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First time for everything

By JONATHAN CHARLES FOX
Posted 11/20/19

Let’s face it: I’ve been around the block a few times. I’ve done a lot of things, seen a lot of places and met a lot of people over the years, but thankfully, I have yet to do it …

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First time for everything

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Let’s face it: I’ve been around the block a few times. I’ve done a lot of things, seen a lot of places and met a lot of people over the years, but thankfully, I have yet to do it all. This past week was a good reminder of that notion, and while I often feel like Methuselah, there’s still a little fight in me, coupled with a never-ending desire to see, hear and do. I suppose it’s just in my nature, and of course I credit my mother with instilling a yearning for learning at an early age. “Try it,” she’d say without hesitation when I would express concern over my abilities or lack thereof. “What could it hurt? Even if you don’t succeed, you’ll be no worse off than when you started.” Don’t get me wrong, my mother was not exactly Yoda, and not all words that came out of her mouth were pearls of wisdom, but still… Barbara is gone nine years this week, and every anniversary of her passing still feels like the first.

I couldn’t call Mom to relate my excitement over participating in the 9th annual “Country Cares for St. Jude Kids Radiothon” that then 18-year-old Vicki Sims (née Dunlap) spearheaded over at Thunder 102 (and 104.5) radio years ago, but I can recall much about the first one, and what an emotional journey it was. It’s never easy spending days on end asking folks in the Upper Delaware River region for donations, but with each successive year, the survival rates go up, and I’m always blown away by the sheer generosity of you all. It takes far more than a village to make this incredible fundraiser spring to life each year, and once again, folks from near and far contributed nickels and dimes to raise more than $70,000 to support the fight against childhood cancer (www.stjude.org).

Last weekend also marked the 15th anniversary of the Delaware Valley Arts Alliance’s “Art in Sixes,” a “small works show” that I’m participating in for the very first time. Although I’ve always admired this annual exhibit, I’ve never submitted my own photographs until now. I am still elated over seeing something that I tried (thanks, Mom!) and succeeded in accomplishing. It sounds goofy, but I’ve always wanted one of those little stickers that read “DVAA Art in Sixes—ask me which is mine.” I now have my first one, to be pressed into my book of memories for future generations (I mean my nephew Harley) to fling into the garbage when I’m gone, shaking his head over the insane amount of stuff I have accumulated over a lifetime. 

“Yes, it’s my first time, too,” artist Esther Klein informed me while I was admiring her miniature mandalas, meticulously painted on four canvasses adorning the walls at the DVAA. “In fact,” she continued, “I only started painting three years ago.” Stunned, I looked more closely. “But they’re amazing!” I enthused. “Are you pulling my leg?” Learning that Klein had been “fooling around” with painting the intricate patterns on rocks for a while, she decided to try her hand at recreating the geometric figures that represent Buddhist and Hindu symbolism on six-by-six-inch (get it?) squares for the DVAA exhibit on display through December 22nd. “Just in time for holiday gift giving,” I remind my pals who have expressed the desire to own a piece of my work. “You can buy ‘em all.” I chided a friend ooohing and ahhing over my series of photos titled ‘The Four Seasons:” “Surely you have room on your walls.” I encouraged, “They’re small.” 

In all seriousness, though, this exhibit is (IMHO) amazing. Comprised of 632 pieces of art created by 206 highly creative individuals, I’m always stunned not only by the staggering number of pieces in the show but even more so by the talent represented. Small paintings, sculptures, photographs and mixed-media pieces abound. Every year gallery director Rocky Pinciotti (assisted by a small army of dedicated volunteers) beams as he addresses the crowd out to celebrate the opening. “This is community,” Pinciotti said, echoing the words of an art fan, who was catching this show for the first time. “Where can you find over 600 pieces of art, made my more than 200 artists?”

“In Narrowsburg,” someone called out from the crowd, to thunderous applause. “Think about that,” Rocky said. “We’ve got as much art in here as The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) has on the first floor.” DVAA Executive Director Ariel Shanberg also had a few words to say after Pinciotti acknowledged and thanked everyone involved. “He’s a mad scientist, a genius of space and esthetics, and he loves each and every one of you,” Shanberg said, referring to Pinciotti and his dedication to the arts community. “This is a symbiotic relationship, and Rocky cares about you all in a way that I’ve rarely seen.” As for me being a small part of the bigger picture, this one might be a first, but I sure hope it’s not my last.  

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