Melissa Newcomb, assistant professor of art at Keuka College, has added to her growing portfolio of public and commissioned works, and can now boast the 2015 Fact Book cover for Yates County, distributed by the Chronicle-Express/Ad-Viser newspaper.
According to Gwen Chamberlain, editor of the Chronicle-Express, each year the newspaper tries to utilize the cover of the Fact Book to highlight an element of life in Yates County and this year the editorial team wanted to shine a light on the arts and Yates County artists. However, the publication was nearing deadline without a work to grace the cover.
Enter Karen Morris, the paper’s publisher, who knew Newcomb through previous work together on the Keuka Arts Festival steering committee. Morris mentioned a mixed media of Newcomb’s the committee had seen during the process of selecting art for the Festival’s annual poster. It just so happened Morris still had a copy of Newcomb’s work when she and Chamberlain met for another discussion on the Fact Book cover.
“It was really kind of magical how it all came together within a matter of minutes,” Chamberlain described.
It’s not the first major piece which Newcomb has had showcased to the public.
In 2011, the Marathon Engineering company in Rochester commissioned her for a 6-foot by 8-foot pen-and-ink mural of the Frederick Douglass – Susan B. Anthony Memorial Bridge along the Genesee River on Route 490 in Rochester. The enormous work was completed in 2012 and is on display at the company’s offices.
In 2014, Newcomb was asked to illustrate several pages of a historic novel written by Timothy Munn of Shortsville, Newcomb’s hometown. Published by Lightning Press of New Jersey, the book came out in print in April 2014 and features both a cover designed by Newcomb as well as numerous line drawings throughout the chapters. The author commissioned Newcomb to illustrate historical retellings of the days when baseball and the railroad intersected at the historic Roundhouse (a railroad mechanism which moves engines via a circular turntable) in Shortsville. According to Newcomb, Round House 9 is the third book on shelves containing her drawings or photographs.
Munn previously commissioned her in 2004 for illustrations and in 2008 for photography on projects related to local history, published by the Ontario County Historical Society in Canandaigua.
According to Dr. Jennie Joiner, division chair of the Division of Humanities and Fine Arts and associate professor of English, commissioned works for an artist are the equal of publications or conference presentations in other academic disciplines.
“The goal of faculty is to be active in innovation—new ideas or new ways of seeing, being, or interacting with the world. Within the cover, Professor Newcomb created an artistic frame and visual representation of the beauty of Yates County, and she literally frames the landscape with artistic tools and other artifacts (the flowers, bottle, coffee mug) from the area. Thus, her artwork gives us a new way of seeing Yates County.
“Additionally, Professor Newcomb is modeling the way in which artists continually have to seek out and create opportunities to both showcase their work and create an audience for their art,” Joiner added. “Her work and active practice of her art further demonstrates to students the tangibility of the artistic process as a profession. She doesn’t just teach, she creates!”
Another potential commission may be in the works as officials at UR Medicine’s Thompson Health recently met with Newcomb to explore a possible commission for artwork to decorate select locations within its Canandaigua hospital. However, such a project is still in exploratory stages and nothing official has yet been decided.
For her part, Newcomb said she is excited when interest is taken in her personal art creations, and she is thrilled for new opportunities to share her art with others in the community.
“Commissions involving murals, or even publications open so many doors to networking with new people whom I may have not met otherwise. This allows for relationships to be built in different areas! Each opportunity happened because these people believed in me and supported my development as a professional artist.”
“With these opportunities, I’ve also been able to grow as an educator, since the variety of artistic practices enables me to bring a knowledge of skill sets to prepare students for the business side in a world hungry for art and design.”
“My advice to art students and graduates in the field is to use your creative thinking skills, be uncomfortable, and face your fears,” she said. ”If you can do that, then you can achieve anything.”
Keuka College’s Spotlight Series will continue Tuesday, April 7 with a poetry reading by Michael Jennings.
The reading, free and open to the public, begins at 7 p.m. in the Gannett Room of Lightner Library.
Jennings is the author of eight books of poetry, most recently River Time and Bone-Songs and Sanctuaries: New and Selected Poems.
Born in the French Quarter of New Orleans, Jennings grew up in east Texas and the deserts of Iran. He is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and was a Fellow in Creative Writing at Syracuse University. He is also an internationally recognized breeder and judge of Siberian Huskies and the author of three books on the breed that are recognized as definitive.
Jennings began writing poems as a way to recapture the Iranian landscape of his childhood and early youth, resulting in a chronicle of a soul’s interaction with the spirits of place, what he calls inner and outer weather.
“My poems are ritual soundings, in the ancient oral tradition, for the bones and colors of experience, which is to say, they are written to be heard—sound paintings, sounded-out stories, and sometimes songs,” said Jennings.
At age 19, Jennings visited the Picasso Retrospective in Paris and was intrigued by his different periods displayed in different rooms. Jennings believes various sections of Bone-Songs and Sanctuaries, are roughly equivalent to different “rooms,” not necessarily chronological but psychically ordered into a kind of plot or journey.
Said Jennings: “I have recorded this rather long work in large part because I believe that the sound in the air is essential to the authentic form of a poem, the ‘body’ that is breath and timing and the movement of the tongue.”
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.
The Keuka College Chorale, Band and the newly formed a capella group, QKAppella, will perform its annual spring concert Tuesday, April 29.
Free and open to the public, the concert begins at 7:30 p.m. in Norton Chapel.
The Chorale will sing a traditional Alleluia Canon and Old American Songs by Aaron Copland. The Band and Chorale will perform a set of Beatles songs, while QKAppella will present several popular solos and duets, according to Kelley Hamilton, music instructor and director of the chorale.
“Chung ‘Johnny’ Nguyen will sing a fabulous rendition of the Bruno Mars hit Just the Way You Are, said Hamilton. “The concert will also feature Jakiem Brown, who beat-boxes on several songs.”
According to Hamilton, the concert will flow between larger groups and soloists.
“We will combine some instrumental and vocals and the finale, Viva la Vida by Coldplay, will feature everyone,” said Hamilton. “Our new instrumental music instructor, Dr. Dave Chisholm, has arranged two Beatles’ pieces and the jazz classic, Caravan for the band. Dr. Chisholm is an amazingly talented jazz musician, professional composer, and arranger. It’s exciting for the students to be able to play new arrangements written by him.”
Formed at the beginning of the spring semester, QKAppella, which features 10 students, performed during Accepted Students Day earlier this month, and was “well received,” said Hamilton. “The students love this opportunity, and our new sound equipment is awesome.”
QKAppella will perform four more times during the semester, including Saturday, April 26 from 1-3 p.m. in the Phillips Lounge of Dahlstrom Student Center; Saturday, May 3 at 3 p.m. outside of Hegeman Hall; Saturday, May 10, at 12:15 p.m. in the Geiser Refectory; and Sunday, May 25, select students from Chorale and QKAppella will perform during Baccalaureate. The ceremony begins at 9:30 a.m. in Norton Chapel.
An additional performance will be Tuesday, May 6, as Chisholm, Hamilton, a jazz trio, and select Keuka College students will perform for the President’s Circle Dinner. The trio will play several jazz standards, and Hamilton will sing. In addition to Chisholm, who plays trumpet, the trio includes Fumi Tomita on bass and Alex Patrick on guitar.
A New York City native, Tomita has played at Carnegie Hall, was the bassist for the national tour of the Nat King Cole tribute Unforgettable, and is earning his doctorate at the Eastman School of Music.
Patrick, who is pursuing his bachelor’s degree at the Eastman School of Music, has performed with the Eastman Youth Jazz Orchestra, and has studied with guitarist Bob Sneider. A composer as well as a performer, Patrick received Penfield High School’s Charlie Cote Music Scholarship for composition and has had his works featured in Penfield High School concerts.