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July 13, 2014
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Along came a spider

“Eco-system” painter Ken Cro-Ken “sets a painting in motion” as the Weekend of Chamber Music musicians look on.
TRR photos by Jonathan Fox


I’m one of those guys who makes lists. Even with a calendar on my computer, a day runner, and a “Carnet De Journaliste” (reporter’s notebook—no clue why it’s in French on the cover), my house is littered with scraps of paper. Being an arachnophobe (fear of spiders), I try to keep the paper down to a minimum (where the creepy-crawlies tend to lurk), instead using Post-its® stuck to the mirror (one place I am guaranteed to look). With all that, one would think I’d know where I’m going, but there are always twists, turns and unexpected road blocks along the way.

On Wednesday last, I took my seat in Forestburgh (www.FBplayhouse.org) and had the time of my life, laughing my way through both acts of “Monty Python’s Spamalot.” My “carnet” was overflowing with notes; therefore I have devoted an entire online column to just that, and you’ll have to visit www.riverreporter.com and check out our extensive arts and leisure section to read all about it. Suffice it to say that I highly recommend seeing the show. I do have a charming (I mean frightening) story about a spider in a theatre that occurred long ago and far away, but I’m saving that for my memoir, so you’ll have to wait for that one.

On Thursday, I stuck a post-it to my forehead and managed to get to Victoria Lesser’s place (www.theoldnorthbranchinn.com) for a musical interlude (www.weekendofchambermusic.com) with Weekend of Chamber Music (WCM) trio Andrew Waggoner, (violin) Matt Sullivan, (oboe/English horn) Caroline Stinson (cello) plus “visual artist” Ken Cro-Ken. Self-described “ecosystem painter,” Cro-Ken “sets a painting in motion to recreate the push-pull forces that shape all things,” and he did just that, accompanied by the trio’s evening of “Transprovisations.” The place was packed, the audience wildly enthusiastic, and what may have escaped me apparently enthralled others, so I’ll keep my humble opinion to myself. The WCM series presents events through the end of the month, and their schedule provides a wide variety, so I would suggest checking them out at one of several cool venues near you.

“Oppressive” doesn’t even begin to describe the heat and humidity that blanketed the Upper Delaware Valley last Friday and I was a bit scorched from a day at the lake, but Dharma was anxious to attend the grand opening party and “explore the nature of change” behind the Green Door on Main Street in Liberty, NY, so we took a cold shower and went. “Change” is the art exhibit currently running at the gallery connected to the magazine of the same name (www.greendoormag.com) and the place was packed with well-wishers and fans (which did nothing to abate the sweltering temps). I didn’t see any spiders, but the walls were adorned with way-cool art, including Ryan Cronin’s “graffiti-inspired” work and Greg Frederick’s (IMHO) stunning original portraits (www.vinylpopart.com). Naomi Teppich was in the house and suggested that her sculpture (“Cactus Conundrum”) might be a cautionary tale of a “changing climate” and that a cactus growing in a store front window in Liberty could be a reflection of “global warming creating a new bio-diversity.” Hmmm.

The exhibit, which runs through August 25, features the works of more than a dozen artists, and I had a chance to chat with the clever and inventive Amy Lewis, (www.agrisculpture.com) “scrap metal” sculptor Zac Shavrick, and to experience a “spontaneous” performance by the Human Lard Dog (www.houseoflard.com). Judging by the crowd, Green Door is the place to be and I snapped quite a few pics. “Like” us on Facebook to view, share and tag.

Responding to an email from college chum Laurie Graff, Dharma accepted the invite to hear her read an essay she penned for inclusion in a new book, “No Kidding—Women Writers on Bypassing Parenthood.” On the way, I screeched as a searing pain hit my left hand and veered a bit, but not suspecting that anything might have taken a bite out of me, I steered toward Livingston Manor and the Catskill Art Society (CAS) (www.catskillartsociety.org). Graff, (“You Have to Kiss a lot of Frogs,” “The Shiksa Syndrome”) and I studied theatre together in college and she has gone on to have an incredibly successful career as a writer, which inspires me to think that there’s hope for me yet. Her reading was in conjunction with the CAS gallery’s new show “Out Of Place,” which showcases the work of Charles Wilkin and Lisa Samalin. I was particularly drawn to Samalin’s gargantuan murals, but my concentration was focused on Graff, so I plan to return to CAS in order to absorb the show more fully.

Seeing Laurie (www.lauriegraff.com) was a treat and her essay, (much like her novels) was excellent, so it came as no surprise that she was beyond entertaining. My hand itched like crazy during the reading, but I gave it little thought until reaching home, when my vision blurred, my legs became wobbly and my stomach churned. By the next day. I could barely walk and a visit to the doctor (“Looks like the work of a ‘Yellow-Sac’ spider”) did nothing to assuage my fear. Steroid injections (aarrgh), antibiotics and bed rest (yeah, right) are in order. Arachnophobia is optional. And how was your week?

For more information about yellow sac spiders, visit
www.pestid.msu.edu/InsectsArthropods/YellowsacspidersCheiracanthiuminclu....