Live Arts: A Combined Effort and Commitment to Community and Creativity

One of the most important things for a vital community is a live arts network where musicians, writers, poets, playwrights and their audiences can meet, share some food and drink and enjoy a night of creative exchange. Hidden River Arts is located in Philadelphia, where we are fortunate to have such vitality. We are blessed with arts organizations of all sizes, and with venues that range from those of the most expensive theatres to small pubs and community spaces where art can be made and shared. Our intern, Nancy Allen, writes of her experience at one such event. Nancy is a student in the Creative Writing program at Temple University here in Philadelphia, and is just beginning to explore such opportunities. I’m grateful that she was willing to share this information with us. I hope that, as you read through, you will be thinking about the possibilities and opportunities that might exist in your own part of the world. We here at Hidden River would love to hear about them. One of our goals in 2019 is to begin building networks for artists – live arts venues, venues for book and poetry readings, spaces for gallery shows and other mixed-art activities. If we all share our knowledge of our own communities, towns and cities, we will be able to build such a network from our combined information. Then, with that network in place, we can begin to create “tours” of indy artists who can work cooperatively to support each other’s work, to invite each other to different parts of the U.S. and to other countries, other parts of the world…making it possible to create some really wonderful fellowship among artists and audiences. Boy, do we ever need it!

Debra Leigh Scott
Founding Director

Nancy Allen is an intern here at Hidden River Arts as well as a Creative Writing major at Temple University

On September 26, Moonstone Arts held a poetry reading at Fergie’s Pub hosted by Alina Macneal and Jennifer Hook, where Catherine Bancroft and Lisa Grunberger performed, and the reading was followed by an open mic. Moonstone Arts Center, for more than 35 years, has held events for poetry all across Philadelphia. It is a Philadelphia institution, the likes of which every city and town deserves. Moonstone Arts began in 1981, in a second floor space above Robin’s bookstore. Both the bookstore and the programs were run by Sandy and Larry Robin, and both quickly became Philadelphia institutions. The Moonstone fundraiser, “Sounds and Words,” will be held this year on November 10.

An institution for over 20 years in Philadelphia, Fergie’s Pub is a popular spot for live arts and social gathering

Fergie’s Pub, over twenty years old, has opened its doors to a variety of arts programs, live music, theatre readings, and literary activities for years, believing that a traditional “publick house” was meant to be a center for all sorts of creative and social activities.

Catherine Bancroft is an artist and writer who has performed her poetry at the Philadelphia Poetry Festival, Green Line Cafe, as well as other venues. Catherine has had her work shown at Muse Gallery, Off the Wall Gallery, The Sketch Club, The Main Line Arts Center, FireWorks Gallery, and many other places. She works mainly in collage, acrylic, mixed medias, and altered books. Her current Ellis Island Series was inspired by photographs of early 20th century immigrants. Catherine has also co-written two children’s books, Felix’s Hat and That’s Philomenia. She has also written book reviews for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Lisa Grunberger is a professor in Temple University’s English department. She holds a Ph.D. in Comparative Religions from the University of Chicago. Grunberger is an award winning poet, whose work has appeared in The New York Times, and she is the author of Yiddish Yoga: Ruthie’s Adventures in Love, Loss and the Lotus Position (Harper Collins Press), and has recently staged her new play, Almost Pregnant, at The PlayGround at the Adrienne during the Fringe Arts Festival this past September.

As we mentioned, Moonstone Arts Center is having their 1st Annual Fundraiser on November 10th at 7pm. Eleven poets and two bands will be playing that evening. You can find more information and purchase tickets through their website, moonstonearts.org. If you are interested in discovering more about the poetry scene in Philadelphia, check out Phillypoetry.org, which serves as a great resource for events and places to go in the city for poets and poetry lovers.

It’s important for writers to stay connected and attend readings and live arts events throughout their city. This is great for the community and offers wonderful opportunities for the artists. We would welcome hearing from you in our comment section about the sorts of live arts events that help to create community and support local artists in your town or city! It would be a wonderful thing to begin building a national network of community arts venues and organizations to help artists move beyond their own local territory, grow their audience and develop relationships with colleagues across the country.

Advertisements

Autumn Activities Begin


(ephotozine.com)

Welcome to Autumn, 2018 everyone. We are back at our desks here at Hidden River, and I thought I’d give you a heads up on some of the activities. This will, essentially, be a kind of blast of information. The fully detailed blogs will be coming for each of these headlines, so be sure to subscribe to our blog so you’ll be notified when more is published.

We’ve been hard at work reading manuscripts, naming semi-finalists, finalists and winners for our literary awards. We are working with our newest writers on our forthcoming titles: Catharine Leggett, whose Eludia-winning manuscript, In Progress, is….you guessed it, in progress. Jeffrey Lesser, whose book on vocal technique, Your Voice, Your Instrument: Learning to Play, is launching our newest imprint, Many Frog Press (yes, Frog is singular — and there is a story to the name). We will shortly be releasing the eBook of Cheryl Romo’s book, Ruby Hands. The paperback of the book was released in the autumn of 2017. Complete profiles of our new writers, and more information about each of these releases will be coming shortly. It’s hard to believe that it is already October, since here in Philadelphia, the temperatures have remained in the high 80s, and are only now beginning to drop. The leaves have been slow to turn, but our Philly Fringe Festival has ended, our students are back in school, and there are signs everywhere that Halloween is fast approaching.


(miriadna.com)

Recent winners of several of our literary awards have been named. We will be writing profiles and providing much more information about each of the winners, as well as posting the complete list of semi-finalists and finalists of each category very shortly. Jeffrey Voccola, of Kutztown, Pennsylvania, is the first winner of our Blue Mountain Award, for his wonderful novel Kings Row. Marjorie Sandor of Corvallis, Oregon has been named the first winner of our Tuscarora Award for historical fiction for her fascinating novel, The Secret Music at Tordesillas. Our inaugural Willow Run Poetry Book Award has been won by Carol Tyx, of Iowa City, Iowa, for a powerful collection of poetry, Remaking Achilles: Slicing Into Angola’s History. And our latest Eludia Award winner is Justine Dymond, of Belchertown, Massachusetts, for her remarkable collection of stories, The Emigrant and Other Stories.

We continue to work on our literary award submissions, and will shortly be naming the winners in our script awards and several other categories. This is the first year since we’ve expanded the award categories, and the dedication we feel toward the writers who have submitted to us causes things to move a bit more slowly than we had hoped. But the choice is between rushing through the creative work with which we have been entrusted, or providing several readings for each manuscript, done with intention and attention — not to mention great affection and respect.


(sortra.com)

We are a bit buried in all this work right now — but it feels wonderful to be this busy with such wonderful activities. Stay tuned for more details of everything we’ve mentioned here, as well as for other blogs, the launch of our book reviews and news about other Hidden River Arts activities.

Enjoy your autumn — and if you are doing NanoWriMo, have lots of fun. Be sure to follow us here, so you won’t ever miss a new post.

Defining Creativity

“What is an artist? A provincial who finds himself somewhere between a physical reality and a metaphysical one…. It’s this in-between that I’m calling a province, this frontier country between the tangible world and the intangible one—which is really the realm of the artist.” — Federico Fellini

Questions about creativity, art, the creative process, the artistic life — however you phrase it, the curiosity is based on one thing: the fact that those who do not experience their own creativity are incapable of understanding those who dwell within theirs.

Fellini is right that the artist lives in a liminal world, between dream and manifestation. But so do we all.  The biggest difference is that the artist recognizes that world of liminality; others aren’t aware of the fact that a part of them lives in that place of dreams all the time.

The best way for anyone to understand creativity is for them to be introduced to their own creative energies.

We live in a world that has systematically devalued and destroyed opportunities to experience our creativity.  Standardized testing, rote teaching, drilling and killing — that is too often how our children are “taught”, and with that kind of numbing out, adults rarely have ever felt their own creative energy.  And to live a life without ever having felt your own creative energy surging through your mind and body — well, that’s not living at all.

Pedagogical theorists are, finally, realizing how under-developed our students are when they are denied time to explore creativity.  But after reading mountains of educational theory on “teaching creativity”, I’ve come to the conclusion that none of them know what they are talking about.  Unless you are an artist, you cannot introduce someone to art.  I saw this in the years when I was a residency artist in the state arts council programs.  I remember one day, walking down the hall of a public school in New Jersey, overhearing a kindergarten teacher giving instruction to the children:

“We’ll be drawing pictures of apples today.  And what colors are apples?  They are red, green, yellow.  There are NO purple apples.  No blue apples.  So, let’s be sure that we use the right colors, everybody!”

I wanted to scream.  I wanted to rush into the room and push her out of the way, and tell the children, “YES there are purple apples!  There are blue apples!  There are polka dot and striped apples!  And where are they?  In your imagination!  So draw whatever kind of apples you can imagine!”

It is impossible for a non-artist to teach creativity.  There, I’ve said it.

So what we need is an avalanche of artists, a flood of artists, entering all levels of the population — interacting with the youngest children and the oldest seniors — inviting them to see their own purple apples, to imagine their flavor, to smell their perfume.

Our society needs its artists now more than ever.  They are the shamans who will lead the way into that liminal province, that is the place where all is possible, pre-manifest and yet real.

So how does one begin to experience their own creativity?  Here’s how:

Go find the artists.   Turn off the TV, the computer and the smart phone.  Surround yourself with live art, if only a little bit, each and every day.  Go to an art museum, listen to all kinds of music (not just the kind you are most used to!), learn about the theatres in your area, and buy tickets — or better yet, go to their preview nights, when audience is often invited to view for free.  Watch live dance performance. Go to poetry and literary readings. Attend open mics in your neighborhood.  Read books – all kinds, but especially literary works and poetry.

Carry a notebook in which you can sketch and write.  Consider taking music or singing lessons.  Try acting.  Draw.  Take a pottery class.  Dance — even if it is only in your living room when nobody is watching.   Invest in some inexpensive art supplies – a sketchbook, some pencils, maybe some water color.  Buy a cheap camera and start taking pictures.  Buy a box or two of those magnetic word poetry kits and play with word combinations on your refrigerator each morning, as you wait for your tea or coffee to be finished.

Buy yourself a copy of THE ARTIST’S WAY by Julia Cameron and read it.  Do the exercises.  Follow her guidance.

Hang out with artists.  Get to know some of the people in your community who are involved in the arts, and spend time with them.  Get involved with what they do.  Your life will begin to change.  It will widen, and suddenly feel more infused with energy.

YOU will feel more alive.  You’ll realize that artists are all around you, and that the world is filled with creative wonder.  You’ll begin to feel the flow of that creative energy moving  around and through you.  You’ll never need to ask again, “What is creativity?”  You will know for yourself, and it will feel wonderful.