A boat whose style hearkens back to the time of the Vikings, more than 1,000 years ago, is finding new life on Keuka Lake. Through a community craftsmanship program offered in the spring of 2014, Keuka College students and local residents had a hand – literally – in bringing the boat to life.
The 22-foot-long beauty now on display in Lightner Gallery in Lightner Library at Keuka College, boats a gleaming royal blue hull, with crisp white and wood interiors. Members of the public are invited to join those from the campus community at a celebration reception, to be held from 4:30 – 6 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 11. Light refreshments will be served. A showcase of images, ship-building terms, and historic attributes will guide guests through a visual timeline of the build. This special exhibit will continue through April 10.
Built by hand over six months on the campus of Keuka College, the St. Ayles skiff is a modern re-crafting of a boat first designed by the Vikings, circa 800 A.D., then imported from Norway to the Shetland Islands during the 1800s. The Shetland Islands lie halfway between Norway and Scotland, and these skiffs originally served as fishing boats along treacherous tidal areas in the North Sea. According to folklore, three men at the oars of the skiff were sure to reach their destination no matter the weather.
Now, thanks to a resurgence of community rowing and crafting programs worldwide since 2009, its popularity reaches far beyond its origin, and builds for some 200 of these historic boats are in the works. Hull 93, a reference to the 93rd such build, was commissioned by the Finger Lakes Museum & Aquarium, with support from Keuka College. Grant funding provided through NYS Council on the Arts and the Yates Community Endowment Fund made it possible for three College students to join community members during the build.
Each Saturday, participants gathered in the College garage near the facilities plant to work on the watercraft, under the direction of Keuka Park resident Craig Hohm, a retired ER physician, who guided the labor of taking the skiff from wood kit to watercraft. When nearly complete, final touches were added, including a Viking-like lettering of the boat’s name along the top plank of the boat, known as the sheerstrake. Named for the animal who returned to the Finger Lakes region after a 100-year absence, the Otter had its maiden launch on Keuka Lake in August.
Panashe Matambanadzo, a native of Zimbabwe and a junior environmental science major spent four weekends last semester helping to glue segments together to create the base of the boat and crafting the old-fashioned oars.
“It was a great learning process,” she said with a smile. “Where I come from, only [boat] guides would do such work.”
Sophomore Eric Yax, a native of Guatemala, also participated in the craftsmanship program and said he felt welcomed as Hohm shared his boat-building expertise. While Yax recently switched his major from environmental science to political science, he enjoys projects involving nature and the outdoors.
The build was “very interesting,” Yax said, expressing gratitude for a new experience through hands-on learning. “There is nothing better than learning by doing.”
For his part, Hohm is thrilled more members of the community can see and experience the results of the unique collaborative building project through the exhibit.
“It’s hard to improve on a near-perfect design that’s almost 1,000 years old,” Hohm said.
During the public reception, any students who are interested in opportunities for a possible rowing program utilizing the Otter will be able to sign up to receive more information as the collaboration between the College and Museum continues.
After studying like mad for a doctoral test at Eastman School of Music, jazz trumpeter Dave Chisholm decided he needed a new outlet for his creative energy. So he spent February through December of 2013 writing and illustrating a 204-page graphic novel. Then he set its seven chapters to music – composing a full-length soundtrack of seven songs to pair with it.
Now, 26 panels from this book, “Instrumental,” will be displayed in a gallery exhibit for his one-man show, “Music Meets Comics,” which runs October 27 – December 5 at Lightner Gallery in Lightner Library. An artist reception where light refreshments will be served will be held Thursday, Oct. 30 from 4:30-6 p.m. Earlier that week, Chisholm will also host a comics workshop at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 28 on the second floor of Allen Hall. The exhibit and workshop will serve as a teaser for a coming spring semester course Chisholm will teach as a visiting professor at Keuka College.
“Anytime you do a class like this, people may think ‘How would I draw Batman?’ but really we’re telling stories in pictures and words. In reality, comics are just a medium for telling any story,” Chisholm said.
For many, superheroes serve as the initial gateway into comics, Chisholm said, describing his early interest as a child in the pulp iconography of familiar favorites of the genre. But it didn’t take long for him to move from interest in the superheroes to those drawing the superheroes, to think about their process and how they might think about translating a narrative idea to a 22-page series of drawings with words.
With three degrees in music, including a doctorate in jazz trumpet, Chisholm says his day job is “all things music, with comics thrown in.” In addition to trumpet, he also plays guitar, piano, bass and drums and sings, too. He teaches music lessons and is also an adjunct music instructor at Keuka College. He toured the Western U.S. with a rock band in the years between his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and some of his adventures became part of his first graphic novel, “Let’s Go to Utah” which he described as “inspired by the craziness of touring … where it’s all spread out and you drive through the desert for hours and hours and kind of lose your mind a bit.”
Come spring, Chisholm will be running a full-semester, three-credit course through the Division of Humanities and Fine Arts on comics. Students will explore hands-on the detailed work of traditional ink-on-paper comic book creation. According to Chisholm, the course will cover the finer points of comic book panel composition, page composition, working with scripts, lettering, and character/environment design. The overarching goal of the entire course is training students in clear, communicative, sequential storytelling, he said.
“I’m interested in the mechanics of comics, meaning, how do you pace a story over eight pages? How do you put it together?” Chisholm said, describing a potential panel sequence where a man finds a key lying on the ground, uses it to open a nearby door, and a lion jumps out at him.
“Is the key important? Is the man important? Will we show reactions on his face, or are we using words to show what he’s thinking? It becomes this incredibly rigorous intellectual exercise to communicate any idea or narrative in comics form. It has almost infinite possibilities and that’s inspiring to me,” he said.
Another example he cites is the work “A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge” by Josh Neufeld which documents life and times in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.
“He did research, went down several times and kept in touch with people and he happened to tell this story in the medium of comics as opposed to a novel or documentary,” Chisholm explained.
If students were to follow elements of Chisholm’s approach of integrating music into comics, they might start with an exercise of illustrating lyrics, he said, citing Queen’s iconic “Bohemian Rhapsody” as example.
“So if the lyrics state: ‘Mama, just killed a man/Put a gun against his head/Pulled my trigger, now he’s dead,’ how do we show this? Is he on the phone with his mom, calling from prison, telling her this stuff? Is it told in flashback?” Chisholm asked.
By the time the course concludes next May, students will each have written and/or drawn 24 character sketches, 24 environment sketches, a 1-panel strip, a 1-page comic, and a 2-3-page comic “book” for the final project, he said. All final project comic books will share a similar theme and will be printed in a collective anthology by the end of the semester.
For more information on registering for the course, students can contact the registrar’s office or visit http://registrar.keuka.edu
The Keuka College Chorale will perform with the University of Rochester Chamber Orchestra Wednesday, Oct. 29.
Free and open to the public, the concert begins at 7:30 p.m. in Norton Chapel. The program includes the Overture to The Barber of Seville by Rossini; Symphony No. 41, the Jupiter, by Mozart; and Habanera from Georges Bizet’s opera, Carmen.
According to Dr. David Harman, director of orchestral activities and conductor of the University of Rochester River Campus Orchestras, the music for the concert “is a collection of very accessible and popular classical pieces.”
Kelley Hamilton, assistant professor of music and director of music programs is “excited to collaborate with Dr. Harman. He is the consummate musician and an excellent conductor. This concert will give our Keuka College students a rare opportunity to sing with a live orchestra.”
The University of Rochester Chamber Orchestra’s 40 student musicians perform throughout the Rochester community and tours both in the United States and internationally, including Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Italy, Montreal, and Chile. Performing music from the baroque to the contemporary, the chamber orchestra showcases the versatility of the university’s students.
Harman says the concert at Keuka College will be “very uplifting, and filled with delightful melodies and positive energy. Our students and I are excited to return to Keuka College for another collaboration with Professor Hamilton and her singers. Kelley will be the vocal soloist on Habanera, and it will feature the Keuka College Chorale. The Jupiter is Mozart’s final—and perhaps most brilliant—symphonic work.”
Harman earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from California State University at Sacramento, and earned a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the Eastman School of Music. He has also studied at the Aspen Music School, and in Paris as a French Government Scholar.
In addition to his position at the University of Rochester, Harman also serves as music director of the Penfield Symphony Orchestra and music director emeritus of the Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra.
Keuka College’s Spotlight Series will continue Thursday, Nov. 6 with a poetry reading by Melissa Balmain.
The reading, free and open to the public, begins at 7 p.m. in the Gannett Room of Lightner Library.
Balmain, an adjunct instructor of English at the University of Rochester, earned her bachelor’s degree from Princeton University. A humorist and journalist, Balmain recently became editor of Light, the country’s oldest journal of light verse, which she helped revive and bring online after 20 years in print. Her subjects have ranged from popular culture to parenthood to cattle ranchers to collies that surf.
Her first full-length poetry collection, Walking in on People, is the winner of the 2013 Able Muse Book Award. Her collection was selected by final judge X.J. Kennedy, who has also been part of the College’s Spotlight Series.
In Walking in on People, the serious is lightened with a generous serving of wit and humor, and the lighthearted is enriched with abundant wisdom. Subjects range from the current and hip (Facebook posts, online dating, layoffs, retail therapy, cell-phone apps, trans fat), to the traditional and time-tested (marriage, child-rearing, love, death), and includes such forms as the villanelle, ballad, triolet, nonce, and the sonnet.
Balmain’s poems have been published in such anthologies as The Iron Book of New Humorous Verse and Killer Verse, and in American Arts Quarterly, Lighten Up Online, Measure, Mezzo Cammin, Poetry Daily, the Spectator (UK), and the Washington Post. Her prose has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, McSweeney’s, and Details, among others. She is a columnist for Success magazine and the author of a memoir, Just Us: Adventures of a Mother and Daughter.
Balmain has won national journalism honors and been a finalist for the Donald Justice Poetry Prize, the Howard Nemerov Sonnet Award, and the X.J. Kennedy Parody Award.
A romantic comedy in three acts, Keuka College’s fall theatrical production, The Lady’s Not for Burning is set in the Middle Ages.
Written by Christopher Fry, the play reflects the world’s “exhaustion and despair” following World War II, with a war-weary soldier who wants to die, and an accused witch who wants to live. In form, it resembles Shakespeare’s pastoral comedies.
Directed by Professor of Theatre Mark Wenderlich, The Lady’s Not for Burning opens Friday, Oct. 17. The show begins at 8 p.m. in the Red Barn Theater, with additional performances Saturday, Oct. 18 at 8 p.m., and Sunday, Oct. 19 at 1 p.m. and again at 7 p.m.
“There are some neat angles in this show, as the play is co-produced by the Penn Yan Theatre Co. (PYTCo.), the Division of Humanities and Fine Art, and the Arion Players Drama Club,” said Wenderlich. “Two town people are in the cast, and we also have two alumni and a staff member [in the production].”
Thomas Mendip, a discharged soldier, weary of the world and eager to leave it, comes to small town Cool Clary, announces he has committed murder and demands to be hanged. A philosophical humorist, Thomas is annoyed when the officials oppose his request, even believing he is not guilty of the crime he suggests. Shortly afterward, a young woman, Jennet, is brought before the mayor for witchcraft, but for some strange reason she has no wish to be put to death.
A dark comedy of rare wit and exulted language, Thomas tries, in his own way, to prove to the official how absurd it would be to refuse to hang a man who wants to be hanged, and at the same time to kill a woman who is not only guiltless, but doesn’t want to die. Jennet enjoys the banter, and soon sees the merit in Thomas the man.
The mayor’s family members, clerks and officials gather for an impending wedding and seem to be stuck with the dilemma of two uninvited people—who may or may not be hanged in the morning—who must be included in the pre-nuptial activities.
First produced in England, The Lady’s Not for Burning had a successful run in New York. It has proved, because of its delightful freshness, the dramatic thrust of its poetry, and the sheer high spirits with which the author has endowed his characters, a joy to producer and actor, as well as to the audience.
The New York Herald Tribune called it “a poetic fantasy of rare splendor and delight…a work of magical humor and deep beauty.”
The cast includes Ryan Gillotti (Richard), a senior American Sign Language-English interpreting major from Auburn; Alicia Brown (Alizon Elliot), a senior occupational science major from Kirkwood; Phil Atherlay (Nichols), a junior adolescent English/special education major from Deposit; Jake Banas (Chaplain), a senior English major from Delmar; and Caleigh Alterio ’14 (Jennet Jourdamaine), who is pursuing her degree in occupational therapy.
Justin Krog, program developer for the College’s Office of Information Technology Services (ITS), portrays Tappercoom. Penn Yan resident Brian Cobb ’08, M’11 will return to his alma mater to portray Thomas Mendip in the production. Cobb teaches English at Penn Yan Academy. Logan Ackerly ’14 also returns to his alma mater and will portray Humphrey. Ackerly serves as an installation merchandiser at Hallmark Cards in the Greater New York City Area. John P. Christensen, reporter for the Penn Yan Chronicle Express portrays Hebble Tyson, mayor. Eileen Farrar, a Penn Yan resident who has worked with PYTCo., portrays Margaret.
Amelia Gonnella, a freshman clinical science major from Marcellus, serves as stage manager.
Tickets are $5 for Keuka College students, faculty, staff, and alumni; and $10 for the general public. Seating is limited. Tickets for The Lady’s not for Burning can be purchased in advance on instantseats.com, and are available at the box office.