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October 27, 2016
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Let freedom ring

Artist Barbara Zweig’s beaded Venus de Milo appears to “bleed” onto the floor as an expression of the “present state of our commodified culture.”
TRR photos by Jonathan Fox

National holidays are a mixed bag for me. On one hand, parties, barbeques and parades spring up and a festive air hangs over the Upper Delaware Valley as folks frolic, thrilled to have a three-day weekend. On the other, I invariably have to work. Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do, and more often than not my job involves attending parties, barbeques and parades. Thankfully, it’s not exactly brain surgery, so I have a lot to be grateful for. Fortunately, I have a lot of freedom to express my humble opinion on a variety of subjects and thus far, I have not run out of things to say. Memorial Day weekend ushers in my birthday and although I’m glad it’s over (no room for that many candles on the cake), it’s always a challenge to figure out how to celebrate and still get the work done.

Scrutinizing the seemingly endless schedule of events taking place last week, I was (for something completely different) forced to pick and choose, loosely based on personal choice. Desiring to mix business with pleasure, I selected a central location (www.straycatgallery.com) and set out in search of intellectual stimulation, mixing it up with an art show, prepared to observe freedom of expression in the making. Pretending that the opening reception for the gallery’s “Mist and Mystery” exhibit was planned as a birthday party for me wasn’t easy, but I managed. It was easier to wrap my head around the exhibit’s theme when viewing Kit Jones’ photography (www.kitjonesstudio.com), which (IMHO) expressed the artist’s “fascination with fog and mist stemming from his childhood in a coastal town of California where fog came in almost daily.” By the time I arrived, Jones was not on hand for further discussion, but I found his photographs alluring, and they will be on display at the gallery through June 5.

Looking around, I noticed a different theme emerging, in the (armless) form of Venus de Milo, one of the most famous works of ancient Greek sculpture. The Venus has always held a certain allure for me, and I was happy to discover that artist Barbara Zweig was in the house to explain her process. “Venus is, to me, an icon of culture, beauty and youth,” Zweig told me, noting that I was particularly drawn to the beaded interpretations of the goddess hanging on one wall. She explained that the reason the beads appear to “bleed” down onto the floor is an expression of her “reflection on the present state of our commodified culture.” I’m not entirely sure that I grasped the concept, but Zweig’s ghostly images are haunting and I often applaud that which I don’t understand, accepting the limitations my aging brain allows.

It was easy to cross the road and have a nice birthday dinner at the Dancing Cat before crossing the parking lot to hear personal fave Peter Florance and the New Kings (like them on Facebook) playing in the Distillery, where friends acknowledged my wrinkled visage with a raised glass of good cheer against my protestations about being officially “over the hill.” My dance partner was a dog (www.facebook.com/DharmaTheWonderDog), but she is the best date I could ask for and I love having the freedom to take her with me wherever I go.

On Sunday, I went with a pal to Narrowsburg, NY to check out the Fort Delaware Museum, which offers visitors an “authentic depiction of the life of the Delaware Company pioneers who settled in the Upper Delaware Valley in 1754.” (www.upperdelawarescenicbyway.org)

My visit there was so interesting, that I feel the need to write freely about just that, and plan to devote a separate article on the Fort in next week’s issue of The River Reporter. I know you’re on the edge of your seat, so try to contain your excitement. It’s only a few days away.

On Monday, I strolled into town to observe the 129th Memorial Day Parade in the Town of Fremont. Steeped in history, I learned that the town’s first parade took place in 1884, honoring veterans of the Civil War. My personal connection to patriotism has been magnified by life in the region, and I was thrilled to be among those honoring the event “dedicated to all those Americans who were POWs or MIAs in all our wars or conflicts” and acknowledging that the day is more than an excuse for a cookout. The memorial service, benediction and a flag folding ceremony honoring the family of Raymond Oestrich (Missing in Action from WWII) were all moving and the roster of parade supporters is staggering. To view photos of the cavalcade, go to www.facebook.com/theriverreporter and tag your friends. Above all, these holidays are a perfect example to remember the real reason we celebrate—freedom. It’s not just another word.