Project presents 13 views of blackbird poem


January 28, 2002|By Lisa Breslin | Lisa Breslin,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

ARTISTS, MUSICIANS and patrons of the arts from around the region gathered Jan. 18 at Charles Collyer and Pam Zappardino's Victorian home in Uniontown for the debut of a mixed media show called "The Blackbird Project."

The evening, in the making since the summer, was filled with poetry, music, mingling and appreciation for artwork and music.

The event raised funds for OneTree Productions - a program linked to Common Ground on the Hill, which sponsors poetry readings, publications, concerts, workshops and art shows.

"The Blackbird Project" began when Westminster writer Barbara DeCesare read Wallace Stevens' poem "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird" for "the 900th time" and decided that the poem needed to be taken off the page. The many contrasting, rich images in the poem inspired DeCesare to give it more dimensions. She was inspired, but as a graduate student and mother of three, didn't have time to do all the work herself.

She contacted friends, many also writers. Others are painters, poets and parents. She asked them each to take one stanza from Stevens' poem. "Think about what it says to you, and then create something that reflects your interpretation."

Most of her friends began the assignment with a mixture of enthusiasm and skepticism. When their works were brought together for the first time, DeCesare and many others decided that the poem "had a greater life" when it was lifted from the page and into a variety of media.

Collages, paintings, portraits, sculptures, recordings, a mobile, a handmade paper book and a videography were displayed. Each work offered a personal interpretation of one stanza.

"What really surprised me was the diversity and the quality of each of these projects," DeCesare said. "I think, or at least I hope, that this experience was transformative for a lot of people, people who didn't know they had these talents in them."

"Nights like this remind everyone that we have a vibrant arts community in Carroll County," said Christina Collins-Smith, director of OneTree Productions. "It is an arts community that is welcoming, nurturing and always growing."

"Blackbird Project" participants included: Phil and ML Grout, Linda Joy Burke, Mira Foote, Sam Schmidt and Virginia Crawford, Kim Roberts, Emery Pajer, Felicia Morganstern, Rina Aukerman, Dr. Gary Blankenburg, Christina Collins-Smith, Dan Francis and Dr. David Kreibel. Musicians featured during the evening were: Carl, Emily and Claude Martin; Sasha Mercedes and Rob Caswell.

Information about OneTree Productions: Carroll County Arts Council, 410-848-7272.

Reading mania

Pupils at East Middle School are gearing up for their Readathon from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Feb. 8.

The annual event raises funds for the school's media center and reading-related programs.

"It doesn't take much of a sales pitch to get students to" take part, media specialist Laurie Walters said. "We just tell them that Mom and Dad will not be sitting next to them, and they are on their own to read away. It is a popular event."

Reading at the middle school has "shot through the roof" lately, Walters said. From September to October, library circulation jumped by 500 books.

"I don't know if reading's popularity has to do with Harry Potter, our strong group of reading teachers, the good literature out there, or what; but more and more students have discovered that it is OK, it is cool, to read," Walters said. "We have no doubt that the Readathon will be a success."

Living Treasure honored

Westminster resident Ed Holthause honors Ira Zepp, professor emeritus of philosophy and religious studies at Western Maryland College, as his Living Treasure this week.

"He has always been inspirational to me," Holthause said. "The way he looks at life and embraces all people regardless of their background, creed or motto. He approaches life the right way."

Who is your Living Treasure? Brighten someone's day by submitting his or her name to: Lisa Breslin, 35 Ridge Road, Westminster 21157, 410-848-4703.

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