Abstract Painter Allen Denny Smith

Elmira, NY artist, Allen Denny Smith was given his first set of paints from his grandmother. Today he listens to inspirational music while creating his great works of art with oil paints and watercolors. His Bonne Chance series was random and color choices were chosen by a coin toss. This released him from the responsibility of color choice and allowed him the same sense of surprise that his audience experiences from his works.  

For Denny, making art is a visceral experience and a meditation.

"Arcadian America" By Aaron Sachs

There really is a place called Arcadia.  It is a region of the presently-troubled nation of Greece, and for centuries its name has been synonomous with beauty, tranquility and the "contented pastoral simplicity of its people", according to one dictionary definition.  Oddly, even with all our classical place names there is no Arcadia in upstate New York (there is an Arcade, NY, in Wyoming County).  But finding the spot on a map and attaining the ideal should be two different things.  In his new book "Arcadian America", Aaron Sachs goes in quest of both the spirit and the specific locales that would characterize Arcadia. http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/national/local-national-1024205.mp3
The book is an appeal for environmental awareness, an appreciation of landscapes, an analysis of American writings about nature and design, a review of 19th century American history and, most strikingly, a personal memoir as its author deals with very basic matters of life and death. "American Arcadia: The Death and Life of an Environmental Tradition" opens with Aaron Sachs describing his hometown of Ithaca, NY (a fine classic name there).  Dr. Sachs is associate professor or history and American studies at Cornell University, and he began his association with Cornell when the campus was in the midst of an uproar about paving over a woodland to create another parking lot.  The balance between the appreciation and protection of the natural world and the desire for development and Progress has torn this nation throughout its history.  During the 19th century, a time when the design of a rural cemetery might stir feelings of natural order,
Arcadia seemed within reach to Americans who paused in the quieter corners of particular landscapes, on the back acres of farms, in parks and gardens, where the atmosphere was restful, where nature and culture seemed at peace with each other.  Of course, it is quite likely that no true Arcadia has ever come into being; in any case, it would demand a huge amount of hard labor.  So predictably -- but distressingly -- scholars have tended to dismiss nineteenth-century Arcadians -- like Thoreau, or the pioneering landscape architect Andrew Jackson Downing, or Populists like Ignatius Donnelly and Henry George and Hamlin Garland -- as dreamers or elistists who were ultimately complicit in the mainstream embrace of Manifest Destiny.  I think of them as both men of their time and, in some respects, environmental prophets. The Arcadian outlook was harshly tested in the mid-19th century by the Civil War and the advance of the Industrial Revolution, forces that Professor Sachs details in a central chapter of "Arcadian America" entitled simply "Stumps".  That title refers to both the remains of trees levelled to clear farmland or for construction, and the soldiers' limbs amputated on the Civil War battlefields.  Stumps even appear in the Arcadian images of landscapes by Winslow Homer, Thomas Cole and other painters.  "Americans finally began to realize, in the 1860s, that they had to confront limits, that logging caused ugly, long-lasting scars," writes Sachs, "that the renewal of timber resources would take a mighty effort."  At the same the human sacrifice of war was well-described by poet and nurse Walt Whitman, another of the great figures who carry forward the story of "Arcadian America". In the midst of reviewing the environmental and social history of the 1800s, Aaron Sachs shares his own personal story.  Passsages of autobiography blend with the advance of history, telling of opportunities, challenges and impediments that Sachs faced and of his own relationship to the natural and built world.  He is concerned about the illness and death of friends, family relationships and especially the aging and well-being of his parents.  He also tells about the development of  "Arcadian America" itself.

Painter Marc Rubin

Marc Rubin paints still lives that invite meaning and evoke story. He captures everyday objects at eye-level and sized in the frame as they are in the world—but he imbues them with a spirit and presence so that, emotionally, they become larger than life. Rubin’s work can be seen in galleries in Philadelphia and Scranton, PA; Corning and Greenport, NY; Lambertville, NJ; and Chestertown, MD. From 1990–2001, he painted weekly under the guidance of world-renowned painter Thomas Buechner, and continues in that tradition to masterfully paint representational oils on panels. In 2006 he taught painting and figure drawing at Elmira College.

"Inside the Dementia Epidemic" By Martha Stettinius; "Expecting the Broken Brain to Do Pushups" By Dave Elder

About 1% of Americans suffer from schizophrenia.  More than five million people in this country are living with Alzheimer's Disease, including over 300,000 New Yorkers.  As with any illness, there is also a chain of concern that includes family and friends and professional caregivers, so that it's probably safe to say that most people are affected in some way by serious health conditions that still don't have a ready cure.  While some individuals suffer and withdraw, others must keep an eye on loved ones while trying to hold on to their own well-being.  Sometimes the best way to stay engaged and supportive while maintaining one's own personal interests is by writing. http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/national/local-national-1023834.mp3
This OFF THE PAGE program presents two authors who have shared the burden of illness and decline.  In both cases the afflicted ones were their mothers. Martha Stettinius's relationship with her mother Judy was not always easy and from the age of 16 Martha had an independent life.  But when Martha was in her 40s her mother began to display symptoms of dementia. Over the next seven years, as her condition deteriorated, Judy went from assisted living to memory care and finally into a nursing home, and Martha kept a journal.  A literary editor and writing instructor, Martha turned her observations into a book "Inside the Dementia Epidemic: A Daughter's Memoir". The following weeks unfold like a test.

Il Trovatore

For better or worse, Verdi's Il Trovatore has everything a prototypical, or even a stereotypical opera is often assumed to have: Brilliant vocal lines – and a weirdly implausible plot. Compelling dramatic action – and a basically incomprehensible plot. Shatteringly beautiful music – and a totally ridiculous plot. You get the idea. Or, more to the point, you might listen to the opera and not get the idea.