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A Different Take

the gift that keeps on giving

Visual artist A.E. Bayne uses abstraction to hone skill

By collette caprara

'Tis the season of gift-giving, and there's one special gift that has no cost but is of priceless value: a story. Told in earnest, a story is a present from the heart, and there is one venue in Fredericksburg where this unique gift is bestowed on the community month after month throughout the year-Fredericksburg's TELL, a gathering of local story-tellers and story listeners. The forum was launched in 2010 by its current host and shepherd, Maura Schneider, (telling story above) who began by cold-calling owners of prospective sites and was welcomed to use the second floor of a book store. "There was no charge for the space, and we just took donations that we used for posters and tee-shirts," Maura recalled, "Even the beginning of TELL is a nice story of how if you have an idea in this town there are lots and lots of people who are eager and willing to help you make things happen." In keeping with Schneider's original plans, all stories are narratives that are true first-hand experiences, and the only guideline is that the tales focus on a monthly theme and are told within eight minutes. A glimpse of some past TELLS highlights the wide range of folks who

have shared moments of their life experiences. Les Schaffer--an unexpected teller for a theme on the social media-once told about his childhood in the Bronx in the 1940s. "I don't know what all the fuss about tweets and facepages is," he began, "When I was growing up we had a social network: and it was windows-based!" He explained, "A tenement window would go up and someone would yell across the courtyard: Sadie isn't feeling so good today!" Then there are the monthly treats from Michael Lewis who, with wide eyes and perfect pacing and delivery, has mesmerized audiences with heart-warming tales that have ranged from comic to sentimental. Recently, Lewis told about the time he felt light-headed at the gym and made his way to the locker room. Only when seated in a stall, did all the pieces fall into place--the clean smell of the room; the multitude of stalls He was in the ladies' locker room and had to strategically plan his escape! Jay Anderson, local biker and artist whose painting of his daughter graces a panel of public art on Caroline Street, emerged as a regular--with a moving back-story. Having dealt with a stuttering affliction, he made the determination to engage in public speaking whenever the opportunity presented itself. His presentations have entranced audiences for months. "I want TELL to be a place where there's honesty and where people can share sometimes funny stories but also

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sometimes very intimate stories" said Schneider, "It's a fun and enjoyable event but it also can be enriching and cathartic." She encourages all to join in listening and telling. "It's an opportunity to be heard. Everyone is there for you and wants to hear your story." "Although most stories are highly entertaining and can elicit either belly laughs or gasps, they are also deeply personal and reflective," said Lewis, "Hearing other peoples' stories is fun, enriching, and sometimes healing." For monthly theme, and to sign up as a teller, visit December's TELL will be held on Saturday, December 12, and will feature "shorties"-three-minute tales, for which one teller will receive the "people's favorite" award of $50. TELL is held on the second Saturday of every month at 8:00 at the Liberty Town Workshops, 916 Liberty Street Fredericksburg. Visit Collette Caprara is an artist, author and a community vounteer

By emily hollingsworth A.E. Bayne describes herself first and foremost as a writer, penning monthly for Front Porch Magazine since 2011 and is Editor in Chief of Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review, which will be coming to print and be available around Fredericksburg starting next month. After that, Bayne describes herself as a visual artist. As an artist, Bayne continually delves into these methods and produces unique material by using ink sketching and photography to bring her inner thoughts to the surface. Visual art, according to Bayne, is any means of artistic expression that can be seen by an audience. Some of

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“Doodles” that artistic expression comes through in her photography. Though some of her photos are featured on her website,, Bayne does not consider photography to be her main profession, using photography more as a visual tool. “It’s been more about the thematic aspect of it,” Bayne said. From a close-up of the moon cloaked in the night sky, to graffiti on a

rock in the Rappahannock River, Bayne knows how to create certain moods and capture atmospheres in her photos. In addition to photography, her website also contains writing samples and selections from her visual art shows. Her visual artwork, interspersed with written messages and collage-like, contains everything from elephants to plants and deviates from her photography in its abstract nature. She describes her drawing as stream of consciousness, sketching on the page until an image or idea comes out for her. Typically, her sketches are something she does for herself. When she is involved in shows and finds other people who were affected by her artwork, however, their feedback propels her to keep drawing. “Anytime I start something new and people respond to it, either positively or negatively, it’s a really good experience,” Bayne said. In the past few years, she has taken part in two visual art shows, both of which featured her photography. The first show in June 2013, called Plastic Fantastic, used Barbie dolls to express segments of emotional experience. Bayne manipulated the features of the dolls with paint and, placing them in meaningful but unexpected locations, such as fields or in the snow.

The second show, taking place in 2014, also explored art. Bayne photographed henna designs created by her friend Shirley Donahue and showed them at Skin Touch Therapy on 714 Caroline Street. When it comes to shows, Bayne said she prefers to collaborate with other artists. Her alliance with other artists, along with her use of stream of consciousness, makes her a unique visual artist and writer who has learned to trust her individual style. She gives others who share similar talents the same advice. “[They should] go with their gut,” Bayne said. “Don’t listen to anyone who’s put off or who tells you not to create something a certain way if you have an instinct that it’s right for your project.” Whether through photography, art or writing, Bayne believes people should seek out their own style, especially if it’s different from what others are doing. “I think everyone has that creative spark inside them,” Bayne said. Emily Hollingsworth, a UMW student, & a monthly contributor to Front Porch

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December 2015


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Front Porch Fredericksburg - December 2015  

Front Porch Fredericksburg - December 2015