Be Aware the ARTS of March

Michelle Kramer-Fitzgerald

Several organizations are celebrating milestone anniversaries

Happy anniversary to Delaware Arts! This marks the  milestone anniversaries of some key agencies, including the Delaware State Arts Council’s 50th, the Delaware Division of the Arts’ (DDOA) 30th and the Delaware Arts Alliance’s 10th.

Planning is underway for a number of “happenings” throughout the year to mark the impact of the arts in Delaware over the past five decades. The celebrations will culminate in a special edition of the Arts Summit in Dover on Monday, Oct. 28, capped off with the Governor’s Awards for the Arts later that evening. Watch for more details later this year.

Artists, patrons and fans alike are encouraged to join in the merriment and the memories. In February, the DDOA launched the festivities with a survey designed for anyone to share personal stories, recollections and anecdotes of the impact of arts in their lives. To submit your story, visit arts.delaware.gov/30th-anniversary.

Meanwhile, the Arts continue apace . . .

Gable Music…Busy as Bees

Gable Music has been busy planning several live events for music lovers this spring. Here’s a rundown of just a few:

Songstress/rocking pianist Noelle Picara will open for Braxton Hicks when they hit the stage at Logan House on Friday, March 1, at 7 p.m. (Later in the month, Braxton Hicks depart for Austin and the Texas Indie Fest.)

Look for a songwriter showcase at Wilmington’s newest performance venue, I Am Art, on Saturday, March 9, at 7 p.m. The lineup includes local favorites like Joy Ike, Darnell Miller, Ava Awitan and Jeremy Hebbel, performing in the round. Tickets are $10.

The WSTW Homey Awards return to Wilmington to honor our musical “best of the best” at Theatre N on Thursday, March 14, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 for this popular annual event, recently dubbed “Delaware’s Music Prom” by local artist Joe Trainor. 

Next up, popular folk duo The Honey Badgers (Erin Magnin and Michael Natrin) celebrate their new CD release with a performance at The Queen on Friday, March 15. They’ll be joined by performances from musical friends Earth Radio and Hot Breakfast!

Also on March 15, Logan House doors open at 7 p.m. for Delaware’s preeminent and favorite indie blues band, Hoochi Coochi, with rock, soul and “sass” duo SIRSY playing in the Ladybug-presented #LiveMusicforEarlyBirds. The show is free, but you may want to get there early. This musical power combo will undoubtedly (and deservedly) pack the house.

A Fun-A-Day exhibit. This year, the exhibit features 253 creators from all over Delaware. Photo courtesy of Delaware Fun A Day

Experience Fun-A-Day…Creating Art Every Day

In February, Delaware artists were given a challenge to “create a piece of art each day for a month,” as part of the national community-centric art project called Fun-A-Day. More than 200 participants answered the call, and their collective artistic journeys will be part of Delaware Fun-A-Day 2019 at the Center for the Creative Arts (CCArts) in Yorklyn.

The free Opening Night Party on Friday, March 8, from 4 to 8 p.m. combines food (vegan and vegetarian), drinks, and music, as well as thousands of works of art from nearly every medium. The non-juried exhibit will remain at CCArts through Sunday, March 17.

“This event is an opportunity for any person—regardless of age, skill level or creative medium—to shake off the rigidity of ‘structured art’ and just have fun creating again or for the first time,” says Meredith S. Keating, lead organizer for Delaware Fun-A-Day 2019.

Keating has been a contributor in and champion of Delaware Fun-A-Day for the past eight years. What moved her then and still grips her today is the mental, emotional and physical rewards of participation. “Mentally, there’s nothing better than persevering through a creative challenge like this,” she says. “Emotionally, you’re either releasing or embracing your fear of the unknown—your limits as a creator, how much you can do. And physically, by the end of the month you’ve produced amazing new work which developed your skill set, enhanced your portfolio, prepared you for a new show, or simply allowed you to try something new.”

Delaware artists have enthusiastically embraced the project. The first Fun-A-Day in 2011 included 34 artists; this year’s exhibit features 253 creators from all over the state.

Six-year participant Ashley Messatzzia enjoys the interaction among varied artists. “I love that Fun-A-Day is such a widely inclusive art event,” she says. “It brings artists together that you might not otherwise see.”

Past Fun-A-Day co-lead organizers Colleen Master and Monika Bullette love what the event brings to artists and fans alike. “As I evolved from a spectator to a participant to an organizer, Delaware Fun-A-Day kept me motivated to be creative,” says Master. “It’s a labor of love to organize, but making art accessible to our community is so worthwhile. Blending all ages and skill levels is truly inspirational.”

Says Bullette: “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. How do you start a creative practice? One day at a time. Colleen and I found it extremely gratifying to see people carve out moments to create each day and come together to celebrate the fruits of their labor.” 

Visit delawarefunaday.com for details on the organization and associated events.

World Premiere Musical at the baby grand

Delaware playwright Greer Firestone has penned a new musical, making its World Premiere in Wilmington. Judy Garland “World’s Greatest Entertainer” runs for six performances: Friday, March 22, through Saturday, March 30, at the baby grand.

The plot is based on the iconic television show This is Your Life. Set in 1961, just weeks after Garland’s legendary Carnegie Hall performance, the story unfolds as Judy and guests Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Liza Minnelli perform more than 20 tunes from the American Songbook, including Get Happy, My Way, That’s Amore, The Trolley Song and more.

Bucks County native Jenny Lee Stern plays Judy Garland. Stern, a Broadway veteran, was an original Broadway cast member of Rocky, The Musical, appeared in A Christmas Story and toured nationally with the cast of Jersey Boys. Additional cast members are Kaylan Wetzel as Liza Minnelli, Luca Ellis as Frank Sinatra and Eric Richardson as Dean Martin. The performance is directed by S. Lee Lewis, with musical direction by David Zipse. Choreography is by Dann Dunn. Playwright Firestone also appears as emcee Walter Mitchell.

Firestone has been a performing arts reviewer for more than 35 years, currently working with BroadwayWorld.com. He has produced and directed numerous works and has even written a historical novel, Alexei and Rasputin. The production is sponsored by Heart In The Game, a non-profit founded by Firestone that provides free EKG screenings and trains Delaware students in CPR/AED.

Tickets for Judy Garland “World’s Greatest Entertainer” are $37 at thegrandwilmington.org. 

So, what do you think? Please comment below.