aroundKent Magazine Vol 4 2014

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The School of Theatre and Dance at Kent State University

Ben Curtis Family Foundation Celebrating 30 years

McKay Bricker The Road Less Traveled Dr. Patrick O’ Connor


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content volume 4 2014

publisher/photographer Matt Keffer 330.221.1274

art director

6 Ben Curtis Family Foundation 11 Toys, Perfume, Gags, Comics … and my Journey as a Retailer.

Susan Mackle

advertising/design services Debra Racey 330.329.2702

contributing writers Jeannie Borland Candace Curtis Dae Evans Bill Gruber Mark Keffer Joni Koneval Kasha Lageza Kathy Myers Dr. Patrick O’Connor Vince Packard Tina Puckett Debra Racey Michelle Sahr Cheryl Townsend Kyle Whitman

Copyright 2014. All rights reserved. Reproduction or use of editorial or pictorial content of any manner is prohibited without written permission. aroundkent accepts no responsibility for solicited materials.

The School of Theatre and Dance at Kent State University

12 Curlers Sweep Into Kent 18 The School of Theatre and Dance

at Kent State University

22 McKay Bricker Gallery & Framing 25 Ohio Hardwood Furniture 28 Fair Trade – Really? 30 Loose Lips Appreciated 32 Visual Art Showcase 40 Gina Corron Tribute 42 Championing The Arts 46 Coleman Adult Day Services 50 Old New Wave Music 54 Music Scene 56 AAA I-76 Antique Mall 59 The Road Less Traveled

6 12 18 32

28 46

Ben Curtis Family Foundation Celebrating 30 years

McKay Bricker The Road Less Traveled Dr. Patrick O’ Connor

On the Cover: photo of KSU dance student, Jess Gasdick by Bob Christy and Scott Galvin



Candace Curtis

BEN CURTIS FAMILY FOUNDATION The Ben Curtis Family Foundation was established in January 2013. But the events leading to its creation began several years prior. Ultimately, the lure of home and the desire to make a difference combined to clearly define our objective: lessen hunger among children in our community. There was no better place to grow up than Kent, Ohio. I was surrounded by people who are warm, generous and tolerant of individual differences. These values are the main reason we chose to raise our family here. After graduating from Theodore Roosevelt High School in 1998, I went on to earn my BA in Marketing at Kent State University in 2002. While there, I walked on to the women’s golf team and soon met the man I would marry. Ben also grew up in a small Ohio town – Ostrander – just north of Columbus. He graduated from Buckeye Valley High School in 1996, and received a golf scholarship to Kent State, where he played for hall-of-fame coach Herb Page. He was a three-time All-American and graduated in 2000.

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We went on our first date that October and I finished my degree while he traveled the country playing the mini tours, which are professional golf’s version of the minor leagues. In the fall of 2002, Ben advanced through the PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament to secure his card for the following season. At that point, we were engaged and about to begin an exciting phase of life, exploring new cities and learning the ropes on tour. Like any transition, there were highs and lows. The PGA Tour can challenge the resolve of the toughestminded individuals … and couples. The joy of a well-played round or tournament can easily be overshadowed by a missed cut. Flexibility, a sense of humor and patience go a long way and we were committed to enjoying the experience while taking the inevitable ups and downs in stride. In July of his rookie season, Ben qualified for the British Open, one of golf’s four Major Championships. We traveled to England the week before, giving him time to prepare, adjust to the time change and to get in some sightseeing. Neither of us could have predicted what

Photos Courtesy of Sara Beatty Photography

Westwood to secure the victory. The PGA of America gave us a check to fund the charity of our choice. At that point, we didn’t have a cause we were passionate about, so we invested it and watched it grow for us to use when the time was right. A few years later, that cause became obvious to us.

the ensuing week would bring as Ben shocked the golf world by winning the tournament. He went from being ranked 396th in the world to 35th, the highest jump of any player in history.

be there. He was being pulled so many different directions and judged by so many people. The expectations seemed overwhelming sometimes.

We were married a month later in Kent during the Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club. We had to move the time of our wedding back an hour because Ben was leading after Thursday and his tee time would make him late to his own wedding. It was one crazy month. We continued traveling until December and at the end of the season his peers voted him PGA Tour Rookie of the Year.

During the next few years, we spent the summers in Ohio and the rest of our time in Orlando due to the winter weather and the flexibility for Ben to practice year round. There were professional successes – two PGA Tour wins for Ben in 2006 – along with personal milestones – the births of our son, Liam, in September 2006 and daughter, Addison, just 15 months later. As we settled into our new role as parents, we really began thinking about our long term plans and it became clear that we wanted to return home to Kent full time to raise our children. At the end of 2008, we decided the time was right and made the move the following spring.

Our lives had changed dramatically and in 2004 Ben played on both the US PGA and the European Tours. We traveled extensively that year. We went to Japan, Thailand, Dubai, Scotland, Ireland, France and Germany. We learned so much about other parts of the world and embraced it. It was one of the best times in both of our lives personally. Professionally, there was a lot of pressure on Ben to prove that his win wasn’t a fluke and that he deserved to

The 2008 golf season culminated with Ben making the United States Ryder Cup team. The American team brought the Ryder Cup back to U.S. soil for the first time since 1999. In the Sunday singles matches, Ben defeated Lee


In December 2011, Ben and I were sitting in a hotel room watching a special about hunger in America. The film crew followed families around showing how they lived week to week, barely having enough money to feed their families. They had to choose between paying bills and buying food. They had to use money that should have been for food to fill up their gas tanks so they could get to work. Both parents were working so they didn’t qualify for aid. No matter how hard they tried they just couldn’t get ahead. We were in shock: how can someone work so hard and still not be able to provide enough food for their family. They just needed a break. That’s how the Ben Curtis Family Foundation was born. We decided to do some research on hunger in Northeast Ohio and the statistics were astounding. They aren’t getting any better as I write this article. We then took a closer look at our hometown of Kent. We were shocked by what we found. The Kent City School District had over 750 kids on a lunch subsidy program. These children were depending on the school for their meals. As parents, this made a big impact on us. According to the Akron Canton Food Bank, one in four children in Portage County is food insecure. In a classroom of 20, five children depend on the school for what may be their only full meal of the day. Estimates show that Continued on page 8

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and toothbrushes. These are items most of us take for granted every day. We brush our teeth and never give it another thought. However, according to a Feeding America study, 39% of families admitted to brushing their teeth only with water.

Continued from page 7 67% of the individuals relying on the food bank must choose between paying bills and eating. Approximately 82,000 meals were distributed by the Akron Canton Food Bank last year. Our next step was to determine the best way to meet the specific needs of the children in Kent. We first met with the assistant superintendent, Tom Larkin. He confirmed there was a need and introduced us to Julie Troman, the former principal at Holden Elementary School. She was instrumental in helping us develop our concept: “Ben’s Birdie Bags” would contain nutritious and easy-to-prepare foods as well as toiletry items children need over the course of the weekend. All contents can be prepared in a microwave. Logistically, we had to think about how to get them home with the kids. The weight and size of the bag were very important. A five year old has to be able to walk home with it and we needed the bag to be durable enough to make it on a bus ride. We did a trial run and sent 145 backpacks home in May 2013 and included a survey for parents to complete. Julie had a questionnaire on the computer for the older kids at Holden. With the feedback we received, we designed our program. That was how we became aware of the need for toiletry items. We started asking for donations of travel size toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, soap, body wash

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We have developed a strong relationship with the Akron Canton Food Bank, which has helped lower our food costs. We order many of the snacks from there and routinely go to Sam’s Club for our meals as well. We pick up the food and deliver it to the United Methodist Church of Kent the day prior to packing. They have kindly donated space for us to store food and pack. Once a month, we meet there with our volunteers, set up an assembly line of food and fill the bags. We send food home with children over 10 long weekends during the school year. Each bag consists of nine meals, six snacks and a bag of donated toiletry items. We are always looking for donated travel size items to include in the birdie bags. We use disposable plastic bags that are theirs to keep. Once they are packed, we put them into plastic bins that are then delivered to each school. The teachers distribute them to the kids in need. Any child qualifies for the program. We use the free and reduced lunch program as a guide, but school faculty can add any child they believe is in need. The teachers and principals in Kent truly are heroes. They have been instrumental in making this program a success. Our official launch was in August 2013 when we sent home 149 birdie bags. The amount of support we got from the community was overwhelming. We had so many volunteers ready to help along with monetary donations that allowed us to add our second school, Longcoy Elementary, in January 2014. From January through May, we packed 289 bags each month. This year, we have expanded


to all four elementary schools in Kent, which will include about 700 bags at each distribution. One teacher told us that we gave a seven year old boy his first toothbrush and toothpaste. Another kindergarten teacher wrote us a letter about a little girl in her class who was ecstatic when she found her birdie bag in her locker. She looked at the teacher and said how happy she was she wouldn’t have to share her food at the shelter that night. Those are just a few of examples of the need here in Kent. The next step for the Foundation is to expand its reach to the other elementary schools throughout the rest of Portage County. Doing so will require the support of dedicated volunteers, donors, school administrators and businesses. The benefits are undeniable – improved health, better school attendance, higher test scores and positive behavior. And these outcomes are well within reach as it costs just $40 per child to provide birdie bags for an entire school year. By working hand-in-hand with the Ben Curtis Family Foundation, you will build a stronger community by helping children succeed. For more information, please visit

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I’ve been a retailer all my life. My Dad, Karl Stevens, opened his first retail store called Honey Gold in 1970 in downtown Akron. He manufactured and sold his own perfumes in that store and later had an office on location where he produced and packed the perfumes he made. I still remember lining up all the bottles, filling, capping, boxing and just enjoying being a part of the process and

accounting, managing employees, trade shows and buying; frankly wearing a lot of hats at one time.

Between 1991 and 2001 we had computerized our accounting and POS systems, started an online

Toys, Perfume, Gags, Comics…

and my journey as a retailer. Michelle Sahr

spending time with my Dad. As early as the age of 8 my dad had me running errands for the store, running the cash register, helping customers, and counting the bank deposits. Later while I was away at college in 1991 my Dad acquired a specialty toy store that was located in Quaker Square Akron called My Little Red Wagon. On my breaks and during the summer I had a blast rearranging the store, learning the ropes about buying toys and working in the shop. Soon enough I was back working in my Dad’s business, this time full time with a college degree in hand. I came back to a full slate of stores; we owned 5 different retail shops all in the same little mall. I learned a lot in those years about small business

store (which thrived for many years), closed some of our smaller less successful shops, and finally moved our entire operation into a large strip mall location in Stow Ohio. That location was all of 8000 square feet. Our toy store had been doing well and we had been ready to expand. We learned a lot the hard way from that move. 8000 square feet is a lot of store (and a lot of rent), and we were located in a small strip mall with no walk by traffic. These were years of struggle. We tried to change things up by moving our Stow store (My Little Red Wagon) into a smaller location that was only 3000 square feet, but this location was also a strip mall. Where we found success however, was when we opened our second location of My Little Red Wagon on Main Street in Hudson Ohio. We quickly began to see how grouping our stores among other independents in a historic downtown district helped not only garner walking traffic and new faces through the door for our store, but creates a fun downtown area that people love visiting, shopping and eating in.


Borrowing on this success, we began to consider historic downtown Kent as another possible location for a great shop. However we had a hard time getting around the idea of a toy shop just for kids in a college town like Kent. At the time, in 2008 and 2009, there were much fewer shops and the vast majority of the new developments were not even started. Ron Burbick kept calling and asking us to reconsider opening a shop in the downtown. One night in my talking it over with my husband, Tim, we came up with the concept of a toy store geared towards big kids and adults (ok, no not that kind of store!). Our store would be kid friendly but carry fun gags like yodelling pickles, edgar allen poe action figures, and bacon flavored mints. We searched all the vendors we could find for the wildest and wackiest items on the market and brought them together in Off the Wagon along with games, classic toys and an assortment of fun and strange gift items. Off the Wagon has quickly become our most successful store ever. Through all our challenges and successes I have learned so much and am loving being a part of Kent. Off the Wagon is now franchising. We are hoping to find other areas where community minded people want to partner with us in bringing this great store to their own hometown.

Jeannie Borland

The United States Women’s Curling Association’s Fall Meeting was held in Kent on September 12th through the 14th. Kent was chosen for this honor because the President this year, Jeannie Borland, is from Kent. “I was anxious to show off Kent to the Representatives of the USWCA. I had a feeling they were going to love all the shopping and dining available now.” There was a President’s Dinner, committee meetings, a banquet and the Board of Directors meeting. Most of these took place at the Kent State University Hotel and Conference Center. We‘ve been so impressed with the lovely facility and the enthusiastic cooperation of the staff. It took a lot of workers to host a national meeting and volunteers from the Host club, Mayfield Curling Club, helped out in many

Curlers Sweep Into Kent

ways, from providing transportation and manning the registration desk to serving food at the President’s Dinner. Cheryl Drake of Shaker Heights was the Meeting Coordinator and planned the activities and organized the volunteers. The USWCA is an all-volunteer organization, founded in 1947, with the mission “to develop, nurture, and promote the sport of curling among today’s women and all youth.” There are over 66 member clubs with more than 3,100 women and even a few male members. We are affiliated with the United States Curling Association which belongs to the World Curling Federation and the U.S. Olympic Committee. The USCA deals with the elite curlers and sponsors national championships whereas we concentrate on the “grassroots” of curling. We do this by providing equipment to curling clubs in support of youth development; by providing funding for youth, women and coaches to attend camps, training programs, and other developmental opportunities; by sponsoring annual events hosted by clubs in regions across the country; and by managing international (incoming and outgoing) tours with women from Canada and Scotland. It is amazing to me that so much is accomplished by volunteers who meet only twice a year. For those readers who don’t know anything about curling: Curling is an ice sport of fitness

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and finesse enjoyed by thousands of Americans and over 1.5 million people in over 35 nations. Curlers (men, women and youth) compete annually in events all over the world and also host these events. Local curling clubs set up weekly leagues throughout the season, typically October through March. Many curlers look forward to weekend tournaments — or bonspiels — where they often make lasting friendships with other curlers. For example: the Mayfield Curling Club, located in South Euclid, participates in “Friendly” exchanges with the Cleveland Skating Club, located in Shaker Heights. They also do exchanges with the Pittsburgh Curling Club and with the St. Catherine’s Curling Club (Canada). The camaraderie continues off the ice, where curlers sit together in the warm room to recount their game and to socialize. The Spirit of Curling is always stressed to new curlers — “Curlers play to win but never to humble their opponents. A true curler would rather lose than win unfairly … the spirit of the game demands good sportsmanship, kindly feeling, and honorable conduct.”

Bonspiel. I was helping my sister by selling drink tickets and I was able to watch a game or two. This was a 48 team bonspiel so there were 192 curlers (4 to a team). It was crowded and noisy in the viewing area so explanations were only half understood. I was struck by the friendliness of the competitors on and off the ice. They were so glad to see each other and

If you are interested in learning more about “the Roaring Game,” you can visit our local clubs or check out some curling websites. Mayfield Curling Club 1545 Sheridan Road South Euclid, OH 44121 Cleveland Skating Club 2800 Kemper Road Shaker Heights, OH 44120 The United States Curling Association Great Lakes Curling Association

Curling has an interesting history. It probably began in 16th century Scotland, where they played outdoors on frozen lochs and marshes. Scottish immigrants brought the game to North America, first to Canada around 1759, then to the United States around 1832. By 1855, curling clubs were flourishing in New York City, Detroit, Milwaukee, and Portage, WI. Today there are over 135 clubs in the U.S. and new clubs are starting up every year. Curling is the most popular in Canada, where it has become one of the most top-rated television sports. I’m sure many of you watched a game or two during the recent Olympics. The broadcasters did a pretty good job explaining the game but it can be confusing. My first introduction to Curling happened at the Bowling Green Curling Club’s Summer

had many jokes and stories to share. They came from all over the U.S. and Canada. I had a great time eating, selling tickets, dancing, watching hilarious skits and meeting interesting people but I could not explain the game of curling. It took another summer ‘spiel, meeting my husband (an avid curler), and actually trying it myself before I understood the game and how to keep score.


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Local Book Shelf


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School of Theatreand Dance at

Joni Koneval


he halls of Kent State University’s School of Theatre and Dance, located in the Kent Center for the Performing Arts, are rarely quiet. The building’s more than 70,000 square feet of renovated space – made possible by a $6.8 million donation from the Roe Green Foundation in 2006 – is constantly abuzz with creative activity.

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On any given day or night, student directors and performers prepare for laboratory shows while rehearsals for main stage productions take place in one of three on-site theatres. Dance students create and rehearse choreography in state-of-the-art dance studios while stage management and technical direction students masterfully organize the logistics of productions. Scenic design students create new worlds and re-invent old ones in the scene shop while costume design students imagine and stitch together the fabric of time, place and character. All the while, lighting design students work in the lighting lab and backstage


K ent S tate U niversity

to illuminate the environments and atmospheres that captivate audiences. The School of Theatre and Dance at Kent State University is a place of transformation. The students that enter become professionals ready to embark on their journey of a life of performance, design, choreography, and management. With a rich history at Kent State, in-depth training, respected alumni, frequent guest artists, talented students and a high quality annual production season, all those who enter the School of Theatre and Dance for education or entertainment know that they are receiving the best the region has to offer.

A Rich History Theatre and dance got their start at Kent State not long after the university’s founding in 1910. The theatre program’s roots stretch back to 1913 when Kent State students pursued theatre as an extracurricular activity in the Walden Drama Club. Formal theatre classes followed in 1926 and over the course of the next 20 years, Kent State’s theatre program developed into a major academic division, gaining a national reputation for its level of professional training. Beginning in the late 1940s through today, the program branched out beyond Kent State’s campus, first purchasing a showboat named The Majestic and then founding Porthouse Theatre at Blossom Music Center in Cuyahoga Falls. For a short period The Majestic travelled up and down the Ohio and Kanawha Rivers in the evening, providing area audiences with on-the-water theatre. Though a short-lived endeavor, The Majestic secured Kent State’s place in American theatrical history. Now owned by City of Cincinnati, the showboat is the last remaining floating theatre in the United States.

I n 1994, the School of Theatre and the Division of Dance combined to become the School of Theatre and Dance, formalizing decades of collaboration. This partnership was strengthened further in 2006 when the Roe Green Foundation made the largest capital gift in the history of the university for the construction of the Roe Green Center for the School of Theatre and Dance. The new Roe Green Center renovated and added on to the existing Music and Speech building, creating new state-ofthe-art dance studios and a new black box theatre. This project, completed in 2010, and the renaming of the building to the Center for the Performing Arts allowed theatre and dance to be housed u nder the same roof for the first time and propelled the school into a new era of professional training for students.

Conservatory-Style Training, Liberal Arts Foundation The mission of the School of Theatre and Dance is to provide students with the training,

experiences and connections they need to succeed as performing arts professionals. In addition to in-depth coursework, students cultivate their talents through year-round hands on production opportunities. Rounding out their training, the incredible liberal arts environment provided at Kent State ensures that all students graduate with the tools necessary for professional achievement. The school offers Bachelor of Arts degrees in dance and theatre, Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees in dance, design and technology, and musical theatre, and Master of Fine Arts degrees in acting and design and technology.

A Professional Summer Theatre at Blossom Music Center One of the highlights of the School of Theatre and Dance is its involvement in the Kent/Blossom Arts program through its outdoor professional summer theatre, Continued on page 20

The first dance courses were introduced at Kent State in 1914 and were regular offerings in the Physical Education department through the 1970s when a degree in dance was established and dance became a formal academic division. The first student graduated from Kent State with a degree in dance in 1980. The Kent Dance Ensemble was formed in 1990, providing dance students with the opportunity to perform with an on-site pre-professional company.


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Continued from page 19 Porthouse Theatre. Located on the grounds of Blossom Music Center in nearby Cuyahoga Falls, every summer more than 20,000 patrons attend the theatre’s three professional productions. Porthouse is an Actors’ Equity Association theatre, providing students from Kent State and across the country the opportunity to earn Equity credit while performing and working. Students that join the Porthouse Company learn the rigors of a true professional theatre and expand the depth of their training by working alongside experienced professional actors, designers, stage managers and technicians. The knowledge gained through this experience is invaluable as students move on to other professional appointments or return to their studies. For patrons, Porthouse Theatre is a true entertainment experience. Guests often arrive hours before the show begins, picnicking and meeting old and new friends on Porthouse’s beautiful grounds. With its 50th Anniversary approaching in 2018, Porthouse Theatre is a true Northeast Ohio theatrical landmark. The Porthouse Theatre season begins every June and runs through the beginning of August.

Students on the National and International Stage While the Center for the Performing Arts is home base for theatre and dance students during the academic year, their dedication and successes often take them around the country and throughout the world.

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For the last two years, Kent State lighting design students have taken home top honors for their work at the Southeastern Theatre Conference’s annual convention. The Senior Musical Theatre Performance Showcase is also a staple of the school’s musical theatre program, giving students the opportunity to prepare for careers in New York City. Every spring, a select number of students travel to New York and perform for casting directors, agents and managers. This program is extremely successful and has led to students securing employment in a wide variety of New York venues, such as on Broadway and at Carnegie Hall. This past August, the School of Theatre and Dance went international when members of the student organization Transforum Theatre took their original work, “A Collection of Grimm’s Fairy Tales,” to the Edinburgh


Festival Fringe in Scotland. The student written, directed, and performed work played to sold out crowds at the world’s largest arts festival.

A Network of Respected Alumni and Guest Artists The School of Theatre and Dance prides itself on maintaining relationships with its alumni who often return to Kent State to visit. Returning alumni, as well as other guest artists, teach Master Classes and impart important advice to current students as they embark on their performing arts careers. Recent alumni visitors include Tony Awardwinner Alice Ripley (Broadway’s Next to Normal) producer and composer Jeff Richmond (NBC’s 30 Rock), actress Laura Beth Wells (Broadway’s Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark), actor John Moauro (Broadway’s Hair), and key costumer Kristine Haag (ABC’s Scandal). Other

notable alumni include Ray Wise (All My Children), John de Lancie (Star Trek), Ken Howard (President, SAG-AFTRA), Sabatino A. Verlezza (RIOULT Dance NY), and Kaitlyn Black (The CW’s Hart of Dixie). Guest Artists also make up an important part of the training and experiences students receive. The Roe Green Visiting Director Series, now in its 12th year, allows a director-in-residence to visit every year to mentor students and direct a main stage production. The Armstrong Visiting Director Series likewise allows for a guest choreographer to visit as well as set a piece of choreography for a main stage dance concert. Recent guest artists include Kathleen Conlin (Utah Shakespeare Festival), Michael Rupert (Broadway’s Legally Blonde), the Limon Dance Company, Everett Quinton, Joseph Hanreddy,

Barry Keating, Ben Vereen, and composer Stephen Schwartz (Broadway’s Wicked).

Year-Round Productions and Entertainment Each academic year, the School of Theatre and Dance presents a main stage season that serves as the main laboratory for students’ learning experiences. Auditions take place at various points throughout the term and students rehearse in the evenings and on weekends. Upon the completion of the school season in April, Porthouse’s season begins, providing year-round production and entertainment opportunities for students and community members. This season, the school will produce a brand new musical My Heart is the Drum a project for which the school won a grant from the

National Alliance of Music Theatre. The school will also celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Kent Dance Ensemble. This milestone will be marked with a concert featuring guest choreography by Tony Award-winner Garth Fagan, known for his choreography of Broadway’s The Lion King.


School of Theatre and Dance Season You Can’t Take It With You Oct. 3 – 12, 2014 Hot Mikado Oct. 24 – Nov. 2, 2014 Dance ’14: In Flow Nov. 21 – 23, 2014 My Heart is the Drum Feb. 20 – March 1, 2015 Bonnie & Clyde: In Concert Feb. 23 – 25, 2015 BFA Senior Dance Concert/Student Dance Festival March 13 – 15, 2015 Kent Dance Ensemble: 25 Years April 2 – 4, 2015 The House of Blue Leaves April 17 – 26, 2015 Tickets are available by calling the Performing Arts Box Office at (330)-672-ARTS or by visiting


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McKay Bricker

Gallery & Framing

Kasha Lageza

In 1984 Kent native Cass Bricker took a leap of faith by changing careers and buying a custom framing business in her hometown. Fast forward 30 years – to an era when true professional custom framing is considered a dying art – and that same business, McKay Bricker Gallery & Framing, is celebrating its longevity. Perhaps it’s due to the eclectic array of jewelry, home décor and gift items – many of them one-of-a-kind pieces created by regional artists – available at the only downtown Kent store with two names (the second being Black Squirrel Gifts). “They’re constantly reinventing themselves, inventory wise,” notes one frequent patron of the 141 E. Main St. store. Or maybe it’s because store owners Cass and Bob Mayfield offer more than 2,500 frame choices and 650 mat board colors along with a wealth of design expertise and friendly,

p ersonalized customer service that makes what sounds like a daunting experience into an easy one. O r it could be that the Mayfields are renowned for their seemingly endless generosity of time, materials and support for not only downtown Kent and the public events held there, but also for Kent-centric charities. Most likely it’s all of the above that keeps customers coming back – even when it involves a long round-trip drive – decades after their first McKay Bricker shopping experience. Pat McCafferty, recently retired director of facilities at the Columbus Zoo, bought his first piece of framed art as a gift for his wife 30 years ago when Cass (then Bricker) Mayfield was just starting out in business. “Every piece of art I’ve hung on my walls or given as gifts was framed here,” McCafferty said. “They’ve always done such a spectacular job that even during the six years I lived in Columbus, I would wait to have (my framing work) done here.”

Suddenly, Cass was the owner of Scharlotte’s Gallery, then located at 163 E. Main St., now home to Defiance Tattoo. About 18 months later she combined her mother’s maiden name and her married name at the time and rechristened the business McKay Bricker Gallery. The first few years would have been tough if not for two things. “Fortunately I inherited Pat Wise, my first employee, who kept me going that first year because she showed me all the ropes of the framing business. We remain friends today,” Cass said. “And, the rent was incredibly cheap – which kept me going for the first several years.” Wise, who had a degree in studio art, worked for Scharlotte for a couple years, then for Cass for the next 13. She remains a loyal McKay Bricker customer – even though she lives in Medina. “Cass is so nice to everybody and so eager to please,” Wise said. “The quality of work they do here is excellent. Every detail, every aspect of the process is done with precision. Plus, they really care about what customers think and how they feel.”

The Early Years In 1984, Cass Bricker had been working as an interior design assistant in the Akron area for about a year when a casual comment made by Rick Scharlotte, owner of Scharlotte’s Gallery, changed the course of her life. “It was just one of those random moments. I was talking with Rick about his business and he mentioned he was getting tired of working weekends and wanted more time with his family,” Cass explained. “About a month later I just sat up in bed and thought, ‘I could do that.’” Cass Bricker and Bob Mayfield

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and that I should find a way to promote them through merchandise.” T hey sat down with a friend, designer Larry McFarland, and Kent’s first black squirrel sticker was born. Soon thereafter Bob made a 4-foot wide plywood version of the “sticker squirrel” to hang on a fence outside the shop. The squirrel was stolen, so he went big and crafted an 8-foot wide version reinforced with angle iron. That squirrel and a twin created later still exist and make occasional appearances outside the downtown shop. Wise, now a Medina County high school art teacher, was one of many people who attended McKay Bricker’s 30th anniversary party in August. While gesturing toward the gallery packed with party-goers Wise said, “All these people are tied together with a thread – and McKay Bricker is that connection.”

The First Move In 1992 Cass bought the old building formerly located at 609 N. Mantua St., adjacent to the former Crain Avenue Bridge, because McKay Bricker had outgrown its Main Street storefront. While the downtown shop offered only custom framing and “lots of posters in metal frames,” Cass was able to start branching out into cards and gift items in the new space. It was during those years on North Mantua that Cass was dating Bob Mayfield of Akron – who had been one of her business’ earliest picture framing suppliers – and Kent’s black squirrels morphed into McKay Bricker’s signature merchandising icon. “When we were dating I had a dog we would walk on campus, where there are a lot of black squirrels,” Cass explained. “One day he pointed out that the black squirrels were ‘a local brand’

Since then, the Kent black squirrel image has spread far and wide via McKay Bricker’s popular signature merchandise that includes an apparel line, glassware, stuffed animals, home décor items, notecards and, of course, the original bumper stickers. Bob became Cass’ partner in McKay Bricker when they married in October 2001, bringing with him a wealth of business knowledge dating to 1977, when he started picture framing. His experience included ownership of three retail stores and a wholesale framing distribution business (sold in 1991). He had also spent five years working in sales and marketing for a Memphis wholesale picture frame manufacturer and owned a firm that sold picture framing equipment nationally. The couple worked downstairs and lived upstairs in “the perfect apartment” at the North Mantua building until 2008, when they sold it to the city so it could be demolished to make way for the new Fairchild Avenue Bridge.

The Second Move When McKay Bricker made its return to Main Street in February 2009 – just a couple doors down from its original location – downtown was definitely not the multi-million-dollar shopping and dining destination it is today. And the nation was in the grip of recession. “At that point downtown Kent hadn’t taken off, but we still wanted to be down there,” Cass said. “Partly to give a little more life to the downtown – to add another destination point. We liked the feel of old downtown, the authentic shopping experience it offered instead of being in a shopping plaza somewhere.” The 141 E. Main St. building they bought was constructed in 1880 and originally housed Horning Livery on one side and the original B issler Funeral Parlor on the other, said Bob. Today, McKay Bricker uses about 1,400 square feet of the first floor and rents the other 900 or so square feet to the Kent State University School of Art for its Downtown Gallery. The building’s cavernous basement serves as McKay Bricker’s production and storage space, while upstairs office spaces are rented out. Transforming the historic building into what customers see today was a big investment of Continued on page 24


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s tarting the transformation of downtown Kent, Ron Burbick – owner/developer of Acorn Alley I and II and savior of the old Kent Hotel.

Continued from page 23 time, effort and money for the Mayfields that came with no guarantees – but it was a risk they felt good about taking. “A lot of things downtown were still in the fantasy stages, but we knew if it would happen, it would be great,” Bob explained. “Now that it has happened, we can definitely say going downtown turned out to be a good move for our business.” Coincidentally, one of McKay Bricker’s biggest fans is the man widely credited with kick-

“ They’re total professionals who go above and beyond – and they’re so creative. They always have a better idea than I do that makes our art look great. I wouldn’t go anywhere else,” Burbick said. “Plus, our apartments in the (old) hotel have a lot of their tchotchkes decorating them, as well as our home here and our other two homes.” Like so many other repeat customers, Burbick has enjoyed watching McKay Bricker evolve from the framing business he started patronizing 30 years ago to one that, today, does about 60 percent of its sales in custom framing and the other 40 percent in giftware. (The biggest sellers are jewelry and black squirrel apparel, mugs and glasses.)

McKay Bricker Gallery & Framing



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“Our inventory is constantly changing,” said Bob. “Since moving downtown, our gift selection has grown tremendously and we’re still learning how to buy properly – how to take risks on buying. We’ve had to grow with the business. It’s an entirely different mindset buying as a gift buyer than as a picture frame buyer.” Cass added, with a smile, “I’ve flown by the seat of my pants since the very beginning. I’m an old hippie – what can I say! I just continue to be adaptable as the whole world continues to change.”


Furniture When a concerned customer Kyle Whitman

called Ohio Hardwood Furniture’s owner Pascal King-Smith notifying him that her son had decided the new dining table they had purchased just days earlier from Pascal would be the perfect spot to work on a rather messy upcoming school project and whether there was anything that could be done to fix the inevitable resulting damages, Pascal let out a laugh as he was reminded of his own kids.


As a father of five, a bit of rubber cement on new furniture was something he didn’t have much trouble relating to. The solution was a simple one. “Not a problem at all! We’ll have the delivery guys swing by to pick the top up and get it sanded down and have it refinished and back to you in no time.” It’s an anecdote that defines how Ohio Hardwood Furniture approaches its customers and explains the company’s continued growth since it first opened its doors for business in Peninsula in 2008. In a world of chain retail stores and the internet there is no shortage Continued on page 28

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Continued from page 27 of places to shop for furniture but the buying experience is impersonal and follow up service often nonexistent. Ohio Hardwood Furniture’s focus on being transparent, accessible and flexible harkens back to an era of family owned local businesses when customer and business owner knew one another by name. The company specializes in heirloom-quality handcrafted, American made hardwood furniture and American made upholstered seating. They build in a variety of native hardwood species including maple, quartersawn white oak, cherry, hickory, walnut, elm and red oak. Every piece of furniture is built to order which provides the customer with plenty of options when selecting different styles. For each hardwood item offered, customers are able to choose the wood species and stain color of their choice as well as selecting hardware from several different hardware manufacturers. A variety of different hand planning options are also offered for those who want their furniture to have a more rustic feel. Furniture collections range in style from Arts & Crafts to Shaker to early American and to transitional and modern meaning there are designs available to fit most design preferences. The sales staff focuses developing an understanding of customer needs and providing furniture solutions. If dimensions need to be altered or the layout of a piece customized, the staff works to make sure those needs are addressed. Their 8500 sq. ft showroom at the intersection of state route 303 and Riverview Rd. in Peninsula lies in the heart of the scenic Cuyahoga Valley National Park and offers an impressive sampling of the furniture’s quality and of the company’s design capabilities.

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Pascal got his start in the hardwood furniture business when in 1990 he opened Lattasburg Lumber Works, an industrial lumber mill specializing in custom millwork and custom mouldings for Ohio’s rich hardwood furniture manufacturing industry. Eventually he decided to use the close connections he had established with local woodworking artisans through the lumber mill to create a unique retail space that focused on creating design solutions for customers. His background in the industry means he has a unique knowledge of furniture construction techniques that allow him to convey to customers how their furniture gets built. Pascal still owns and operates the lumber mill. The close connections he’s established over the years through the lumber mill with the local craftsman that build Ohio Hardwood Furniture’s products means there is an intimate relationship between the company and its manufacturers that allows it to have a much greater degree of quality control than you’ll find at other stores. Its products are not being built and shipped in from factories across the country or overseas. The vast majority of the manufacturers are within an hour drive of the lumber mill. The company takes advantage of this close proximity by making weekly rounds to its builders to ensure customer orders are being built to exact design specifications and standards and are on time. Ohio Hardwood Furniture sales staff work closely with clients to get a firm understanding of functional needs and design wishes then work towards coming up with a furniture solution that best caters to the needs of the individual customer. Customers are encouraged to take as much time as they need in making decisions and are often sent home with wood, fabric and hardware samples to aid in the


decision making process. According to Pascal being meticulous about capturing details during the decision-making process benefits the company in the long run by leading to more satisfied customers when the furniture is built and delivered. “We certainly want our customers to be comfortable throughout the buying process and I think a major part of that is allowing them the time and space to make confident choices. I simply try to give them as much information as possible to allow them to make those choices. It doesn’t do the customer any good or us any good as a business to rush through important design decisions then get the furniture built and delivered only for the customer to realize it wasn’t really what they were looking for. So I’m more than happy to have folks stop in two or three times to meet with me and discuss exactly what is they are looking for before they commit to a piece of furniture.” After getting its start as an exclusively hardwood furniture store, the company has expanded over the last few years into offering American made upholstered and leather furniture. Its design-your-own-sofa program allows customers to select different leg, seat, arm and back options to customize unique chairs, love seats, sofas and sectionals. Hundreds of fabric and leather choices are offered. Because Pascal still owns the lumber mill, the store opens at noon throughout the week (Wednesday by appointment only). It’s Saturday hours are 10-6 and King-Smith opens Sunday afternoons from 1-5. There’s ample parking and the proximity to the gap trail, Peninsula restaurants and other local shops and park attractions make it a nice spot for a day trip.

Fair Trade – Really?

Dae Evans

So what is it, anyway? In broad terms, it is an initiative to help alleviate poverty worldwide, but it is not a charity! It is compassionate retail that strives to heal suffering! It insures that people who produce fair trade products are treated fairly and paid a fair wage. It also insures that no orphan child labor, no sweat shop, nor slave labor has gone into the making of the products. More than 75% of the many products produced through fair trade are made by women who are working in their homes or in small community groups. The basic idea is to provide a marketplace in first world countries for the handmade fair trade products from third-world countries. The business model here in the U.S. was developed by a Mennonite woman as a result of her relief-work travels to help women in under-developed countries. Faith based organizations have been the sustenance of fair trade thus far, as many brick and mortar stores were inspired by the selling of products in a church. The largest fair trade wholesaler is associated with the Mennonite Central Committee, and the second largest is a non-profit through Catholic and Lutheran relief funds. Many fair trade wholesale businesses are started by former Peace Corp workers and compassionate individuals working in, or visiting, poverty stricken areas of the world. In India, much of fair trade work is hand craft using ancient art techniques such as batiking and wood block stamping on fabric. In Bangladesh, recycled paper and rags are

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Yes, Really…Read On… used in papermaking for journals and lampshades. In Africa, soap stone carvings, woven baskets, and drums are common fair trade products. In Peru and Bolivia, the processing, weaving, and knitting of alpaca wool is a large part of their fair trade wares. Traditionally, there has been no factory or corporate involvement in fair trade products, though there are now fair trade factories, and corporate owned retail stores have been selling fair trade coffee, tea, and chocolate for some time now. Beware though, lately there are many more fair trade knockoffs in corporate retail stores that are made in India, Bangladesh, and Vietnam, so be a wise consumer and ask questions and investigate. Chances are most sales associates will answer honestly. What’s not to love about fair trade? It is good for people and the environment. Fair trade workers use upcycled, recycled, and sustainable media – making the most of materials that are readily available and free. Women who have been marginalized are able to make a living by selling their hand made products through fair


trade. Farm workers are treated fairly and paid a fair wage for their labor. Fair trade cooperatives are created to help refugees, as well as those exiting drug rehabilitation and prison, former prostitutes and sex trade victims. Women are producing handmade fair trade bags in local cooperatives like Woven in Exile, Not Wasted, and Lydia’s Purse. Woven in Exile is a group of Bhutanese women who were forced out of their homes, off their farms, and out of their country by the ethnic cleansing of the Bhutan monarchy. Relegated to Nepal, they spent 18 years living in refugee huts without running water or electricity. The United Nations finally intervened and relocated this group to the greater Akron area, where the women continue the back-strap weaving techniques learned in Bhutan and Nepal. Not Wasted is an Akron based organization of T.R.Y. (Truly Reaching You), a faith-based ministry meeting the needs of people who are post-substance abuse rehabilitated and/ or post-incarcerated. Not Wasted is a double

entendre referring to the folks who hand-sew the bags, and to the upcycled billboard vinyl they use to make their urban-looking tote bags and messenger bags. Lydia’s Purse is the brain-child of MaryAnn Wohlwend, a Hudson handbag designer, who rescues the fabric sample books from interior design studios before they become landfill fodder. Working with local and global rescue missions, she sources the rescued fabrics and teaches women to sew a basic tote. The relationship building, both spiritually and economically, strives to instill skills that break the cycle of generational poverty. Fair Trade is Good for People and Good for the Environment Because it… • Builds sustainable businesses • Respects cultural identity • Expands market access • Supports environmentally friendly practices • Empowers women • Pays fairly and promptly • Provides community investments • Insures safe working conditions • Provides healthcare • Prevents child exploitation • Enables education

• Eradicates poverty • Builds respect and honest relationships Fair Trade Products: • Apparel, shoes • Decorative and functional house wares • Purses, wallets, backpacks, bags, journals • Textiles, baskets, ceramics • Toys and sports balls • Beans, rice and quinoa • Essential oils, shea butter, soap, and cosmetics • Chocolate and cocoa • Coffee, tea, wine • Ice cream • Jewelry, belts, scarves • Flowers, fruits, vegetables • Olive oil, honey, herbs, spices, nuts, seeds, sugar, vanilla Brick & Mortar Fair Trade Stores in NEO: • The Market Path Akron • Ten Thousand Villages Cleveland • Revive Cleveland • One World Shop Rocky River • Peace by Piece Seville • Fair Trade on Main Hudson Dae Evans, BFA, RYT, manages The Market Path, (a social justice project of First Grace United Church of Christ) your fair trade store in Highland Square


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Loose Lips

Cheryl Townsend

APPRECIATED For some things, being “the best kept secret” is good. Take for instance, Swenson’s burger recipe, the Illuminati roster, or whatever crashed into Roswell in 1947 (or did it?). But for such as alleyway bookstores, Marianne Faithfull’s latest CD, or the Box Gallery, not so much. Up, up, up on the 3rd floor of Summit Artspace (located at 140 E. Market St. in downtown Akron), the Box Gallery resides among an eclectic cluster of artist studios and the Akron Society of Artists. The Box is actually comprised of the big Box and the small Box and often the Wall, when exhibits step outside either Box. Operated by volunteers from the Artists of Rubber City (AoRC) and staffed by exhibiting artists, the Box has given space to more than 500 artists via 40 exhibits since its opening in

October 2009. AoRC first inhabited a modest home turned gallery co-op on Crouse Street, just a hop, skip & holler from Don Drumm’s studio and gallery before the opportunity to relocate to the Summit Artspace presented itself. Premiering with the work of Akronite, Miller Horns, the Box has since exhibited the works of artists from across the country and nearly every medium imaginable. Opening receptions at the Box always offer the standard eats & sips, but have also been known to include live music, spontaneous dance, and most recently, temporary tattoos. Along with the artist shows scheduled throughout the year, the Box also hosts an annual Juried exhibit in May and a Members Only exhibit in August. The Box is always open during Akron’s monthly Artwalks which run the

first Saturday of every month from 5–10 pm. It is easily accessible via both stairs and an elevator, and is well worth your time and the trek up, especially if you’re already in the Summit Artspace gallery. The Box Gallery’s current exhibit is Paranormal Paranoia: the other side of tattoo art(ists); the non-skin creations of tattoo artists, including aliens, folklore beasts and various other creatures of the psyche. Curated by twin brother-sister team Roza Maille and Ezra Haidet, the exhibit features works from more than 30 tattooists from across the country and runs through Saturday, October 4th. The next big Box exhibit will be “All Monsters Attack” curated by Theodore Mallison with “Clouds and Hands” by Aaron King in the small Box. Then from November 29th to December 31st will be the open themed “The Black and White Show” which will be open to all artists. (Drop off of artwork will be at the Box Gallery on November 20th. Further details available at The BOX – an Artists of Rubber City Gallery 140 East Market Street Summit Artspace – third floor south Akron, Ohio 44308 Gallery hours (during exhibits): Friday and Saturday, noon – 5 p.m. Artwalk Saturdays, noon – 9 p.m.

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Visual Art


It’s a wonderful thing when an ancient art mode or medium can be used in a way to create visual statements that are meaningful and relevant today. A connection is made that passes through time. Sculpture is one such medium, of course, and four area artists are among many working – either abstractly or with recognizable

Mark Keffer KSU Class of ‘88

imagery (or both) – to create rich and thoughtful expressions in three dimensions.



Landscape of Memory (secrets and blooms) laminated re-purposed wood, vellum, ink, paint, 10’ x 10’ x 3’, 2014

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I n addition to a number of distinct directions (including using the body as a starting point), Isabel Farnsworth’s work at times reflects a meaningful and timeless relationship to landscape. This is a relationship built from direct experience and calm introspection. Recalling a time in her past she writes, “I loved being alone up at Black Pond (in VA), the solitude in nature soothed me. I would hike up to the spring fed lake situated high above the Potomac River and swim in the mysterious dark water.” Examples such as this helped inspire the suite of five sculptures entitled Landscape of Memory, which was recently installed as part of an exhibition of women sculpture professors held at Cleveland State University.

Landscape of Memory (secrets and blooms) detail

Landscape of Memory (forest of joy) detail

Of her working method and intentions she states, “ My artistic process is one of gathering, sorting and assimilating my experience of the world. Through sculptural form (objects and installations) and works on paper (mixed media collages and monoprints), I re-shape and articulate distillations of my subjective experiences. The work emerges out of writing and daydreaming as well as an active curiosity at play with both materials and ideas. I am interested in how abstraction can coexist with symbolic and pictorial language and how that metaphorically parallels experience: thinking, perception, bodily sensation, dreaming, etc. It is through an active and playful studio process of making and unmaking

that I arrive at my assemblage/collage compositions. Rather than having the work be about anything in particular, I desire to create work that engages and delights the viewer through the poetics of imagery, color, touch, sensory/ tactile materials and whatever associations may arise.” Farnsworth is an Associate Professor in the sculpture department at Kent State University. She received a BFA degree from Temple University and an MFA from Stanford. She has had solo exhibitions in Ohio, Texas, California and Arizona, as well as Paris and Amsterdam in Europe, in addition to numerous group shows. She is the recipient of an Individual Artist Grant from the Ohio Arts Council. Her solo show at the Firelands Association for the Visual Arts in Oberlin was reviewed in Art in America magazine.

Landscape of Memory (forest of joy) wood, casein paint, paper (photocopied ink drawings), 80” x 72” x 28”, 2014


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Visual Art


C H A R M A I N E Charmaine Spencer is a Cleveland artist, originally from Ann Arbor, Michigan. She creates expansive, accumulative sculptural installations, often comprised of salvaged materials as well as smaller, more intimate individual pieces. She consistently displays a commitment to the environment through the use of sustainable, biodegradable materials, but the content of the work transcends practical concerns (important as they may be) and moves into realms of metaphor (both social and personal), imagination and emotion. Regarding her piece Generation, for example, she claims that “the sculpture explores the transforma-

tive role of ‘learning’ throughout our lives. The medium is synthetic hair wrapped and braided around electrical conduit that I formed into a series of loops, rhythmically rising and falling as through life’s experience. I’ve used the conduit to represent the connections between people and their generations, with the length and color of hair changing with age … the conduit serves to transport the thoughts and ideas that produce ‘waves’ of change; with time, these in turn gather force affecting young and old without regard or discrimination.” She quotes a relevant T.S. Eliot passage: “We shall not cease from exploration, and

Revival stand and natural wood lath and rope, 18’ x 26’ x 12’

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the end to all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” An insight into the creation of a specific piece, Revival, can be gained through her description of its evolution. “Through assembly and disassembly over time, this sculptural installation has ‘morphed’ repeatedly. I originally conceived the sculpture as a two-dimensional labyrinth to be built from old wall lathing I had salvaged from demolished homes. After beginning the process, however, the idea to create a more abstract three dimensional labyrinth took

River Stones driftwood, jute rope, river stones, 4’ x 3’ x 4’

hold. The addition of the third dimension (depth) was designed to increase the complexity of form, hopefully inspiring the viewer to think more deeply and abstractly about its meaning, especially as it relates to individuals, society and the potential to evolve.” Spencer attended the Cleveland Institute of Art, where she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. Exhibitions include Cleveland State University, SPACES and the Maltz Museum. She has received a number of public commissions in the area, including the Gordon Square Arts District and University Circle Sculpture Park.

Choir wood lath and rope, 11’ x 21’ x 3’

She was awarded a Creative Workforce Fellowship by the Community Partnership for Arts and Culture and the Ingenuity Project Award by the Ingenuity Fest of Arts and Technology, among others. Generation synthetic hair on electrical conduit, 7’ x 11’ x 4’


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Visual Art J I M



Branching Out, 338 Woodard Ave, Kent, OH (former home of John Davey, founder of Davey Tree) maple, 19” x 21” x 6.5” Pyramid, 229 Harris St., Kent, OH oak, 48” x 96” x 14”

The fundamental forms seen in the cut wood sculptures of Jim VandenBoom arise from different aspects of growing up in Northeast Ohio. A balance is struck between the industrial rhythms of steel bridges and ship yards on one hand, and the organic forms of the natural landscape on the other. He is committed in his efforts to “investigate the geometric systems that each utilize structurally.” He further clarifies his intentions by stating, “The Tree is both subject and material. It is left raw and natural. There is a kinship between the

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human trunk and the trunk of the tree. Both have forms of bone, muscle and skin. I bring the trees inside to an architectural environment and present them in human scale and proportion. Within this setting a bond of physicality is established by the volume of the human vessel and the vessel of the tree. Formally, I enjoy slicing pairs, two halves, circles, triangles and rectangles. These geometric cuts expose a lifetime of the annual cycles of growth and adaption. This work is both a celebration and affirmation of the natural cycles of life: Life, Growth, Decay, Death...”


Seven years ago VandenBoom started a personal creative project called “Poems From the Tree”. Each spring, twenty poems by Kent third graders (on the subject of trees) are selected. The poems are displayed in a gallery and read on an outdoor stage in the grand finale of the “Who’s Your Mama Earthday and Film Festival”. A limited edition chapbook is also published for all participants. The effect of this process has been deeply felt. “These poems have dramatically increased my appreciation of My time and place, and the ability of Art to reflect Life. These third graders reflect so many personal emotions.”

Reflection on the Cuyahoga River, 212 East School St., Kent, OH oak, 38” x 40” x 7”

A long-time Kent resident, VandenBoom has shown his work extensively throughout the area, most notably at the Sculpture Center, Cleveland; SPACES; Asterisk Gallery; the Loren Naji Studio; Lakeland Community College and the N. Water St. Gallery. He received a BFA degree from the Cleveland Institute of Art and an MFA from Kent State.

Stretch and Breathe, 338 Woodard Ave., Kent, OH (former home of John Davey, founder of Davey Tree) maple, 47” x 21” x 6.5”

Photo Images by Kevin Olds Imaging


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Visual Art J U L I E



Eutopia cut Tyvek, 12’ x 8’, 2012

In addition to prints, drawings, paintings and artist books, Julie Friedman has developed a distinct mode of working that centers on the process of cutting paper. The traditionally flat medium of paper (often in her case Tyvek, a brand of synthetic paper) has been pushed into three dimensions in her graphic creations. Imagery from life gains evocative power through an intensity of accumulation, presenting the viewer with a world both known and

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Eutopia detail

unknown. The complex imagery originates in fundamental forms, as she states: “with cut paper imagery, the silhouette is stressed. In using just a flat black or white medium, the essence of the shape is its strength. Simplicity is paramount.” This technique began in the form of small handheld books, and after years of development has grown in scale to include the


opportunity for physical interaction on the part of the viewer. The sculpture Eutopia was pivotal in this process. “Creating Eutopia was an exciting project. I was working very large for the first time. I decided on the size because that was how big my wall was. I created a garden which had magical elements and showed what is seen and not seen above and below the horizon. The

A Greenhouse For Life cut Tyvek with PVC pipe, 12’ x 5’ x 9’, 2014

logistics of the structure were well thought out. The movement of the butterflies breaking out was freeing to me because I could expand the shape out of the rectangular format for the first time.” Currently an adjunct instructor at Kent State, Friedman has taught at a number of other area institutions; her teaching has included a wide array of art and design subjects. She is also co-director of Gallery West at Cuyahoga Community College in Parma. She earned a degree in interior design at KSU before moving into fine arts, earning a BFA as well. She received an MFA from the University of

Wisconsin. Her work has been exhibited extensively in the region and nationally. She attended multiple artist residencies at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, MA and is the recipient of an Ohio Arts Council Individual Artist Fellowship.

Tornado cut paper, dimensions variable, 2014


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Gina Corron TRIBUTE


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our beautiful and talented artist friend Gina had been found dead in her studio, the same building as my studio. It wasn't for another week that I learned the horrible truth that it was suicide. She had invited me to go up to Detroit to an art festival Saturday, so I looked for her Friday to confirm. No sign of her, and me with no phone, but you know, life is busy, and I didn't even think that much that she wasn't around for another week into the 4th of July holiday weekend. Then another week went by and we definitely wondered, but I wasn't real worried. It was pretty out of left field for me when I got the bad news. I'm not an old friend of Gina's, but I'm a big, big fan of her art, and have known her the past seven years, since I procured some of her pieces for our annual "Dia de los Muertos" art show at the North Water St. Gallery. I had been trying to get her work for a show since being bowled over by a piece I saw at the venue "the Mantis". I was told she had been out of town a lot as she drove a semi truck. Are you kidding me?! Now I am really intrigued! And the pieces she put in our show were amazing! Not truly on theme to our Mexican holiday, but they did have a Mayan tribal feel to them. Heck, she could have painted Santa Clauses for the show for all I cared! She had a touch, a flow, a feel! Very well crafted and original! Often an edgy attitude, but equally her work could be plain lovely, with vibrant, inspirational color combinations! I instantly respected her as my favorite artist in this town, with nary a rival. So she shows up at our Halloween opening, very flamboyant in her extensive tattoos, including a swallow on her cheek and daisies tattooed over her eye. I gush over her work, but she was a bit elusive, as she would be for the next couple of years, off on her truck and living in various locations. Only the last couple of years have I really got to hang out as Lou of the Stone Tavern started collecting her work, we traded a studio, and then she started painting any available surface in the bar; always a new masterpiece! Lou has bought a couple of my pieces, and commissioned me to do the tree/eye sign out front, and me and Gina have been among the artists who put up work at most of the bi-monthly group art shows there. She painted a brilliant beautiful dragon in the foyer and when the tattoo shop wanted to paint over it I was angry and indignant, and me and Gina spent a day cutting it off the wall, saving this hunk of drywall in the Stone's basement. To tell the truth, the Stone Tavern is the best bar I think I have ever been in, crammed to the gills with interesting art, and the bands are usually the best there is, running the gamut from punk to folk, and everything in between, but never a cover band! The kind of place for interesting personalities like Gina! While I wish I could afford the better beers more often, Lou kicks me down something yummy on occasion, and well ‌ enter my beer faerie! Usually Gina would have her headphones on while she was painting the


bathrooms/bar/ceiling/or drawing a freaking cool flyer while I had my afternoon internet booth, and every so often she would graciously plop her half or more beer in front of me as she went out! But the main exchange was at the chairs out front where it was the place we all powwowed with a smoke. Here we parlayed art/music and town drama, etc. and watched Kent life on the main town intersection. Her German Shepherd Milo, diligently watched for other dogs, often spotting them a block off. She gave me some paint and art supplies and some cool wood surfaces to paint on. She had her complaints, money was elusive, but she kept her jeep running and recently painted wings on it. She mentioned her nagging back pain from a truck accident, but seemed to do okay painting that ceiling, a real neck challenge. But there was a bad period, about a month earlier, May or early June. She was drinking a lot, almost every day for about a week or so, with complaints of a recent break-up; Milo had an accident and needed expensive bone surgery. I had talked to Lou and others that we might have to do something drastic, an intervention or something. And then she snapped back and seemed happy again. She was getting loans in and switched out of a bad class, getting her money back on a camera she had to buy. She was weening off the opiates for her back and really liked her new doctor. There were issues, but she seemed to be a tough chick, punk rock survivor type. And she asked me to go to Detroit with her. The art/music festival there didn't seem too interesting, but maybe we could check out some abandoned Detroit buildings or something. A road trip with this unique, talented personality was the real interest here! So, yes, regrets and maybes abound! There may be some twinges of guilt, but mostly regrets. All her friends seem to know that in a pinch, we offered to be available for her. If it wasn't for an injury I would have helped her into that studio and known which room it was, then, maybe ‌ blah, blah, blah! The outpouring of shock and grief was massive and stole the oxygen from our lungs. The hugs seemed to be gasps for trying to understand what happened. Gina can't be gone? She was the backbone of creativity here and a flamboyant beauty in an otherwise drab town! It wasn't just that she was gone, but the violent way she left. We try to imagine our inspirational friend in such a bad headspace that this is her only solution. This has been soul-searing! Within the week we put up a shrine in the flower bed and decked it out with flowers and candles, it stayed lit for two months with occasional new flowers. In two weeks we had a memorial gathering and packed the Stone Tavern with friends and many cool Gina art pieces, photos from her modeling sessions and a table brimming with yummy food. Some words were spoken, but mostly it was good to see the big crowd and get an idea that she is leaving quite a legacy. To meet her sisters and son and spend a day knowing we have each other to hang onto, only that might save us from falling into an abyss of darkness. There is a more comprehensive art show planned for Thanksgiving at the Stone Tavern, and maybe another one in the future at the Water St. Gallery, a possible book of her flyers and art, and ideas coming in for a small permanent shrine to Gina. I've seen seven tribute tattoos so far. Gina has had that effect on many people as she has had on me. Brilliant and interesting people are a rare commodity in this town and losing her was a big hit.


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Tina Puckett

Many Kent-area residents know that Standing Rock Cultural Arts is a 501(c)(3) arts and arts educational nonprofit in downtown Kent. Standing Rock Cultural Arts (also dubbed SRCA) has championed the arts for its past 14 years of existence in a myriad of ways including art exhibits at the SRCA base (the North Water Street Gallery), downtown innovative community cultural events (D.I.C.E.) on Hometown Savings Plaza, musical performances, poetry readings, theater performances, and more. Even prior to the nonprofit’s incorporation, Executive Director, Jeff Ingram, began to champion the arts through various ventures of his SRCA’s North Water Street Gallery, from 1992 – 2000 when the nonprofit received its official status. What folks may not know is that Standing Rock Cultural Arts is also in “championship season” for nearly half of each year with two annual competitions that are currently in the spotlight. These competitions aim to bring arts to the community, promote artists with exposure and awards, bring awareness of Standing Rock Cultural Arts, and potentially raise funds for arts programming and scholarships for the New World Children’s Theatre in addition to other arts workshops at SRCA. The oldest of these is the Standing Rock International Shorts Festival Competition in which contributors from around the world enter submissions for a chance to be shown on the big screen, as well as to win a People’s Choice or Juried Award (or both). Shorts are short visual “films.” The initial entrants are screened by a panel of qualified volunteer

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The Arts

acting, and the documentary interview. Annually, audience laughter regularly punctuates the festival and on occasion, audience members report being moved to tears by particularly poignant selections. That is a lot of punch in a 15 minute or less clip. All of these presentations culminate in an audience vote with winners announced at the end of the evening. Winners are also invited to visit during a showcase of their work the following year. The showcase is shown regardless of their ability to attend so while filmmakers have an option to meet and greet the audience and respond to a Q&A, their work receives wider exposure even if they cannot be in attendance.

judges to determine which will be shown to the audience. The festival itself is open to the public and all filmmakers who have a submission accepted for the festival receive free admittance to the event. Those screened at the festival are eligible to become a People’s Choice or a Juried Award. Some years the audience and the jury vote (separately) for the same selection resulting in the winner receiving both. Winners of the People’s Choice Award win $100 and a certificate. The juried award winners receive a certificate and valued credit for their vitae, which can also help promote their careers as they move into other competitions (where more credits for the same work are a testament of its artistry) and to outlets resulting in coveted exposure for their creative work.

One local highlight, Dustin Grella (formerly of Akron), got his start in the visual art world through his exposure in the festival and is now the founder of a New York animation production house. He has become well-known for his chalk animations including a tribute to his brother who was killed during his military service in Iraq called Prayers for Peace that was first world premiered at the festival. The particularly moving short film touched audience members and jurors alike as he took top prize in both categories. He has moved on to accolades in numerous other festivals including the Cannes and Sundance Festivals. Prayers for Peace ultimately screened at almost 200 festivals worldwide and won over 40 awards according to Grella’s website

It’s amazing what can be incorporated into the short selections, which can range anywhere from seconds to 15 minutes in length. Entries involve serious documentaries to comedic routines in an array of styles that include commercial ads, music videos, animated pieces including claymations, sand art, traditional

The shorts festival, an annual favorite for many in the community, is shown every January at the Kent Stage on Main Street in downtown Kent and makes a great escape from the postholiday and winter doldrums. Details about the most recent competition call and shorts festival are available at


The second ongoing competition is the SRCA Rock in the River Literary Series Open Poetry Chapbook Competition. Now in its fifth year, the competition currently opens for submissions every July and closes in September or October (October 15th this year). The blinded submissions have no identifying author information or credentials and are read by a panel of volunteer judges with experience in poetry. A winner is announced in early December and the chapbooks (which are thin, soft cover, printed books) launch in early spring. Winners receive 25 copies of their chapbooks and $50. All entrants also receive a complimentary copy of the winning chapbook. Every winner is invited to Kent to do a poetry reading and is honored, along with judges that can attend, with a complimentary area lunch. The most recent of these took place at the historic Pufferbelly in 2014. Like the shorts entries, chapbook entries also cover a gamut of topics and styles, some moody and exploratory and others comedic and dry with everything in between. Entries have focused on everything from war and

human rights to love, death, illness, and even bicycling! Since judges change, aesthetics, tastes, and topics have different impacts each year to keep the series fresh. As an example, the first chapbook competition winner, Jeff Fearnside, wrote of his experiences in the Peace Corps and as a relationship developed with his Kazakhstani wife. The Standing Rock Cultural Arts-published chapbook, Lake and Other Poems of Love in a Foreign Land, penned by Fearnside even went on to win an annual Peace Corps Award for Poetry. Subsequent winners who added to their vitae, Kelly Fordon and Rick Marlatt, moved on to additional chapbook publications with other renowned presses, such as Cleveland-based Kattywampus Press and Kentucky’s Finishing Line Press, respectively. In this way, SRCA has been able to support and promote literary artists and to broaden its literary arts base in Kent, which were goals of the competition at its inception.

A reading took place the evening of Saturday, October 4th in Kent with the most current winner, Elizabeth Kerlikowske of Michigan. The winner of the Fifth Annual Open Poetry Chapbook Competition will follow in December with the newest title becoming available to the public in Spring 2015. Copies are sold at the SRCA’s North Water Street Gallery and also at Last Exit Books on Main Street in Kent. Additional details and any updates can be found at under the Literary Series tab. In the now popular words of both famous literary and big screen adaptations of what has become a favorite well-known source (The Hunger Games), may the odds be ever in the favor of the competitors of SRCA’s competitions! To champion the arts including future competitions and programming, please consider donating a tax-deductible donation at via PayPal or contact SRCA at 330-673-4970 or by email at for other options. Your support is greatly appreciated!

2013 Winner, Rick Marlatt, reads from his winning chapbook.


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Kathy Myers

Dementia. This was not the diagnosis she wanted to hear … but it was the one she suspected. Diane’s father, Larry, was a proud, independent man with a strong jaw line and a stronger will. His ready smile and twinkling eyes always reminded Diane that, despite his strong will, he was the sweet, fun-loving, gentle man who gave her piggy-back rides and taught her to ride a bike and throw a baseball when she was a child. He was the one who gave her wise counsel during those angst-filled years of middle school, high school, and even college. But something had changed. As he was aging, he was becoming more confused and sometimes forgetful. His neighbors called Diane when they found him standing in the driveway, dressed in dirty clothes. He told them that he was waiting for his carpool to take him to work, which Diane knew last happened many years earlier. As she got more involved in his life, she realized that he would forget to eat meals and reliably take care of his personal hygiene. What was she going to do? She lived an hour away from him and worked full time. Diane knew she wanted him to live with her, but would need someone to help her dad during the day while she worked. She moved him into her Aurora home and had a friend come over for a few hours every day. She worried during the hours her friend was not there and her dad was alone. What if he wandered off? What

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if he fell? What if he became confused? It was becoming harder and harder for her to manage his care all alone. As she explored her options and learned more about his disease, she realized that she was far from alone. There are many different types of dementia, the best known is Alzheimer’s disease. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, every 67 seconds someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s. Today, 1 in 8 seniors in Ohio has Alzheimer’s disease.1 Diane also learned that, coincidentally, 1 in 8 caregivers become ill or injured while caring for an aging loved one. Diane had to admit that changing roles with her dad, becoming his caregiver, was adding a significant amount of stress to her life. How many people face this tough dilemma regarding the safety and health of a loved one? The parent that used to care for us, or the spouse that used to be a helpmate, now needs extra help and care. What do we do? Where do we turn? If you’re like Diane, you contact Coleman Adult Day Services. Located at 6695 N. Chestnut Street in Ravenna, Coleman Adult Day provides just what Larry and others like him, need: a safe environment where he has nutrition, social interaction, physical activities and nursing support.

can stay at home and out of nursing facilities for as long as possible. Coleman provides a medical model of care, which means that nurses on staff monitor a client’s medical needs and work in conjunction with each client’s physician. Diane brought Larry for a week-long trial before signing him up to be a regular. He now comes every weekday, while others at Coleman come two or three times per week. Larry is picked up at their home and brought back at the end of the day. While Larry is enjoying his day at Coleman, Diane goes to work and manages her own responsibilities, knowing that her father is safe and well cared for. There is a little something for everyone at Coleman Adult Day. Daily activities stimulate clients both mentally and physically. Those activities include discussions of current events and other topics. One-half hour of structured physical chair exercises keep everyone alert and lively. In addition, clients play board games, do crafts, go on monthly field trips, and sing old favorites with karaoke. Musicians visit and perform, including Captain Dave, who plays his keyboard during dances for the attendees. Many different visitors come to Adult Day to share their interests. Portage County Gardeners have come and worked with participants on

Coleman Adult Day Services forms a partnership with families and caregivers so loved ones


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gardening projects and building birdfeeders, companion animals are brought in to share a tail wag and receive a loving pat. Yoga and tai chi instructors regularly bring gentle, chair versions of both to Coleman’s participants. Larry says his favorite thing is playing cards with some of the other guys. Most of his friends have better long-term memories than shortterm memories and they share stories to which they can all relate. Once in a while, Larry tells the stories of his service to his country in World War II. He went ashore on “D-Day plus 1” and fought in France until it was liberated. He still has an embroidered hankie given to him by

a young French girl, as he and other troops marched into Paris to thank the soldiers for their bravery. Diane attends the monthly dementia support group offered at Coleman Adult Day. She has learned a lot from her interaction with other families who share the sorrow of watching a loved one slowly robbed of their memory and the behavior changes that often accompany such loss. Another service Coleman Adult Day offers, one which Diane is glad her dad can take advantage of, is bathing services. Before Larry started attending Coleman, Diane faced the


awkwardness of having to help bathe her stillproud father. She feels having a trained staff person assist her father when he is in Coleman’s special spa bath, means that her father’s safety will be insured and his dignity respected. Diane smiles when asked about how having her father at Coleman Adult Day has helped. She says she is delighted that he has social Continued on page 48

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Continued from page 47 interaction with both staff and other attendees. She is glad to know that he is safe and getting good nutrition during the day, and is thankful for the physical exercises that have helped him regain strength and enable him to sleep better at night. She says she likes the family atmosphere and knows her dad is in good hands. She, like many Coleman clients, only wishes she had brought her dad to Adult Day sooner. Diane knows that, while Coleman Adult Day offers services that can help her father as he ages, nothing will completely stop the progression of his disease. Diane is thankful that she can share these final years of his life, and they can both enjoy the highest quality of life possible. For more information about Coleman Adult Day Services, visit or call 330-296-3214.

Coleman Adult Day Services is part of Coleman Professional Services. Coleman Professional Service’s mission is to foster recovery, build independence and change destinies of the people it serves by having open access to services regardless of the ability to pay, ensuring that people who are homeless and mentally ill have a permanent place to live and by helping people obtain employment, reducing their dependency on entitlements.

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Coleman Adult Day also Serves Adults with Developmental Disabilities Adults with developmental disabilities also enjoy Coleman Adult Day Services. In fact, approximately 30% of clients who attend Adult Day are developmentally disabled. Most have retired from their employment sites or are not able to participate in employment opportunities. However, they eagerly participate in all of the regularly scheduled activities offered at the facility. “Totally Tuesdays” and “Totally Thursdays” are special programs targeted at developmentally disabled younger adults with social needs. Groups gather on these days to focus on wellness, volunteerism, and cultural activities. Most of their activities take place out of the facility with staff supervision. Participants volunteer at the Portage County APL and the Windham Food Cupboard. They also take dance classes at a local dance studio, art classes at 4 Cats Art Studio in Kent, and are starting karate lessons this fall.



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Over a decade ago, Western Reserve PBS succinctly chronicled the boom and bust of the 70s/80s local music moment-in-the-sun that came to be known as “The Akron Sound,” in a television documentary, “It’s Everything, and Then It’s Gone.” As that production made clear, most of that “Akron Sound” was born not in Akron proper, but in the college bars and college dorms around Kent State University.

Bill Gruber

As healthy and creative as the Kent live music and club scene was, there was never a single, consistent, and involved local radio presence that coexisted simultaneously to expose, promote, and reinforce that live musical magic.


New Wave Makes a

Local Online


Before the internet and social media, local print media was the go-to source for information and opinion on local music and culture. Local radio was a close second. In print, the Kent music scene was well chronicled and promoted by slick weekly tabloids from Cleveland, and sloppy freebie photocopied “fanzines” pasted together on kitchen tables in Kent’s off-campus student ghettos. A couple of commercial FM radio stations heard around Kent were once “underground” operations, and, early on, strong supporters of that Kent/Akron sound. Just as the live local music scene gathered a head of steam and notoriety, growing financial success took those FM stations to a different level of radio stardom, and their support of the scruffy Kent music scene became token, at best. In the early 1970s, non-commercial FM radio stations at both Kent State and University of Akron were your typical low-power, student staffed, organized chaos of the airwaves: in other words, perfect accompaniment to an underground local music scene. Through the 1970s and into the early 1980s, these “student” radio stations grew, evolved, and prospered, becoming professionally programmed and mass-appeal targeted, eventually losing their connection to the local underground music scene.

Comeback with a Kent Connection

As the 1980s dawned, MTV launched and for the first several years, offered continuous music videos with a very alternative rock slant. In major American cities, a smattering of commercial radio stations adopted some variation of that “new wave” rock sound. L.A. had KROQ, Long Island had WLIR, Baltimore had WHFS, San Diego has 91X. Even Cincinnati had a scrappy suburban station known as 97X, whose slogan was made famous as a personal vocal tic by Dustin Hoffman’s character in the film, “Rain Man.” But no such station for the Kent and Akron scene.

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When I arrived as a transfer student to Kent State University in the summer of 1984, their FM radio station, WKSU, had recently evolved into a professionally-staffed beacon of regional fine-arts radio, programming NPR news and cultural programs, and a schedule of classical, jazz, and folk music. Students DJs were relegated to a campus-only, closed-circuit radio station, WKSR. I immediately immersed myself in the operation, and met a crew of dedicated student broadcasters. Some were doing radio as a career prep related to the telecommunications major. Others were there as lovers of underground music while pursuing majors unrelated to radio. The most dedicated were a harried blending of both the broadcasting and music geek. I sensed a feeling in the air at the Kent student radio station, circa 1984, that could best be described as shell-shocked. As if the underground Kent music and radio scene was still reeling from having the rug pulled out from under them. For the moment, things felt “on hold.” The clubs were mostly still there, though not as busy, creative, or exciting as just a few years earlier. We were all doing some pretty creative free-form student radio at WKSR, but, it was no longer heard on a regional WKSU-FM signal; instead only heard on AM radio in the student dormitories, with often sketchy reception. Upon graduation in 1986, I landed a job in Akron radio, at the tiniest station in town, WAPS-FM, then at 89.1 FM. The station was owned not by a college, but, a public school system, staffed by high schools students playing Top 40 hits of the day, with a broadcast “day” that was less than 12 hours in length,

175 days a year, give or take a week. On a very lucky day, the low-power signal could reach the Kent neighborhood Once hired, I was vaguely instructed to grow and improve the WAPS-FM operation, without any real budget. I began an evolution of the station sound towards an alternative rock format, and expanding staffing to include college kids and community volunteers. At this point in time, the University of Akron’s radio station, WZIP, offered their last vestiges of alternative music during late evening hours. By 1989, that was gone, and WAPS remained as the only source for alternative music on the local FM dial.

sounds from the early days of MTV, along with deep, deep tracks from that much-loved Kent and Akron sound. Our finest physicists insist time travel is outside the realm of current human ability. A healthy musical flashback may be your next best thing. That is the mission of our Summit Flashbacks channel.

The stability, reliability and recognition of WAPS improved throughout the 1990s, the signal improved with a move to 91.3 FM in 1994, and the station was re-christened as “The Summit” in 1999, now including live internet streaming, as well as a second FM signal at 90.7 FM for the Youngstown area. During that same era, the station evolved from its new wave roots to the eclectic rock sound heard on The Summit today. Most of that immense new wave and alt-rock music library was carefully mothballed. In recent years, internet audio has taken on a life of its own, and, this opened the door for me to delve into our divine music archive to create an online radio music channel that’s all about that 80’s alt-rock and new wave sound.

Come along for a musical ride back to a time when we had a peanut farmer or a retired actor in the White House, MTV actually played music videos, and a Swatch Watch or Sony Walkman was your high tech gadget of choice. Summit Flashbacks at It is new wave music, and much more, with a nod to the Kent and Akron Sound, and it is always commercial-free.

“Summit Flashbacks” now plays 24-7 online worldwide from The Summit’s parent website, Summit Flashbacks draws from over two thousand song titles that include familiar new wave pop

Photos courtesy of Kent State University Libraries


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Shivering Timbers

Hey Mavis

The Numbers Band

Diana Chittester

Mo Mojo

Acid Cats

Peggy & Brad

The TwistOffs

Jessica Lea Mayfield Rachel & The Beatnik Playboys Rio Neon

Austin Walkin’ Cane

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Xtra Crispy

Roger Hoover


Smokin Fez Monkeys

David Mayfield


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AAA I-76 Antique Mall Debra Racey


admit it, as a “Baby Boomer” I’ve become quite nostalgic, often reminiscing about the days gone by. In this era of pressed wood, some assembly required and “Made in China”, I appreciate true craftsmanship and real wood furniture. I find myself wishing I still had certain items from my childhood and as a history lover, I admire things that are old and have a story to tell. When asked to meet with Phil Florence, the owner of the AAA I-76 Antique Mall, I was more than happy to oblige. Phil, a resident of Springfield, Ohio makes the drive up to the Antique Mall a few times every month. He had picked up a copy of aroundKent Magazine at a local hotel, liked what he’d read and wanted more information about advertising with us, so I set off from my home in West Akron and headed east on I-76 towards Exit 38, a short drive away. I’m not a novice to antiques, having grown up with a great-aunt who owned a shop in Hudson and a mother who loves and collects them. I’ve a fondness for antiquing and have explored many a shop both large and small. I imagined the mall to be a decent sized building, hosting ten to twenty booths, each one overstuffed with an array of furniture and collectibles, musty smelling, dusty old books, costume jewelry pieces and assorted odds

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and ends. I wondered if they might have any of the 1950s kitchen ware from my childhood or any cool signs the guys from “American Pickers” go nuts over. Nearing my exit, I got my first look from across the highway and thought, Wow! This place is BIG! Fifty thousand square feet and 400 dealers big. I entered through the front doors, glanced at a sign stating, “Please, NO large bags “, and was pleased to find that rather than dark and dusty it was well lit, inviting and not a hint of that musty mildewed smell! Row upon row of booths, each one numbered on a “street” with its own street sign, full of beautiful furniture, china, clocks, crystal, tools, toys, paintings and more greeted me. I turned to see row upon row of glass display cases filled with treasure and I couldn’t wait to explore it all! And then, in the back of my mind I happened to recall, I was there on a sales call. Former banker, Phil Florence, built the Antique Mall which opened back in 1998. One of the pioneers of the mall concept for antique shopping, he’s owned one with seventeen vendors down in Chillicothe, Ohio and the much larger I-70 in Springfield, Ohio. After seeing the parcel of land for sale, at a prime location directly off Interstate 76 at Exit 38 and easily accessible from all points, North, South, East and West, Phil had a vision of what could be and set forth to make it a reality. Along the way, a few lives changed. Donna Boyer got a part time job at the I- 76, while it was being built, mostly out of curiosity. She wasn’t into antiques until the ‘antique bug’ hit her and now sixteen years later, she’s the Mall Manager with a reference book booth of her own. Wayne Richards spent forty years selling auto parts and paint body supplies, thirty of them in the local Kent region. He’s spent his weekends and free time over the past several years as an avid collector of butter churns, lanterns, tools, furniture and the things

that remind him of a simpler life and time, while growing up on the family farm. Today, as the Business Development and Internet Sales Manager, his passion for and knowledge of antiques is as strong as ever and in a few short years he’s grown his personal business from one booth to three! “Basically, I got into the business of selling antiques because I had so many and it allowed me to pass them onto other people who’d love and care for them and afforded me the ability to collect more for myself,” he explains, while demonstrating a pristine wooden butter churn, circa 1880s that he and I are both marveling at and shares with me the fact that a well-known Cleveland chef has recently purchased one of his churns, to produce signature butters. The thought of homemade butter makes me want a churn for myself. I’m introduced to Pam and Clyde (Junior) Huff, who started collecting back in


the 1990s and now having a house full of antiques, have decided a second act business selling them, or “sharing them” as Pam likes to say, made sense as well. They started out with one booth in April of this year and have recently expanded into the neighboring space, plus the two glass cases of ironstone and collectibles they’re renting as well. Longtime favorite customer and friend Gene Vallelonga has decided to enter the business now that he’s retiring and has recently rented his own booth too. I listen to the staff at the front desk greet customers entering or taking items up to purchase and it strikes me is that everyone I meet seems so happy to be working here, whether as an employee or booth owner. ‘Do what you love and you’ll love what you do’ and in this place, that seems to ring true. Continued on page 58

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Continued from page 57 It’s easy to see that the mall, with its vast array of goods, pleases the shoppers who like me are wandering up and down the “streets”, looking at well cared for treasures all marked and tagged neatly. I overhear a friendly employee offering to “take that item up to the desk so you can continue to shop” and the look of gratitude on the customer’s face. I see mixing bowls just like my grandmother’s and notice an array of tools that my brother-in-law would be sure to like, stand gazing at an abundance of jewelry and wanting every piece of it and smile as I pass by a display of board games I played in my childhood. Phil and Wayne are giving me a history lesson of sorts whenever we stop to admire certain items and I’m awed by the wealth of knowledge that they both share. Music from the past filters through the air as I lovingly touch a curved Art Nouveau piece and when I inquire about the oddest shaped fan I have ever seen, Wayne explains that placed on a dining table to direct the airflow up and away, they were used to keep the flies away. Having never seen one before, I shake my head with wonder, having learned something new.

I admire an item two fellow shoppers have selected and ask them out of curiosity, how far they’d travelled to get here? “Indiana,” they reply. “We come here often; can’t get enough of the place!“, broad smiles on both of their faces. Having turned over their item for safe keeping to Phil, the three of us head back up to the front office to talk business, my guided tour completed and I realize, I’m smiling too. Later, as I drive back home, I start thinking of what I’ve seen and learned. I can’t wait to tell people about this place. My nieces, both in their twenty’s would love the costume jewelry and vintage clothing, my sister should buy her husband a railroad lantern, my friend collects salt and pepper shakers, who do I know who likes gas pumps, where would I put that wardrobe, the list goes on… The AAA I-76 Antique Mall 4284 Lynn Rd. Ravenna, Ohio Interstate 76, Exit 38 between Akron and Youngstown is open 362 days per year from 10a.m. to 6p.m. 330-325-9776. They carefully package and ship throughout the USA.

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I took the road less traveled by Dr. Patrick O’Connor

Most creative, successful people have traveled very interesting paths to get to where they are … usually zig-zagging a lot, shifting gears, retracing steps, exploring new passions, revisiting previous experiences, maybe reinventing themselves and generally bouncing back often. All these experiences are part of their creative profile and serve to motivate and inspire them. This feature, The Road Less Traveled, tells that story. It answers the question; how did they get to where they are now?

Julie addresses attendees at a recent conference.

business. She learned at an early age that you get “a buzz off of work” and making things happen. As such, she was always ahead of the curve. For example, she was often the youngest person in her class or company. She even graduated from Western Michigan University in less than three years while working her way through college. And, many times she was the first female to break into male dominated settings as a manager and later as an executive. She also continues to run her own small business consulting firm. In high school she participated in a Marketing Education program studying marketing and economics. In addition, the program had a chapter of the youth organization DECA, an association of marketing students. She served as president of her high school chapter. These experiences shaped her interest in business and entrepreneurship. In particular, her high school marketing teacher helped her to focus her talents and energy and provided the inspiration and encouragement to pursue education after high school.

This version of The Road Less Traveled describes the path of Julie Messing, executive director of Blackstone Launchpad, a university wide entrepreneurship program at Kent State University.

Continued on page 60

Early Steps Julie Messing can be easily described as someone who has an entrepreneurial mindset. Everything she does in the many roles she performs comes from that mindset. She thinks and acts like an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs are creative, hard-working people who love a challenge as much as they like to problem solve. After a number of years in the corporate world, Julie found her way into higher education. For the last three years she has directed the launch and growth of Blackstone Launchpad at Kent State University. But, how did she get there? Entrepreneurship has surrounded Julie since she was a child growing up in the family small


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Continued from page 59 While in college Julie worked in financial services positions which complemented her finance degree. After completing her degree she continued toward a Masters in Management from Aquinas College.

Significant Lessons Learned Her path to her current position continued after she completed her high school and collegiate studies. Julie says her first job out of college was very difficult and she often felt her talents were underutilized. At just 20 years old, she felt the job was holding her back. Very eager and determined, sometimes to a fault, she became frustrated with how slow organizations function. She left after one year and then found herself in a position she loved. However, after three successful years, she and another group of managers were laid off … quite a shock considering how well she had done. She started to feel she wanted to be in a place where she could set her own goals and chart her own course. She moved on to another management position in the insurance industry ultimately rising to the senior vice-president level. During this time, she led the transition team through multiple mergers while growing the revenue base and improving margins. Along the way she was also learning how important it was to pay your dues and put in your time. She was definitely doing both and learning a lot but she also was feeling there were other things in life for her to accomplish.

Time for a Change On a plane trip to St. Louis for another of many manager meetings it dawned on her that she really needed to be in a different place. Even with all her success she felt like something was missing. Some would think she had it all

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… executive v-p position, great salary, fancy resorts, expense account and a corporate ladder to climb. Yet she felt unfulfilled. She felt there were places that could be more satisfying especially in balancing her work and family roles. This led her to contact a life coach she had previously encountered. Julie worked with this life coach once weekly for six months. It was beneficial in helping her identify and align her future career plans, values and goals.

Significant People A number of people have been quite significant in shaping Julie’s life. Some that stand out

life coach helped her to connect the dots in her life. Her high school marketing teacher stands out as someone who guided her both professionally and personally. They are still in contact a few times each year! Another excellent role model for her has been the president and CEO of the Burton D. Morgan Foundation, Deborah Hoover. She has observed how the foundation effectively works with large and small universities while remaining entrepreneurial. She has modeled the behavior of all these people in her own work as executive director. She has also learned

Students mill around the office of Blackstone LaunchPad in the lobby of KSU Student Center.

are her high school marketing teacher, a few previous managers and a life coach. After the plane ride back from St. Louis, she began to think about what was really important to her. She reflected on the many lessons she learned from her experiences and a few quality managers. She began to see the value of good role models. She also learned the importance and power of change. The meetings with the


how to take her previous experiences and translate them into guiding others to identify and pursue their dreams.

Leading the Entrepreneurship Wave Entrepreneurship has been experiencing resurgence in the United States in recent years. Entrepreneurship and small business have been the backbone and foundation for American business since colonial times. Most

Julie and group of students share information on Blackstone LaunchPad at an entrepreneurship conference.

corporations today started as small businesses by a single entrepreneur (e.g. Ford, Carnegie, Edison, Marriott and many, many more). North East Ohio in particular has seen entrepreneurship at the collegiate level grow. Much of the support has come from The Burton D. Morgan Foundation based in Hudson, Ohio, a private foundation established in 1967 by serial entrepreneur Burton Morgan. The foundation was started specifically to jumpstart entrepreneurship education in the region. They teamed up with Blackstone Charitable Foundation, a national organization, to build Blackstone LaunchPad programs on four campuses in Northeast Ohio. Kent State University has been at the forefront of this resurgence by providing a number of educational efforts to over 1,000 KSU students, alumni and employees. And, Julie Messing has been in the driver’s seat for much of it. She was founding director of the KSU Center for Entrepreneurship which has been instrumental

in creating both entrepreneurship majors and minors in the College of Business. With the addition of Blackstone LaunchPad, entrepreneurship efforts have evolved into a full suite of programs and services that support students across the KSU eight campus system. For more information, check the website blackstonelaunchpad Kent State University is also a leader in the Entrepreneurship Education Consortium (EEC) in North East Ohio. This consortium consists of 11 colleges and universities; public and private; large and small that seek to advance entrepreneurship education among college students from all disciplines. Julie has been instrumental in supporting the efforts of this group. The consortium sponsors two signature events annually. One is Entrepreneurship Immersion Week which is an intensive entrepreneurship boot camp. And, IdeaLabs is a regional competition to foster student awareness and interest in forming businesses.


What’s her work buzz today? Julies sees herself as someone who guides others to find and pursue their dreams. Her most satisfying role is that of mentor to young aspiring college students who wish to study entrepreneurship. She wants to assist them in seeing possibilities. The term mentor actually comes from Greek mythology. Mentor was a figure who was placed in charge of the son of Odysseus when he left for the Trojan War. Mentor has since been adopted in English as a term meaning someone who imparts wisdom to and shares knowledge with a less experienced colleague. That’s Julie Messing. Julie transfers her own experiences as an entrepreneur and business executive to direct Blackstone Launchpad. She finds the lessons she learned enable her to guide and mentor others. She loves seeing the light come on when a student gets energized about an idea. She sees entrepreneurship as a mindset; a way of thinking and doing that applies to all aspects of life. To learn more about entrepreneurship (especially if you have an idea) contact Julie at

“I took the road less traveled by, and that has made all the difference” – Robert Frost

volume 4 | 2014 •



volume 4 | 2014 •

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