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.

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.

Cultural Travels – Part 3

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As I mentioned in my last post I was not quite ready to leave Bucks County, PA without completing the last place on my list – the home of an author whom I have long admired.

The spring blooms, the sunny, warm day and a surprise arts and craft show set up under tents made for a wonderful visit. Photos will show the best overview that I could give you.

View through the pagoda to the welcome center and gift shop
Pearl S. Buck Welcome Center and Gift Shop
Pearl S Buck Sculpture with a Child
Pearl S Buck Conference/Cultural Center

The last stop of the day was at the request of my sister, Jan. The Aldie Mansion built in 1927, in Great Gatsby style of the roaring 20’s, is now under the auspices of the Heritage Conservancy. It is used primarily as a historic wedding venue. From the exterior, it is impressive and beautifully maintained as are the fabulous grounds and patios surrounding it.

Front of the Aldie Mansion
Backside of the Mansion
Aldie Mansion gardens and stone patios.

Aldie Mansion Teahouse

As we said our good byes to Bucks County, PA, both of us felt the same sentiment, “Oh, what we would have missed if we hadn’t fully satiated our hunger for these last two places of interest!”

Jan and Sue inside the Mercer Museum. Thank you to our excellent docent, Gloria for offering to take this picture. Greatly appreciated.

Cultural Travels

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Culturally Fulfilling Travels

The weekend after Easter my twin sister came to visit. As always, we had a fabulous time together. Just a stone’s throw away northward to Bucks County, PA our travels took us. Our forays together usually include elements of exploring art, architecture, books and gardens and seeing landmarks of interest located in Main Street Historic Towns. It’s what floats both of our boat loads of interests.

We discovered Doylestown, PA just two hours north of where I live. What a gem, especially in terms of what we set our sites on seeing when we go on a “Sister’s Travel” excursion. Our first stop was the Mercer Museum, which was built to house Henry Chapman Mercer’s collections. He was “a noted tile-maker, archaeologist, antiquarian, artist and writer, a leader in the turn-of-the-century Arts and Crafts Movement.”

His museum is a “six-story reinforced concrete castle” designed by the man himself completed in 1916. It was built by just eight men over four years. Inside you can see artifacts from 60 types of arts and crafts of the period. Here are a few pictures outside and inside the castle walls. So impressive it was that we hope our two brothers in the building trade will someday take time to go see it and the primitive tools used to build the colossal castle.

Exterior Mercer Castle
Inside the castle walls looking out at some of the roofline
One of six stories of castle staircases – Yes! There is an elevator!
Writers loft in a castle, anyone?
As tempting as it is – this author likes brighter environments to write more lighthearted stories!
A glimpse inside a room with sewing artifacts at the castle. All 50,000 artifacts of pre-industrial tools and implements of 60 types of crafts which are stored in the Mercer Museum are individually numbered.

Our next stop was conveniently located across the street, which we enjoyed seeing with a walkabout – The James A Michener Art Museum is filled with a permanent collection of Pennsylvania Impressionistic paintings as well as a great range of revolving artist exhibits and they offer art workshops for children.

Exterior of Michener Museum of Art
Labyrinth on Michener Museum’s grounds. Bordered by spring flowering trees getting ready to pop any day! Lovely.

In the next post on AllThingsFulfilling.com I will share more information including another castle with a fantastic art attraction all on one gorgeous not so very small land plot.

There is so much to share, one story at a time, with our readers on AllThingsFulfilling.com about our visit to Buck’s County cultural and art attractions. See you back here in a few days time!

Sharing Art with Children

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My love for books and art often leads me to visiting the local library and local fine art and craft galleries when I travel. It is fun for me. My ten year residency in Colorado kept me somewhat in tune with Western art. When I was in Montana this summer, it was fun to revisit the works of artists who are located in the western part of the country,

I witnessed how very young children can enjoy art, too! I walked into the Rialto Theatre in Bozeman, MT and abstracts of horses greeted me. “Neigh, neigh!” a dear little sixteen month old girl, my new grand daughter whom I have finally met, shouted out as she pointed to the equines in the pictures! Frankly, I was surprised she recognized what it was in the abstract. But even the littlest ones, they often don’t miss a thing!

Once finished with the exhibit at the Rialto, next stop was a fabulous fine art gallery on Main Street I had heard of but had never visited before -, Montana Trails Gallery. My daughter-in-law, Meghan, my granddaughter Charlotte, and I had a grand time looking at the exquisite collection and stayed as long as a toddler could tolerate being contained in a backpack.

Once again, my little granddaughter shouted out “neigh, neigh” when she saw the horse paintings and bronze sculptures, “Baa-baa,” she said to the sheep in the pictures, and “moo-moo” to the cows. Ok, in her sixteen-month old experience and opinion, the “doggies” were mislabeled as wolves and foxes. Ah well…perhaps next time we return the labels will be corrected, I think in jest, with a big smile on my face as I remember her sweet little voice calling out to all the “doggies,” and her hands pointing to them as we walked through the gallery.

And lastly during my visit, my son and I took in the art scene at the Bozeman Art Museum. Unfortunately, with my faulty calendar reading we missed the plein air “paint out” two days prior. But on Monday,we did catch up and saw all the works of the Rocky Mountain Plein Air Painters hanging, still wet with paint, at Bozeman Art Museum. I was familiar with a few artists such as Dave Santillanes, from working at the world-class Wild Horse Gallery in Steamboat Springs a few years ago. And the work of Chuck Marshall was familiar as well as Kathy Anderson, who is now represented by West Wind Fine Art, LLC, another superb fine art gallery where I worked when it was in Vermont. If you’d like to see the results of the canvases from the two hour “paint out,” I invite you to visit this link I have posted. Some of the paintings are still available for purchase.

Now, I’m back to East Coast art, which I enjoy immensely too! With the diverse landscape and culture in the United States of America, opportunities abound to share all kinds of art with the next generations. Sydney Gurewitz Clemens once said, “Art has a role in education of helping children become like themselves instead of more like everyone else.” I wholeheartedly agree!

Valuing The Future

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As a life-long library patron, anytime I visit a library I have never frequented before, it’s like library week all over again. I recently visited one in the western part of the U.S.

Bozeman, Montana has a wonderful library. A good indicator of valuing future generations is a willingness to invest in good community resources for learning, information and gathering spaces which inspire discovery.

Located in the fourth largest city in Big Sky Country, the Bozeman Library is light-filled! In a place where winter is long and cold, an active library where one can find connection through book groups, children’s reading programs, at the library coffee shop and at special library sponsored events, is well appreciated. Sometimes getting involved in library activities can become a “life-saver” for those feeling disconnected or isolated.

Interior Bozeman Montana Public Library
Children’s Library Area at Bozeman Public Library

Art abounds both in the interior and on the surrounding grounds of this and other public libraries around the country.

Through books, we are given the opportunity to fly off to places and meet people we ordinarily wouldn’t! So never discount the value of books and the importance an author feels to engage with others through the written word.

Overdue Recognition

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’Twant me, ’twas the Lord. I always told him, “I trust to you. I don’t know where to go or what to do, but I expect you to lead me,” and he always did. ~ Harriet Tubman

Happy New Year from AllThingsFulfilling.com. Let’s start 2020 with a topic that warms my heart because it magnifies the humanitarian efforts and the importance of a freedom fighter of the past, Harriet Tubman. I am so happy the recent release of the movie “Harriet” has been so well received because her bravery and contribution for the betterment of her people through the Underground Railroad is important to our country’s history.

Over my Christmas hiatus from blogging, I came across a book that further puts the spot light on Harriet Tubman. The Good Ol’ Ship of Zion (Christmas Escape, Part 1) is just one chapter among others in the book Tubman Travels: 32 Underground Railroad Journeys on Delmarva  that helps educate, inform and inspire the public about a woman whose recognition is long overdue.

Make 2020 the year when you take your family on a good ole road trip to Dorchester County, Maryland and expose them to a very important part of our nation’s history at the new  National Park dedicated solely to Harriet Tubman! And while you’re there, stop by Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge! By the by – there is a bench along the Tubman Trail on the Blackwater Refuge lands where you can take a respite from your travels. Seek out the bench that says “We can’t direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails.”