Archive for the ‘Art Scene’ Category

Geoff Gehman writes two interviews per month for the Mauch Chunk Opera House here in Jim Thorpe. They probe the unusual, the seldom-told, the insightful aspects of a performing artist’s career, and can be found by visiting the Opera House website, www.mcohjt.com

Geoff Gehman’s The Kingdom of the Kid: Growing Up in the Long-Lost Hamptons (SUNY Press) is a funny, fond, frank memoir about a special place at a special time teaching a kid how to be special.

Over six years Gehman was changed, forever and for good, by a host of remarkable characters. Baseball hero Carl Yastrzemski. Literary hall of famer Truman Capote. Race-car champion Mark Donohue, who conquered the wicked track where Mario Andretti befriended Paul Newman. A classic-car museum. A penny-candy shop. A newspaper. A cemetery. A dead general store.

Kingdom is three houses under one roof. A vivid biography of Long Island’s South Fork in the late ’60s to early ’70s, the last time the Hamptons were a middle-class paradise. A poetic pilgrimage to understand a schmoozing, boozing social bulldozer of a father, who ended his son’s reign on the East End by selling the family home without his wife’s permission. An unusual, exceptional Boomer coming-of-age story about the beach, drive-in movies, rock ’n’ roll, first friendships, fast cars, faster women, alcoholism, divorce, suicide and the redemption of building a bridge back to your lost island.

This is a tale for anyone who has lived or has wondered about living in the Hamptons, anyone who rode shotgun on the tailgate of a Ford LTD station wagon, anyone hungry for a juicy slice of Don McLean’s “American Pie.”

Gehman is a former arts writer for The Morning Call in Allentown, Pa. and the author of Down But Not Quite Out in Hollow-weird (Scarecrow Press), an epistolary film biography of Eric Knight, screenwriter for Frank Capra and author of the novel Lassie Come-Home.



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There are many reasons people have come to Jim Thorpe and its  surrounding areas since the 1800’s.  None has been more timeless than the scenery.  Now, with its historic buildings and easy access, there hasn’t been a better time to take in all that the area offers.

Jim Thorpe PA - Tom Storm WorkshopEspecially if you’re a photographer.

Award-winning photographer Tom Storm offers an 8-hour photography workshop on July 28. More than simply a photo 101 course, it will hone your skills as well as challenge the way you observe one of the northeast’s most  beautiful small towns specifically, and how you see in general.

If you are intimidated by your Digital SLR or would like to take better pictures, this is the course for you. Combining class time and copious amounts of hands on, in-the-field learning around Jim Thorpe, this workshop is a great opportunity to find out how to get the most out of your camera.Whether your main interest is in the landscape, or more specific subjects such as architectural detail, you’ll find answers here.

Jim Thorpe PA - Tom Storm WorkshopMr. Storm’s goal is to merge the technology with the art and your passion, and thereby help you begin your journey as a photographer. That journey begins with an understanding of your equipment as well as an understanding of the art.

Using the historic downtown as a backdrop, you’ll learn how to use your  digital SLR to capture the natural and historic beauty that defined and still defines the region.  Classes are limited to 15 seats. Hands-on is the name of the game as you set out to learn new skills through one-on-one coaching and photographic challenges.

Jim Thorpe PA - Tom Storm WorkshopAfter exploring the  streets, alleyways, and hillsides, you’ll finish your day with a better understanding of both your camera and how you photographically approach the world around  you.

For more information or to register, click here.

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The Jim Thorpe Art Weekend is a relatively new entrant into the community festival scene, yet an increasingly popular one. You’ll experience many of the distinctive things in Jim Thorpe – visual art, free music, culinary treats, headline shows at the Opera House, gallery openings along Broadway and West Broadway, artists demonstrations, and interesting lectures and workshops.

It’s also relaxed, lacking the rather frenzied pace of, for example, October’s Fall Foliage Festival. It turns out that May is an especially beautiful and unhurried time of year in Jim Thorpe.

You might consider a weekend stay at a local bed and breakfast, or at the Inn at Jim Thorpe, the newly-restored downtown Victorian-era hotel. Every guest who books a stay with a bed and breakfast gets a free ticket to hear local raconteur Jack Gunsser tell entertaining stories of Old Mauch Chunk. He dresses in costume and holds forth in the very appropriately historic Harry Packer Mansion.

Other activities include a lecture on Sunday afternoon by historian Bill Allison titled “The Art of Victorian Architecture,” and guided tours at the Asa Packer Mansion, the Mauch Chunk Museum, and the Old Jail. You’ll be able to combine art and history at a photography workshop with photographer Tom Storm, who knows the spots from which you might take your most memorable opuses of town.

Jim Thorpe GalleryThe festival begins on Saturday, May 5th at 11 AM with a walking tour of studios and galleries. At the downtown Visitors Center is an information table as well as a sales booth for ticketed events. Pick up a visitor’s bag loaded with our brochure and walking tour guide, plus special offers redeemable throughout the historic district.

That evening we celebrate Cinco de Mayo at the Mauch Chunk Opera House with a performance by Marko Marcinko’s Latin Jazz Quintet. Directly across the street, an opening at the Dakota Ridge Gallery will present the deeply moving photography of Madascar’s Pierrot Men. The event is open to the public.

Nic East Stained GlassSunday is a day for museums, art lectures, and art demonstrations. Stained glass artist Nic East will demonstrate how to make a stained glass window, then lead a tour through his casa d’art that features more than 30 stained glass doors and windows.

On Sunday, Stone lithographer Ron Chupp demonstrates the fine art of printmaking in his West Broadway gallery on Sunday from a stone he will prepare on Saturday. It’s an excellent chance to see how prints were made before the modern printing press.

For more information, visit here for the details on Jim Thorpe’s newest festival.

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Philadelphia photographer Derek Jecxz opened his work on December 2nd at the Dakota Ridge Gallery, a fine art photography gallery across from the Mauch Chunk Opera House in Jim Thorpe.

Mr. Jecxz focuses on the landscape. The scale of his work is quite large and dramatic and makes his compositions considerably more compelling than if you were to evaluate them online.

Photographer Derek Jecxz at Dakota Ridge Gallery

Images by Derek Jecxz

The title of each work doesn’t include a location, which is appropriate since they seem to occupy spaces in the mind that might differ for each viewer.

For example, the kinetic Contemptuous Seas might have been captured in Maine, or northern Canada, or perhaps someplace overseas, but that isn’t what is timeless about the piece.

All of Mr. Jecxz’ images seem to recall a private experience or time that each viewer can relate to in some individually unique way, perhaps according to a cherished memory. Return contemplations of Leaves in Brackish Water reveal that indeed water is an important element in the image, but it isn’t what you first notice. Or perhaps it is. You seem to recall the scene, or maybe you’ve been there – but the thing is that the image is an especially beautiful embodiment of your recollections.

Dakota Ridge Gallery in Jim Thorpe PA

Middle Room in Dakota Ridge Gallery

The moody Stream to the Sea straddles both worlds, perhaps of the nearby Jersey shore or quite possibly someplace very far from here. Torn Ice Leaf poetically communicates the damp frostiness of a mid-autumn morning that we’ve all experienced and put away in our memories.

Each piece is exceptionally well-produced, right down to the 8-ply matboard and the signature embossing that Mr. Jecxz favors. As an image to be displayed in a living area, each excels in different ways, but none would be ignored by a visitor, and all easily occupy large wall spaces of virtually any color.

In the middle room the gallery is currently showing samples of several artists’ work. The luminous black-and-whites of nationally-collected artists Daniel Jones, Chip Forelli, and Madagascar-based Pierrot Men are on display, along with color images from Pennsylvania photographers Matt Dallos and David Bazzel.

A current exhibition of images focuses on a sampling of owner Dan Hugos‘ recent travels in Bosnia and Croatia.

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By Victor Stabin – proprietor of Flow Restaurant and owner of Stabin/Morykin Gallery in Jim Thorpe

reposted from http://www.victorstabinprints.com/2011/09/29/nea-art-is-education/

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) was looking to provide grants to artists from previously unfunded regions.  In March 2011, the Allentown Museum of Art contacted me as they had received funding from the NEA and were looking for a regional artist for a teaching residency at a local High School. 

They asked me to teach 10 three-hour sessions at Panther Valley High School in Northeastern PA, located in the heart of Pennsylvania’s once-seminal coal region, the first anthracite coal mining in the country.

These descendants of the coal miners have become blue-collar workers; the ones I am lucky to know are highly skilled craftsman, masons, woodworkers and welders. It seems it is outside their experience to consider becoming an artist as a profession.

Historically, the region does not support the arts in that way and there are very few professional artists. The ones that wind up there are quite the anomaly. Thus, there is a very limited instructor base of career artists available to teach art as a professional path.

Courtesy of Victor StabinI introduced my work to the student body in the auditorium. I decided to show my “Turtle Series” paintings and my book “Daedal Doodle” an ABC book for word lovers as well as highlights from my 20-year career as an illustrator. 

After giving the presentation to about 300 students, serendipitously 26 elected to take the class.  There are 26 letters in the alphabet, 26 characters in an ABC book, and 26 students in the class.

Then with complete certitude, I knew I wanted the class to make their own version of my ABC book. Over a three year period, I had read 8000 pages of dictionaries including a 2000-page Merriam Webster that my dad brought home when I was four; parts of the OED, and my favorite, the Chambers Concise Dictionary culling obtuse words for my book’s alliterations.

Courtesy of Victor StabinTherefore, the lesson plan mimicked the process I went through to create “Daedal Doodle.”  Each student was assigned a letter of the alphabet and that section of the dictionary and encouraged to peruse every word.

While doing so, they were asked to make a list of cool sounding, unfamiliar nouns and adjectives or any word they were inspired by to create alliterations they could see illustrating.

My job was to demonstrate a process that could easily be understood, that would encourage students to come up with something completely new to them that they could call Art and at the same time imagine that art as their own stand-alone product.

The kids were completely open to what looked more like fun than work.  I was amazed to see them inspired and involved with the assignment, very much as I had been. A few students remarked that it was the first time they had ever just read the dictionary.

In degrees, my fondness for the dictionary has episodically changed my life. Language skills allow you to communicate with self-confidence while sharing ideas. The dictionary simultaneously involves the basics of vocabulary while seeding visual imagination. The kids could not read these words without seeing images.

Courtesy of Victor StabinSeeing a room full of students simultaneously reading the dictionary was the beginning of my “Aha!” moment.

To me, the success of this “accidental” curriculum reminds me of the accidental invention of Teflon. It seems there was some kind an odorless substance at the bottom of a can that could not be washed, burnt, or chemically dissolved away, a strange byproduct of a previous experiment.

After examination by a young chemist, Roy J. Plunkett, Teflon went on to become a gigantic industry for decades and decades.  Plunkett often told student audiences, his mind was prepared by education and training to “recognize novelty.”
I recognize the novelty that reading the dictionary to source words for drawing can be an important process to bridge art and language, and once and for all, end the idea of separating the Arts from basic education.  Each student I taught proudly came up with nothing short of some dizzying kind of new pictorial word invention.

The required tools are a dictionary, pencil and a pad. The byproduct is the world of knowledge and the imagination.

Reading scores for high school students taking the SAT this year were the lowest on record in the 30-year-history of the exam. It is not uncommon to hear about cutbacks in educational funding, primarily in the arts. More than ever, there is a greater responsibility to create a direct connection between the arts and education.

In my experience, they are one and the same.

As an adult, people often ask me where I received my art training, I always respond with pride, “I went to New York’s High School of Art  & Design.”

After  40 years, the bell rings two names: my favorite teachers were my English Teacher Sandra Nobel and my Art Teacher Irwin Greenberg.

Art is Education.

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The photographs of R. Alexander Trejo are on display at the Dakota Ridge Gallery in Jim Thorpe, PA on May 14, 2011, the opening day of the Jim Thorpe Art Weekend. The series, entitled “Architectural Surreal”, highlights Mr. Trejo’s passion for architectural subjects and their relation to surreal and romantic art. Alex Trejo at Dakota Ridge Gallery in Jim Thorpe

A native of Philadelphia, Mr. Trejo began taking photos in his teens. While working for several years in the architectural field, he traveled whenever possible and noticed that his ‘hobby’ of taking pictures was becoming a real passion.

Wanting to learn, rather than simply point and click, to capture, compose, and make thoughtful photographs, he took courses in the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. Studying the work of innovators of photography such as Stieglitz and Steichen  Mr. Trejo began to bind his passion for architectural subjects with the conventions and history of photography.

The combination of architecture, photography and other forms of illustrative and surreal art meld with the desire to share what he can see in his mind’s eye.

Alex Trejo at Dakota Ridge Gallery in Jim ThorpeThe exhibition will begin with an opening reception at 7 PM for the artist at the gallery. Mr. Trejo’s work will be on display through July 31. The gallery is located at 9 W Broadway in Jim Thorpe.

For more information, contact the Dakota Ridge Gallery at (570) 325-2082 or visit www.DakotaRidgeGallery.com.

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On May 1, former Byrds and Flying Burritto great Chris Hillman visits with accompanist Don Pederson. Not only will you get some insight to what made the Byrds perhaps the greatest American classic rock band, but it will also be about as close as you can get to Gram Parsons, the massively influential singer-songwriter who Hillman teamed up with for years.

With a much different sound, but continuing in a uniquely Americana vein, Yarn, the Brooklyn-based alt-folk-country-rock band takes over on May14th, epitomizing an accessible, melodic indie sound.

New Yorkers: We’re only 2 hours from the GWB! Philly folk – only an hour and 15!

Carbon Leaf at the Mauch Chunk Opera House

Carbon Leaf

Todd Snider, the folk troubador recently profiled in Rolling Stone and The Village Voice takes the stage on the 21st, sure to attract his usual legions of dedicated fans. We wouldn’t be surprised to see him hanging out in town the next day, he seems to have taken a shine to our town.

A group seemingly poised for that next step to commercial success is Carbon Leaf, a popular Celtic folk-rock band from Richmond, VA set to visit on Friday, May 27. A lush, soft-rock mix reminiscent of acoustic Celtic and Hootie and the Blowfish, and having toured with Dave Matthews Band, John Mayer, and the Counting Crows, it seems like just a matter of time. Here’s an excellent video.

For full details or to buy tickets to any Mauch Chunk Opera House event, visit www.MauchChunkOperaHouse.com. Be sure to check out the info on their new Performance Card, which gets you all sorts of excellent discounts on restaurants and accommodations, in addition to shows themselves.

Mauch Chunk Opera House Performance Card

Visit www.JimThorpe.org for all the details and information you need for a great time in town. For great deals on shows, dining, and accommodations check out the Mauch Chunk Opera House Performance Card or call 570-325-0249 for information.

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