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Carbon County Art Odyssey struggles much like Odysseus

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    AL ZAGOFSKY/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS Maura Weller stands before "A Good Year," a popular oil on canvas that combines aspects of realism and abstraction.
Published October 05. 2009 02:55PM

As Homer's Odysseus struggled on his epic wandering, the Carbon County Art Odyssey struggled not against Scylla and Charybdis but against a rainy weekend and the challenges inherent in a fledgling event.

According to Odyssey coordinator Eileen East, about 100 visitors participated in the Odyssey some coming to many studios, while some came to a single location, especially if it was outside the downtown Jim Thorpe venue. As an example, East noted that the studio/B&B she and her husband, Nic East, operate drew about 20 visitors.

"We had some unique visitors," East said. "We took people on a house tour, gave a studio demonstration of glass fusing, and answered questions about art in Jim Thorpe."

East's Hill Home Forge formed the western edge of the Odyssey, while Wendy Roth at Bear Creek Lake was at the eastern edge. Both required driving from the throng of activity in Jim Thorpe's Historic District, and both reported that people who were interested enough to visit their studios were also happy to become customers of their art. Roth specializes in paper paintings, lamps and earrings using handmade papers imported from Japan and China.

Additional participating artists included, action painter Stephanie Verme, fine arts painter Ruth Bush, fine arts painter Maura Weller, clothing designer Marianne Monteleone, miniature drawing artist Randall Sellers, mixed media treasure artist Marjorie Reppert, computer art and fine arts painter Richard DeFeo, fine arts photographer Dan Hugos, sculpture and abstract art Shirley Thomas, abstract painter Aillinn Brennan, lithographer Ron Chupp, abstract painter Joel LeBow, crystal designer Jon McCoy, sculptor Kenneth Meuller, painter and illustrator Victor Stabin, painter and illustrator Anthony Freda, pastel portrait artist Linda Christman, fine arts painter Marge Long, fine arts painter Hilary England, and impressionist painter Kit Dalton.

"I believe there is great potential to turn this area into an art destination," Dalton noted, "as New Hope, Lambertville, and Doylestown have been. There is going to be significant growth in Carbon County in the next few years and now is the time to really get things going."

"We had a steady flow of people for the Arts Odyssey on Saturday," reported Joan Morykin of the Carbon County Cultural Project. "It was more of an 'art crowd,' and they seemed to be coming strictly because of the promotion for the Odyssey."

"I had a great Saturday, but a lousy Sunday," commented Ruth Bush. "I think the weather was a predominant factor." It began drizzling on Saturday afternoon, and it rained on Sunday.

"Kudos," awarded Sheila O'Neil of the Gilded Cupid, host of artists Jon McCoy and Kenneth Meuller. "Your hard work was not in vain. The first time out is always hard. Looking forward to next year."

While the art studios in the Jim Thorpe area had some success and a lot of learning on Saturday, the second venue, at Blue Mountain Ski Area had to face disappointment even before it began. The Carbon County Art League had planned to bring a member's show to the resort, and that is what was publicized. Unfortunately for the Odyssey and the ski area, the league, unable to attract sufficient member interest, withdrew from the event.

The members of the Art Odyssey plan to meet to discuss what they learned from the first event. Already, East is looking at creating a brochure and Web site to direct people to arts locations in Carbon County throughout the year.

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