seeing them both come to fruition. As each advances in progress, we look forward to keeping you updated and hope to have the opportunity to provide you with information from personal interviews from those at the head.

Yesterday was the groundbreaking ceremony for The Harmer’s Town Art Center. The Governor of Maryland’s wife, Yumi Hogan, was there. She is an outstanding Asian-American artist. The art center has many outdoors public art displays already in place through wall murals, which have historical references to Maryland and the role Havre de Grace played in the Revolutionary War. The murals are adjacent to the buildings that will be overhauled for galleries and art workshops. I’ve included photos of only a few of the murals. The plans for Graw Alley include a wonderful park with beautiful landscaping and benches to sit and ponder the art. Photos of yesterday’s events can be seen through this link to the Havre de Grace Living Facebook page.

Clearly, the town of Havre de Grace has grabbed ahold of their uniqueness.

The historic aspect of the town and accessibility to the Chesapeake Bay for boaters gives more reasons to visit.

From my viewpoint, not only will the centers put closer focus on the wonderful art connections within Harford County, Maryland but the cultural centers will draw many art enthusiasts because their locations are so accessible to the corridor of I-95 running through Virginia, Washington, D.C., Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. Other major routes lead into this area as well.

In our next post, we will be featuring the Maryland Center for the Arts being built in Bel Air, Maryland. Come on back to AllThingsFulfilling.com.

Expanding the Art Narrative – Part 2

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Welcome back! Today we are going to step in the door of Danforth Gallery in Livingston, Montana, where my son and I encountered an exhibit on Ledger Art. The art form has evolved from sketches of symbolism on cave walls to modern day ledger artists who draw on antique journal pages which long ago recorded information about land use and sale, acreage, harvest productions, weather and the like.

As my son and I made our way around the walls of the Danforth Gallery in Livingston, the town said to be “The Heart of Art in Montana,” looking at the images, he turned to me and said, “Mom, I feel like you and I have come full circle together.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Don’t you remember the book you bought me when I was a little guy that we used to pour over? It was an example of ledger art. “

“Ah yes, it was. How could I forget? One of our legendary favorites! But Marc, I can’t remember the full name of it.” We both batted around different titles getting close but not quite right. Then of course, he pulled out his cellphone and looked it up.

“Here it is,” he said, as he showed me the cover of the book on his cellphone. “Hey, whatever happened to that book, we spent so much time looking at it?”

“Don’t you remember?” I did!

“Oh, yeah, I loaned it to someone and never got it back.”

“It’s too bad. It would have been a great book to pass down to your daughter!” He loved it so.

I’m a very blessed Mom! When I am with him, my son shares my passions with me, and is almost always game for going to art galleries and art exhibitions, visiting libraries, and even discussing my faith beliefs. From the time he was a little guy he has had a very curious, active mind who tunes in well to other people’s stories.

Expanding the Art Narrative – Part 1

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This summer I visited a town which is referred to as “The Gateway to Yellowstone.” Never one to pass by an art gallery that seems as if it has the kind of art I truly enjoy, my son and I stopped into two galleries in Livingston, Montana on South Main Street. The first was Medicine Bird Gallery. Unfortunately, our time was limited so I may not have captured the best images of what I explain below, but, the gallery became food for thought.

Plein Air Painting of downtown Livingston, MT. On display at Medicine Bird Gallery.

The way in which the art was displayed was so uniquely different. Gallery Director Jinny Lee Story has made little narratives within the space, which in my mind helps tell the tale of early settlers heading west to the great unknown through the vignettes of carefully curated vintage items and antiques which are perfectly placed throughout the gallery. The accessories such as antique suitcases, antique globes, vintage cash registers and bellows cameras typically found in the Victorian portrait studio expands the whole narrative of what the art represents. The items accentuated the art and looked like scenes in old western movies. Fascinating! Draws you right in. Well, well done.

Medicine Bird Gallery, Livingston

Medicine Bird Gallery

Medicine Bird Gallery

Jinny Lee Story, it was a pleasure to meet you! The gallery was indeed medicine for my soul and it offered a great deal of what I like in art and culture.

This painting is titled “Susan’s house.”

Come on back on October 15, 2022. The second of this two part series about art in the “Gateway to Yellowstone” will be posted.

Stimulating Art Interests in Youth

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Please hop on over to SowtheHeart.com to see two posts about a fabulous wheelhouse of stimulation for very young artists located in Montana at the State of Play. Children are creative beings right from the start and the key is to keep young minds active and engaged in using their imaginations. All things fulfilling for parents who would like to see their children find their true interests. Wait! There is much, much more. Head on over to the two links which will take you to more pictures and the full story.

Wheelhouse of Stimulation – Part 1

Wheelhouse of Stimulation – Part 2