ARTS | CULTURE | EVENTS
Jun – Jul 2013 | Vol 1 No 6
Under Cover of Art The Mendez Family Artists Contemporary American Theater Festival 23 Seasons = 100 Plays Landscapes The Photography of Mark Muse Makers & Shakers, Part II The Art of Making Things Happen Playing with Fire Paula Pennell Makes Glass Art Ears, Eyes & Soul Agri:Culture Savoir:Fare Fiction Molly Bridgeforth Poetry Hope Maxwell Synder Ed:Cetera Coda “Gateway” by Antonio Joseph Mendez
CONTENTS Under Cover of Art The Mendez Family Artists
Contemporary American Theater Festival 23 Seasons = 100 Plays
Landscapes The Photography of Mark Muse
Makers & Shakers, Part II The Art of Making Things Happen
Playing with Fire Paula Pennell Makes Glass Art
Letter From the Editor The Numbers Say It
Ears, Eyes & Soul Paul Pfau....
Savoir:Fare A Taste of France
Fiction Molly Bridgeforth
Poetry Hope Maxwell Snyder
Ed:Cetera Triple Whammy
Coda Artistic License
C O N T R I B U T O R S Todd Coyle is a journeyman musician who has performed in and around the Eastern Panhandle of WVa and around the country for over 30 years. He has worked in folk, blues, pop, jazz and country bands as a guitarist, bassist, singer, producer and sound man. Ginny Fite has won national, regional and state journalism awards for her writing. She was the editor of the Gazette Newspapers in Frederick, the Lifestyle editor at the Herald-Mail, and Executive Editor at Phillips Publishing before retiring to Harpers Ferry. Jill Yris, who resides in Berkeley County, is an established writer of magazine features, and web and business work; she also ghostwrites and edits books. Find her on www.LinkedIn. com/in/JillYris. Shepherd Ogden lives in Bakerton, WVa. He is the author of five nonfiction
books, one novel–memoir and a book of poetry. His photos and collected poems are at justsopress.typepad.com/facing. Hannah Swindoll is a 2013 graduate of Shepherd University. She received a BFA with a concentration in photography/computer imagery. As a student, Hannah focused on the use of lighting and perspective. Sheila Vertino is returning to her roots as a freelance writer and journalist, after a career as a magazine editor-inchief and book and research publisher. Based in Shepherdstown, she describes herself as a culturally curious word nerd. Ed Zahniser’s poems have appeared in over 100 literary magazines, 7 anthologies, 3 books and 3 chapbooks in the U.S. and the U.K. He is co-editor of In Good Company, an anthology of area poets celebrating Shepherdstown’s 250th anniversary.
F LU E N T W E B S I T E Please visit the Fluent website (www.fluent-magazine.com), which complements the magazine with additional content: Calls for Artists informs the arts community of opportuities. Classes lists organizations and individuals offering arts instruction for children and adults.
A D V E R T I Z E R S
Arts & Humanities Alliance The Old Opera House The Local Source
page 8 page 9 page 11
Artomatic Throwing Caution The Bridge Gallery
page 59 page 63 page 63
Jun–Jul 2013 | Vol 1 No 6 Nancy McKeithen Editor & Publisher Ginny Fite Managing Editor Sheila Vertino Associate Editor Kathryn Burns Visual Arts Editor Zachary Davis Fiction Editor Tom Donlon Poetry Editor Contributing Editors Shepherd Ogden, Bill Tchakirides, Ed Zahniser Advertising Cynthia Fraula-Hahn, Carolyn Litwack Submissions For information on submitting unsolicited fiction, nonfiction and poetry, please see www.fluent-magazine.com/submissions. Please submit events and arts news to firstname.lastname@example.org. Fluent Magazine is published bimonthly and distributed via email. It is available online at www.fluent-magazine.com. To subscribe www.fluent-magazine.com/subscribe All rights reserved. No portion of this publication may be duplicated or reprinted without permission from the publisher. © 2013 Fluent Magazine
This one’s for you, Cathy.
Missed an Issue? Apr–May 2013 Subscribe! Fluent Magazine 4|
Fluent Magazine is grateful for the support of the Jefferson County Arts and Humanities Alliance (AHA!) through its Community Grants program. Jefferson County, WVa is a Certified Arts Community.
The Numbers Say It One year. Six issues. Twenty-four features. Forty-three columns. It’s all in the numbers. Some thank you’s are in order. First, thank you to our readers. Audience is everything to writers, editors, artists, performers, photographers, makers. We like to be seen, to be heard, to be read, to be listened to. Please keep reading, and we will keep writing, creating and publishing. To our advertisers: AHA!, Bloomery Plantation Distillery, DISH, Old Opera House, Shepherdstown Sweet Shop Bakery, The Local Source, Yellow Brick Bank Restaurant. Thank you. To the artists: You are the heart of the magazine, the reason for Fluent. So thank you for doing what you do, and letting us tell your stories. Thank you for sharing your images and the personal and professional sides of your art, for letting us interview and record you—and ask you questions that may have taken you out of your comfort zone. To the editors—and I have to name names here—Ginny Fite, Managing Editor and Sheila Vertino, Associate Editor: Thank you for writing features, meeting deadlines, editing and advising, for going out on that proverbial limb, for taking chances. To the columnists: Todd Coyle, Shepherd Ogden, Ed Zahniser. Thank you for surprising us, informing us, even confusing us with your insights and interviews, imaginings and ramblings. To the department editors, who are behind the bylines and sometimes have them: Kathryn Burns, visual arts; Zach Davis, fiction; Tom Donlon, poetry. And to Bill Tchakirides, who wrote about theater. Thank you all for your selection of artists and art, poets and poems, playwrights and plays, writers and stories for Fluent. To Hannah Swindoll, photographer: Thank you for your vision and talent, enthusiasm, and willingness to shoot everything from tympani to a plate of grilled lamb. And thank you to contributing photographers Don Burgess, Anne Cropper, Mark Muse and Shepherd Ogden. Thank you to guest contributors Amy Mathews Amos, Anne Cropper, Bradley Sanders, Andy Segrist, Lily Wolff and Jill Yris—for your voices. And to anyone who has let me bend your ear or ask your thoughts about the magazine, you have furthered Fluent through your interest. Thank you, all. Stay tuned.
FLUENT, like this wall on Washington Street in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, is assembled with an eye to aesthetics. The work of many people—their talent and skill and passion—goes into creating each issue of the magaizne.
Nancy McKeithen, Editor & Publisher
PHOTO Shepherd Ogden
EARS, EYES & SOUL
Paul Pfau... Rhymes With Wow By Todd Coyle This month FLUENT talked with Paul Phau, an area guitar hero. Intelligent, talented and with a good sense of where he’s been, where he is and where he’s going, Paul will be around for a long time. If you enjoy great guitar playing, check out this rising star. He will entertain you. FLUENT What’s new in Paul Phau’s musical life? PP The newest thing would have to be the “Happy To Be” record that I just released in mid-March. I had the unique pleasure to work with Jeff Juliano on it, which is probably the most surreal thing I have done in my career so far. He recorded the debut records of John Mayer and Jason Mraz and has worked extensively with Dave Matthews, Train and a slew of other recording artists that have inspired me to write songs or play the guitar. However, none of that would have been possible without my support system of friends, family and fans who helped me raise over $16,000 on Kickstarter to complete the project. I will never be able to thank them enough! FLUENT You’re a local guitar hero. Who are your guitar heroes? PP That is very nice of you to say! I draw influences from all over the place. There are the obvious Clapton, BB King, Albert Collins and Stevie Ray Vaughan influences, but I am also really into the jazzier side of the blues. Artists like Matt Schofield, Robben Ford, Oz Noy and Wayne Krantz have really inspired me to take the my blues playing to another level. Recently, I have really been getting into country guitar players to try and diversify my “vocabulary.” Guys like Chet Atkins, Albert Lee and Brad Paisley have been inspiring me to look at the guitar in a different way. I’m just trying to stay curious as a guitar player. 6|
LISTEN FLUENT If you were stranded on a desert island, what five albums would you want to take with you? PP In no particular order... Lyle Lovett & His Large Band, The Beatles — Revolver, The Complete Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington Sessions, State Radio — Us Against the Crown, Robert Johnson — The Complete Recordings. FLUENT You’re a college grad. What’s the importance of education to your music, and does it affect your songwriting? PP Indeed, I got a bachelor’s degree in Economics from Shepherd University. The importance of that education to my music has little to do with the subject matter covered in those courses and a lot to do with the teachers I had. Professors like Dr. Joe Merz, Dr. Jason Best and John Schultz taught me to think for myself and to always be passionate about learning. This framework has definitely had an effect on my songwriting because it has always kept me motivated to listen to different types of music and experiment with different arrangements or lyrical vantage points in order to create my own sound.
FLUENT Describe your songwriting process? PP Songwriting, for me, is a process that begins in one of two ways, the first of which mostly happens in my car. I drive about 56,000 miles a year as a musician and a lot of the time it is in silence. I know it sounds weird, but I have found that my mind is most active when I am driving. I often come up with melodies or lyric ideas that I record immediately to the voice recorder on my phone. Most of them just get deleted, but every once in a while there is some good stuff in there. That is how “Send Your Love” came about. The second way is through my daily practice regimens on the guitar. I practice by playing along with songs on various online radio channels as well as learning new scales or new ways to play chords. This usually sparks ideas for songs that I may not have lyrics or melodies for at that given moment. Again, most of the times I just scrap these ideas, but occasionally parts of them will stick together to form the foundation of a new song. FLUENT What makes you want to perform a cover song? PP I am compelled to learn other people’s songs when they move me on an emotional level. And the reason that I play those songs for others to hear is not because I am trying to copy what the original
performer did. I just want to turn someone else on to something that made me feel so good. FLUENT Looking back through history, what musician would you most like to jam with and why, and what non-musician would you most like to have a conversation with and why? PP I would say that Stevie Ray Vaughan would the one I would most like to jam with. I know it may be cliché, but his mixture of intensity and finesse is unmatched in my opinion. The emotions that I feel watching videos of him are unexplainable, and I would just love to be in his presence. As far as a non-musician goes, I would most likely want to have a conversation with Carl Sagan. I am really interested in astronomy, and have been more recently getting into quantum physics because of his initial inspiration. I love watching re-runs of his TV show “Cosmos: A Personal Voyage.” He seems like such a down-to-earth guy, and I really agree with a lot of what he has to say. FLUENT Any non-musical hobbies? What nonmusical thing could you spend all day doing? PP I love hiking and kayaking. I could definitely spend all day doing either of those things. I love the feeling of being alone in the middle of the woods on a
PHOTO Ana Aliscia Lopez
mountain trail or floating down a river. The sights and sounds in those scenarios are so overwhelming and inspiring. It is spiritual to me. I try not to lose sight of that natural beauty. FLUENT What’s your favorite book? Movie? TV show? PP Favorites are hard and change is inevitable, but for now.... Favorite book: The Intention Experiment by Lynne McTaggart. Favorite Movie: “Good Will Hunting.” Favorite TV Show: “Mad Men.” FLUENT You’re well known for your blues influences, but you seem to have much more depth to your playing. What’s the evolutionary history of Paul Phau? PP Well, I started playing guitar when I was 14, inspired initially by who I thought was George Harrison, but later found out was Eric Clapton. I’m talking, of course, about that guitar solo in “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” When I got my first electric guitar, I learned a lot of classic and modern hard rock tunes from Black Sabbath to Stone Temple Pilots, and played rhythm guitar in a high-school
rock band. During that time I was also influenced by songwriters, classic and contemporary, from Bob Dylan to John Mayer. Somewhere during my senior year of high school I got the itch to start singing, and for my senior highschool talent show I made my debut performance as a solo musician with The Fray’s “Over My Head” (Cable Car). My parents hadn’t even heard me sing up until that point. When I got into college, I was turned on to the blues by a family friend who inspired me to dig up the roots of that genre and other genres it inspired or created. Genres like jazz, New Orleans funk, country, reggae, fusion and more really came together to help me find my own original sound. Through this evolution I have learned that it is important to stay stimulated. It is easy to stick to what you are comfortable with, but it can only retard your progress. Many artists are enamored by the idea of being defined by a single genre. I, however, feel like that is limiting. I try not to label my sound as anything more than just being a singer, a songwriter and a guitar player. I feel like my new album represents that. All of my influences have blended together in order for me to sound how I do now. I will always keep that blender on, and I will constantly be adding things to it. fluent
Join us! at the AHA! July Exhibit Fran Skiles Paper on Paper Opening Reception Saturday, July 13 5:30–7:30 pm Exhibition Dates July 6–29, 2013 AHA! Fire Hall Gallery 108 North George St Charles Town, WV
Become a member today! www.ahajc.org
Old Opera House Theatre Company’s
13th Annual New Voice Play Festival JUNE 21, 22, & 23
Four new plays will be presented on June 21, 22 & 23 and the audience will be asked to select their favorites. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to see four very different plays, in one evening of engaging “new” theatre.
Polterguest by Chuck Smith Woodbridge, VA Directed by Shannon Potter
A comedy: After losing his girlfriend Jane, Paul pays a visit to the psychic Zandra with the hope that she can help him find closure and end his heartache. Through the laughs, tears and utter confusion of this fateful and zany encounter Paul is able to embrace “that loving feeling” once again.
Reports of a Home Invasion
by Andrew Ade New Wilmington, PA
by J.C. Svec Clark, NJ
Directed by Meaghan Barry
Directed by Ed Conn
A mystery/thriller: The police have been called when an intruder breaks into the home of local residents. The husband and wife are visibly upset, and tell the story of the break-in. But as each version of story is told, each version is different, leaving the officers to question the truth. What lies beneath the lies is menacing. Will the police find the truth?
A comedy: The Understudy is a heartwarming story about a father who arrives at school in place of his daughter who is staying at home because she has a 24-hour “bug”. Will the teacher let him stay? Has he learned his lines and blocking?...
Follow the Money: A Modern Day Fairy Tale by Dwayne Yancey Fincastle, VA Directed by Beth Brackett
A comedy: Where does the money that is left by the Tooth Fairy come from and where do all those teeth end up? It is questions like these that keep one young boy up at night; until the day he captures the Tooth Fairy. Will she spill the beans on the whole teeth-forcash operation? READ MORE: www.OldOperaHouse.org
...Will he be a suitable replacement? This will surely teach you a lesson in love and understanding.
Friday & Saturday at 8pm Matinee Sundays at 2:30pm $15 Adults & $10 Students
Call to Reserve: 304.725.4420
Abundiversity BY Shepherd Ogden
We have gone over the past few weeks from a cool, dry spring to a hot, dry summer and back again — more than once. Normally, one of the great pleasures of our northern Shenandoah climate is the length of Spring and Fall, two periods where we can spend time outside, working or lapsing, neither hot nor cold. And we get to watch the progress of emergence in the natural world around us. This did not seem to be such a season. Those of us who pay attention, whether by need or passion, know that no two seasons are the same — and the seasons are not a topic free of freight any more. Too hot, too cold; too swift, too slow; any perceived variation from an idealized norm now seems to mean something to a much larger group than just the hunters, the gatherers, the gardeners, the scholars. Yet it is just this variability that we should notice and learn from because diversity is how nature adapts. So the abundance that surrounds us in the woods or the fields or the gardens, regardless of the particulars of the season, should be no surpise: The heart of this abundance is in diversity. Even more than politics, this is local diversity. Just thinking of food — and I think this argument is by no means restricted to food — when I Iook in my garden and I look in the supermarkets, I see two different kinds of diversity, as well as two different kinds of abundance: one local, one global. My garden displays a seasonal, historical abundance — one we had known for many years up until maybe 30 or 40 years ago — while the supermarket flaunts the abundance (borne of cheap energy, now nearing its end) of the global sourced markets. These two have very different qualities of abundance as well as diversity. The local, farm and garden-based diversity is one that produced hundreds of different crop varieties, each adapted to some particular season, use or locale, one following the other in a choreography that was 10 |
PHOTO Shepherd Ogden
specific and particular to that time and place. In the north they had an endless variety of apples, in the south perhaps peaches and citrus; here in the midAtlantic we were particularly blessed because our climate is both cold enough for apples, and warm enough for peaches, just to name those two. Before the fossil fuel revolution, each season had its splendor: abundance following abundance as the crops came in. The global, market-based diversity has a quite different character, not without its own appeal. Where a hundred years ago a New Englander might never see an orange or a grapefruit or a lemon, now these are mere commodities; even more so the ubiquitous banana, available at Walmart for about half a dollar a pound. I think it’s safe to say that my grandfather, homesteading in the mountains of Vermont in the 1930s, rarely if ever saw such a banana. Now every supermarket worth its salt — itself once a valuable commodity — now has not only bananas, but jicama and star fruit as well, displayed here in the Northern Hemisphere in February right next to the eggplants and green peppers and ugli fruit, and on and on. Let’s ignore (at least for now) the socioeconomic and cultural issues, both positive and negative, that are represented in the produce case at the supermarket. Let’s look the relationships between apparent abundance and apparent diversity: In its native range, the banana has many forms, each with its own unique character. The modern, global banana is a different
thing — even more than the reviled “supermarket tomato,” a single, commodified kind of fruit — chosen for its production and storage and shipping characteristics rather than its culturally embedded culinary or nutritional merits. Yes, the market has bananas year round, and pomegranates and lemongrass. But at what cost? This is not always bad; in some cases, crops do translate well from one region to another (often based on latitude). But because of the global nature of production and distribution, what we usually end up with is a homologue to the original, and a merely apparent diversity in cuisine which is represented in every suburban strip in America by the (Italian) Olive Garden, the (Asian) Panda Express, the (Mexican) Chipolte, even (Australian) Outback or (American) Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC). Like auto dealers, these purveyors of (apparent) market diversity are usually found arrayed alongside one another to serve the jaded tastes of the modern consumer. Yes, this could be considered a kind of abundance, and maybe even diversity. In the case of the restaurants — not our true topic here — though, this is an immense scam, since the ingredients for all these restaurants are produced by the same industrial food system that is our true topic here, and thus even at their best, one step removed from the questions that matter. Take a second step (we are not going to) and you come to the whole more general question of franchise versus independent local businesses, like the “community” magazine that was slated to launch this spring for Jefferson County, WV from Hibu, a national printing company, but cancelled at the last moment because it didn’t “stick” with local residents and businesses. I remember, as a child, the vegetable truck that wended its way down South Samuel Street in Charles Town, just as I remember the ice cream truck. I don’t know how local that ice cream was, much as I loved it, but I can be pretty sure that the vegetables were mostly locally grown, and the peddler’s offerings (remember that term?) changed with the season. While this all sounds wonderfully romantic, or nostalgic (and many would make it so), I also remember the petty prejudice and xenophobic insularity of our community in those days. What it seems to me we now have a chance to create is a community, and a food system, that is not only local and grounded in the particularity of our region, but also open to the diversity of our transcendently immigrant American culture. But to do this we have to resist the urge to settle for the mere appearance of diversity that is marketed to us, and instead strive toward a vision of abundance that is created by us. fluent
...your source for locally made products! Local honey • •candles herbal body care & soaps potpourri • knitted items rag rugs • pottery wood crafts • purses jewelry • dream catchers pillows • bird houses local artists & photographers
always something new!
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By Nancy McKeithen
TONY MENDEZ WILL TELL YOU that he’s retired CIA first, painter second and author third, but he isn’t really retired. He’s a prolific painter. “You gotta do it every day or you won’t keep doing it,” he says. “You’ll get lazy.” Mendez has been an artist most of his life, and “for twenty-five years, a pretty good spy,” he adds. “We started building this” — he draws a sweeping arc with his arm to include the house, the gallery and the studios in rural Washington County, Maryland, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains — “in anticipation of my retiring.” It’s where he and his second wife, Jonna, also a retired CIA career employee, live, where teenage son Jesse comes home on weekends from UMBC, and where Tony’s oldest son, Toby, has a working sculpture studio. Around five years ago, a phone call to Tony about making a movie changed the retirement he had envisioned here for something he never imagined would happen. IN 1997, THE CIA RECOGNIZED Antonio “Tony” Mendez as a CIA Trailblazer and made public the details of an operation, the Argo rescue, to exfiltrate six Americans from the Canadian Embassy where they were in hiding during the 1980 Hostage Crisis in Iran. Mendez had led the successful operation, one of two the CIA chose to publicize in a celebration of its first 50 years. The Argo rescue was recognized again in 2007 by a writer for Wired magazine, and this caught the attention of actor George Clooney. It’s a nail-biter of a story ideal for the movies. Ben Affleck produced and starred in Argo, the 2013 Oscar award-winning Best Motion Picture that’s given Tony 12 |
Mendez an even busier speaking career, thousands of messages in his e-mailbox, and continuing requests for interviews and commentary. LIKE HE DID DURING his CIA years to break the tension, Tony climbs the staircase to his studio to paint — daily when he’s home. “I can remember many times working at my easel and having a flashback to
some operation and saying, ‘Well, I’ll take that one to my grave.’ ” And most of them he will. But not Argo, not now. Tony says it helps to be a “romantic” in the spy business. “Jonna says that, too.”
When they talk about being a romantic, it’s that working in this business, you don’t get to share the details of your work, your successes. “There are no pats on the back,” says Jonna. “You have to reward yourself internally, and say, ‘That was a great thing that just happened, and even if nobody else will ever know about it, I know about it.’ ” There’s a scene in “Argo” where the hostages are back home and safe and the CIA gives Tony an award — then moments later takes it away. Classified. SOMETIMES TONY PAINTS in plein air, and often from imagination, but generally he uses a camera to capture elements for a painting — not to copy and record, but to reacquaint him with the emotion of the moment, the inspiration of some experience he’s had. Jonna makes the same case for being a photographer. “You’re basically freezing the moment, and in some ways, you’re doing the same thing with painting — capturing and making it permanent. “Sometimes when we’re out, Tony will say, ‘See that? I don’t have my camera. Will you photograph that?’ And I’ll do that and bring him some prints. He will paint that moment, and it never looks like the prints, because what he saw is never what I see. “That double painting from Fletcher’s Boathouse (behind Tony’s director’s chair in the photo above)…. If you look at the photograph from the day we were there, very little of what’s going on in that painting PHOTOS Hannah Swindoll. Artwork provided by the artists.
was going on in the picture. He sees with different eyes than I do,” explains Jonna. He says the same of her: “She can see a photograph in the environment and put the crop marks in the camera. When she’s taking photographs and I’m doing my thing, you see what she sees.” They laugh at that, together. They both love reflection — something you see in her photos and in his paintings. Before she was a photographer, she never saw them, she says. “Reflections are kind of invisible.” She also loves the work of Annie Lebowitz, adding that she has never really studied the classic photographers. Her school of photography was CIA: “mechanically, technically how to get the picture you
want, how to get it in focus no matter what, no matter how little light you had, getting information and getting it in a form that you could copy and send off.” Her assignment to India was “an explosion in my head of color and light,” and where she really started shooting the color photography that defines her current work, and developing and printing color on her own. “I don’t know how you could not photograph it,” she recalls. “Since CIA, I’ve been a photographer,” says Jonna. “At CIA, I was a secret photographer.” Never scared by her work, she says, but sometimes paranoid. She uses an old film Nikon F3 but admits it’s getting harder and harder. She has a Nikon digital camera as well. “It’s this guy — she points at Tony Jonna’s photographs, left, below, right and far right: “Bistro Chairs,” “Vineria Florence,” “Poster Art” and “Chinese Urns.” She likes to take pictures of smaller, tightly constructed things, color or shapes, and to shoot in natural light. Today, you won’t find more than a handful of images lacking color in her portfolio. Tony loves to paint from her photographs. “I can hardly wait till Jonna gets the next roll home,” he says. “For years, artists hid the fact that they were using the camera as part of their process. Norman Rockwell really developed the technique of taking pictures for reference and even had a professisonal photographer working in his studio with him.”
— and Toby who have pushed me into it, kicking and screaming.” What model? “She doesn’t know!” chimes Tony, ratting her out, but good-naturedly so. She likes digital, especially that she can look at the pictures at the end of the day and go back if she didn’t get what she wanted. “My next book is going to be on Cambodia,” she notes. “Given the digital camera, I can almost plan the book when I take the pictures.” OF THE THREE ARTISTS, Jonna considers herself the introvert, noting that each is a bit different. “Tony is probably the most social of us when he’s working, I’m probably the least, and Toby is probably somewhere in the middle. “Tony doesn’t mind having people in his studio,” she says. “No, that’s fine if they want to watch me do what I’m doing.” “And you don’t mind having a conversation while you do it.”
It is an easy back-and-forth, these words, with little pause between. On a normal day, they don’t call each other, don’t interrupt the work. Well, maybe for lunch. Tony is comfortable in the skin of a painter. “One of the mural jobs I had as a young artist was in a Denver high-rise hotel where they wanted to ‘spiffy’ up the premises. I got a commission to do murals on each elevator stop and so I got to know everybody in the hotel when they went out to get groceries or do errands,” he tells. No wonder that he can work on seven paintings at once. He creates them one at a time and lines them up along a wall. “And I go like this.” He gives each an air stoke. Jonna: “You can do that but you don’t do that all the time.” Tony: “I don’t do that all the time. But when we had the first art show once we built the studio, I was building not painting, so I had to figure out a way to paint at the same time.” Jonna: “So you were hammering together the rails on the deck and finishing up the last painting and people were walking up the road?” This is a man who was Chief of Disguise at the CIA, who made up stories for a living. It is unclear if this is fact or fiction. But it doesn’t matter.
His favorite painting is always the next one. Her favorite is a serendipitous one that Tony paints quickly, alla prima. Like “The Empty Throne” (framed right). He walked by the garden, saw the chair with Jonna’s hat and the light, immediately went to get his camera, took several shots and painted it on the spot, in an hour. “The ones that are fast are always spectacular,” says Jonna. “Why is that?” “Because you don’t get in your own way,” says Tony.
Above: Tony’s pallete, with brushes rather than palette knife. Started in the 1940s, it weighs about 40 pounds. Once on display with Tony’s paintings at an art show at the Javitts Center in NYC, the palette and table were much admired and much in demand. “Everyone wanted to buy it,” says Jonna. Below: Tony paints in his light-filled studio, where the walls are lined several layers deep with both his paintings and Jonna’s photographs, evidence of their very active work as artists.
ABOVE TONY’S PAINTING STUDIO is the Tower Room. Before it was his writing studio, it was where the family celebrated birthdays and anniversaries, so there is good karma here — and a refrigerator. It’s secluded and no one can wander by; they have to wander up, and it’s a steep stairway. Jonna wonders aloud if the room was modeled after a room in one of Ernest Hemingway’s two houses — outside Havanna or down in Key West. Having been to both of them, she recognizes “an admirable arrangement” similar to Tony’s, with towers, lion skin rugs on the floor (though somewhat more exotic), and where an exit from his bedroom permitted him to walk to the tower and begin work. “Yes, absolutely,” says Tony. Again there is the question of truth in appearances and a tiny smile. The two have written a book, Spy Dust: Two Masters of Disguise Reveal the Tools and Operations that Helped Win the Cold War. What’s it like, writing a book together? Jonna: “Fun.” Tony: “Harrowing.” The first time, they divided up the book and had alternating voices for alternating chapters. “So Tony was Chapter 1 and I was Chapter 2 and so on, and it worked well,” Jonna explains.
“Doesn’t everyone need a painting above their kitchen sink?” Jonna asks, this one painted by Tony of a goat wandering in a Southeast Asian jungle.
In their new process, they write on the go — pack up the electronics and write poolside under an umbrella. Argo, their last book, they wrote in Cambodia and going across Europe.
Jonna and their dog, Cole, in the Spy Library in the Mendez family home. The wall behind contains first-edition books on espionage that Jonna collects and gives to the CIA. The opposite wall, also lined with bookshelves, contains copies of Argo in languages around the world. Both she and Tony are founding board members of the Spy Museum in Washington, D.C., where Jonna’s cameras are on display. Ballpoint pens, lipsticks, Bic lighters, buttons on a man’s blazer—any of them could contain a camera.
In the end, they found the best place to write was in bed. “We’d wake up, get two steaming cups of coffee, get the pillows fluffed, get the computer, the iPad, the iPhone, and Tony would talk,” says Jonna. “I can go pretty fast, faster than Tony talks. He was remembering things he had forgotten he even knew. And we’d do 5 or 6 pages a day. It’s a good way to write a book.” Pleasant Valley is a working studio, and so a lot of people come through, like the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts in Hagerstown, Maryland, and Pleasant Valley Elementary School just across the road. They’ve hosted art workshops for children with instruction in painting, sculpture and photography, and classes in art appreciation. Exposing kids to art is something they like doing. There’s curiosity about what makes it a successful studio. Says Jonna: “The thing that I know that sets you two” — she is talking to Tony and Toby — “apart from everybody else is this work ethic. You go to work Right, Toby Mendez works in his studio. Below, his gallery of projects, with “maquettes,” small versions of some of his sculptures, and works in progress. As a sculptor, Toby needs to be able to see 360°. Sometimes, it’s easier to do an impression of his own hand in a particular pose and use that as his model. Note the row of “hands” — all are from different projects. Mendez has created more than 20 public monuments.
each morning… and it is your work.” That they must be skilled artists is a given. And there is a third element, marketing. “A lot of people produce beautiful art and they can’t sell it,” says Jonna. She points to Toby: “He’s never sitting around waiting for the next job. Antonio Tobias “Toby” Mendez credits his father for that, and his mother, Karen. “It becomes a habit at some point,” he says of his work, “or just one of those things that if you don’t do you feel miserable because you’re not doing it.” He began studying sculpture in 1978 at a gifted and talented program at Mount St Joseph’s in Emmitsburg, Maryland, conducted by the state of Maryland. Right
out of high school in ’82 he went to Hollywood and worked for 6 months with John Chambers, the makeup artist in Argo — it was an opportunity to find out if he really wanted to be a sculptor. Chambers encouraged him. From there, he went to the Art Institute of Chicago for a bachelors program that took him to Spain, where he studied the processes used in creating large public monuments and memorials, and returned to the Maryland area in ’88. He emerged from that decade of school and work and study abroad with a body of work in bronze and an important knowledge of process — working as assistant in the foundry during school he had cast somewhere between 70 and 100 pieces, all with different
Thurgood Marshall Memorial on Lawyers’ Mall / State House Square at the Maryland State House in Annapolis, Maryland by Toby Mendez. The memorial was unveiled in 1996.
problems to solve. “I know what’s possible,” he says about casting, “how to make good choices to design something so it casts easier, what you can and cannot cast, what needs to be fabricated — made directly in metal as opposed to casting.” Most of his work takes place in the studio. About 80 percent of his time is spent on a work before casting, and 20 percent of his time — maybe even less, he says — after, in finishing. He’s been working with the same foundry, New Arts, since ’86. “If the really great technicians and artists there do their job well, there’s not much for me to do in the end,” he says. “It depends on the piece.” With the Major Taylor (below), where he was under a tight deadline, “I was in there working with them for a couple of weeks, helping them do all of the chasing — grinding away all the welder and matching textures — going over everything, so I was just part of the team.” While most of his work is by commission, and a lot by referral, he still competes for open calls for artists. He tends to work in many different subjects. “I think of it as being a leading character actor not typecast into one role, able to bounce around,” he explains, noting there’s a business part of that, too. “In my field, if all you were doing was architectural sculpture when the recession hit, when building stopped, you’re out of work.” The range of work he’s been doing the last couple of years — sports
art, working class, historical, an upcoming agricultural piece — it keeps him employed and in the studio. There are sculptures of people he hasn’t done that he would like to. “I still haven’t done Martin Luther King, I’d love to do something for Obama,” he says. More Civil Rights things — “I loved doing Gandhi and Thurgood Marshall.” And more animals. Toby’s “Grace Movement” in the Gallery at He also teaches Pleasant Valley Studios. graduate students every other year at Hood College. “I go kicking and screaming,” he admits, “because it’s hard, and you have to be prepared, but once my mind’s in the game and once I’m there, I really enjoy it.” He likes how teaching makes you
Major Taylor Monument, a life-size figure set against the relief of a bicycle race, in Worcester, Massachusetts.
break down things that you intuitively know.” There’s a saying, he thinks by a jazz artist, that “you don’t know it until you can teach it.” He’s proven that’s true, by teaching himself anatomy. He was studying in Spain during the time he normally would have taken anatomy at the Art Institute. To compensate, almost right out of school he began working with models. He would sculpt from a live model during the day, then get out the anatomy book at the end of the day and break down what he was doing. “It’s a lot easier to explain to somebody what’s going on, what they’re seeing, if you can break down the anatomy for them,” he says, “where the muscle originates, and where it attaches, what your bones are doing if you’re running like that (he points to one of the sports figures).” When he did the C&O Canal Mule, he got out anatomy books on horses. “I think intuitively, because I see things and I recognize things — and I can recreate what I see.” In that case, he could see what muscles and bones are similar in a human being and an animal, but that the proportions are just different. He is a tough critic of his own work, “probably harder on myself than I am on somebody else’s work,” he admits. The one thing he doesn’t want his figures
to be is like one you would see in a wax museum. He wants the details correct, authentic, but he doesn’t want a figure to get bogged down in them. He wants the right number of buttons on an Orioles jersey with the proper spacing between them. “I want the weight of the fabric to have the same detail as the wrinkles in the skin, so it has a feeling to it, a kind of poetry in it.” He suggests things. “If you look at the shoes, you could figure out what kind they are,” he says. But he doesn’t put branding on them. “I don’t go that far.” People tell him there’s a warmth and a sensitive aspect to his figures, that they get a sense they know the person. “To me, these are the good things to hear.” fluent “I don’t neccessarily feel happy about everything I’ve done,” says Toby. “The Orioles project, I was really happy with all six of those pieces, but I had them in my life for a long period of time, and there were a lot of opportunities to revise and edit them and get them to where they needed to be. It was a unique project.” Below, Jim Palmer, Baltimore Sports Legend, located at Camden Yards.
Gandhi Memorial, Hauppauge, New York.
23 Seasons = 100 Plays BY NANCY MCKEITHEN
“It was ripe for the oldest town in West Virginia to 23 doSeasons, something like present the newest plays in CATF: 100 Plays America.” Ed Herendeen, Founder and Producing Director of CATF — the Contemporary American Theater Festival — is talking about their first season, 1991. Forripe him, it was the combination and “It was for the oldest town in West Virginiaoftoplace do something opportunity: history, a college town, a vibrant like present the newest plays in America.” Ed Herendeen,campus Founder community, visual artists musicians working and Producing Director of theand Contemporary American Theater and making a living, close metropolitan areas, Festival—CATF—is talking about their first season, 1991. the Shenandoah Valley, the Potomac River. “This natural creative atmosphere,” he says, “gave us a chance to For work him, it was combination of and opportunity: bring new andtheplaywrights toplace develop and take history, a college town, a vibrant campus community, visual chances with their new work outside the glare ofartists the and musicians working and making a living, close metropolitan urban spotlight.” areas, the Shenandoah Valley, the Potomac River. “This natural creative atmosphere,” he says, “gave us a chance to bring new In the early years of the festival, work and playwrights to develop and take chances with their new Herendeen had to sell the Shepherdstown address work outside the glare of the urban spotlight.”
somewhat aggressively; it wasn’t a typical location for a new contemporary theater. But like a book on a bestseller list, word spread among the theater community about this beautiful place to come and In the early years of the festival, Herendeen had to sell the work in the summer… and artists came, from New Shepherdstown address somewhat aggressively; it wasn’t a typical York, Chicago, Los Angeles. location for a new contemporary theater. But like a book on a Like the Shepherd University population it’s bestseller list, word spread among the theater community of part this of,beautiful the CATF staff shrinks and swells throughout place to come and work in the summer… and artists the year, from three full time people during the off-
season — Herendeen, Associate Producing Director Peggy McKowen and Managing Director James McNeel — and a few part-time people, to a payroll of more than 90 starting each May. From the outset, CATF was anything but typical. Many theaters will do one new play as part of their season. CATF did — and does — dedicate all of its play slots to developing and nurturing new plays. For this season, it commissioned two new plays. That dedication is part of the CATF mission, and something of which Herendeen is perhaps most proud. “We had a specific mission and a specific group of core values, we committed to and maintained that mission throughout the 23 years, and we’ve never veered from it,” he says, “never been tempted to water down the mission.” But without the support of partner Shepherd University and the CATF Board of Trustees, that wouldn’t have happened, says Herendeen. He is speaking to the kind of work CATF is known for doing: provocative, controversial, thought-provoking. “I’m very proud that our partners have never questioned the mission of what we are trying to do, and have allowed us to do our work even when it might have made individuals on the board or at the university uncomfortable
TIMELINE NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2011
Ed receives multiple “pitches” from literary agents and playwrights for potential 2013 season commissions.
Hold CATF annual board meeting. Approve FY 2013 budget.
Mark St. Germain is commissioned to write Scott and Hem in the Garden of Allah (with support from Shepherd University). Jane Martin is commissioned to write H2O (with support from Lawrence Dean & Mina Goodrich, and Paul & Lisa Welch). SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2012 Ed meets with NY literary agents and organizations such as New Dramatists, and is given scripts to review. He reads 100+ new plays. Wrap up and reconcile previous season. Complete grant reports. Marketing and ticketing analysis completed. Assess program. Begin fundraising for 2013 season.
Ed narrows down his scripts for second or third readings, also taking into consideration “the rep”: casting, venue, budget, style, etc. Hold annual CATF reunion party in NYC (where we reconnect with Cassie Beck and Kent Nicholson, who share with Ed the script for A Discourse on the Wonders of the Invisible World by Liz Duffy Adams). Attend Theatre Communications Group’s Fall Forum on Governance with staff and board. Receive first drafts of two commissioned plays, H2O by Jane Martin and Scott and Hem in the Garden of Allah by Mark St. Germain.
Ed Herendeen on June 4th, his favorite day of the festival: First Rehearsal.
because of some of the controversial issues the plays raise.” Herendeen believes this freedom to take chances, to veer from what he calls “community-approved, sanitized art” you see in some communities, speaks to the nature of CATF being on a college campus, where ques-
tioning and debate and criticism are valued. “I’ve always believed that as artists we are noisemakers, oftentimes supporting work that is a reflection of our society.” Another thing he is proud of — they have demonstrated by failing that they have taken the fear out of failure. “We’re creating belief in an empty space with u PHOTO Seth Freeman
Select season and begin playwright negotiations with agents.
Begin hiring artistic team, including directors and designers for each show.
Select venues for plays and determine repertory slots. Begin developing play and season images for marketing. Attend National New Play Network’s annual conference in Washington, DC. Gidion’s Knot by Johnna Adams (part of 2012 season) published in American Theatre magazine and also named the #3 best play of the year by Washingtonian magazine.
Unveil season to CATF trustees at the annual board retreat, in addition to revealing the name of the new CATF performance space, the Stanley C. and Shirley A. Marinoff Theater. Send out initial “early bird” mailing with plays to past subscribers. Begin preliminary discussions between Ed and playwrights.
scenery and with actors and the performers, but we fail in rehearsal—and you have to fail till you get it right…. I think nothing happens without taking risks.” Their goals are lofty. CATF wants its plays to have a life after Shepherdstown—and some do. They want to do work that is important for an audience to witness: “…work that would ask audience members to question and think and maybe even provoke change.” And they’ve seen that in some examples, too. “When we did our first AIDS play way back in the early ’90s, What Are Tuesdays Like, we saw how that affected people in the audience who began to look at that issue and that subject matter and maybe their own past behavior and prejudices,” says Herendeen. “And we literally could see, because of what they told us, how behavior was changing. “Probably one of the more controversial plays we’ve produced was My Name is Rachel Corrie. That created a lot of press and controversy, lots of donations... a lot of respect for the courage to tell that young woman’s story. By telling her story—the only reason we wanted to do this play—it created an opportunity for people to have a dialogue and a living conversation about the uncomfortable subject matter the play raised.” June 4th is Herendeen’s favorite day of the festival. That’s when he and his staff welcome the entire company, they go into a room, close the door and read in eight hours at least four of the plays. The next day, they go into rehearsal halls. “That’s when the work of really ‘making believe’ starts to happen,” he says.
Anne Marie Nest as Rachel Corrie in My Name is Rachel Corrie—“What the play really, truly did is what I think theater does best by presenting a divisive and controversial issue, such as the Palestinian Israeli issue, on stage,” says Herendeen. “The story is told through the journals and emails and words of this young American woman who was killed in Gaza.” PHOTO Ron Blunt: Anne Marie Nest in My Name is Rachel Corrie (2008)
TIMELINE FEBRUARY 2013
Announce season to the public. Tickets go on sale.
Design meetings commence between directors and designers.
Staff hiring begins (over 60 interns and professionals) for administration, box office, company management, production, etc.
Workshop reading #2 of Scott and Hem in the Garden of Allah in Shepherdstown.
Promotional efforts begin.
Private reading of H2O in New York City.
Workshop reading #1 of Scott and Hem in the Garden of Allah in New York City with playwright and creative team.
Herendeen checks off what it takes to put on the festival: 90+ people, a budget of a little over a million dollars, a good business plan, a good staff. “It takes working with Peggy and James and hiring people who are better than you. When you do, you develop a really creative workforce.” To Herendeen, working in theater is a vocation not an occupation. “Theater people are famous for possessing an incredible work ethic.”
Robin Walsh (standing) plays a grief-stricken mom and Joey Parsons her son’s fifth-grade teacher in Johnna Adams’ Gidion’s Knot, which had its world premiere at CATF during the 2012 season. As announced on April 6, Adams is a citation winner of the Steinberg/ATCA (American Theatre Critics Association) New Play Award.
Director Peter Brook tells best what theater takes in The Empty Space, says Herendeen and paraphrases: “All you really need is an empty space. You need somebody to walk into that empty space and do something important. You need at least one person to witness that, and you have an experience of theater.” Herendeen describes the experience. His voice slowly crescendoes and his pace quickens as he goes, compelling in this impromptu monologue: “We go and sit with other people in a room that will become dark where light is illuminated at the other end of the room and we sit in silence and give attention of a side of ourselves — undivided attention — to a group of people who are in the light telling us a story or performing in front of us who are also concentrating, and what we have is that we are both concentrating on the same thing, we’re both believing and if they’re believing who they say they are and what they’re going through, and we sit in silence and pay attention and we start to believe who they are and what they do, and we start to experiencee the emotions that they’re experiencing u
PHOTO Seth Freeman: Joey Parsons and Robin Walsh in Gidion’s Knot by Johnna Adams
Present scenic, costume and sound designs to creative team.s
Pre-season staff arrive, including company and stage management.
Set drafting for the production shop begins.
Final designs are submitted, season construction begins, and on- and off-campus housing secured and prepared.
Casting commences in NYC with Pat McCorkle Casting. Actor offers go out to agents. CATF staff and board members attend the 37th Annual Humana Festival in Louisville, Kentucky, at which, Gidion’s Knot is presented with a citation prize from the Harold and Mimi Steinberg/ATCA New Play Awards. Development reading of A Discourse on the Wonders of
the Invisible World in NYC. Ribbon cutting for the new Center
for Contemporary Arts (CCA/II) at Shepherd University, home to CATF’s new Marinoff Theater.
Theatrer equipment moved from the Sara Cree Studio Theatre (now retired!) to the Marinoff Theater, where lighting, sound, and video commission work has been completed.
Phase II of the Center for Contemporary Arts and home of the new 180-seat Stanley C. and Shirley A. Marinoff Theater.
and we’re experiencing, and we’re all doing this at the same time, you can have that moment, this aha moment, or we’re weeping together or we’re shocked and pissed off together, but we’re in this dark room experiencing the same moment at the same time, and we willingly choose to have that experience.”
“I remember my daughter, many, many years ago when she was in elementary school, had to write an essay about ‘what one of your parents did,’ ” he says. “I remember seeing her essay and she said, ‘My daddy makes believe.’” He still does. PHOTOS Seth Freeman
TIMELINE JUNE 2013
Full company arrives — company picnic!
Preview performances — July 3 and 4.
Four weeks of rehearsals (6 days / week, 8 hours/day)
Opening night — July 5 and 6.
All five shows built, including costumes, props, scenery, lighting,and sound.
100 performances of the 2013 season plus ancillary programming: readings, workshops, lectures, classes and discussions — July 5–28.
Tech week and final dress rehearsals.
CATF hosts the annual conference for the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA), marking the first time the conference has been held in a non-urban environment — July 17–21 CATF Hostel Youth program — July 21–25. CATF partners with Shepherd University in hosting the National Endowment for the Humanities’ (NEH) Voices from the Misty Mountains Summer Seminar — July 7–27. Closing night — July 28. Strike — July 29–31 July 31 — Everyone departs!
“I’m havin’ a blast, with a capital B-L-A-S-T, boldfaced.” He traces the letters in air. For over 30 years, ever since leaving graduate school, he’s worked in theater, and he considers himself lucky to be able to do what he does. “It’s never boring. There’s always another phase. We’re constantly raising money. We’re constantly talking to people and sharing our passion.” CATF’s first strategic plan had a goal of achieving a national reputation (an ongoing goal realized by the American Theater Critics choosing to have their annual convention at the festival in July), developing and producing a world premiere of a future Pulitzer Prizewinning play (Gidion’s Knot and several others have been nominated) and CATF plays having a life outside of Shepherdstown (many have gone to off-Broadway, and a film was commissioned from one of its plays). The second strategic plan resulted in CATF’s 100th play produced and construction of the Center for Contemporary Arts (CCA) Phases I and II. Phase III will be a 250-seat end-stage theater. “We are big believers in strategic planning,” says Herendeen. Now he wants to see more people make the festival a summer destination, in the same way that people go to the Dublin and Edinburgh theater festivals. CATF has seen an increase in the number of people traveling here from other countries, England and India as example. “We’re just shy of our goal of producing six new plays each season over a six-week period… and we’re looking at year-round opportunities,” says Herendeen.
Contemporary American Theater Festival at Shepherd University July 5 — 28, 2013 (see the schedule on page 35) A Discourse on the Wonders of the Invisible World — Liz Duffy Adams Modern Terrorism, or They Who Want to Kill Us and How We Learn to Love Them — Jon Kern
Inside the Marinoff Theater, Shepherd University President Suzanne Shipley speaks at the ribbon-cutting for the opening of Phase II of the CCA. First performances here are this summer.
“We’ve set a goal of creating a professional playwriting program, where we’ll work with professional playwrights and mentor early career playwrights, giving them an opportunity to have their work heard, and read by professional actors. “We want to create more educational opportunities with Shepherd University and increase our involvement with its Lifelong Learning Center. We want to find even more innovative ways to do the kind of work we’re doing, whether it’s embracing technologies in the media arts or providing residencies and opportunities for writers to be here year-round. We’re in that exciting place of ‘where do we want to go.’” It’s a fine place to be. fluent
BEYOND THE STAGE... BREAKFAST WITH ED LUNCH & ART CATF AT THE MOVIES CATF IN CONTEXT — FREE (reservation required) STAGE READINGS — FREE
H2O — Jane Martin
SATURDAY LECTURE SERIES — FREE
Heartless — Sam Shepard
AFTER-THOUGHTS SALON — FREE
Scott and Hem in the Garden of Allah — Mark St. Germain
POST-SHOW DISCUSSIONS — FREE
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For theater patrons with an early curtain on Wed, Thu and Fri, an early dinner (6–8 pm) is available at The Bavarian Inn Dining Room, Bistro 112 and The Yellow Brick Bank, all in Shepherdstown.
Last year, in Season 22, actor Joey Collins’ first at CATF, he starred in two plays: as Bobby in In a Forest Dark and Deep (far right with Johanna Day) by Neil LaBute, and as Peter Malkin in Captors (near right) by Evan Wiener. He’s back for Season 23, again in two plays: This year as F. Scott Fitzgerald in Mark St. Germain’s Scott and Hem in the Garden of Allah and as Peck in Liz Duffy Adams’ A Discourse on the Wonders of the Invisible World.
FLUENT Given the many roles you tackle in one season, how do you keep it all together? JC Haha...Once the performances begin it’s easier to keep it all together with two plays. Each performance is fresh. You associate a pair of shoes with a character’s journey, for instance. And that journey must be as new for that character as it is for the audience who is witnessing it for the first time. Last year, you know, I had these two massive roles in the LaBute piece and Evan’s piece. They were in the same theatre. But donning the different clothes, having different sets, it really was an “am I wearing the baseball cleats or the soccer cleats” kind of freedom before arriving to the stage door. It’s not like you’re going to swing at a baseball with your foot — hahaha. That, and my kids keep my fairly busy. FLUENT What are the challenges of playing two roles concurrently? JC The biggest challenge is the front end. The rehearsal. The prep. The research. That can be challenging with a truncated process. We really don’t have enough rehearsal time (per day). Who does anymore in the theatrr? So, it requires a lot of work outside of the rehearsal room. For me, the rehearsal period is a monastic life. I wake at 7, go for my run or swim or 28 |
bike, eat, shower and work on my lines, my dialect, do my movement work all before 10. Then, I meet with another company member or assistant director or volunteer to drill my lines — talk out my actions — until 12:30. Eat again, rehearse PLAY ONE from 1–5 pm. Eat dinner. Meet with another volunteer from 5:15–6 to drill lines. Rehearse PLAY TWO from 6–10 pm. Eat a snack, meet with another volunteer from 10:15–1 am (if I can find someone to work that late). Then, I have a nightcap of sorts. I’m in bed by 2 am. Start over the next day at 7. And... I love it. Most of us actors, not all, learn our lines — our roles — simply by going through the motions over and over in the room. You know, building on the previous rehearsal, improving on the momentto-moment work, making it tighter, better, more dramatic, funnier — right? All of that happens here at CATF — don’t get me wrong — but it is a very economical process. And it takes a) a director that can work economically with precision and b) perhaps the most important — a stage management [SM] team that can keep the room the creative space it needs to be while keeping all of us on schedule. And the SM team here is dreamy. You’ll not find a better SM team — anywhere. You kind of want to put them in your back pocket and take them with you for your next gig, ya know? They understand the rigors of the rotating repertory process annd I’d be dishonest if I didn’t give them the credit they deserved in keeping us all sane. PHOTOS Seth Freeman
FLUENT How do you develop a particular character so that he feels right to you? JC Every process is different. I like to work moment to moment IN the rehearsal room. But, I’m all nerdy OUTSIDE of it. I love research. But, you can’t perform research. Luckily, I love letting go of research, too. Ultimately, the dramatic tension comes from the human relationships — their conflicts, their needs, what stands in their way — basic acting 101 stuff. For me, the best characters spring forth from my research. I learned how to develop character from both the outside in and the inside out. So my disciplines vary project to project, and my method is rather eclectic. I love magazines and photo journalism. I free-write backstory whenever I can. In the case of Fitzgerald this season and Peter Malkin last season, I have this plethora of material to pour over. I steal from those historical examples and shape them constantly. I won’t get to all of it. Not before first rehearsal. Or by closing. But, I will continue to deepen the soul of these men inside of me--strive to. I use art and music, too. I’ll find a theme song for a character, or scene — try it out. Last year, at first I had this 14 song soundtrack for Bobby in the LaBute play. There was a lot of The Subdudes on that soundtrack. Great drummer in that band. A lot of soul. Bobby’s core was rooted on some people in my life and from my past — others. He grew
from a combination of those people into a deeper and deeper interpretation of what LaBute wrote. In the end, you look at all that research, all that backstory, all the art and music that inspires a character and think, “How did I get from there to here?” The roadmap to a character is a fun game to play. But those people and those songs were my ticket into the LaBute world, my key to unlocking Bobby. I’m still searching for those things with F. Scott and with Peck. But it’s early. With them, it may be art, biblical passages, poetry, photography — who knows. I’m knee deep in it all now. FLUENT And when do you know the character is right, what tells you? JC There’s this great feeling when you feel that wholeness of that character click. It is like speaking another language. When you are thinking like the character, using their rhythms, their cadence, their vernacular, their jargon — you have the key — you KNOW you have the key. From there — you are FREE — he is free — free from me. Away from me. You know? All the research, all the rehearsals, all the playing with puppets and improvisations and freewriting and backstory — it all pays off and sort of stays a bucket filler for that character. That click can be a physical one, a vocal one, an intellectual one. Sometimes it happens from day one. Sometimes u | 29
it happens at the 11th hour. I have enough tools in my shed now to keep whittling away at it. If the ball peen doesn’t work sometimes it takes the scalpel— or, um, even the hack saw. Hah-hah-hah. I only play with puppets, actually, with my kids. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. FLUENT What in particular about this venue or plays brought you back to CATF? JC Ed Herendeen. Peggy McKowen. James McNeel. One. Two. Three. From the outset of my audition last year we all clicked. This is a special place. They love new plays. I love new plays. I get it. You know, West Virginia is not the first place people think of regarding the developing of plays and fostering dramatists. CATF has a stellar reputation inside the theatrical community, and I am honored to be a part of their history as they continue to grow in reputation and scope. FLUENT Is narrating audio books different from performing on stage? Does it take the same kind of preparation and delivery? JC Narrating satisfies that school boy side of me that loves to learn. I really enjoy it. Even in the least literal of books, you’re learning something. Or that’s how I look at it. The audience comes later. It’s smaller in scope and therefore it possesses the same challenges as film acting. You have to trust what you are doing is “reading” — that the audience is getting it, just like with all performance. Nobody really wants to be spoon fed every little detail. Do they? Haha. They want to fill in the blanks, right?
St. Germain talks about playwriting and his play commissioned by
CATF for the 2013 season.
By Sean O’Leary
FLUENT Does something happen for you as an actor as a result of there being a live audience? JC Well, it doesn’t happen without them — that’s for sure.... You are there for them — to give them the story — give as in gift. They ARE the other character in the room. You feel their presence. Their breath, their curiosity. I was told once that the most compelling space in a room (a theater) is not the kiss in a scene. It is the space between the kiss — before the kiss. The kiss is the end of the “what if ” in a way. I would also say there is that magical space between me and my colleagues up on the boards and the audience. I love the audience. I cherish that air, that energy between us. I respect it. Folks who know me know that I am beside myself with joy and anticipation — much like my kids are on Christmas Eve — the days before that first audience. I cannot wait to give them the goods — or whatever it is — they give us back. That thing is the actor’s opiate, ya know? — like each audience member has a string attached to them and that string runs up and into you. Your goal is to keep that string taut. Or to keep control of its tautness might be a better way of expressing it. FLUENT How much do the other actors matter in your own delivery? JC “Delivery” is a tough word on which to comment. It has a result-oriented ping to it. At the risk of sounding like an “artiste,” I’ll ask for a little rope here. Because I know what you’re asking, I believe. Uh, a character must learn to think independently
Fluent What about CATF makes you want to come here? MSG Well, first of all, I think it’s a very charming area with a lot of good restaurants. And Ed is like the evangelist of new plays, and his excitement is very contagious — you can tell he loves what he does. I did go down and see all the plays last year and how the festival operates, and it’s very exciting. Fluent Do you direct your own plays often, and if not, why did you choose to this time? MSG No, I’ve done it before but normally I don’t. Because of the biographical nature of it, I thought that the actors would have tons of questions, and I thought it was really an easier thing rather than going through the director — unless the director had done research — and I thought it would just be shorthand. And three characters — I wouldn’t do this with a larger play — so I thought this was one to do. I
from his or her actor and dramatist’s lines. Yet, they are those lines. That doesn’t mean I have to “become” the character. No. It just means I need to get out of his way. The actor must learn his lines verbatim — for those are the words provided by the playwright, right? Anything else is cheating both the dramatist and the audience. I always say, learn the thoughts first. The essence. What’s behind the lines — sometimes — the subtext. Then, delivery will take care of itself. It’ll come from what the character needs from the other characters and the other actors. You will have to massage a line differently for Johanna than you do for Rachel or Lori. In essence your delivery comes from the dance you get to do each night with your colleagues. It’s not some choreographed bits of dialogue you can plug anyone into. That would be boring. Johanna might have in her eyes, “I want to just slap your nose off ” while Rachel’s eyes say, “I’m playing hard to get” and Lori is professing her love. They all compel you to act because they all either have what you want or stand in your way. FLUENT What role — whether it’s existing or hasn’t yet been written — would like to play? JC I always wanted to play Edmund in “Long Day’s Journey Into Night.” Don’t know if that’ll happen. There are several plays I’ve worked on in New York I’d like to continue to flesh out and play. I’m attracted to playing broken people. They give me clues on mending my own broken qualities, I guess. FLUENT What would you like to ask of your audience?
directed a couple of years back a two-character play of mine that we did first at the Barrington Stage in New York and I enjoyed it. It’s just not something I do all the time. Fluent Was the idea of directing this play yours or Ed’s? MSG It was mine actually, and Ed was gracious enough to indulge me. Fluent Do you think your characterization of Hemingway will offend some people or draw criticism from those who have a different perception of Hemingway? MSG It could well. There are people who just idolize him. But I don’t think there is anything in there that they could quarrel with factually. They can certainly quarrel about the interpretations. But I think it’s very well known the way Hemingway not only had maligned Fitzgerald during his life, but even worse after his life. He did not want him leaving a legacy.
JC First, to let them off the hook. They don’t have to love the plays as much as we do. We’re the pioneers, you know? We love them. We believe in them, we’re sold on their value, their need to be in the canon of American plays. However, we know they’ll have favorites. So will we. We also know what one group loves another group just likes and what another group doesn’t like yet another group comes back for a second viewing. Ed has done a superb job obtaining the rights to these diverse plays. It is a privilege to do them and we’ll strive to give them their best productions. If they (our audiences) love the theatre — LIVE ART — may they consider being an ambassador to it. Whatever that may mean to them: an emissary for their arts locally, an agent for future arts development, become a voice for the original 3-D experience, heck, the patronage of an artist. Actors are only valued on a national level when they’re famous, it seems. And sometimes actors who are famous aren’t very artistic. They’re pretty. They’re wonderful to look at and they are rewarded for their commercial value, as beautiful people who can talk. Now, many famous folks are artists. I’m not knocking fame or beauty. I’ll admit I’m even envious of both. But, to do theatre at this level at CATF, you have to be an artist and one with a collaborative spirit. You have to have those in your pocket. Audiences, in my little scientific sample set of experiences, prefer quality over fame for fame’s sake. Here, the focus is on the gift of the story, the plays, with fantastic production. The fame here belongs to the playwright. However, my big ask of an audience would be to acquaint someone in their life to the gift of the give and take, of drama and laughter, of contemplation and catharsis. That gift, of course, is the theater. fluent
There was one time — it’s not in the play, it occurred after this — that someone adapted one of Fitzgerald’s stories as a play and he read about it, that it was going to take place at Pasadena Playhouse. He was so excited about it. He and Sheila Graham showed up — he was in his tuxedo. Fitzgerald went to the box office and they said no, it’s not in the main theater, just go to the rehearsal hall. It was a student production, and they were among, maybe, an audience of 20 or 30, and they watched the production. Of course, he was devastated that it wasn’t on the main stage but still he was a gentleman and decided he’d go back and visit the cast. When he came back to Sheila Graham he was very rattled. They drove back and he told her that when he walked in and announced who he was they just stared at him because they thought he was dead. Fluent Do you worry how other directors and actors are going to interpret these two roles, especially u
Interview with Mark St. Germain continued
Hemingway’s, where there’s such a wide range of possible interpretation? MSG I think that’s the exciting thing about theater, that everybody will have a different take on it. My take on it with this initial production will be one thing, but I’m sure somebody will come along and do something that’s totally different, and I think that’s fine. I don’t have any problem with that. Fluent This is a play that takes place in real time — one conversation that goes the run time of the play — which for playwrights can create a real challenge when you don’t have the luxury of scene breaks and other things. There’s an inherent challenge to maintaining dramatic suspense in a sustained way for that long. Is that something you enjoy? Is it something you have done often? Or do you have a preference? MSG I’ve done plays that are better told with biography. The play that we’re opening on Friday — a play about Dr. Ruth — for instance. That became something that was also in real time but with her memory calling different things to look back on through her life. It just seemed the way to do it. I can’t explain it. And I will never do that to an actor again. Just brutal. Just brutal. Another play that I’m doing right now at Goodspeed called The Fabulous Lipitones is a musical comedy I wrote with John Marcus. It’s broken down into four scenes. So every one of them is really different. Fluent What is it that draws you to theater as a medium, considering your work on TV and also in film? MSG I’ve always loved writing for theater, and I never went full time on a writing staff for television because I always wanted to be available to plays. I certainly would do another movie. John [Marcus] and I have talked about trying to do something in TV, but I definitely prefer writing for the theater. I think it’s more a writer’s medium than certainly movies, which is a director’s medium. And television — there are a lot of brilliant shows out there — but you really need the writer, creator, producer. I’ve only produced once and that was a documentary. Fluent Those are other performance mediums. There’s also other literary media, such as novels. Theater is an incredibly restrictive medium — you’ve got just a couple of hours at most with which to work, a little black box, and most of all, at least as compared to novels, you don’t have a narrative voice. It’s got to be done more or less entirely through dialogue, yet you’re telling me that you find those restrictions enjoyable as compared to a more free form?
Playwright and director Mark St. Germain with Ed Herendeen.
MSG I really do. I would love to be able to write a novel. I’ve tried, and I do it terribly. I find I turn out to be not interested in anything but the dialogue, so that’s not a good novelist. The one book I tried was not a success, so it’s back to theater again. Fluent If it makes you feel any better, Charles Dickens’ great unfulfilled wish was to be a playwright. MSG Yes, I do know [much laughter]. I think he had a theater in his house as a matter of fact. I think people always want to do what they can’t do. I would love to write a novel. And my secret desire is to write a crime series of novels. I love reading them; I can’t get the hang of writing them. Fluent Is there a story that you’ve been wanting to write a play about that’s nagging at you? MSG I have one I’m commissioned to do next, which is about Ronald Reagen in his final years when Alzheimer’s had started to get to be a very serious issue with him, after he was out of office. That will also be a play that will be, if not in real time — I think, I haven’t written it yet — in one setting. Then to try to tell his life through that will be a challenge. Fluent What else are you working on right now? MSG The two — one that just opened and one that will open this weekend. The next thing will be this play, and there’ll be a new play I’m about halfway through that will have a reading in the very end of August. That’s a non-historic character play for a little break. It’s actually sort of a romance. It’s a little twisted. It’s called Dancing Lessons, and it’s about the relationship between a Broadway dancer who just got injured and might not dance again and a guy who lives in her building who is very high on the autism scale but still can’t touch people who wants to learn how to dance one dance because he’s going to a dinner where he’s being honored. fluent | 32
F I R S T
R E A D I N G S
2 0 1 3
PHOTOS Seth Freeman: Clockwise, Mahira Kakkar; Becky Byers; Cassie Beck, Kathleen Butler; Joey Collins; Liz Duffy Adams; Mr. Collins; Kohler McKenzie; Ms. Beck, Robyn Cohen, Michael Cullen.
fiveinvitationsfromed A Discourse on the Wonders of the Invisible World — it’s a period play set in 1702. This is an opportunity to come and experience a play that’ll be done in period in 1702, 10 years after the Salem Witch Trials... to see a community that is afraid of the invisible world that they don’t understand... afraid of individuals that aren’t like them, and have strong religious beliefs... to see how they are dealing with their fear and how hysteria and fear-mongering are created within the community, and does that somehow relate to our present day in time. The opportunity to see John Kerns’ new play — he’s a staff writer for “The Simpsons” and he’s a young playwright whose dialogue just bounces off the page. His new play, Modern Terrorism and They Who Want to Kill Us and How We Learned to Love Them, is really an homage to Stanley Kubrick’s 1963 title ‘Dr. Strangelove and How I Learned to Love the Bomb.’ John Kern has written in the style of satire... gallows humor, black comedy about a very serious subject matter. How can you write a comedy about three terrorists living in a terrorist cell in Brooklyn who are determined based on their ideologies and need to do something, to carry out something very dangerous and very shocking and very disturbing—a play about people that want to blow up the observation deck of the Empire State Building? We commissioned Jane Martin to do a new play, H2O. We’ve hired one of the legends of the American theater, Jon Jory, to direct ‘H2O.’ Jon has directed every world premiere of Jane Martin’s work since she started writing plays. We’re looking forward to the kind of magic and aggressive directing style that he’ll bring to this.
We have a new play by Sam Shepard, Heartless — the heart has always been a vital organ in Shepard’s plays — but he’s really broken new ground with Heartless because this very male, iconic male Pulitzer Prize-winning playright has written a play where there’s only one male character and four female characters with a very strong matriarch as the lead. So if you’ve never seen a Shepard play, this is an opportunity to experience Sam Shepard’s voice and his work. If you’ve seen Sam Shepard’s plays and been attracted to his work, this is an opportunity to see what he’s telling and speaking about now in a story that confronts many of the same themes that he’s dealt with—ruthlessness, wandering, existential questioning, the inability of human beings to connect with one other in a very authentic and real way. We have an opportunity to see these literary lions — F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway — in a final meeting that Mark St Germain, the playwright, has researched — the final meeting between Ernest Hemingway and F Scott Fitzgerald in Hollywood in 1937 in the villas where F. Scott Fitzgerald worked for the movie industry and near the end of his life. He died at 44, and he’s only 41 when this play takes place. It’s called Scott and Hem in the Garden of Allah, which was the name of his apartment complex where a lot of people from the film industry lived and worked. It’s an opportunity to hear these literary icons talk about the sacrifices and at what cost dedicating your life to writing and an artistic pursuit... at what cost has that been to personal relationships and to financial stability, to emotional health, etcetera. These are two very competitive, two very virile, two very sexy men, See what happens when Mark St. Germain puts them into the room at the same time.
JULY 3 - JULY 28, 2013
SCHEDULE * = PAY-WHAT-YOU-CAN PREVIEW ** = Opening Night, followed by the OPENING NIGHT RECEPTION ^ = these performances will be followed by a POST-SHOW DISCUSSION
A DISCOURSE ON THE WONDERS OF THE INVISIBLE WORLD
10:00 am 12:00 pm 12:30 pm
LUNCH & ART
2:00 pm 2:30 pm
4:30 pm 6:00 pm
by Liz Duffy Adams
FRANK CENTER STAGE • 260 UNIVERSITY DRIVE RUN TIME: 2 HOURS
HEARTLESS by Sam Shepard
FRANK CENTER STAGE • 260 UNIVERSITY DRIVE RUN TIME: 1 HOUR, 40 MINUTES
MODERN TERRORISM by Jon Kern — MARINOFF THEATER CENTER FOR CONTEMPORARY ARTS II 62 WEST CAMPUS DRIVE RUN TIME: 2 HOURS
SCOTT AND HEM IN THE GARDEN OF ALLAH by Mark St. Germain MARINOFF THEATER CENTER FOR CONTEMPORARY ARTS II 62 WEST CAMPUS DRIVE RUN TIME: 90 MINUTES
H2O by Jane Martin CCA 112 • CENTER FOR CONTEMPORARY ARTS I 92 WEST CAMPUS DRIVE RUN TIME: 90 MINUTES
LUNCH & ART
LUNCH & ART
LUNCH & ART
4:30 pm 6:00 pm
10:30 pm Week Three
12:00 pm 12:30 pm DISCOURSE TERRORISM
BREAKFAST WITH ED
CENTER FOR CONTEMPORARY ARTS II 62 WEST CAMPUS DRIVE ($25)
PRESENTED FREE OF CHARGE thanks to the West Virginia Humanities Council:
SALON = Location TBA CATF IN CONTEXT = A scholarly approach to the CATF repertory. Free but requires reservation. CENTER FOR CONTEMPORARY ARTS II
10:30 pm Week Four
12:00 pm 12:30 pm HEARTLESS
CATF season plays at the Shepherdstown Opera House, 131 W. German Street. $10.00
LUNCH & ART
MOVIE = Friday matinee films related to the
6:30 pm 7:30 pm
304.876.3473 | 800.999.CATF (2283)
BOX OFFICE | www.catf.org
LUNCH & ART
READING = Join the CATF company for Stage Readings of new plays at the Shepherdstown Opera House, 131 West German Street
discuss issues raised in the plays at the popular Talk Theater Lecture Series at Reynolds Hall, 109 North King Street
CENTER FOR CONTEMPORARY ARTS II 62 WEST CAMPUS DRIVE ($30)
LECTURE = Distinguished guest speakers
The Photography of Mark Muse
Black Cherries in Canaan 36 |
By Nancy McKeithen
You would likely call him a photographer. But Mark Muse calls himself a printmaker. To him, the photographs he takes are the raw material he collects to take home and work up on his computer. Muse admits to being as intrigued with the ink-on-paper side of photography as the photographs themselves. It’s no surprise. He’s worked professionally in the printing industry with digital images for years. But his fascination for ink goes back to when he was a kid in Pittsburgh reading the Sunday newspaper supplements—they always had a rotogravure section, with rich, black images. That interest followed him to college. Undecided on a major, he recounts being in a library one day where there was a good selection of photo books—big hard-bound coffee table books—of Cartier-Bresson, Adams, Weston. “I remember looking at them, thinking, ‘Oh, man, this is gorgeous... these are beautiful.’ That’s why I just decided to do photography, because of the experience of seeing those photographs.” His first camera was a 35mm Rangefinder he found laying around the house, in a drawer. He doesn’t remember the brand, but that it was small and compact. During college he wrote a letter to Ansel Adams, asking about printing. Adams thought he meant photographic printing, but he was really asking about reproductions. He knows he shouldn’t have thrown out Adams’ hand-written note back to him. After college—he has a BFA from Ohio University—he turned down an opportunity to work at a studio. “I didn’t want to earn a living doing something that would poison photography for me.” When he sits down at his computer to work through the digital pixels he brings home, he may be there a long time. Five hours easily. For some, eight to ten hours. An hour would be a short time, he says. That’s per picture. Yet when he’s done, the images don’t look Photoshopped. “That’s part of the trick. As a rule of thumb, I say to myself ‘if what I’m doing calls attention to itself, then it’s too much.’ ”
Muse often goes back and shoots in the same area over and over. He explains that it can take a few visits to get to know a place. Sometimes, he re-shoots the same things with different lighting, at different times of day, from a different perspective or a different angle. “It satisfies something in me,” he says. “I don’t know what that is.” Then he laughs. But wherever he’s shooting, it’s always about the light. “I’m photographing the light all the time, literally and figuratively.” Muse thinks that sometimes people don’t “get” his photographs, that his images are too diffuse. “There are a lot of suggestions and textures, shapes, directions and movement, but not a thing you can say the photograph is of.” They are subtle. They never yell at you. “It’s likely they never will,” he says. He wants to make them more compelling and powerful in terms of their emotional content. He muses about how to do that. Color, sometimes, he thinks. And having an emotional response to what’s in front of the camera and then imparting that in the final print image. Easier said. Muse rarely shoots people. You might occasionally see him capturing some candid shots with his iPhone. “There’s this assumption that because you’re a photographer you can shoot weddings, you can do this, you can do that,” he says. “I shoot landscapes, just landscapes.” When he has to introduce himself as a photographer, it’s as a fine art photographer because the gamut of the profession is so broad, but generally he eschews the kind of pretense that attaches to such things. Photography simply gives him reason to go out and do what he wants to do. It gets him up in the early morning, when the light is best. “A good analogy for me is fly-fishing. I finally had to say to myself, ‘It’s not really about catching fish. The wonder of being out here and interacting with the water and the fish and the insects.... So who cares if I catch fish?’ ” He set it aside for photography.
Winter Sky | 39
Towpath 40 |
Allegheny Front | 41
Towpath | 43
& The Art of Making Things Happen, Part II Last issue, we ran Part 1 of “Makers & Shakers,” featuring responses to our questions about what drives a few people to step outside themselves and take art out into the community. n In Part 2, we share what potter Joy Bridy, multimedia artist Steven Dobbin and fiber artist Jane Frenke told Fluent about their experiences in making a place for art in their communities. n Finding a way to build a “community of makers,” as Joy Bridy calls it, is a common thread among people who are working to make something bigger than themselves happen in the world around them. Creating a space for art is an art form in itself. It takes courage to step out, to encounter resistance, to persuade, to create something where there was nothing. n Bridy feels drawn to be part of creating a successful artistic community, even when that effort takes her away from her own work. Steven Dobbin wants to provide a space where any artist can exhibit his or her work. Jane Frenke was looking for a venue where quilters could share their work and benefit the community. Each knows it takes persistence, learning from experience and a sense of humor to keep going. n Makers and shakers dream big. They dream outside themselves, and they find ways to engage others in supporting that dream. When they succeed, the community benefits. As Frenke says, “The good that the community gets from the new idea far outweighs the naysaying.” 44 |
& by Ginny Fite Jane Frenke — Fiber artist, founder of the Delectable Mountains Quilt Guild, member of the Morgan Arts Council & Ice House Artists Cooperative.
Steven Dobbin — Artist, special education teacher in Frederick County Public Schools, co-founder of Artomatic@Frederick.
Joy Bridy — Wood firing potter, gardener, wood stacker, hiker of local trails and haunts, companion to a mathematician and brindled hound, indefatigable liver.
What is it that propels you to step into a void and create a new organization or program or opportunity for artists? “When I see an answer to a problem. The Yard Square Quilts project is a good example. The quilters were in need of a venue for their talents that would benefit the community. I was in upstate New York and a friend had a beautiful Yard Square (a small quilt hanging that is a yard long on each side) that she had gotten from the local guild’s auction. That was where the idea started. Then I saw a quilt hanging over the frozen food section in a Wegman’s supermarket in the same area and I thought, ‘We can do this in Berkeley Springs.’ Our Delectable Mountains Quilt Guild has donated over $36,000 to the local charities in the last eight years because of their generosity, their beautiful work and their belief that they can make a difference in the lives of the community.
“In my capacity as a Special Education Teacher, I started a program to help provide vocational training and seek out opportunity for students who are intellectually disabled. When the idea to hold an Artomatic event occurred to me, it was for three reasons: (1) I wanted to attract the attention of the Washington, DC and Baltimore art world to what was going on in Frederick and our surrounding environs. (2) I wanted to provide an opportunity for any/all artists who wanted to participate to be able to show their work in a non-juried situation no matter how accomplished they are, or whether they are just starting out. (3) I thought that acquiring the building and putting on a show would provide custodial and maintenance work opportunities for my students.
Left, design by Jane Frenke.
“In my creative life, I spend much time alone, in my studio, with my own ideas and urges. While I cherish every minute I have to dig deep into my private creativity, I also appreciate the energy that happens in a community of makers. I have worked in many shared studios and creative spaces, and there is nothing like the swirl of energy that happens when creative minds are found in one place together, making and risking, manifesting shared responses to questions and ideas. This month, I’m welcoming my first apprentice to my studio, hoping to pass on the skills, gifts, tribulations and hard work of wood-fired pottery to a newer maker. I’m also aware that the benefit goes both ways…. We will both be changed by the exchange, broadening our views and hearts as we move forward as thoughtful makers. It’s this sense of growth and exploration that fuels me in the studio working alone, as well as in collaboration with others. Columns continued on next page
What’s your response when people say “no” or express resistance to your idea or program? Jane My first response is to ask ‘Why not?’ and see if it is because they don’t want to do the work. Or they think it is a dumb idea and won’t fly... or what? I then try to see if they’re right and it won’t work some particular way. Then I’ll just move around the objections and make it work the way it can.
Steven The main resistance came from people who thought that it [Artomatic] was unrealistic or too big of an undertaking. I figured that we wouldn’t know unless we tried. There wasn’t anyone who really said no, although there were disagreements about logistical factors and who should be included. But all of that was easily resolved because Artomatic has certain expectations and guidelines that we were compelled to follow if we wanted to use the name.
Joy I acknowledge that the match is not right, either in interest, ability, timing, or other ways. I don’t take it personally; instead, I try to find a way to connect with people in a positive way, and move on to keeping my eyes open for the “yes” people, and more specifically, the “YES!” people (and organizations).
Left, quilt by Jane Frenke, right, plates by potter Joy Bridy.
Thinking back on the creation of your gallery, event, organization or program, were there times when you just wished you stayed in the office or at home? Jane Not really.... I have occasionally thought I’d bitten off more than I can chew. But in the grand scheme of the idea and the final outcome, the good that the community gets from the new idea far outweighs the naysaying.
Steven There were times that I wished I had stayed home but that was toward. the end of the run. The event should have been 5 weeks but I screwed up and because of poor calendar skills scheduled it for 6. The last week almost killed us.
Joy Just about every day I spend away from my studio, I remind myself that I could be in the studio making pots. Yet I also feel a draw to be part of creating a successful artistic community. My drive with a large ceramics facility is also personal, because I would like to create sculptures that are too large to fire in my personal studio. Teaching and inviting other ceramic artists to work together, which is challenging in my small personal studio, has always been part of my artistic vision. While I love diving deep in my studio, the drive to grow and develop as an artist is just as important as making what I’m currently able to produce.
“The Things They Carry” by Steven Dobbin, steel, 12 ft x 14 ft, 2012. 46 |
How do you convince yourself and others to keep going when you are creating something new? Jane Baby steps and persistence. I’ve been blessed with a mind that just keeps at it, looking for different ways to get things done. I play a game when I’m on the road called 20 answers. If there is a problem, come up with 20 different ways to a solution. The first five are easy, then you really start to dig and come up with some insightful answers. The last five are tough or really funny!
Steven In the case of Artomatic the vision was clear and well defined and the building sold the idea. Once the artists saw the space and what we were planning to do, it was easy to envision. Plus, nothing like this had been done in this geographic area and the excitement built daily due to the activity and involvement of the community.
Jane Frenke in her studio.
Joy For years, while I worked in social work at a womens’ shelter, I kept a notebook of vision exercises, or idea generators. My assignment was to think of programs, projects, small businesses, or other hairbrained ideas and flesh them out. I treat creativity as a muscle, and believe in flexing it in ways that are outlandish and dreamy, as exercises. This gives me the energy and awareness to hone my skills of understanding what can work and what can’t, and I’m more prepared when the right project comes around. I also believe that these exercises have taught me to cast wide nets, so when one project feels heavy and bogged down, there are plenty of small details to give my attention to, which will often free up energy and increase momentum again.
When the notion to create something new comes to you, do you evaluate it in any particular way or do you just go with the impulse? Jane It’s more of a flash. The answer comes in a pop and then I have to evaluate the original question. Is it worth the time and energy? Are the outcome and the benefit for the group or the community as a whole worth the effort? Below L and R, pottery by Joy Bridy.
Steven I just went with the impulse; it was something that I had been thinking about for a couple of years because every day that I drove to work I would pass vacant buildings and think about how great it would be to show the work of hundreds of artists in there. So I guess that I did evaluate it because I knew that it would take a tremendous amount of time and energy but the impulse to see it happen was more significant.
Joy In the studio, there are regular times that I set aside for experimentation and new ideas. I direct what-ifs into those times, particularly if I’m intensely focused on something else when they come to me. I keep a sketchbook and an idea book, full of images, writings, poetry, doodles… whatever comes up, to document those stray details when I’m looking for inspiration later. Concepts that keep coming back in one way or another, over time and location, draw my deep focus. These are the projects that hold my interest, and progress on these larger/longer-term ideas always excites me. I’m not one to plunge headfirst into a brand-new project idea, but prefer the slow, long progress of longings coming to fruition. Columns continued on next page
Is there a special kind of satisfaction in creating something that supports other people’s artistic endeavors? What’s the reward for all the work? Jane The reward for all the work is the smiles on the faces of everyone involved. Bill Clinton paraphrased: “Much can be accomplished if it doesn’t matter who gets the credit....” I like that concept. One of our arts council artists working in Arts Integration with the schools teaches a clay class. Just seeing the pride of accomplishment in the grade schoolers when their animal stands up on its legs... or on the faces of some of the adult quilters when they try a new technique and love it and want to do more. It’s important to me to give all of them the freedom to not be controlled by the material and to take control of the process. That’s the reward.
Steven There was a lot of satisfaction and rewards for so many different reasons. The support and respect that the artists involved showed each other, the opportunity to see the work of artists whose work I had been unaware of. The dialogue that emerged as a result of seeing so many different styles of work and the emergence of artists who had not had opportunity to show their work. And the opportunities that emerged for many artists who were recognized by The Washington Post and influential art blogs.
“Remnants,” Steven Dobbin, 2007.
Joy Nothing thrills me more than seeing another person get lost in the creative act of making. (Well, perhaps seeing that same person then use their work in their own lives, like a mug or plate.) People get excited about making things that they can then use. Long ago, I read a book about the industrial revolution, and how one of the intentions was to shorten the work day so people would have time to go home and make their own things, instead of always making things for their boss. We lost that along the way, and have become passive consumers, always wanting to purchase more, not make more. Creating a space where people can take back ownership of the things in their daily lives thrills me.
Can your belief in and enthusiasm for the arts be transmitted to others? Jane Around the Ice House, they called it “Jane in January.” It was my seeing that if we cleaned out one area, put in lights and painted the floor, the area was transformed into a workable area that could be used. People got on board to do the work because they could see the finished product, the clean and well lit space. I may tend to paint a rosier than real picture, but once the team starts we’re flexible and able to make the rosy happen! It’s my version of the “if you build it they will come” syndrome.
Steven Yes, it is evident by the involvement of over 500 visual and performing artists and the 10,000 people who attended Artomatic.
Joy Yes. Buddy, Bridy’s work companion.
Exhibit of yard squre quilts — 3x3-foot squares of fabric art fashioned using traditional and contemporary quilting techniques — designed by members of Morgan County’s Delectable Mountain Quilters. 48 |
All photos provided by the artists.
What do you think is your legacy? Jane Legacy? There’s a list. Getting the Ice House building done, people creating in the open space. “Wet” classrooms, and the freedom that art gives to everyone. Kids choosing what color to paint the flower are starting to practice decision-making. They become more able to make good choices when they get older if they’ve made small choices in art classes when they’re little.
Steven I haven’t given it much thought as I’m not done yet but I would like to be recognized for my art as well as my community involvement.
“Indent, 1, 2, 3” by Steven Dobbins. 48 in x 8 in x 2 in, Sheet Lead, 2007.
Joy My legacy is this enthusiasm for hand-crafted, well-crafted items of use, and opportunities and spaces to learn to make these things. From ceramics to basketry to painting to cheese-making, I hope to pass on a thoughtful reconnection to the things we use day-in and day-out in our homes. As my mentor Kevin Crowe says, “Get it right, pass it on.”
Does anything else occur to you about making something out of nothing? Jane Nope.
Quilt design by Jane Frenke.
Steven I think that as an artist I am always trying to bring an idea to fruition. All pieces start as an idea and many times we are satisfied when we think that the idea is a good one and we leave it there. I want to see it exist and follow where it leads.
Joy A poem by Marge Piercy. “T0 Be of Use” from Circles on the Water. © Alfred A. Knopf. Read and listen here.
Do you think of yourself as an artist, as a “creative” or is doing your work simply an extension of your own interests? Jane Doing what I do is an extension of me and who I am. When I was in college, my dad told me to “love what I have to do.” He taught by storytelling, and his stories always had a point, a memorable line or teaching. There are so many people working in jobs that they don’t like because they’ll be happy when they retire or get home or whatever. I’ve been blessed with loving what I do... creating and mixing color and texture. Seeing the way the shades bounce off one another and complement each other. Working with my hands and my brain to figure out the best way to accomplish the outcome I want to see, be it a wet classroom at the art center with classes for kids and adults... or seeing the quilters empowered to create for themselves and the benefit of the town.
Steven I think of myself as a parent, teacher and artist. All of my involvements are an extension of my interests and all inform the others. Much of my art comes from the students I teach, and I teach the way I parent, and the opportunities that are presented for my art and my students are often intertwined. fluent
Below, after a little over a year of planning, designing and building her first kiln—a bourry box—Bridy lit the fire box of the kiln for the first time in mid July 2010. “May the firings be many, and the path be lined with many curious findings,” she said at the time. Below in late April 2013, Bridy starts firing number 6.
Playing with Fire Paula Pennell Makes Glass Art
“It keeps my sanity,” says artist Paula Pennell about her hot glass work. It seems dangerous for a therapy: the torch, the rod with luminous hot glass forming into a shape controlled by turning the rod, dipping, raising it. Pennell has the scars to prove that this is no art form for cowards. “Melting glass,” the Frederick County, Maryland, resident says, “is like rubbing your tummy and patting your head at the same time.” You use gravity, movement and heat to shape the glass, she explains. “It’s an intuitive process. You get a feel for what to do.” An English major and art history minor who now works as a proposal manager at an engineering company in Clarksburg, Pennell says she needs all the creative outlets she can get. Her self-description on her blogs is: “Marketeer, writer / blogger, hot glass artist, foodie, gardener, fitness wannabe, and lady lover of craft beer.” Pennell creates hot glass art in her home studio using an oxygen / propane torch to melt glass rods and other materials.
She has two blogs, one about glass art and one on beer. She says she has middle-aged ADD, but it seems less like attention deficit and more like attention surfeit. There is energy in her that must be expended in making things. Pennell’s most recent exploration is with living things. Fascinated by the wax in a beehive, by what she can make from it, she has taken up beekeeping. Undoubtedly, she will write about the experience. “My blogs are my way of sharing knowledge and information,” she says. There’s a cycle of experimentation, deep immersion, and expression that Pennell’s activities follow. She says in her blog that “hot glass is a journey full of discovery.” It seems she is creating a life that imitates art. “I’m a creative; I like to create things,” she says simply. She also likes to experiment, to do things other people are not doing. A member of the Frederick Hot Glass Society, Pennell first discovered art glass when she worked at a computer systems company with a colleague who collected art glass paperweights. “That was it. I wanted to learn more about them,” she recalls. But Pennell is not one to just collect; she must do. She and her husband, a craft beer maker originally from Morgantown, traveled all over West Virginia to see glass blowing operations. There used to be over 500 glass factories in the state and now there are only a handful of these operations, she laments. “When you see people blowing glass, you can’t help wanting to get in there,” Pennell explains. The material spoke to her, as artist Bradley Sanders would say.
By Ginny Fite 50 |
“One of the great things about glass is you never know what you’re going to get until you pull it out of the kiln. Glass takes its own path and you go where the glass takes you.” In Pennell’s case, glass drew her to Forestheart Studio in Woodsboro, Maryland, where she saw Mary Klotz doing lamp work. Pennell took the class, learned the basics, got a hothead torch, screwed it onto a canister of oxygen propane mix, and went at it. She says she never had any fear of playing with fire. “I like a little danger.” She has now been doing glass art since the late ’90s. It never gets boring, she says. When she needs a little inspiration, sometimes she’ll ask her husband what to make. At one point, he said “make some owls.” So she looked at photographs of owls and then jumped right in. There are now owls in her glass portfolio. Although she says she likes making things that are practical, such as jewelry that can be worn, like all artists, Pennell’s descriptions of working with her material are poetic, spiritual. The process, she says, “leads you; you go where the glass takes you. You go into this Zen mode.” She loves working at the edge of the flame. fluent
PHOTOS provided by the artist.
Paula Pennell, Glass Artist paulasglassroots.com | cheerbeers.wordpress.com https://www.facebook.com/paulas.glassroots http://www.etsy.com/people/paulasglassroots
A Taste of France By Jill Yris
Chef Kelly Fitzgerald is an artisan. “I understand the principles and dynamics of the composé of food,” he says, leaning forward and gesturing with his hands, “what you can do with it and what you can’t.” Sitting at the communal table in the garden of Shepherdstown’s Bistro 112, surrounded by fresh herbs and the sounds of light jazz, Chef Fitzgerald continues. “The style I use here is Creative French”: Portions are lighter, lower fat, yet still taste rich and delicious. “It’s all in preparation and technique — good French food made with integrity.” Born and raised in West Chester, Penn., Fitzgerald learned about fresh fruits and vegetables on his grandfather’s dairy farm and is internationally trained. His expertise has led him to cooking in many respected venues. Working at the United Nations, he catered to dignitaries, including Muammar Gaddafi. “When
they kicked Gaddafi out of the U.N.,” Fitzgerald says, laughing, “he had a going away party for 1700 people.” The chef advocates eating “fresh food, real food” and encourages the use of local, sustainable foods. Shep Ogden, of Jefferson County’s Agricultural Development Office, introduced him to cardoons, baseball bat-long celery artichokes that “made a great soup.” Currently, Fitzgerald is preparing for the Bistro’s next “Taste of France,” an evening of pairing regional food, wine and stories. His plans include a Corsican menu of fish soup, grilled quail with herb rub, chicory salad with asparagus, sheep’s milk cheese and lemon mousse with chestnut cookies. Throughout a career that includes cooking for mondialement célèbre — his list includes James Earl Jones, Rock Hudson, Christopher Reeves, Elvis and King Hussein of Jordan — Chef Fitzgerald has found that “with food, you can meet a king.” He did. fluent BISTRO 112 • 112 W German St., Shepherdstown, WV 25443 304.876.8477 | www.Bistro112.com | info@Bistro112.com Sunday Brunch Noon–4:00 pm Monday, Wednesday, Thursday Noon–8:00 pm Tuesday Closed Friday, Saturday Noon–9:00 pm
PHOTOS Hannah Swindoll
Woman Speaking to Man
Chef Kelly Fitzgeraldâ€™s Duck Breast with Red Pear & Couscous
You receive the daily bulletins as the jungle does
Cinnamon Espresso Rub 4 Tbsp Cinnamon 1 Tbsp Instant Espresso 2 Tbsp Brown Sugar 1 Tsp Oregano 2 Tbsp Kosher or Sea Salt Grilled Red Pear Slice a medium-ripe red pear into 1/4-inch-thick disks. Grill or roast until tender. Duck Breast, Boneless Score fat side. Rub fat side with rub. Use cast iron skillet (preferred), medium high heat, with a Tbsp of oil. Place breast meat side down, rub side up and sear for 3 or 4 minutes. Flip, cook to your preference. Couscous Follow directions on box. Add in cucumber, tomato, onion, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, ground coriander, pinch of cumin, dash of tabasco.
Its daily ration of weather and weathering wind You respond with muscle and lowered temperatures nearly immeasurable And your color changes and your surface. But when the heart cracks you do not see it When the heart cracks I have saved my moving, warming, chilling, So we are met. So we are twain You Tarzan Me Jane.
The Tulip Girls
Serving Slice duck breast and serve with couscous, pear and salad.
When the chrysanthemums go all to pieces At the end, dry and wisely colored Old native shades, I see my own autumn. But the tulips bloomed just at the day of May While stalks of chrysanthemums were a good green. Among the greens. The tulip girls have such satin in their eyes, Lavender and deep stripes where the sun describes their rouge, their red. What is skin, and hair and eye, what separates their flesh The tulip girl will never say. She is herself a secret, blooming just on the day of May Dying with color, never crisp and wise Dead young, satin in her eyes.
Poetry It flushes up our cheeks, brushes and curls our ear shells Moves sharply against the drum of mind. When it has channeled and found its breath Yes, yes, yes, we say, as lovers do.
Roam BY Molly Bridgeforth
it was supposed to be an out and back. Sean
and Markey showed up in the gray drizzly hours of morning. I spent the night sitting on the porch steps chain smoking and watching it rain. I couldn’t sleep when everything sounded like it was dripping. Outside, it was too dark to see anything, but I knew what was there. Rain dripping on asphalt sounds different than rain dripping on blades of grass, or gravel, or that piece of shit plastic car parked out front. I knew, for instance, that the driveway meandered up the incline, so I could barely see what was coming next, rain or not. Didn’t matter if I was coming or going. At night, it was best to use high beams on account of the family of deer living on the property next door. But sometimes, despite all that, when the moon was full and brighter than anything I’ve ever seen, Sandra and I would turn off the headlights and drive up under the moonlight. As soon as we killed the headlights, everything fell silent. There was never any noise, not a sound. We felt like we could have seen anything coming. When my ass was so cold it felt wet I went to bed, the smoke lying down with me and covering me like a blanket. The dripping was the last thing I thought about before I fell asleep. I woke to the blaring of a car horn. I could tell it was coming from a moving vehicle. I grabbed my shirt from last night, inhaling the sweet tobacco scent, and went to the front window. I tried wiping the sleep and smoke from my eyes, but the grayness hung everywhere, even in the window panes. Sean and Markey were in his old Toyota. That thing was a relic. Between them perched Rasputin, riding the doghouse with his big pink tongue blowing in the wind. He was Sean’s. We called him Pootie for short. Markey and Sean and Pootie, all riding in a row, maneuvered up the drive in the Land Cruiser while Markey laid on the horn with his elbow. They had similar expressions, the three of them, sitting there and smiling. 54 |
I opened the front door, and the pale morning light fell onto the hardwood, illuminating the dust in the air. “Morning,” I called between the slamming of car doors. “Hey man, you’re alive. Mom’s been asking about you,” Markey said, standing on the rotted porch steps. “Yeah give her my best,” I replied. Clearing my throat, I squinted at Markey and noticed his middleaged paunch. It occurred to me that I hadn’t spoken to anyone in almost two weeks. “We’re heading down to Harrisonburg now. Are you up for it?” “I haven’t really slept all that much, Markey.” “Come on. It looks like you just woke up, man. It‘ll do you good anyway.” “Might,” I replied. “Hey, good to see you,” Sean called out. He was still standing in the rain, leaning against the rusty truck with his arms crossed. Pootie had made himself comfortable in the passenger seat. “Sean’s got a good trail. You remember Simmons’s Gap? We’re going in around there,” Markey said. On the way down, I sat in the back. The cracked leather seats smelled of perspiration. I moved my thigh to cover a deep tear in the upholstery. I didn’t want to look at it the whole way down. I wanted to sleep, but the rain clicked on the roof and the wipers moaned, smearing dirty water across the windshield. “This storm should blow out by the time we get started,” Sean said, messing with his Blackberry. “I threw some ponchos in our packs, though.” I pulled up the hood of my fleece and leaned my forehead against the cool glass. We were getting to the good part, where the rolling hills ironed out into a long, flat run, and on either side of the car, they were there—the Blue Ridge, looming suddenly like they hadn’t been there before. But I knew they were there all along. I glanced in the rearview mirror to see if Markey noticed. From where I sat, all I could see
was the stubble on his upper lip magnified. He was frowning. We pulled off and parked somewhere along the side of the road and followed Sean. He was right; the storm blew over. Leaves disguised the trail, and everything looked wild and unexplored. Sean clipped his Blackberry on his belt and led the way; Markey followed. When he was little, he used to want to run up the mountain. I always stayed behind with mom, and when we caught up, he’d be sitting there on a rock with his chin in his hand, waiting. “You look like ‘The Thinker,’ ” Mom would say. She got his picture sitting that way and put it on her desk. It was strange to walk in her office now and see his boy face looking back at me. “If we keep up the pace, we’ll be out and back before it gets dark,” Sean said when we came to the first vista. The space between my ribs ached, and I sat down for a few seconds. Everything looked barren now that the leaves had fallen. There was a hazy blue cloud resting on
the rocky overlook adjacent to ours. I thought that if I could just keep walking, I could touch it. But the bare brown trees were deceiving. They made me think I could touch things that were far away. Without the leaves, the trees looked like they could scratch the sky. I wondered what kind of mark they would leave. “If you think this is great, wait till we get to the next one,” Sean said. “It’s spectacular. But we have to break from the markers for about a mile. It’s a loop that meets back up with the trail….” We fell back into line and continued up. I preferred to walk in silence. I thought Markey did too. “Are we going easy enough on you?” Markey asked. “Easy enough,” I replied, not meaning to echo him. “Nice day, though,” I added. “I discovered this by accident last month,” Sean explained when we departed from the trail. “How many miles are we doing today?” Markey asked. “I don’t know really. I’d say… twelve.”
PHOTO Mark Muse
“Hey, Sean, have you seen Pootie?” I asked. For a moment, everything was silent. We might have heard him crunching leaves in the distance. “He probably hasn’t gone far,” Sean said after a few seconds. Before long my fingers were aching with the cold. I raised my arms and moved my hands in a circle to keep the blood flowing. I saw it on TV once. “What the hell are you doing?” Markey said. I wasn’t sure if he was joking, so I told him to shut the hell up. There were leaves all around, and they seemed more slippery than they were when we started. I thought we might be in a cloud, but I wasn’t certain. For a while, no one spoke much. We kept roaming around, calling for Pootie. “Should we split up?” I asked, but no one answered. “Sean, what are you going to do?” Markey said after what could have been an hour. It was hard to tell time in the mountains. I couldn’t tell the difference like I could at home. Markey was always sensible, though, and I knew he must be wearing a watch. “I just don’t want to leave him. He’s never been like this before. Maybe something’s wrong, you know?” “Well we have to turn around soon, right?” “The sun’s not setting for another hour,” Sean said, trying to get a signal on his Blackberry. “Probably.” “What the hell man, it took us almost five hours just to get up here. We‘ve got to keep moving.” “We can camp here for the night if we have to.” “Did somebody bring gear?” I asked. “I think we should find the trail again” Markey said. “I don’t want to leave—I mean, maybe Pootie’s at the bottom?” “I just need to be sure first.” “Listen…I’m turning around now, Sean. I think I can figure out which way is down. Are you coming?” Markey looked at me and then back at Sean. I guess he meant “you” plural. I crossed my arms and exhaled. I could see my breath. I shrugged. “Fine, you guys go on and I’ll catch up,” said Sean. Markey and I headed down, ignoring any markers. There was only the faint clicking sounds of small rocks banging beneath our boots. “Pretty soon it’ll be dark and neither one of us has a flashlight,” I said. “Shit,” Markey said. “Maybe it’s best if we just camp here tonight.” 56 |
“Camp with what? Why didn’t you say anything earlier?” “What time is it?” “What? What the fuck, man…” Markey began shaking his head, like there were invisible gnats flying around him. “Nothing,” I said. “Sean was getting obnoxious. Don’t you think?” “No. Christ. What are we going to do? He just wants to find his old ass dog.” “Just keep walking,” I said. The sun began to disappear somewhere far away. I thought if I could just keep walking, we could get to where the sun was still shining. We passed trees that held onto the last leaves of fall. Reds and oranges hung over our heads and slipped under our feet. Sandra and I wanted to go out to Colorado someday, where all the leaves turn yellow. We never saw any yellow leaves over here. Markey and I didn’t talk for a long time. Then I asked again, “What time is it?” “Does it matter, David? You haven’t left your house for two weeks. Did you even realize that? Do you really give a shit about time?” The aching in my ribs was back, and I sat down in the dirt, my back scraping against the trunk of a tree on my way down. Night fell quickly, and for a few seconds it was too dark to see my own hand. But even at night there has to be some light, so I waited. “I could really use a cigarette,” I said into the darkness. “Christ, David. I’m leaving. I’m going down. In the dark. Take care of yourself, Ok?” He sounded exactly like Sandra. Markey continued down on his stout sailor legs, and I saw him pause for a second to look at his watch. A little pool of green light shone, illuminating the space between his wrist and nose. “You son of a bitch,” I called after him. “You know it’s safer to sleep up here than by the road, right?” “I know,” he said and I could hear him settling down by a tree a few paces below. “See you in the morning.” In the morning everything smelled of moss and clay. More leaves littered the mountain floor. They shone, just wet, like Sandra’s auburn hair after her typical midnight shower. Man, I miss that hair. fluent Molly Bridgeforth lives in Virginia with her husband and son. This is her first published work of fiction.
October 4 – 31, 2013 “Rock & Tile Building” 154 Wolfcraft Way Charles Town, WV
Artist Registration Happening Now www.ArtomaticJefferson.com
Visual arts, performing arts, theater, film, dance, poetry – a month-long celebration of the arts Free Admission, donations accepted Featuring artists from around the region, workshops, concerts, readings, children’s activities, fashion show, Halloween party, food & drink, and more Hours: Public Grand Opening, Friday, Oct. 4, 5 pm Fridays 11 am - 11 pm Saturdays 11 am - 11 pm Sundays 10 am - 6 pm Halloween Party Thursday, October 31, 4 pm…
Artomatic@Jefferson Partners Phil and Becky McDonald Eden Design
Hope Maxwell Snyder, a native of Colombia, South America, has published a novel, Orange Wine, and a book of poems, The Houdini Chronicles. Her honors include the first Donald Everitt Axinn Award in Poetry for Bread Loaf, the first scholarship to attend Bread Loaf in Sicily, three poetry fellowships for the Gettysburg Review’s Conference for Writers, and the Peter Taylor Fellowship in Poetry at The Kenyon Review’s Conference. Featured in the Latino/a Poetry Round Table Discussion hosted by the Poetry Society of America, Hope founded and directed the Sotto Voce Poetry Festival for 8 years in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. She is also the founder of Somondoco Press, a small independent publishing company that publishes poetry, fiction and literary nonfiction. Hope is currently on staff for the Bread Loaf Conference in Sicily. PHOTO Piccadilly Posh
Mine Now More than Ever
The First Time I Wore Patent Leather Shoes
After a lifetime of letters, he’s finally here.
What is left of my father waits for me inside a carton in the trunk of my car.
We followed Grandfather’s mistress into the belly of a train weaving like an eel through abandoned tracks — a train with velvet cushions, filled with women in gloved hands counting beads and kissing crosses.
I stop at a drive thru for coffee, listen to “Blue Raincoat” while I drink it. Then to the river, I open the trunk, lift out the box. It rains on the towpath, on the bluebells, on the paper boat that floats on the water, and on the sugar people in the boat. Armed with a knife, I tear open the box, get soaked. The first fistful of my father he who has always run, sticks to my fingers. The wind blows the second one back.
Mother was in Madrid. The Pope came to Colombia.
The Pope’s gown danced in the distance. Incense burned in the streets. On her knees, Grandfather’s mistress climbed Monserrate, to pray at the church on the mountain. Miguel winked. He was ten, I was eight. Weeks went by before Mother came home with lunchboxes — Tarzan for Miguel, red plaid for me, and a feigned lisp — pronouncing azul now the Spanish way, tongue caught between teeth. In The Changing Light At first he believed she would be back, and that he would open the door. In the meantime, he kept his job, adopted a dog without a tail, soaked in the hot tub, and lounged on the couch they had bought on sale. “Custom made,” the sales woman had explained stroking the velvet. In the afternoon light, it shimmered like silver. After four years, the other woman has learned to cook rosemary chicken and threatens to fill his days and his bed. She goes through the house, gathers sweaters, pictures, and paintings. Now there will be room for her pills and her make-up. With a drink and Barry White on the stereo, he rests on the couch in the changing light. In his hand, the pearl earring he found while re-arranging the cushions last night.
Cante Flamenco The bottom of my skirt opens and closes. Waves of polka dots rise to my knees. Silk ruffles turn to foam. He kissed me on a summer night. His mouth tasted not of garlic or salt, but of wine and cinnamon. I dream he takes my hand again before we run up the hill to a church that was once a mosque and fly like kites at dawn to float over the field where Federico died. In men’s hungry eyes: thoughts clear as graffiti on church walls. They want to touch my skin, when what I long for is to dance only for him, to twist and turn for him, arms lifted, mantilla on the ground, chin up. The day he left I buried my hunger in a cave above Granada. If he returns, my bed will freeze. The olive trees will burn. The moon will comb her hair again. I choose a blue dress now he’s gone, red shoes, and like a jaguar, crouch on the edge of the map to wait for him. Elegy for “Gato” Killed in Bogotá for a Leather Jacket No more bridges for you. punquero, in braces, lips thick and sweet like arequipe. No frost, no haggard-looking pineapples. No children, no growing old, no ending up alone in the hallways of a nursing home. A lazy heron won’t guide your boat across the Amazon. When styled into a mohawk, the crescent in the middle of your head half-rose like the broken wing of a macaw.
Elegy for My Grandfather Who Died in a City Surrounded by Mountains He was light reflected on snow, a handful of emeralds in the mouth, high cheekbones shaped as Chibcha clouds. He was rain, a hotel room in Paris, legs that walked through the wilderness for miles. Soft and hard like the seed of the mamoncillo fruit covered in bitter-sweet pulp. Long after his body forgot to speak the language of desire, poems bloomed under his hat. In his room, a window, brandy, Vallejo, candles, and Daedalus’s wings, traded for two pounds of coffee in Damascus. The year he watched the world from his soft bed, I danced flamenco for him. In those days, I was still a spider, all arms and legs, all making thread for silk webs. Photograph of a Man Standing by a Waterfall This is the only picture of our father. He’s holding my brother like a cherub in a Florentine painting. Papá, no longer just a voice over the telephone long distance from los Estados Unidos, or a writer of impersonal letters who included self addressed stamped envelopes for replies about our lives without him. Nude torso, the waterfall behind him, bamboo, palms, large slabs of rock, this place a circus and a carnival at once, a land of heat and evergreens. Strong as a centaur, white without apology, in the picture my father wears tight bathing trunks, his blond hair already an M on his forehead. Thick lips, no smile, cleft chin, a body made for love and betrayal, made for running away.
Acknowledgements The Comstock Review: “Elegy for My Grandfather Who Died in a City Surrounded by Mountains.” The Gettysburg Review: “In the Changing Light.” OCHO: “The First Time I Wore Patent Leather Shoes.” Poetry Society of America: “Cante Flamenco.”
Triple Whammy at the Formerly O.K. White Male Corral By Ed Zahniser
Whoa! Things are getting out of hand here, pardner. The multiverse refuses to resolve. Fem-Tech leveling jerks our jobs. What’s worse, the Nerd is in the saddle now. Whoa! Outta control, pardner. What’s with this mystifying multiverse? Maybe our borders loom too big and sit surrounded by too much deep salt water or by people who are mostly — to the north, I mean — so similar we can’t adjust to expanding pluralism. Except: Have you gone ethnic food shopping in Toronto lately? Whoa! Super selections! Stuff from all over! For a fact we have not resolved the new cultural realities of increasing pluralism. It strains the stasis of culture, cosmos and self-concept. Difference remains difference. It doesn’t elide to diversity. But does that make it un-American? Does that call for all-out combat by legislation? Or Constitutional amendments? Hardly. We have had periodic infusions of pluralism — ask Pocahontas! — from the Lost Colony and Jamestown up through Ellis Island and the 1800s. Who built the canals and railroads? How did ghetto come into the language? Weren’t the Amish and Mennonites persecuted in Europe first? And what about those spoils of the MexicanAmerican War that just happened to be nearly half of Mexico’s total real estate? No wonder Henry Thoreau chose jail over paying the poll tax. Whoa! The most free thinker winds up in jail? (And, yes, Virginia, part of Oregon once was Mexico and all that gold in California, too.) Admittedly, “The Simpsons TV show lacks that culturally lulling Qualude quality of “The Ozzie and Harriet Show” or “Leave It To Beaver.” But even cleancut Fifties rock ’n roller Ricky Nelson ended knowing if they forced him to sing the same old song every time out, he’d “rather drive a truck.” That’s plain Anglo-Saxon talk for “the marketplace induces amnesia.” 60 |
White male hegemony slips its grip on the pluralistic multiverse. Top dog of dominant culture slips down a notch in the pack hierarchy. Alpha male goes Beta to Alpha Female — or what may only smack of parity still smarts that way! Fem-Tech leveling: Whoa! Women compete just fine for jobs where kudos go to technical skill, and savvy counts for more than pumping iron (or component parts) for heavy industry. Digital vs Pectoral. When America exported our Making of Big Things, the packing and shipping instructions specified “white protective packing filler made from shredded male ego.” It must’ve been part of the fine print. Would foam peanuts packing stuff have served us better in the long run? White male hegemony slips its grip on the workplace, too. Whoa! You think that’s bad, pardner? Now the Nerd is in the saddle, too. Holy John Wayne! No more Big ’n Hard. Suddenly it’s Microsoft. That’s right, Duke. And you know danged well Bill Gates never even made manager of his high school football team. Mickey Mantle’s liver vs Marshall McLuhan’s imagination. Macho magneto vs one small microchip for humankind. Whoa! How are you supposed to posture in the Boardroom when the competition’s a TechnoNerd, and his pockets are so deep they make yours look like watch pockets? What’s worse, he first filled his selling floppy disks? How hard is that!? Multiverse and Fem-Tech, and the Nerd is in the saddle now. So how you gonna fight back, Big Boy? Listen pardner, hadn’t we better take our local pulpits’ pulses and see what the preachers pray or say to sway us toward the common good?
What’s this? Empty local pulpits? Whoa! The preacher’s gone telectronic and answers to no local church? What’s this? Sunday School closed up shop in a time-share swap with hate-talk radio? The Religious Right rants on and on and online — It’s better to be really wrong Than merely to be Biblical. And preachers who raise money in Crystal Cathedrals don’t throw stones. Gimme that Good Times religion — with its gospel of health and wealth Gimme that Good Times religion Gimme that Good Times religion — Dale Carnegie saved me! Political posturing displaces the culture-critiquing of trenchant theology. Nationalism gerrymanders the Kingdom of God. Blessed are the sleek! Blessed are the chic, for they shall inherit the Earth. What is the difference between a political campaign and an ad campaign? Listen, pardner, I got a great idea. Let’s substitute nostalgia for history. Let’s roll back social legislation before it’s too late. Women and minorities and ethnics are just too much, man. You can’t even have a decently exclusive power lunch anymore. Social safety net, Socialist schmafety net. Nyet! And who needs government to temper free-market capitalism? So what if Big Business is multinational now and not even restrained by nationalism. Bring back the Robber Barons! Only unrestrained greed can produce prosperity for us all. Let justice trickle down like Perrier.... Let’s roll back environmental legislation, too. Endangered species? What about us? What about the divine right of private property? Environmentalists are henny pennyists. We’ve got more trees now in the eastern United States than they had a hundred
years ago. And the bald eagle? It wasn’t really bald. Those were white feathers! Silent Spring? Whoa! What a racket! Nature is inexhaustible outside the Washington, D.C. Beltway. If we can just get the Environmental Protection Agency off her back, then it’s go Mother Earth, go, go, go. And that picture of the Earth from so-called space? Are you kidding? That was shot in a studio! The Earth isn’t a globe. It’s a flat tax. Whoa! Once them Russky Communists went belly up and bought the collective farm, it made me see who the real culprit was all along. Yep, the common good! The common good. What a bill of goods! Listen pardner, how’d you like to come on over to the ranch tonight. We can watch “Father Knows Best” reruns on Nick at Nite? fluent
Making a poem is like exhaling, and love is the inspiration for breath in this new book of poems by Ginny Fite. Anyone who has ever loved, or lost, will ﬁnd themselves in the poems in THROWING CAUTION. Somewhere in this book is your experience of love. THROWING CAUTION is available on Amazon.com and also at the Washington Street Artists’ Cooperative in Charles Town, WV.
The Bridge Fine Art & Framing Gallery
Summer Exhibit • June 22–July 28 • Opening Reception, Sat, June 22, 6–8 pm New Paintings by Seth Hill, Jacob Stilley & Edmond Praybe
8566 Shepherdstown Pike, Shepherdstown WV 25443 • 304.876.2300 Fine Art, Ceramics, Photography & Custom Framing | 63