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August 5, 2011 - 6:05pm
posted by Daniel Crofts in arts, music, schools, education, Parents.

The Batavia Music and Arts Advocacy Group (BMAA) held its premiere meeting Wednesday evening at the GoArt! building in Downtown Batavia. Cheri Kolb, seated, and Lauren Picarro-Hoerbelt formed this organization in response to the cuts that the Batavia City School District's arts and music programs have endured as a result of current economic woes. 

Kolb and Picarro-Hoerbelt both have children in the Batavia schools who are involved in music programs. They started this group out of: 1) concern for where they see the district going, and 2) a desire to maintain programs, teachers and the quality of arts/music activities for the kids.

Picarro-Hoerbelt said her hope is for this group to have a presence in both good times and bad.

"(We want) to help out in the bad times, and to remind everyone why these programs are important in the good times."

Kolb envisions BMAA as a "forum for parents (and others) to express their concerns and be a voice for their children."

Five parents were in attendance -- a scant turnout, but understandable, since it "fell in the middle of several vacations" (Kolb's words). A number of other people who were not able to attend the Wednesday meeting have expressed interest in joining.

The issue at hand

Over the past few years, art and music programs have taken some major hits, funding-wise. There has been particular concern about this at the elementary level, where art and music are not mandatory subjects.

For that reason, Kolb said, part of BMAA's mission is to "help create an understanding of how these subjects affect the ones that are mandated."

Part of the night's discussion centered around research showing that the more exposure kids get to these programs early on, the more they will contribute to brain development. Susan Dickenson, one of the parents at the meeting, noted that research has proven the beneficial effects of arts and music programs on reading, math and study skills.

Frank DeMare, another parent at the meeting, said part of the problem is that "it's all about test scores" in the education system right now.

"They want to get test scores up," he said, "and they think the way to solve the problem is to throw money at it. Well, if they're going to throw money at it, the place to throw it is music and the arts."

He noted that students from low income and minority populations are of special concern to the State Education Department in terms of test scores. Children from these populations could stand to gain a lot from the benefits of music programs, but don't have the money to purchase instruments. This is one area where additional funding resources could come in handy.

In spite of their zeal for the arts and music in the schools, Kolb and Picarro-Hoerbelt are not insensitive to taxpayers' concerns.

"People are worried about how their money is being spent," Kolb said. "But they need to know how (their decisions) affect the kids, who will be the next citizens of this community, and also to understand that trying to send a message by voting down budgets might not be the most productive message to this generation."

In the recent past, people have responded to this by arguing that it is the district employees who are "hurting the kids" by demanding unreasonable benefits, etc. Kolb addressed that concern.

"I think there was a time when New York State was in a period of prosperity," she said, "so they put into place a lot of benefits for teachers' unions. Now that the state is in greater economic need, they have had to accommodate the benefits that were in place before. But that's not the fault of the teachers."

She further noted that the teachers she knows "work an incredible amount of hours and contribute (a good amount of) their own money to purchase supplies they can't otherwise get because of budget cuts."

Teachers under pressure, students shortchanged

"The original spark (behind the idea of forming this group) stemmed from (the school board's discussions about) restructuring of the strings program," Kolb said. "That was our first public indicator that there was something going on, budget-wise, that could affect our kids."

Following this "original spark" was a major catalyst: A statement from one of the board members, quoted in The Daily News, about the need to look carefully at non-mandated programs in the wake of state budget cuts. At the elementary level, these include the arts and music.

"We knew they probably weren't going to be cut," Picarro-Hoerbelt said, "but they would be restructured to the point where the kids get less."

This "restructuring" has entailed staff cuts and increased workloads for remaining teachers. For example, the position of chorus instructor at Batavia High School has been eliminated, and the chorus teacher at Batavia Middle School must now pick up the slack by teaching grades six through 12.

Picarro-Hoerbelt's husband, Mark, who was also present at the meeting, has the exact same position (chorus teacher for grades six through 12) in Alexander, which is a smaller district with fewer students.

"I'm busy," he said. "I can't imagine what it's going to be like for him (the BMS chorus teacher)."

Meanwhile, recent retiree Cindy Baldwin's position as a districtwide strings instructor has also been eliminated. Students will now receive string lessons from staff at each of their respective elementary schools.

So at John Kennedy Elementary, for example, the music teacher is going to have to take on 55 string lessons per week. Keep in mind that this is in addition to his role as director of the school's vocal music programs and his regular classroom responsibilities.

Baldwin was also the music department chair for the district; that role will now be assumed by Jane Haggett. Haggett was hired as the high school band director several years ago and, since the band director position at Batavia Middle School was cut, has had to add grades seven and eight to her list as well.

DeMare expressed worry about the prospect of Haggett becoming department chair -- not because he doubts her capabilities, but because she is already overburdened with current responsibilities.

Fewer teachers available and more work for the teachers who remain in the district mean less time and energy to dedicate to the students.

"We're worried about our kids falling through the cracks," Picarro-Hoerbelt said.

Additionally, DeMare noted that the restructuring of programs leads to larger groups of students.

"Some kids get lost in big groups," he said. "They lose interest."

What about the cost?

Right now, the immediate goal of BMAA is to make sure nothing else gets cut. It's about maintaining programs rather than adding to them.

Kolb and Picarro-Hoerbelt stressed that parents and community members are going to have to assume responsibility and find creative ways to keep these programs going.

"There's a tendency to blame the state when things are so dire," Kolb said. "I think we're at a point where the state can't do any more. The districts have to take the initiative."

Dickenson presented the Royalton-Hartland School District in Niagara County (where she used to live) as proof that this can be done.

Royalton-Hartland has received media recognition for its sports programs in addition to having thriving arts/music programs.

"There's something for every student," Dickenson said. "(Royalton-Hartland) is a small district, just like we are. But they really make use of the resources they have available."

When she moved to Batavia, she found that there was "such a different mentality."

"There's almost an attitude in the community that, 'Oh, they're doing the best they can, so we'll leave it in their hands,'" Picarro-Hoerbelt said, "until things get really dire like this. Everyone has to step up."

Game plan

BMAA welcomes all community members with a passion for arts and a desire to see keep them kept alive and well in the schools. The only people who would not be accepted into the group are those who are currently teaching art and music in the Batavia schools, as this would create a conflict of interest.

People with various talents and skills are invited to join and to help out in whatever way they would like.

One way to help BMAA is to do research on various topics, such as:

  • what music/arts programs are in school districts comparable in size to Batavia and how they are maintained;
  • data and charts demonstrating the importance of music and the arts in relation to core subject areas and brain development;
  • rules of conduct at school board meetings;
  • and even something as simple as finding out which locations the school board will use for upcoming meetings and letting everybody else in the group know.

If you have a gift for public speaking, there is also room for people who would like to speak at board meetings or other events.

And that's another thing: BMAA is designed to foster a positive relationship with the school board, as opposed to the community vs. board mentality a lot of people seem to have.

"We are being reassured that they are looking at everything," Kolb said.

In other words, the board is examining options for making necessary cuts more equitable, keeping in mind that the arts and music have suffered disproportionately for a few years.

Other ideas

Another one of the key ideas presented at Wednesday's meeting was that of giving school arts and music programs more visibility in the wider community. Someone raised the question of how, for example, student art shows could be opened up so that it's not just the students and their parents who come, but also school board members, legislators, etc.

DeMare said that in many of the wealthier school districts, local businesses support arts and music programs. Batavia businesses already sponsor sports programs, and everyone agreed that this could be extended to the arts and music as well.

One of the most fundamental questions raised was this: "How can we get people out there to vote?"

A very small percentage of those eligible to vote in school board elections and budget votes actually vote. Picarro-Hoerbelt and Kolb feel it is important to encourage everyone to recognize their role in the lives of our community's children.

"Even if you no longer have a child in the district," Picarro-Hoerbelt said, "please come out and support the programs that meant a lot to your kids 20 years ago."

BMAA is drawing on information from the NAMM Foundation on how to effectively implement grassroots organizations in support of music in the schools. For more information, go to www.nammfoundation.org.

For more information on BMAA or to get involved, e-mail [email protected]. The group's next meeting will be held at the GoArt! building, on the corner of Main and Bank streets, at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 14.

April 30, 2011 - 9:56pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, arts, Present Tense, poetry, Literature.

Winners of the 5th Annual National Poetry Contest -- sponsored by Present Tense Books and Gifts and GoArt! -- were announced Friday. Some of the winners were at Present Tense on Washington Avenue, Batavia, Saturday afternoon to receive their prizes.

Pictured above are Joe Gagne, Abby Sapecky, Faith Finnin (back row), Lindsay Augello, and Chloe Shuskey.

A complete list of winners and their poems are posted on the Present Tense Web site.

Each winner received a gift certificate from Present Tense.

April 3, 2011 - 4:12pm

March was Arts Month and it was a busy one. Here are some snapshots of Harvester Center activities, as well as arts-related activities elsewhere in Batavia.

The Batavia Players' production of Shakespeare's "The Tempest" (Friday, March 18)

March 27, 2011 - 5:15pm
posted by kacey kiley in arts, Rochester, crafts, shopping, holiday, call for artists, show.
Event Date and Time: 
October 15, 2011 - 10:00am to October 16, 2011 - 5:00pm

January 16, 2011 - 10:42am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, arts, theater, entertainment, WNY Arts Society.

An original Broadway cast member of "RENT," Gwen Stewart, was back in Batavia this weekend, making a side trip while visiting friends in Buffalo, to catch the local performance of the hit musical. Stewart joined the WNY Arts Society cast on stage for one of the production numbers.

WNYAS's final performance of "RENT" is today at 2 at the Ross Street Performing Arts Center, Batavia Middle School, 96 Ross St., Batavia.

The Batavian still has a few specially discounted tickets available. Click here for more information.

January 10, 2011 - 2:21pm
posted by Billie Owens in arts, Announcements, theater, GCC.

The Genesee Center for the Arts at Genesee Community College has announced the calendar for live performances for its 19th season at the Stuart Steiner Theatre.

Live Performances in the Stuart Steiner Theatre:

The Forum Players start the spring season with the performance of In the Blood by Suzan-Lori Parks, a modern interpretation of Nathaniel Hawthorne's classic novel, "The Scarlett Letter." The Forum Player's production is set in a post Hurricane Katrina backdrop that follows the daily trials of Hester, an illiterate, single, homeless, African-American woman who must find a way to rise above her situation and care for her five children.

Performance dates are scheduled at 7:30 p.m. onThursday, Feb. 3-5. Ticket prices are: $8 adults; $5 seniors (55+) and students and GCC faculty/staff; $3 GCC students with GCC ID; and a $2 discount for GCC alumni with GCC alumni card.

The Genesee Symphony Orchestra returns to Genesee Community College with its 64th season with two performances at the Stuart Steiner Theatre.

"Love Notes" will be performed at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 13, with special guest Michael Ludwig, violin.

"GSO on Broadway" will be at 4 p.m. Sunday, May 1, featuring the GSO 2011 String Workshop Orchestra.

Ticket prices are: $12 adults; $8 seniors (62+); $5 students (18 & under or GCC students with a valid ID); or $30 per family (parent plus children 12 & under) and are available at the following locations:

Hi-Tek Graphics in Oakfield; Bank of Castile in LeRoy; Roxy's Music Store; GO ART!; The Enchanted Florist; and the Box Office at Genesee Community College in Batavia. Tickets are also available at the door one hour prior to the performance at the Stuart Steiner Theatre.

Two acts of musical talent and originality will perform at 7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 25. Tony Brown and the Faithful, with opening act Swati.

Tony Brown is a former member of Upstate NY's infamous Ozone, now touring with his band the Faithful -- a gathering of experienced, eclectic musicians hailing from around the globe. Brown's soulful, powerful voice, along with the acoustic world vibe that his band mates bring, creates a sound that mixes blues, folk and alternative rock.

Opening act Swati, a NYC native who began her musical career in the classical world, plays a 12-string guitar that has been fitted with eight. Ticket prices are: $12 adults; $10 seniors (55+); $5 students (18-) and GCC faculty/staff; $3 GCC students with GCC ID; and a $2 discount for GCC alumni with GCC alumni card.

A concert by the Genesee Chorale and Chorale Orchestra, "AElinor, the Oratorio," is also scheduled this spring at 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 6 at the Stuart Steiner Theatre. Words and music by Ann Reid, and conducted by Ric Jones with the Genesee Chorale and the Chorale Orchestra.

This concert storyline takes place in 1147, AElinor, Countess of Poitou, Duchess of Aquitaine, and Queen of the Franks leads a band of women on the Second Crusade. In so doing, she learns about earthly love and her marriage to Louis VII, King of the Franks, is annulled. She runs off with Henry Plantagenet, a penniless lord. Six months later, the penniless lord becomes Henry II, King of England.

Developed in the Lehman Engel Workshop, Los Angeles, this project is made possible with funds from the Decentralization Program, a re-grant program of the New York State Council on the Arts, administered by the Genesee-Orleans Regional Arts Council.

Ticket prices are: $10 adults; $8 for seniors (62+) and students (18-); $5 GCC student with GCC ID; and $18 family (parent plus children under 17). Tickets are available at the Box Office at Genesee Community College, GO ART! in Batavia, and from all Chorale members.

The Fine and Performing Arts committee is pleased to have Stone Row returning to the Stuart Steiner Theatre for one performance at 8 p.m. on Saturday, March 12. Stone Row is a fusion of Celtic, folk, country and rock that combines the local talent of four dynamically versatile musicians. Each band member brings a whole new spin with diversified attitudes and styles.

Ticket prices are: $10 adults; $8 seniors (55+); $5 students (18-) and GCC faculty/staff; $3 GCC students with GCC ID; and a $2 discount for GCC alumni with GCC alumni card.

The Genesee Center for the Arts continues its commitment to introducing performing art to children, families, and schools throughout the Western New York area with Nobody Likes Mordacious (And That's How He Likes It), a stage fantasy by veteran children's theatre playwright Jack Stokes.

The Forum Players and local grammar-school students present the audience with a girl who needs to rescue her parents from the stratagems of a very wicked fellow. On an epic quest laced with humor, she encounters genies, shadows, monsters, and pirates, and enlists the aid of a witch-fighting guide in order to restore her family.

Not everyone can be redeemed; sometimes evil is just plain evil; as always, bullies of any stripe must be confronted. These are just a few of the things Orafu learns on her quest. This show is appropriate for any audience, particularly elementary and junior-high students.

Performance dates are scheduled for Wednesday, March 23 and Thursday, March 24, by invitation only, and there will be one public performance at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, March 25. Ticket prices are: $8 adults; $5 seniors (55+), students, and GCC faculty/staff; and $3 GCC students with GCC ID.

The last live performance at the Stuart Steiner Theatre this spring is Blood Brothers by Willy Russell, performed by the Forum Players. Blood Brothers is one of the longest-running musicals in London theatre, with the 1988 West End production still running.

It is a musical that has a contemporary nature vs. nurture plot, revolving around fraternal twins who were separated at birth. The twins' different backgrounds take them to opposite ends of the social spectrum, leading up to a tragic ending.

Performance dates are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 7 through Saturday, April 9. A matinee is set for 2 p.m. Sunday, April 10. Ticket prices are: $8 adults; $5 seniors (55+), students, and GCC faculty/staff; $3 GCC students with GCC ID; and a $2 discount for GCC alumni with GCC Alumni card.

For more ticket information or reservations, contact the Genesee Center for the Arts Box Office at 585/343-6814 or by email at <http://[email protected]>. All seating is general admission.

The Genesee Center for the Arts Box Office accepts cash and checks only, credit cards are not accepted. For door-to-door directions, sent via email, visit http://www.genesee.edu/


November 24, 2010 - 10:49am
posted by Ann Winters in arts, GCC, Forum Players, theatre, performances.
Event Date and Time: 
February 3, 2011 - 7:30pm to February 5, 2011 - 10:00pm

Genesee Center for the Arts at Genesee Community College presents:

“In the Blood” by Suzan-Lori Parks performed by the Forum Players at the Stuart Steiner Theatre Thursday – Saturday, Feb 3, 4 and 5, 2011 7:30pm

November 15, 2010 - 11:36pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, arts, theater.


The Tony Award-winning rock opera "RENT" ran on Broadway for 5,124 performances and now a group of local actors are working on putting together a Batavia production that will run Jan. 13-16.

With the cast deep into rehearsals, they received a special visit at Batavia Middle School on Monday evening -- Gwen Stewart, one of the original cast members of "RENT" on Broadway stopped by for a visit.

After a short rehearsal, Stewart hopped onto the edge of the stage and talked about the importance and message of RENT, which dealt with what was a very controversial issue at the time -- AIDS.

She said because of advances in treatment, AIDS isn't the death sentence that it was when "RENT" opened in 1980, but the message of dealing with medical hardships is still relevant.

A couple of cast members mentioned that they had seen Stewart perform in "RENT," either on Broadway or in Rochester.

The local production of "RENT" is being staged by WNY Arts Society. For a complete cast list, click here. The director is Ashley Bateman, pictured above on the left with Stewart.


September 27, 2010 - 4:13pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, arts, Announcements, GO ART!.

Go Art! presents “A Prelude to a Winter Solstice” at its 10th annual Community Arts Awards Gala Dinner & Auction at 6 p.m on Saturday, Oct. 2 at the Batavia Party House, 5762 E. Main Road (Route 5), Stafford.
Each year, GO ART! recognizes the extraordinary contributions in art and culture made by individuals and organizations in the Genesee-Orleans region at this unique event. This year’s honorees are:

  • James Catino ~ receiving a Community Arts Award as a lifelong musician and songwriter who has provided entertainment and musical instruction in the community for more than 50 years.
  • Cobblestone Society Museum ~ receiving a Community Arts Award for the organization’s preservation and promotion of Orleans County’s heritage and its restoration and care of eight historic cobblestone buildings on Routes 104 & 98 in Childs. The organization is also celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year.
  • Genesee County Master Gardeners ~ receiving a Board of Directors Award recognizing the group’s contributions to the historically appropriate gardens on the grounds of Seymour Place and the “Paul’s Field” container garden.
  • Rosalind “Roz” Hayes, posthumously ~ receiving a Community Arts Award as a talented local artist whose “passion for painting came from her passion for life.”  She participated in many local arts organizations, was a prolific creator of her unique and popular paintings, and also wrote two children’s books.
  • Brad London ~ receiving a Community Arts Award for his promotion of music and local musical talent in Orleans County through his now-closed business Wiggly & Jiggly’s and his successful efforts at the Orleans County 4-H Fair.
  • Evelyn Lyman ~ receiving a Community Arts Award for her passionate contributions to the cultural life in the community and for her preservation efforts at the Swan Library.
  • Bob Terry ~ receiving a Board of Directors Award recognizing his volunteerism for GO ART!, specifically acknowledging his expertise and labor in assisting with historic preservation efforts at Seymour Place.

Tickets are $25/person, and advance reservations are required. Enjoy hors d’oeuvres and a fabulous buffet while local band Buffalo Road Show with Bill McDonald provides musical entertainment. A Silent Auction and other drawings will be held all evening. Dress is Business Casual.
This year’s Gala Raffle features three Grand Prizes:

  • 18K Diamond & Sapphire Ring (TW: 1 CT Sapphire, 1 CT Diamonds), compliments of Lambert’s Design Jewelers; Value $5,000.
  • One-Year Full Gym membership to Next Level Fitness, compliments of Ken & Andrea Mistler; Value $265
  • $250 Gift Certificate from Roxy’s Music Store

Plus, your raffle ticket enters you in drawings held throughout the evening for a variety of valuable prizes from area businesses such as Pudgie’s Lawn & Garden Center, Shirt Factory Café, Pauly’s Pizza and more.

Raffle Tickets are $5 each or five for $20, and are available at GO ART! and various other locations in Genesee and Orleans counties; call GO ART! for a list at (585) 343-9313 or check online at www.GOart.org. Raffle tickets will also be available at the event. For more information, call (585) 343-9313 or email [email protected].

The Community Arts Gala is generously sponsored to date by: National Grid; CY Farms/Batavia Turf; O-AT-KA Milk Products Cooperative; Tops Friendly Markets; The Batavian; Dick Seymour; ESL Federal Credit Union; Lawley-Genesee; Max and Jane Mason; GCASA; Janice Cummings and Delores Johnson.

Ramble Music & Arts Fest 2010

The Ramble Music and Arts Fest is an annual reunion of past and present musicians and artists who at one time or another called Batavia, New York and the surrounding area their home.

Jackson Square - Batavia, NY
Saturday July 3, 2010
11:00 AM to 9:00 PM

June 22, 2010 - 9:25am

For a year-end project, I thought it would be cool to take some video and pictures of music- and arts-related activities -- respectively -- in the Genesee County schools.

The following video is 20 minutes long and divided into two parts (Youtube limits most users to about 10 minutes per video). It features concert footage from various schools in the county.



June 16, 2010 - 3:17pm
posted by James Barcomb in arts, music, Ramble, Fest, kidzone, committee.

Topics discussed at the final meeting of the Ramble Fest committee on Monday ranged from a guitar raffle to the introduction of a child-friendly area.

The organizers noted that a raffle for an acoustic electric guitar is made possible by the generosity of Roxy’s Music Store. They expressed concern about the potential for families not to show up during the July 4th weekend. But they are jazzed about the introduction the Ramble KidZone.

The zone will host a wide variety of activities just for kids, including, but not limited to, bubble art, a bounce house, face painting, a portable tennis game, and an appearance from the Muckdogs mascot.

According to committee member Kim Argenta, the KidZone will be present so that kids can have a good time and celebrate art.

Fellow committee member Sue Gagne came up with the idea, believing it would keep the Ramble Fest more family-oriented.

The Ramble KidZone will be open at the City Church parking lot from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, July 3.

The Ramble Arts & Music Fest, featuring performances from The Ghost Riders, Penny Whiskey, and more, will take place at Jackson Square from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 3. More information can be found at www.ramblemusic.com.

May 29, 2010 - 7:09pm
posted by James Barcomb in batavia, arts, Announcements, music, Ramble, Fest.

The annual Ramble Arts & Music Fest returns to Batavia from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday, July 3 at Jackson Square.

This year’s reunion of past and present musicians and artists sees performances from more than 25 bands including: The Ghost Riders, Red Creek, Penny Whiskey, and Old Hippie Reunion.

In addition, a raffle for a Yamaha acoustic electric guitar will be drawn during the Ramble. More information can be found at www.ramblemusic.com.

May 8, 2010 - 9:14am
posted by Joseph Langen in arts, creativity, imagination.



Joe and Carol at Mardi Gras World

Joe and Carol at Mardi Gras World

~Imagine all the people living life in peace.
You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.~

John Lennon

Recently I attended the Imagine RIT Innovation and Creativity Festival at the Rochester Institute of Technology. My son Peter, my grandson Joey and his friend Kevin went with me. Thirty thousand other people also showed up. So did two thousand RIT students and faculty, presenting several hundred exhibits, live performances and demonstrations.

On my first visit with Joey two years ago, I saw my first e-book reader, an early model which reminded me of and Etch-a-Sketch. Not much advantage over a book. Joey immediately took to the robots, one wheeling its way through the crowd and another busy assembling hot dogs with choice of catchup or mustard.

Before this visit I happened upon the RIT website describing the hundreds of attractions and where to find them. I had a plan for exhibits and activities I thought would be interesting to visit. However we found ourselves in the quad in line for free ice-cream and drawn to the two foot electric and gas race cars speeding around a makeshift track. Singers, dancers, drummers and art hummed in the quad background.

Without especially knowing where we were going, we wandered into one of the buildings. We encountered a blue room. Leaving their shoes behind, Joey and Kevin frolicked on blue cubes while backgrounds were added to make it appear on the monitor that they were swimming in the ocean or flying though the woods.

In another room, arrays of computer stations displayed computer games students had designed. The boys set to work immediately, exploring the new games under the tutelage of the students who had created them.

Down the hall a classroom awaited us. A storyboard filled one wall. I recognized it from my writing experience. Elementary cartoon graphics showed the layout for an animated film. Several students demonstrated how they progressed from the storyboard to a polished animated sequence.

As fascinating as I found all this, what happened next floored me. Eight year old Kevin and Joey asked sophisticated questions about the process at a level I had not imagined. They connected with these college students in a way which reminded me of the story of Jesus and the Temple elders.

The rest of the day was just as fascinating. The technology and imagination were spectacular. Even more impressive was the humility, sense of humor, and openness of every student and teacher we met. As if that was not enough, one student ambled through the crowd with his placard offering free hugs. I came home encouraged by the endless creativity of the RIT community and the infections enthusiasm they shared with the rest of us. Maybe there is still hope for the world.

Life lab Lessons

  • How often do you tap your creative resources?
  • Do your ideas sometimes surprise you?
  • Encourage others to share their creative ideas.
  • Merge your creativity with that of others in a spirit of cooperation.
  • Create ways to build a better sense of community.
April 16, 2010 - 11:44am
posted by Joseph Langen in arts, poetry.
St. Thomas Sunrise
St. Thomas Sunrise

~A poet is, before anything else, a person who is passionately in love with language~ W.H. Auden

JOE: Good morning Calliope.
CALLIOPE: Good morning Joe. Glad you remembered.
JOE: How could I forget that you are the muse of epic poetry and that this is National Poetry Month?
CALLIOPE: Bravo. What are you doing to celebrate my month?
JOE: I have never been much of a poet, but I did organize an open reading at GO ART! this Friday in honor of you and your sister muses. Norm Davis, editor of Hazmat Review and a poet, will host the event.
CALLIOPE: Tell me more.
JOE: Area poets are invited share their work with others seeking poetic inspiration.
CALLIOPE: Tell me about Auden's quote.
JOE: I chose it because I don't feel I have the patience to concentrate fully on poetry, I do appreciate the care poets take with their words. That much has been an inspiration to me.
CALLIOPE: Glad we could brighten your life a little.
JOE: Thank you. Talk with you later.

April 6, 2010 - 8:30am
posted by Joseph Langen in arts, poetry, program.


standing on one leg

Standing on one leg

JOE: Good afternoon, Calliope.
CALLIOPE: Good afternoon, Joe. You were going to tell me about your next project.
JOE: A literary one, but a bit out of my league. It being National Poetry Month, I was asked to develop an appropriate program at GO ART!.
CALLIOPE: What did you come up with?
JOE: I invited a prominent poet of my acquaintance to make an appearance, but alas he was too busy this month.
CALLIOPE: And your plan B?
JOE: I decided on an open poetry reading toward the end of the month hosted by Norm Davis whom I have known for many years.
CALLIOPE: What do you expect to happen?
JOE: I’m not sure. I don’t recall one ever taking place in Batavia before.  It should be an interesting experience.  Talk with you Friday.

April 2, 2010 - 7:51pm
posted by Daniel Crofts in batavia, arts, events, Genesee Community College, poetry.
Event Date and Time: 
April 22, 2010 - 7:00pm to 8:00pm

Joan Murray -- author, poet, editor and playwright -- will do a dramatic poetry reading at GCC's Batavia Campus from 7 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, April 22.

The reading will take place in the Stuart Steiner Theater, followed by a book-signing. Copies of Murray's work will be available for purchase. 

March 29, 2010 - 1:07pm
posted by Joseph Langen in arts, cooperation, creativity.

Jackson Square

Jackson Square


~The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant.
We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.~
Albert Einstein

Recently I attended a planning meeting for this summer’s Batavia Ramble. I once thought this was a gathering of Country-Western bands. Then I discovered that bands plan to grace us with all sorts of music. As those who attended the meeting shared their excitement and ideas, I learned of other possibilities as well. I was suddenly more interested in the whole undertaking.

Artists will be showing their works. Children will explore craft projects. Crafters will share and demonstrate their skills and wares. Other artists will be invited to sketch the festivities live. Street performers may well dot the landscape.

The discussion captured my imagination. I envisioned our community coming together to share our collective creativity. Many creative efforts these days are geared toward advertising and efforts to get people to part with their money. I learned that attendance at the Ramble will be free of charge. None of the organizers or performers will be paid for their efforts. Everyone involved is motivated by their love of their particular art and their wish to share it with others rather than an interest in making money.

For days after the meeting, I thought again and again about the growing tendency to grab what we want for ouselves despite our neighbor’s needs. Here is a group of people sharing their creativity with no expectation of financial reward. Perhaps the world community situation is not as dire as I thought.

These days I see a great gulf between creative people and their audience. We listen to music on CD’s or MP3 players, buy books on the Internet, find craftwork in catalogs and dine in chain restaurants. How often do we have a chance to meet artists face to face? Can we even imagine it? I wonder how much creative energy stirs in people or remains dormant around the world. Once people shared their stories, music, crafts and meals with each other for the pure joy of doing so. My guess is that they still do, at least to some extent.

The potential remains for artists to share freely of themselves and for the rest of us to encounter them in person at least until they become famous. See how you can express your own creativity and get in touch with others’ creativity.

Technology has allowed us to connect with the world and with each other much quicker than we could in the past. But it has made our communication more impersonal in the process. Perhaps it is time for us to reconnect with each other on a fully human level.

Life Lab Lessons
 What is your talent?
 How often do you freely share it with others?
 What talents of others do you appreciate?
 Find a way to share more of yourself.
 Make sure you show your appreciation of others’ talent.

March 15, 2010 - 10:59am
posted by Joseph Langen in arts, writing, fiction.

Bird Feeders

Bird Feeders

JOE: Good morning Calliope.
CALLIOPE:  Good morning Joe. How is this week going so far?
JOE: For the first time in a while last Monday, I woke up feeling some stress with all I had to work on during the week.
CALLIOPE: And this morning?
JOE: No stress. I accomplished all I set out to do last week and feel quite relaxed today.
CALLIOPE: What’s going on in your writing world?
JOE: I finished reading two of Nancy Kress’s novels and got a good sense of how she puts into practice what she writes about construction and characters in fiction.
CALLIOPE: And next?
JOE: I found three of her books on the craft of writing and will start delving into them in more detail.
CALLIOPE: Sounds good. And GO ART?
JOE: All is well. My first program with Sybil Reisch is in order and I have started working on a poetry program for April, National Poetry Month. Talk with you on Friday.

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