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Since I can neither paint nor draw, much less sculpt, fashion jewelry or mold clay, I am constantly in awe over the vast array of talented artists and the creations they produce on both sides of the river. Having heard that Barryville Arts Association Director Nick Roes had recently embarked on a new endeavor—to create a space called The Artists’ Market—“Where Art Comes to Life in the River Valley,” I hightailed it over the bridge to Shohola, PA. I was intrigued by an invitation to attend a reception for an exhibit titled “Selfies by the Masters,” which was to include a presentation given by local artist John Tomlinson, in conjunction with an ongoing display of the works of several local artisans.
Roes met me at the door and gave me a brief tour of the place, which he said is designed to be “a community center offering classes and special events you won’t find anywhere else.” Prior to Tomlinson’s informative and entertaining mini-lecture, I scoped out both floors of the building with Nick, noting the various art forms on display. “I think art can be a healing force in the community” he said, pointing out the variety of artwork “and our intention is to build community, drawing upon a pool of local talent—including actors, comics, writers and musicians.”
The roster of events is impressive and includes free discussion groups, poetry readings, songwriters’ workshops and classes on a diverse range of topics like “The Fundamentals of Drawing,” and “How to be Happy,” an eight-week course covering subjects such as “how to develop spiritually and creatively,” “how to channel your anger into constructive goals” and “how to manage stress.” Chatting with a few of the artists on hand, I had the opportunity to glean some insight as to how they work and why folks are drawn to the center. Kenoza Lake photographer Brad Walrod is experimenting with various printing techniques and explained the differences of mediums to me and others. “Notice how the colors really pop on the metal?” he asked before moving on to the muted tones produced by more conventional methods. “Isn’t that cool?”
Pottery, jewelry, paintings and assorted textiles adorn the walls of the Artists’ Market, and there are indeed some unusual pieces on display and for sale. “There is no charge to be a member of the market,” Roes informed me, “and visitors will want to stop in frequently and see what’s new every time they’re in the area. We invite anyone interested to be an active member of the center and welcome your input regarding exhibits, offering classes or hosting special events.”
I found “Selfies” curator John Tomlinson’s talk to be fascinating, and his knowledge of the history of self-portraits both informative and entertaining, while he posed thought-provoking questions to the audience that led to a lively debate following his presentation. The exhibit, which includes masters like Van Gogh, DaVinci and Rembrandt also showcases some lesser-known artists, and while Tomlinson shared some insights regarding the collection as a whole, his efforts were concentrated on minute details of Spanish Royal Court artist Diego Velazquez and his gigantic “Las Mininas,” painted in 1656. Unlike many masterworks, much is known about the history and symbolism of the Velazquez painting, one of the few to survive a devastating fire that destroyed the bulk of the artist’s work.
“Everything in this painting [and every painting] has meaning” the Parsons School of Design adjunct instructor of drawing in its fine arts program and graduate of Cooper Union informed the crowd, proceeding to share that “a great deal of the history behind this work is well documented,” and that “we’ve come to appreciate how viewing the world through the eyes of the Masters can enhance our experience.” My experience at the Artists’ Market was enhanced by the casual yet highly informative lecture, and market director Roes felt it was a “perfect example of the programs offered at the community center.” To learn more about the Artists’ Market and how you can be involved, call 845/557-8713 or visit www.artistsmarketcc.com.