MAY 2014 â€˘ $2.00
Looking to the future Hudson High freshman hopes to make a difference in lives of others
Dance performance at WRA
2 HUDSON MONTHLY May 2014
2014 4 LETTER FROM THE EDITOR 6
Full speed ahead BY Peggy Sexton Expect great things from Hudson High freshman Dan Schierenbeck. He refuses to let cerebral palsy define him, and is taking control of his future. See what he is planning.
Vol. 15, Issue 9 MAY 2014
1050 W. Main St., Kent, OH 44240 www.recordpub.com Phone 330-541-9400 Fax 330-296-2698 Email email@example.com
BY Stephanie Fellenstein Being a teacher at WRA sometimes means also being a surrogate mom. Dance instructor Emily Barth loves every part of her job. Find out more about WRA’s big dance performance May 9 and 10.
Life in Plein-air
Stephanie Fellenstein ext. 4185 PHOTOGRAPHERS
Robert J. Lucas Lisa Scalfaro
Dan Schierenbeck, left, and his paraprofessional Bill Richter, work together in Alane Malerick’s geometry class at Hudson High School. Hudson monthly / Lisa Scalfaro
BY Heidi Augustin A painting a day may not keep the doctor away, but artist Michelle Knapper is hoping her plan to do one plein-air painting a day will inspire and encourage other artists, as well as herself. Spend a day out in “plein-air” with her.
HUDSON HUB-TIMES EDITOR
Andrew Adam ext. 4175
Heidi Augustin Peggy Sexton
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For additional copies or subscriptions, contact Margaret Gotschall ext. 4103 Hudson Monthly is published 12 times a year by Record Publishing Co., David E. Dix—Publisher, Ron Waite—General Manager, P.O. Box 5199, Kent, OH 44240. It is included once per month with the carrier-delivered Hudson Hub-Times. Mail subscriptions are available for $36 per year. No portion of this publication may be reproduced without written permission of the Record Publishing Co., L.L.C. © Copyright 2012 by The Record Publishing Co., L.L.C.
12 MAY 2014 HUDSON MONTHLY 3
Memories have a way of sneaking up on me I can still feel the cool marble steps where I sat while listening to my grandma and her brother talk one floor below me. The rapid-fire Italian made it sound like they were angry, but they could have been talking about the weather for all I knew. I don’t speak Italian. This trip was a graduation present. My grandma brought me to Pietremelara, Italy, a tiny town north of Naples, where we stayed with her brother and sister-in-law for a week before taking a tour through Rome, Florence and Venice. Our time together was one of the greatest gifts I have ever been given. My brothers and I spent a lot of time with my grandma while we were growing up, usually at her house near Youngstown. My favorite time of day during those visits was evening. With the dishwasher humming downstairs, we retreated to the upstairs den to watch TV. My grandma was a huge big band and country music fan so we would always watch “The Mandrell Sisters” and “The Lawrence Welk Show.” Her other favorites were “The Wheel of Fortune,” “Jeopardy,” “The Dukes of Hazzard,” plus any game involving the Pittsburgh Steelers or the Chicago Bulls. And then there was the food — lasagna, spaghetti and meatballs, pizzelles, Kolache nut roll and so much more. My grandma was 70 years old on our trip in Italy, and a couple years later she lost both of her legs to a circulation disorder. While many people would have given up, my stubborn grandma learned how to walk again with two prosthetic legs. Those new legs took her to her youngest grandchild’s college graduation and carried her over to meet three of her great-grandchildren. She was an amazing, strong, opinionated and talented woman, and I miss her every day.
4 HUDSON MONTHLY May 2014
MAY 2014 HUDSON MONTHLY 5
by Peggy Sexton Photos by Lisa Scalfaro
If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a community to raise a disabled one. Kathy and Dave Schierenbeck are quick to credit their family’s “community” for much of the progress their son, Dan, has achieved throughout his 16 years with cerebral palsy. From other families with disabled children to therapists and teacher aides, from social workers and engineers to school administrators and adults with cerebral palsy, the family has called on many for information, care and support. Dan’s own peers have played a part in that community too. When Dan was in kindergarten, Kathy remembers one of his classmates being so insistent on communicating with Dan that he wrote “yes” and “no” on the palm of his own hands. He’d hold up a hand after asking Dan a question, waiting patiently for a response in Dan’s eye gaze. Now that Dan is a freshman at Hudson High School and his communication challenges are increasingly complex, the community has widened as the family searches for the best possible technology which will give Dan greater independence. In November, Dan wrote a letter to Apple Computer thanking them for building a scanner into iOS 7, their new mobile operating system. He also requested they make a simple change which would improve his access. “If you improve this function, it would be more convenient. … I am excited to see what you come up with,” he wrote. He’s hopeful for a response from Apple but like everything else in Dan’s world, patience is required.
6 HUDSON MONTHLY May 2014
A CHALLENGING PROGNOSIS Dan’s cerebral palsy (CP) developed at birth after he was without oxygen for precious minutes as the medical team prepared for an emergency caesarian section. “Really, it’s a miracle that he’s alive at all,” Kathy says. CP is an umbrella term for a group of neurological disorders that permanently affect body movement and muscle coordination but don’t worsen over time. There is no known cure. The early months were an emotional roller coaster. Doctors could offer no firm prognosis. “One doctor would say he would be a typical child and the next week a different doctor would say he’d never walk,” Kathy says. “We accepted the fact that we weren’t going to know for sure until he missed a milestone.” He smiled at three months and a month later laughed out loud. But normal physical development, like rolling over and sitting up, never came, despite therapy that started five weeks after birth. Dan was officially diagnosed with CP at six months of age. From a physical standpoint, Dan’s CP is considered severe, as he has no use of his arms or hands and has little head control. He is restrained in a wheelchair with a lap belt and a chest harness, because his body is constantly moving. Additionally, he is completely nonverbal. Cognitively, though, Dan is typical. “Dan is a bright kid,” says Linda Klotz, assistive technology consultant for the Hudson City Schools and a speech and language pathologist who has known Dan since kindergarten. “He’s a fast learner with an incredible work ethic.” Dan’s aide at the high school, Bill Richter, couldn’t agree more. “He blows my mind every day,” Richter says. “He’s way ahead of me in geometry and he knows it. He does everything in his head first. The toughest part for him is communicating the answer to me.”
LEFT AND FAR LEFT Dan works with paraprofessional Bill Richter in geometry class at Hudson High School.
Communication is everything Finding the best communication technology for Dan has always been the family’s top priority. In preschool he got his first communication device through the Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital Technology Resource Center. The family liked the device except it didn’t allow Dan to say exactly what he was thinking. He had to use preprogrammed words and phrases. “Essentially we were putting words in his mouth,” Kathy says. “We knew he had to be able to ask for things he needed without us having to guess.” The need for Dan to be able to express his own thoughts became the mantra among his second-grade support team, which included Klotz, his aide, teacher, principal and physical, speech and occupational therapists. They looked at many communication devices but eventually Dan chose the ECO, which has 144 keys and scans rows and columns made up of a mix of letters, words and pictures that Dan then chooses to form words and sentences. “Now that he had an ECO, we told Dan that his communication rests with him. We said, ‘this is your voice,’” Kathy says. “That team really put their heart and soul into Dan and that’s when he started talking.” Today Dan is so adept at using the ECO, he often doesn’t even need to look as it scans. It’s a sophisticated piece of equipment that acts not only as Dan’s voice but also as a computer for completing class assignments, doing algebra and geometry — it has a built-in calculator — and to play games. But the ECO is far from perfect for Dan as it is too large to use in many public spaces when it is attached to his wheelchair and scanning is slow, making word processing tedious. In a sense, Dan is outgrowing it. One night this past fall, as she studied in her dorm room in Virginia, Kiersten, Dan’s sister, received a FaceTime call on her smartphone. “It was Dan and he’s smiling
and laughing. I asked, ‘Did you do this by yourself?’” She waited for his reply. He had reached her using his iPad but couldn’t speak back to her without his ECO. Kathy, in another part of the house, was surprised to hear her daughter’s voice and came running. She quickly hooked up Dan’s device so he and Kiersten could chat for a few minutes before saying goodnight. Use of the iPad has been an exciting addition to Dan’s technological world. It came about only recently with Apple’s iOS 7 and its new accessible scanning feature. A vertical scan on the home screen allows Dan to single click to select the row he wants. The scan then starts left to right. A single click again on the item he wishes to select and he’s surfing the web — and placing a FaceTime call — just like any other teenager. Since he has no hand control, Dan does not use a mouse or a touch screen for any device, including the ECO. He “clicks” using a switch he operates with his knee. His letter to Apple asked the company to keep the menu box on the screen rather than having to double click to get it there. For a disabled person, double clicking is nearly impossible to perform using a switch. The family hopes for the day when the amazing advances made in gaming technology and the rapidly improving features on smartphones and tablets find their way to assistive communication technology for the disabled community. They were encouraged recently by some attention Dan received from Austen BioInnovation Institute of Akron (ABIA). Dan’s use of the knee switch for so many years has caused wear and tear on his hip joint. So last year, two graduate students from ABIA shadowed Dan at the middle school noting how he uses technology during the course of his day. They’re attempting to build a device that will allow Dan to manipulate a switch with his thumb, instead of his knee.
MAY 2014 HUDSON MONTHLY 7
From page 7
Sounds simple enough but the ramifications for Dan would be enormous — ability to power an electric wheelchair by himself and streamline computer use. It remains to be seen exactly what this thumb switch will look like. Dave and Kathy believe it needs to be wireless; strapped to his body, not his chair; and it probably needs to fit on his hand, like a glove. The search for a thumb switch is the latest in a long list of services and products the family has researched in the quest to help Dan reach his full potential. Things like brain wave and eye scan technologies and word prediction software could have potential future benefits. “We hear about so many things from so many different people. We always listen but have adopted a cautious attitude,” Kathy says. “But we don’t want to be too skeptical either. We never know when we’ll find something that works.” Dave figures the more people they can introduce Dan to, the greater possibility it will pay off. “People don’t forget about Dan once they meet him,” he says. Dave’s dream is to get Dan in front of someone at Google. At the top of their wish list would be integration of Google’s word/phrase prediction capabilities into a communication device.
WHERE THERE’S A WILL, THERE’S A WAY By fourth grade, the push to get Dan on task and working at grade level began. Dave and Kathy realized he wanted the challenge and was motivated to keep up with his peers. “We did so much with him at home, reading to him and working on math facts. We never stopped. Yes, he couldn’t walk, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t do math.” His “county project” in fourth grade took the family to Green County and a visit to Wright State University known for its accessible campus and services to disabled students. “We got off the elevator in one of the buildings and
Dan and his sister Kiersten pose for a picture in front of the Eiffel Tower on a family trip to Paris. 8 HUDSON MONTHLY May 2014
we were surrounded by a lot of wheelchairs and people who looked like Dan. There was a whole community of Dans out there that we didn’t know existed,” she recounts. College is in Dan’s future but what that looks like in practical terms remains unclear. “It could be anything from taking on-line college courses from home to living on campus in a dorm with support,” Kathy says. They’ve seen what’s possible. Meanwhile, high school has presented new challenges for Dan. A Bluetooth adapter connects his ECO to his laptop so he can read and listen to his textbooks online. His favorite subjects are physical science and geometry. Alane Malerick, Dan’s geometry teacher, says Dan learns at an “above average rate,” surprising because of the way he has to learn. “He has to take everything in visually and auditorily,” she explains. She says she’s amazed that he can think through the steps and come up with answers without the benefit of writing things down and manipulating what’s in front of him. Like any teenager, Dan enjoys a break from the rigors of classwork. “He’s such a jokester and just enjoys being goofy sometimes,” says Richter, his aide. “It’s rare to have a day that we’re not cracking up at some point.” “Mr. Richter is funny and he doesn’t treat me like a child,” Dan says. “He just gets me.”
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MAY 2014 HUDSON MONTHLY 9
From page 8
The future begins now Dan’s disability has unquestionably altered their lives, but it has not kept the family from taking part in all that life has to offer. Ever the optimist, Dan is game for anything. “If there’s any possible way to do it, my parents will make it happen,” Kiersten says. Dave has carried Dan down escalators; onto pontoon boats; into inaccessible subways in Manhattan; wheeled him along cobblestone streets in London and navigated Paris, an unfriendly city to the disabled. “We could sit and feel sorry for ourselves with all we can’t do, or we can go out and try,” Dave says. At home, Dan has responsibilities and chores like the rest of the family. They rely on his organizational skills for keeping track of the dog’s medication schedule. And because he lives through his senses, they’ve come to depend on his observational skills, noticing when keys are left in the ignition — it happened in the Disney World parking lot — when wallets are left behind and Christmas tree lights left on. “Dan’s an asset to our family in so many ways,” Kathy says. “We don’t focus on what he can’t do but concentrate on what he can do.” When out in public, Kiersten says she’s learned to live with the inevitable stares and whispers. “We don’t get mad,” she says. “We approach it differently. We’d rather educate people and we invite them to ask questions if they want.” “People don’t think I can hear or comprehend because I am in a wheelchair and I can’t speak. I think we should try to show empathy to everyone with a disability,” Dan says. Karen Weber, assistant principal at Hudson Middle School, says Dan has always had a “little fan club” around him through the years. “These kids have learned patience from Dan, and they too have learned that you never
know the true potential of a human being until you take the time to get to know them.” Weber, who first met the family when they toured the district’s preschool classrooms in 2001, credits Dan’s own determination and the passion of his parents and sister for the success he’s achieved. “Dan has dreams like any child. There are a whole slew of people around him who want him to accomplish those dreams. He has so much potential,” Weber says. “I fully expect to be in contact with Dan for many years.” Klotz is similarly matter-of-fact in assessing Dan’s future, a child she long ago nicknamed, “Dan the Magnificent.” “I see great things on Dan’s horizon,” she says. “There will be challenges, but he will overcome them.” Last May, the Schierenbecks were invited to address the guests at the
A PRINCE AT THE BALL Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital HeartThrob Ball, a black-tie affair at the Cleveland Public Auditorium. The event raised nearly a million dollars to support the Technology Resource Center, a place Dan has frequented since preschool, receiving speech, occupational and physical therapy there. Dan talked to the crowd using his ECO. He credited the resource center with getting him to where he is today and ended his speech saying, “One day when I go to college, I will design software for communication devices. I realize that people with disabilities who can’t speak are sad. I think I can help them.”v
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by Stephanie Fellenstein | Photos by Robert J. Lucas Dance teacher Emily Barth stands at the back of the studio at Western Reserve Academy. In her hands is a huge green notebook crammed full of notes — a dancer’s Bible of sorts. The notes inside are cryptic, though, with abbreviations and terms that only Barth can translate. Then the notebook is cast aside and Barth is in the middle of the dancers, showing them what those pages of notes mean. “I definitely consider myself an active teacher,” she says, moving off the floor to let the dancers try the steps by themselves. This is Barth’s Wednesday afternoon class,
right before spring break, and her 10 students are running through the steps in their three dances for the May 9 and 10 show. They meet on the floor, slipping on their ballet shoes while talking about grades and phones. “This is a fun group,” Barth says. Once the ballet piece is finished, they switch to a modern dance. “Look, jump, 5, 6, down, 8,” Barth says from the back of the room as they run through the dance that is choreographed to Aloe Blacc’s “Ticking Bomb.” “Do the transition again,” she says, walking
to the front of the room to show them. “Then ball change, look, down. Can we try with the music now? The whole thing?” Once the modern dance is finished, they switch shoes again. This time it’s jazz. Barth says they usually don’t focus on all three dance styles each class, but she wanted to run through the steps of each dance one more time before spring break. “Don’t forget the choreography check that’s going to happen after break,” she says. Barth knows first-hand how challenging and rewarding dance can be. She started dancing when she was 3.
First and foremost, Emily Barth is a dance instructor. But her commitment doesn’t end when class is done. She also serves as a surrogate “mom” to the residents of Ellsworth Hall. Take a look. 12 HUDSON MONTHLY May 2014
“I tried gymnastics and sports, but dance has been my one consistent thing through my life,” she says. And consistent, it has been. Barth danced through high school in Hudson before going to Kent State University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in dance performance and a master’s degree in teaching and dance. She has taught at the Fairmount Center for the Arts, Kent State University and Ohio State University’s Mansfield campus. And she still loves it. “I always told myself to do what makes me happy,” she says. “It’s my comfort zone, my therapy.” Barth arrived at WRA in 2010 and is wrapping up her fourth year which means her first freshman class is now graduating. “It’s a little bittersweet for me with the seniors,” she says. This year there are 40 students in the dance program at the school. They are split between regular and honors classes. The regular classes are for students with very little dance experience, while the honors classes are geared to those with substantial experience. All honors students must audition for the class, and most auditions include a demonstration of ballet techniques, a modern combination across the floor and some jazz steps in the center. Some students may spend two years in the regular class and then move to the honor’s level, Barth says. The classes, which meet four times a week like all academic classes, cover ballet, modern, jazz, hip hop and tap. They culminate in two
performances each year — fall and spring. While the students are tasked with learning, and remembering, all the steps, it is up to Barth to actually create the steps, put them together and watch them unfold on stage like a giant, moving puzzle. “Doing all the choreography is definitely a challenge for me,” she says. The spring show, with the theme “Our playlist, recently played,” is based more on modern music — early 2000 and on, Barth says. For the upcoming show, students were even invited to audition their own choreography. They had to fill out a form and include their theme or concept, the music and costume ideas, as well as the steps. Not only are there student choreographers, but for the first time there also is an alumni choreographer — Alexandria LeBay, a 2013 WRA graduate. LeBay, an English/dance major at the University of Akron, choreographed a contemporary
ballet piece for one of the honors classes. She comes in toward the end of the regular class and gets ready to work on her piece. “I’m really excited. It is so different choreographing for other dancers,” she says. “Now I look at it and think, ‘that came out of my head.’ Then they [the dancers] take it and make it real. It’s a combination of the dancers’ inspiration and my inspiration. It’s really cool to see.” LeBay, a Macedonia resident who trained in classical ballet with the Ballet Theatre of Ohio, came to WRA as a junior. “Coming here [WRA] really added to my dynamics,” she says, adding she really enjoys working with Barth. “Ballet is my thing, but she’s able to do all of it. She’s very capable,” LeBay says. “I have a whole new appreciation for what she does. She does 12 dances at the same time. I’m just trying to do one dance.” Barth fills the rest of her days with her afternoon dance class, a class which fulfills the physical education requirement at the school, plus dorm duty [for 30 students] at Ellsworth Hall where she lives with her husband Kevin. It seems that WRA may be a good fit and Barth agrees, “It’s home.”v
Below right Jackie Chorazy listens to directions during dance class at WRA. Below left Billy Walsh, left, and Nick Farrell, right, try out some steps. OPPOSITE Emily Barth leads her class
Spring dance performance
“Our playlist, recently played” May 9 & 10 8 p.m.
Where: Knight Fine Arts Center 130 N. Oviatt St., Hudson
Tickets: $6 for adults $4 for students and senior citizens. Western Reserve Academy faculty, staff and students are free. Tickets are only sold at the door. MAY 2014 HUDSON MONTHLY 13
14 HUDSON MONTHLY May 2014
GLORIA DEI LUTHERAN CHURCH Real Life • Real Change • Real Hope
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Wednesday Family Night 6:30 p.m. Hope preschool program Sunday Worship Celebration 9:30 & 11:00 a.m.
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NORTHFIELD PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH OF HUDSON, PC (USA)
Dr. Arthur J. Helin, Pastor
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HOLY TRINITY ANGLICAN CHURCH Rev. Dr. Joe Boysel, Rector Worship with Holy Eucharist and Sunday School 10:00 a.m. 330.342.0429 • hudsonanglican.com 55 Atterbury Blvd • Hudson, Ohio
330.650.6550 • www.gloriadeihudson.org 2113 Ravenna St • Hudson, Ohio 44236
Sunday School 9:15 a.m. Sunday Worship 10:30 a.m.
330.607.0856 | fpchudson.org 21 Aurora St • Hudson, Ohio
HUDSON UNITED METHODIST CHURCH Rev. Hoyte Wilhelm
Sunday Worship 9:00 a.m. Sunday School 10:45 a.m. Open Hearts. Open Minds. Open Doors.
330.650.2650 | hudsonumc.com 2600 Hudson-Aurora Rd • Hudson, Ohio
Pastor Michael C. Conklin
SUNDAY Formal Liturgy 8:45 a.m. SERVICES Sunday School 9:45 a.m. Contemporary Worship 11:00 a.m.
330.653.5980 | rejoicelc.org 7855 Stow Rd • Hudson, Ohio A Congregation of the E.L.C.A.
FIRST CHURCH OF CHRIST SCIENTIST Sunday Service & School 10:30 a.m. Wednesday Testimony Meeting 7:30 p.m. ReAdiNg ROOm iN HudSON evApORAtOR WORkS #7 tues., Wed., thur., Fri. & Sat. 10:00 - 1:00 Sunday 11:45 - 12:30 330.653.6965 7200 valley view Rd • p.O. Box 653
HUDSON PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, EPC Rev. Rob Sparr Sunday School (all ages) 9:30 a.m. Sunday Service 8:30 & 10:30 a.m. Satruday Service 6:00 p.m.
A Christ Centered Church 330.650.1626 • www.hudsonpc.org 201 W. Streetsboro St • Hudson, Ohio MAY 2014 HUDSON MONTHLY 15
Life in Plein-air Article and photos by Heidi Augustin
By the time this issue of Hudson Monthly is tucked into your Hub and left in your mailbox, winter will hopefully have drawn up the last lashing tentacles of its polar vortices and retreated back above the arctic circle where it belongs. And no one will be happier to see the back end of this winter than Michelle Knapper. Knapper is a Hudson artist who made a promise, not only to herself, but right out loud on her ‘Facebook’ page, to paint one plein air painting a day for the entire year of 2014. That little sentence just trips right out there, doesn’t it? But consider the reality of that vow. Forget the mundane things we do every day — the chores, the routines, even just the grooming. Imagine dropping some huge project into the middle of every day of your life. Something
16 HUDSON MONTHLY May 2014
that takes anywhere from one to three hours to complete; that requires you to be both creative and disciplined; and it has to be done outside. Knapper might just be the first person ever to embark upon such a project. According to her fiancee and partner, Joe Darvis, “this has never been done before, that we know of,” he emphasizes. “We researched a bunch of data bases to see if anyone had ever done something like this before and we couldn’t find any record of anyone doing this.” Knapper laughs at this. “No artist would want to do this daily. It’s a curse.” So, why? Why would this young woman who is also a master gardener and happens to be planning an August wedding, choose to submit herself to the punishing rigors of this year-long project. “I wanted to sharpen my skills
as a painter. I wanted to get better at painting and the only way to get better at something is to practice. I thought if I painted every day, I would surely get better.” She chose quite a year to hone her skills outside. Since Jan. 1 there have been a record number of days where the temperature has remained below zero and weeks of snow. “I have painted snow, I have painted IN the snow, and snow is literally IN at least one of my paintings.” Many days she has had to warm the canvas by brushing a dry brush against it to create friction so that the paint would stick to the surface. The unrelenting bone-deep cold has been a fierce obstacle in other ways as well. “The hardest tool to work with in the cold is the mind. You can’t make the decisions required to make a great paint-
ABOVE Michelle Knapper uses a handmade viewer to pick a subject. PAGES 18-19 She then does a rough sketch before she begins painting. Her fiancé, Joe Darvis, helps to keep the process going smoothly.
ing. All I can think is how can I get out of here.” En plein air is a French term that, when literally translated means ‘in the open air’. It describes the practice, popularized in the 1870s, of artists leaving the confines of their studios and painting outside in the open air. By doing this, artists then and now must use all of their senses to concentrate on what they are painting in order to capture what is in front of them. Outside of their quiet studios, the plein air artist channels the sounds, sights, temperature, atmosphere into the piece they are painting. Often plein air work is begun outside and finished in the artist’s studio where the light and temperature are steady and controllable. Not for Knapper. Each painting is started and finished outside, in one sitting. Or standing, right out
there in the elements. It wasn’t even one of the coldest days of the year when Knapper set up her portable easel on the village Green to paint the door of the Hudson clock tower on March 5. Weather forecasters called for a relatively mild day, but at 27 degrees, its relativity to the ridiculously cold winter was purely theoretical. Knapper began by taking a little viewer out of her pocket to scout out the subject for the day’s painting. Her viewer is a small square of cardboard with a smaller square cut out in the middle. It acts as a virtual frame and helps her isolate the subject. “I have to choose carefully what I embark on since it has to be done in a day.” She decided on the white door of the clock tower and the detailed ironwork scrolls that make the door a local icon. Darvis helped her set
up her collapsible easel and prepare to paint. She fastened an 8-inch by 10inch primed canvas to the easel and began to sketch a rough outline of the door and its frame. “I was a drawing major at Kent State” she said, which explains how with just a few casual looking scribbles, she could sketch an immediately recognizable outline of the door. She then began applying colors to the canvas — describing the arch of the doorway in pink and grays, moving quickly on to the rusty reds of the bricks, and the yellows and grays of the snow and the door. In about an hour, she declared that the “underpainting” was done. The underpainting is the foundation that forms the composition of the painting. One of the most important things to capture, and what
MAY 2014 HUDSON MONTHLY 17
From page 17
is the essence of plein air itself is light. Knapper explained that the underpainting had to be done quickly as it “has the light in it.” Once the light values were translated onto the canvas, the details could be added. While she worked the brilliant colors of the oil paints, Knapper explained why paintings are not always painted in a logical order. “You work the whole painting at once, not one thing at a time,” she said, which explained why her brush flitted back and forth from palette to canvas, from the reddish black blob of paint in one corner of her palette to the grayish white smear in the
middle, to the rich blackish blue. She mixed colors as she went, creating the subtle hues that brought texture and depth to the image that was steadily developing. She suggested the diagonal brickwork around the door with dark shading, and in the next stroke was bringing depth to the graying snow at the base of the tower. “The focal point of the painting is almost what you paint last,” she elaborated, “most of the time you spend bringing the painting up to that central detail.” By the end of the first hour Knapper admitted that her feet were numb, but her hands seemed to be working just
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18 HUDSON MONTHLY May 2014
dle into the picture. That was it. Nothing could be done. I had to pick up the piece and go home.” In keeping with the spirit of plein air, that piece will take it’s place in the exhibition right next to the others. “There is no guarantee of perfection. Some you want to go back and work a little more on. It is hard to leave it as it is,” she sighed. While Knapper painted, Darvis kept up his end of their partnership by faithfully replenishing the paper towels she uses to clean her brush, photographing the progress, and recording the details of the day in a small notebook. He keeps a journal of the project which they plan to use to narrate the exhibition of the work at the end of the year and to accompany photos of the art in possibly a book. “I write the time, the location, and definitely the weather conditions every day.” At last, using the pointy edge of her brush, the only brush she used to paint the entire picture, she dipped into the black paint for the scroll. With a practiced flick of her hand, the curves suggesting the ironwork appeared on the
fine. By the beginning of the third hour, she was feeling the effects of the cold all over but calmly went about finishing the beautiful work of art. It is hard to imagine a more difficult winter to be a plein air painter and she confessed to even crying out of sheer frustration. “Oh yeah,” she laughed. “Especially the day the canvas fell face down into the snow... It was almost sunset and the painting of an abandoned farmhouse was almost done. I went to take a break in my car and a big wind came and knocked over my whole easel and canvas. It landed flat on the snow, smearing the paint and embedding a pine nee-
door and the picture was declared finished. She carefully laid it on a paper towel in a clean pizza box to dry. Knapper credits Kathy Johnson, owner of Hudson Fine Art and Framing with fostering her emerging interest in plein air painting. In 2012, Johnson invited Knapper to join other local artists in the Hudson Plein Air Paint-Out after seeing some of her early work. “I was so honored to be asked by Kathy to participate in this and even though I really hadn’t painted in this form very much, she had faith in me,” remembers Knapper. The plan is to hang all of the 8-inch by 10-inch canvases, perhaps in chronological order, at the end of the year at the gallery. While exact dates are not yet known, Hudson Fine Art and Framing will host this exhibition in January or February 2015. Several of these winter-themed works can be seen at the gallery now as she has delivered a few of them to Johnson. The original pieces are available for ‘reserve,’ however customers may not take them home until after they are shown at the exhibition in 2015. For those who
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From page 19
simply cannot wait that long, prints and stationery are available for immediate gratification through Knapper’s website Michelleknapper.com. Knapper recently won the People’s Choice Award for her painting ‘Hall of Mirrors’ at Akron’s Kaleidoscope Art Show. Winning awards for her work is not new to her. While attending Hudson High School and a member of the National Arts Honor Society, she won the Scholastic Art and Writing Gold Medal for her drawing of Levi’s denim jackets. The work hung for a year in the Scholastic Arts and Writing Gallery in Washington, D.C. Knapper is looking forward to comparing the first works of 2014 to the last ones of the year to see what progress she has made. Despite the challenges posed by nature, the year is special to her since it is the last year she will be in her twenties and she will be taking another vow in August to her fiancé Darvis. But practical matters aside, there is more to the project than just honing her skills. Her deep faith is reflected in her conviction that “we are not promised tomorrow. We have to get out there and live every day and not waste a day.” She paraphrases Mark Twain when she says, “in 20 years, I don’t want there to be more things that I regret NOT doing” And so, every day, out she goes, to paint and to hope for spring.v
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Startin g May 15
May Happenings at
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Mint Juleps will be the featured drink of the day. Snack on a “Kentucky Hot Brown” (open faced Turkey sandwich with Brown Gravy and Mashed Potatoes). Contests and prizes throughout the afternoon and a “Best Hat” competition. Horses for the big race will be raffled off. The Derby is always one of the best days of the Spring. Book your spot today.
Sunday, May 11th • 10:30-4:00 Mother’s Day Special Brunch. Regular Brunch menu will be available as well as several new features created by Chef Matt for the special day. We will also feature an all new Bloody Mary bar! Let Peachtree help make that special day just a little bit more fun. Book your table today!
Wednesday, May 21st • 6:30 Bourbon Dinner. Chef Matt will create a five-course dinner that will be paired with five different Bourbons. Cost is $55.00 per person (not including tax and gratuity). Make your reservation now.
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MAY 2014 HUDSON MONTHLY 21
EDITOR’S PICK May 26
Register for the annual American Legion Family Memorial Day Parade. The Parade, which starts at 10 a.m., will form on Milford Road and go east on Route 303 to Route 91 where it will head north to Markillie Cemetery. A brief service will take place at the cemetery. New this year: download and print a parade entry form from the new website — americanlegionhudson464.weebly.com. To have a form mailed out or for more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 330-6502109. All veterans and active duty personnel who would like to march in the parade should complete a parade entry form. Veterans are welcome to bring their own vehicle or walk the parade route.
MEMORIAL DAY PARADE
May 15 The Hudson Middle School and High School Jazz Band Concert will take place at 7 p.m. in the Hudson High School Auditorium. The concert will include the world premiere of new music composed for the jazz students by artist-in-residence David Morgan, including a new piece he is writing for all three Hudson bands to perform together. The Dave Morgan Quartet will also be featured at this concert. The artist-in-residence program was made possible thanks to funding from the Hudson City Schools Foundation.
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Poppy Days in Hudson will be May 16 and 17. Members of the American Legion Family will be distributing the Veteran-made poppies for freewill donations. All donations remain in the community with American Legion Auxiliary Unit 464 to assist veterans, their family and current service personnel. These donations enable members of Unit 464 to invite a group of hospitalized veterans to Hudson for a catered dinner and evening of entertainment, both in the Fall and again in the Spring. The group also provides assistance to out patient clinics, housing for homeless and more. Wear a poppy for the veterans on Poppy Days. For more information, call Barb at 330-6552224.
The Hudson Library Music Series continues at 2 p.m. with a concert presented by Double Play Flute & Tuba in the library rotunda. The program, titled “Song and Dance,” will feature musical selections from Baroque to Broadway. Patrick Sciannella and Amy Ridings, a husband and wife team, started playing together in 1989. No registration is required for this free program. For more information call 330-6536658 ext. 1010 or visit hudsonlibrary.org.
Author Irv Korman will visit The Learned Owl from 1 to 3 p.m. to discuss his new book, “I was Jackie Mason’s chauffeur for 5 minutes.” Korman writes about his encounters with celebrities like the Smothers Brothers, Doc Severinsen, Frank Gorshin, Loni Anderson and George Carlin. His first book, “I was Jerry Lewis’ bodyguard for 10 minutes,” also will be available. Korman, a native of Akron, lives with his wife in Fairlawn. He has received numerous awards as a writer, theater critic and actor. For more information, contact The Learned Owl at 330-653-2252.
The Hudson United Methodist Church is hosting its 26th annual attic sale from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. At noon, items will be marked down to half price and plastic grocery bags of clothing will be $1. Donations will be accepted at the church through May 1. All items will be accepted including furniture, clothing, toys and more. Tax donation receipts are available. For more information, contact the church office at 330-6502650 ext. 20.
The Hudson Library Music Series continues at 2 p.m. with the music of Mary Osburn and Mike Elkins presenting Mike, Mary and the Great American Songbook in the library rotunda. No registration is required for the free program. For more information, call 330-653-6658 ext. 1010 or visit hudsonlibrary. org.
The League of Women Voters is reminding everyone to vote in the primary election. Primaries choose which candidates will be running in the November elections. For more information, visit the Summit County Board of Elections at www.summitcountyboe.com.
Because May is National Skin Cancer Detection and Awareness Month, the Hudson Library and Historical Society will host Hudson dermatologist Neera AgarwalAntal, MD at 7 p.m. AgarwalAntal will discuss facts about tanning booths and other unsafe practices, as well as warning signs to watch for and the steps to take to minimize the risk of developing this serious health threat. Brochures and free sunscreen samples will be available. The event is free and open to the public. No registration is required. For more information, call the reference desk at 330-653-6658 ext. 1010 or email email@example.com. oh.us.
Kristin Ohlson, author of “The Soil will save us,” is visiting The Learned Owl at 1 p.m. She will talk about ways “to heal the land and turn atmospheric carbon into beneficial soil carbon and potentially reverse global warming.” For more information, call The Learned Owl at 330-653-2252.
David Giffels, an award-winning author and journalist, will visit the Hudson Library & Historical Society at 7 p.m. to discuss his new book, “The hard way on purpose: essays and dispatches from the Rust Belt.” Currently an assistant professor of English at the University of Akron, Giffels has written for the New York Times Magazine, the Wall Street Journal and other publications. Copies of his newest book will be provided for purchase by The Learned Owl. To register for this free event, call 330-6536658 ext. 1010 or visit hudsonlibrary.org.
Author Joe Murray, a Kent State University professor and a pilot, will discuss his book “Lost in Oscar Hotel” at The Learned Owl, 204 N. Main St., at 1 p.m. Murray and his friend, a Vietnam-era flight surgeon, flew to Wright Brothers Airport in Dayton via every Ohio county. Learn about their trip and what motivated them.
Holy Trinity will host its fourth annual Memorial Day Festival from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. following the Memorial Day parade. The event includes food, games with prizes, inflatable fun, pony rides and the opportunity to recognize lost loved ones and fallen soldiers. Located at 55 Atterbury Blvd., the church also will offer free parking, plus restroom and nursery facilities for people who would like to park and walk to the parade before returning to the festival. For more information, contact the church at 330342-0429, email HolyTrinity@ HudsonAnglican.com or visit the website at www.HudsonAnglican.com.
May 13 The Hudson Blossom Women’s Committee’s spring fundraiser will take place from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the Secret Cellar in Kent. Ross Binnie, chief marketing officer for the Orchestra, will share stories about the Orchestra’s upcoming digitally animated production of Leos Janácek’s opera “The Cunning Little Vixen,” the 2014 Blossom Music Festival season, and the 2014-15 KeyBank Fridays@7 series at Severance Hall. The cost is $50 per person. For more information about this event, contact Mary Ann Brenner at 330-653-9201 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hail to the Chefs, a preview of the Taste of Hudson, will take place May 30 at 7 p.m. at Lake Forest Country Club. Following cocktails and appetizers, each chef will unveil their culinary offerings for the evening. WKYC personality Joe Cronauer will emcee the event and the live auction. Musical entertainment will be provided by ContraBand. Tickets for Hail to the Chefs are available at www. tasteofhudson.com.
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