Getting Cray at the Crayola Experience

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My  sister Par and I

Last week, my sorority hosted its annual sisterhood retreat at the Crayola Experience in Easton – and things got pretty cray.

And by cray, I mean we all turned into five-year olds. When we walked in, we probably got some judgmental looks from parents and their kids. However, we were too distracted by the amazing aesthetics to notice or care.

The walls were adorned with so much color it felt like we were inside of a crayon box. It also smelled heavily like ice cream and candy. It was as if we were trapped inside a toddler’s favorite dream.

We were all given two tokens, which I used to make my own crayons. All I had to do was pick a color, and name it. Most people named their crayons after themselves, so I decided to do the same. A tear slid down my cheek as the machine told me, “Sorry, the word ‘Fanny’ is inappropriate. Please try again.” Kidding about the crying. But yes, this really happened!

Luckily, I thought of an alternative and named the crayon “Fannypack” instead. I asked the employees what I should name my second crayon, and they told me that most kids name their crayons after something they really love. So that’s what I did:

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Make-your-own-crayon station!

After that, I explored the entire building with my friends. There was so much to do on each floor: painting, puzzle-making, molding, and of course, coloring. There was even a room called “Doodle in the Dark”, where you could draw in a pitch-black room with glow-in-the-dark markers. I was the oldest person in the room, but the least creative. I saw kids turn abstract scribbles into complex shapes and characters. A child’s imagination really is something special and untouchable.

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Seen in the “Doodle in the Dark” room

The most amazing thing about the experience was that it was simple, but fun. All I needed to have a good time were crayons, my sisters, and some paper. When I look at children of the new generation, I always see them on a tablet or a phone. Their need to constantly be entertained by technology is sad and – honestly, a bit scary.

Fortunately, I saw children at the Crayola Experience play, interact, and color with each other. It put me at ease. It’s a relief that a pastime like coloring remains timeless.

By the end of the trip, my friends and I were feeling a bit nostalgic. The Crayola Experience reminded me of how much I love art. I remember going to the MoMa (Museum of Modern Art in New York City) every time they offered a student discount, and attending painting classes in Williamsburg with my sister.

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Just in case you’re curious, here’s a painting of mine.

 

After putting things in perspective, I made a wild discovery. My love for art all started when I picked up my first crayon and made my first ridiculous piece of “art”. I imagine that a lot of other people develop a fondness of things they are passionate about when they are very young too, which is why I would recommend parents bring their children to the Crayola Experience.

Coloring can also be therapeutic, so it is a great place to go if you need some easy relaxation. Between four o’clocks and papers, everyone deserves a break once in a while. It is definitely a lot cheaper and closer than Disney World, so I would recommend it to my fellow broke college students. It only cost fifteen dollars and a fifteen-minute drive. A small price to pay for a trip down memory lane and a colorful adventure, if you ask me. If you’re interested in visiting, you can learn more here.

If you know of any other fun places for someone like me who’s a kid at heart, please let me know in the comments!

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Time for student brilliance again

(thoughts from the director….)

April is typically a very busy time in Lehigh’s cycle of life. Just as the sun rises each day, April is the month when students are wrapping up course requirements, presenting major capstone projects, making final edits to creative writing pieces, and marathon rehearsals for last of the season’s performances. Some students are launching Kickstarter campaigns or starting small business ventures while others try not to think about graduate school, summer internships or study abroad.

The campus is also alive with nightly award dinners. It’s a great time to bathe in the warm glow of student achievement and wonder at their potential. Collecting trophies, or certificates is a great way to bask in the glory of the moment. But there are also a slew of other ways to celebrate our students’ genius by watching them share their joy in art making; ALL of it.

In the next weeks, we have again the opportunity to watch them dance THEIR dances, play THEIR music, read THEIR words, view THEIR vision of the world and experience THEIR culture. They are sharing their vulnerability through their moment in the spotlight. The memory of what we are about to witness in the remaining days of April will dance across our minds as we watch these students walk across the commencement stage.

These students are alive with wonder and ultimate potential. To watch them shine, is to share the joy in our hearts as we encourage them to keep taking chances. We hope you can find a bit of time away from your own work routine to see the brilliance.  Please consider the connection between tomorrow’s weather forecast, and the student music performances on the University Center Lawn.

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There are plenty of other events and activities blooming. Consider subscribing to the weekly newsletter for posts on what’s happening in the next week. After a couple of weeks, if you decide you don’t want to us to collect all the information about what arts events are happening on campus and in South Bethlehem (and sometimes, north side….), just unsubscribe.

Take a look at this week’s listing below the same message you just read above.

National Arts Advocacy Day, 2014

{notes from the Director, Silagh White}

This is the first time in nine years I didn’t travel to Washington, D.C. to participate in the annual National Arts Advocacy Day. This pilgrimage is an incredible experience. It is where I first understood the appropriations process in a way that made much more sense than trying to follow polarized media sources. Here is were I learned that I really did understand the process at an early age. I am of the generation that watched School House Rock during the Saturday morning cartoon and cold breakfast cereal rituals.

The lyrics and images of this 3 minute video planted knowledge that stayed with me like a pair of Ruby Slippers. I only needed to make the shift that the Federal Budget is a law and BOOM – I learned how I could start making an impact on the value of the arts.

The annual affair in Washington DC comes complete with all of the pomp and ceremony of a walk through history and the awe of the process. The first of two days (Monday) is spent in a lovely conference room at the Omni Shoreham hotel. Yes, the one where a few presidential inaugural balls are held, and where a few notable movies where shot. If the event is scheduled late enough, the weather is in peak Spring season. One might even see the Cherry Blossoms. Obviously, this year was not the case, so missing the trip to DC had at least one advantage. I didn’t have to battle another snow event.

The training sessions offered on the first day cover the appropriations process, the numbers of the annual allocation request for the National Endowment for the Arts, some policy issues, and a ton of advocacy training. A big difference is to note the difference between actions of advocacy and lobbying. Most artists and arts organizations are non-profit and not permitted to lobby. Instead, we inform the elected officials on the impact of arts funding in our community. We localize the results of tax dollars allocated to our community and the resulting economic impact, the improved lives for our citizenry, and the quality of our shared living spaces. We participate in some role playing, to rehearse our five minutes with either a congressman or a senator, making sure our shared message has a localized spin and that someone in the room is an actual constituent from the official’s district. We also learn that staff members are our new BFFs – and that we need to build relationships with them.

At the end of the first day, a few celebrities join the pep rally for hundreds of constituents. There’s a fund raiser for the organization that is permitted to lobby (The Arts Action Fund). This is where the celebrities join in. One can get all caught up in the energy of rubbing elbows with the likes of Kerry Washington, Alec Baldwin, Kevin Spacey, Josh Groban, Ben Folds, etc., but the real vitamin shot comes at the evening Nancy Hanks lecture presented at the Kennedy Center.

Over the past nine years, I have heard some amazing speeches. They inspire not only the advocacy work, but also the daily grind of audience building. These speeches come from a wide perspective of talent and expertise. Take a look at the list of previous speakers here. (Did you see what I did there? I actually took you to the page where you could view previous speeches, or order transcripts.)

Monday night’s speaker was NY Times columnist and Pulitzer Prize winner, Maureen Dowd. As with most speakers, she shared her personal relationship with art and connected her path to all of ours. Her speech is full of motivational quotes. I’ll share just one section of her speech here, and hope it’s enough to entice you to listen to the whole program:

“Without the arts, people would have underdeveloped imaginations. With underdeveloped imaginations, they would not lead either meaningful lives, or moral lives. Because without the representations of ‘otherness’ in art, you cannot imagine the pain or poverty that someone else is feeling. Nobody experiences everything. Everybody needs supplements. Everybody starts out too small for certain purposes and we need to be shone what’s possible. You can’t be a fully formed human being based only on your own experiences. We need to see other lives.

Art is precisely such a long and deep and disquieting tutorial for the individual imagination. You will not act to relieve suffering unless you understand it. And if you are not experiencing it yourself, as I hope you are not. The only way you can understand it by seeing depictions of it in movies and elsewhere in the culture.”

~ Maureen Dowd

The second day of the event is the actual work on the hill. This experience is both daunting and empowering. Five to ten minutes of a congressman or senator’s time can be a huge opportunity to inform them of the importance of the arts for their constituency. Their support of budget, policy and programs has long impacts. It is in that moment when you have to choose which story will support the evidence and the data expertly gathered by the the Americans for the Arts.

A few years ago, I had a profound conversation with our PA (15th district) Congressman, Charles Dent. Since then, he’s been kind enough to remember me when we walk parades together in Bethlehem. He asks me how the arts are doing at Lehigh University, his alma mater. I’m happy to share, “The students are busy blowing my mind, as always. And as always, there’s so much more we could do to inspire other.” I share other arts stories in his district. Congressman Dent is supportive of the arts, and his voting record reflects that.

The experiences I’ve had with the Annual Arts Advocacy Day have given me the tools to localize the work year round. Everyone needs a little boost to their work form time to time. Especially students. There are leadership and advocacy opportunities for students who share the value of the arts for our campus.

Zoellner is starting to gather students who have an interest in building more support for the arts on campus. If you or someone you know is interested in learning more, the next meeting will be this Friday at 4:30pm in Zoellner Arts Center. Contact Candi Staurinos for details.

The Idan Raichel Project – Don’t miss this one

 

“In 2003, an unusual song began airing on Israeli’s popular radio stations. With its haunting chorus in the Ethiopian language of Amharic and an exotic, global fusion sound “Bo’ee” became an instant crossover hit that catapulted The Idan Raichel Project to the top of Israel pop charts and turned a young dreadlocked keyboardist and producer into a household name in his native land.

Soon, The Idan Raichel Project would become known around the world for its ambitious cross-cultural collaborations that changed the face of Israeli popular music and offered “a fascinating window into the young, tolerant, multi-ethnic Israel taking shape away from the headlines” (Boston Globe).

The Idan Raichel Project with its acclaimed live concert experience is making a stop at LEHIGH UNIVERSITY near the of its sixteen-city tour. The tour is the group’s first since the international release of their latest album Quarter to Six (Cumbancha) in June, which has continued their ten-year streak of top-selling and critically acclaimed recordings. The Idan Raichel Project have become global ambassadors representing a hopeful world in which artistic collaboration breaks down barriers between people of different backgrounds and beliefs. This tour has been listed as part of the Daniel Pearl World Music Days events.

Billboard Magazine called The Idan Raichel Project “One of the most fascinating titles to emerge in world music this year…a multi-ethnic tour de force.”

The New York Times selected the album as one of the top world music releases of the year, and media from Peru to Portugal was unanimous in their praise.  The album also received a nomination as one of the best world music albums of the year by the BBC Radio 3 Award for World Music.

1377514_10151644539391433_215217434_nIn the past four years, Raichel has co-written numerous songs and toured with GRAMMY winner India.Arie, performed at the Nobel Peace Prize awards ceremony in Oslo, Norway, co-written a song calling for racial harmony with Israeli President and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shimon Peres, performed for President Obama and family at the Kennedy Center on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, performed at the ceremony inaugurating the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington DC, sold out shows at Radio City Music Hall and other major venues worldwide, toured India, South America and Africa and released the highly praised Tel Aviv Session album with Malian guitarist Vieux Farka Touré. This year, Raichel joined pop star Alicia Keys on stage as a special guest during her July concert in Tel Aviv.

What could one possibly learn from a man this open to peace and cultural dialogue? His success is not just marked in popularity, or in record sales. We have been challenged by campus climate issues for a while now. Might this be a way to see how an artist who lives, breaths political struggle, yet brings hope to others through music? Students and the community may not realize what an amazing artist and soul within our midst. But we hope that given the opportunity, some just might take a chance and find themselves in the midst of a life-transforming experience.

The Idan Raichel Project’s latest album, Quarter To Six,debuted at number 1 on the iTunes World Music Chart and has been touted as one of the best albums of the year.

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The album features guest appearances by Portuguese fado star Ana Moura, Palestinian-Israeli singer Mira Awad, German counter-tenor Andreas Scholl, Colombia’s Marta Gómez, Vieux Farka Touré (who had recently performed at Zoellner on October 13th) and a selection of some of Israel’s top up-and-coming singers and musicians.

OK – don’t just take our word for it – here is a review of the Miami Concert, posted 10/18/2013 on the Huffington Post. If a review of last Friday’s concert doesn’t inspire you – maybe a video will. Enjoy:

Government Shutdown & National Arts & Humanities Month

Day two of the federal government shutdown has some citizens feeling the immediate sting of furloughs, or eliminated services. Others won’t be directly impacted until they start realizing that access to services or national treasures is halted.

Until the federal government is back to normal operations, national parks, national monuments, the entire Smithsonian institute; all the museums and even the Panda Cam at the National Zoo, are all off line.

Screen shot of Smithsonian Portrait Gallery website

Screen shot of Smithsonian Portrait Gallery website

What is a bit disappointing, is that October is National Arts & Humanities month. While we celebrate the arts every day in our work at Lehigh University, October is the month to commemorate the arts in a much bigger way. Even though the staff for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities are on furlough until elected leaders figure things out, we can localize our understanding of what this month means.

According to the Pennsylvania Arts Education Network,

National Arts and Humanities Month (NAHM) is a coast-to-coast collective recognition of the importance of culture in America. It is designed to encourage all Americans to explore new facets of the arts and humanities in their lives, and to begin a lifelong habit of active participation in the arts and humanities.

It was established in 1993 and is celebrated every October in the United States. It was initiated to encourage Americans to explore new facets of the arts and humanities in their lives, and to begin a lifelong habit of participation in the arts and humanities. It has become the nation’s largest collective annual celebration of the arts.

National Arts and Humanities Month’s four goals are:

  • To create a national, state and local focus on the arts and humanities through the media,
  • To encourage the participation of individuals, as well as arts, humanities and other organizations nationwide,
  • To provide an opportunity for federal, state and local business, government and civic leaders to declare their support for the arts and humanities,
  • To establish a highly visible vehicle for raising public awareness about the arts and humanities.

In an effort to celebrate the artistic and cultural heritage of our nation, we encourage all readers to share their appreciation for our shared treasures. On campus, in the city of Bethlehem, in the State of Pennsylvania, and even in communities around the country – there is evidence of great pride in the various expressions of who we are as people. Take a moment to wonder at the human spirit of creativity and expression. And if you are so moved to appreciate the work of artists in all genres and thinkers in all industries, be creative in your own celebration.

Gallery

ArtsAlive 2013

This gallery contains 16 photos.

The 9th annual ArtsAlive Prelusion program was filled with activities for nine new students to Lehigh University. PreLUsion programs “jump start” a student’s Lehigh University experience before evoLUtion (a.k.a. “freshmen orientation”) begins. ArtsAlive is one of ten programs that gives students a chance to meet others with common interests. ArtsAlive is designed for incoming students … Continue reading

Strength in Numbers – Eastern PA Arts Alliance

998774_10201277293190793_1962787696_nLast night during a ceremony held at the PA Playhouse, the Zoellner Arts Center of Lehigh University received a grant from the Eastern PA Arts Alliance* to support their educational outreach programs.

The funds will be used to support the design and implementation of content to support learning through the arts in Lehigh University’s COMPASS school partner schools (Donegan Elementary and Broughal Middle School) and Fountain Hill Elementary. Through engaging a community of artists, teachers and volunteers passionate about arts based learning, we will meet our shared mission to build a community through strength in numbers. By aligning the artistic resources to a complex higher educational institutional structure, we expand and deepen relationships across multiple constituencies.

Other organizations receiving “Strength in Numbers 2013 Awards” were Touchstone Theatre (supporting the Young Playwright’s Lab at Fountain Hill Elementary), Mock Turtle Marionette Theatre (supporting the Ice House Tonight 2014 Series), Pennsylvania Youth Theatre (supporting the Topsy Turvy Tuesdays Summer 2014 program) and Godfrey Daniels (supporting the Lehigh Valley Storyteller’s Guild Children’s Winter Series)

The grants were awarded by the Eastern PA Arts Advisory Council members: Phil Schenkel, VP of the Allentown Office of CBRE, Inc., Donna Taggart, president and CEO of Taggart Associates, Janet Stainbrook Director of Government and Community Relations for the Ben Franklin Technology Partners, and Nick Englesson, attorney.

Doug Royston, director of Mock Turtle Marionette Theatre said:

I think everyone agrees that the product of these grants will have a great deal to do with the success of EPaAA and with the idea that we can open the door to new [support].  The great value of the grants, beyond their individual missions, is our ability to play the numbers game as a unified organization…

…This is really where the “new conversation” on our regional culture.. can begin- when we become a true part of the exchange… We have managed to hold together a genuine core group- and our collective experience is really over the top.

We’ve said it in previous posts – but last night, the gathering of artists and arts supporters from our community rang true to the biggest asset of our community and quality of life – the people!

If you have about 4 and a half minutes, you can learn even more from this video of the Eastern PA Arts Alliance by Green Leaf Productions:

*About Eastern PA Arts Alliance

EPaAA is a charitable 501c3 non-profit organization designed by collaborative efforts to enhance the quality of life for artists and enhance out community through economic development and creative partnerships. For more information, please go to easternpaarts.org

 

 

ArtsLehigh accepts 2012 Institutional Service Award from the Bethlehem Fine Arts Commission

Thursday, October 4, 2012 at the Payne Art Gallery of Moravian College.

The image on the left is a photo of the hand crafted award created by a team of artists: Linda Gardiner, Barbara Fraust and Sandra Gillen.

The following is the transcript of Silagh White’s acceptance speech.

We need the arts. We need them to enrich our culture, illuminate our society, and give us fun things to do. Of course, we also need audiences, so that the artists can be appreciated, understood, and perhaps even paid from time to time for their important contributions.

When students arrive at college, they do so more and more focused on job training, giving our higher education institutions greater challenges in the arts, while students become less interested in them.

To a greater extent, colleges and universities must play the role of introducer, presenting elements like the arts in accessible ways that even the most disinterested can find enticing and enriching.

The idea of ArtsLehigh was born from a collection of what we campus insiders call, “the usual suspects”. They are the faculty and administrators who believe that the arts are a vital part of campus life, not only for the mission of the institution, but also something intangibly necessary for the human development of all students.

ArtsLehigh is the result of the recommendations from the 2002 Committee on Reconceptualizing/Revisioning the Arts at Lehigh. The specific recommendations of the committee were to help the University communicate more effectively the excellence of many existing programs, develop new institutional structures that allow for a more integral approach to the arts and education, and also promote the development of new and innovative curricular and non-curricular activities which serve to connect Lehigh with the community at large.

The list of the Usual Suspects to thank (or to blame) are Greg Farrington, Ron Yoshida, Bobb Carson, George White, Todd Watkins, John Ochs, Rick Weissman, Ricardo Viera, Pam Pepper, Nadine Sine, and most of all, the wisest and weirdest faculty member of well-earned repute, Norman Girardot.

The ArtsLehigh program officially began in the academic year 2005, funded by (at the time) the Provost’s 2020 initiative. Since 2005, there have been countless staff, faculty and administrators who have supported and partnered with ArtsLehigh: too many to list. However, I must mention the program’s greatest champion, Anne Meltzer, who guided and supported the program during her tenure as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

ArtsLehigh’s vision remains a strong component of arts advocacy on campus and in the community. The mission is to facilitate and deepen engagement in the arts at Lehigh University among students, faculty, staff and the local community. We meet that mission by being an active part of the art and cultural life on campus and in Bethelhem.

To be a successful program in the community is also due to the willingness of so many artists and arts supporters in Bethlehem who share the vision. I must extend gratitude to all the business owners, leaders of cultural institutions and individuals who have taken a few crazy steps with ArtsLehigh. They have demonstrated tremendous faith in the program, and in our efforts. I can’t thank you all enough for your work and trust. Special thanks to John Saraceno for the nomination.

I need to share a little secret with all present. All of the work put into ArtsLehigh didn’t come from one person. Without the careful attention to detail, the support and energy (and the occasional face palm) from Susan Scrima, ArtsLehigh would simply have been a lot of lip service. Greatest thanks to Susan for all of her dedication.

Finally –I need to recognize my husband, Steve. His graciousness and support allows me to hang out on campus and in Bethlehem as much as I do. I also need to thank my own private audience development program, known as our children Bridget and Stephen, for patiently walking First Fridays with me and wait while I stop for a little chat; and for all of the nights I go back to work for another meeting, program, rehearsal, exhibit opening, play or concert. It is through their eyes and experience that I continue to see the wonder of art. They are my bounce.

(Note: When Silagh showed her children the photo of herself with the Mayor, they were a bit indifferent. Guess it’s just another day at the office for Mommy)

Other links:

Morning Call News coverage

Rock of Ages: “Wild, Wild, Wild!”

With a slogan like “Nothin’ but a good time” I made sure to scurry on over to Zoellner around 2:30 to watch people pour into Baker Hall and jam-pack the theater long before the 3:00 performance of “Rock of Ages.” After all, part of the excitement of seeing a show is the shared experience and being able to people-watch both before and after.

I arrived to Zoellner about half an hour before the show began and the majority of seats were empty. As people started to pour in at about ten to three, I noticed that the audience consisted mostly of Baby Boomers whose eager buzz and excited chat began to gradually fill the auditorium. Although I did see many familiar faces I am surprised by the lack of Lehigh students. I remain slightly bemused- I would have assumed that the student body who lives by “Work hard, play hard” would be intrinsically inclined to see a show full of “sex, drugs, and rock and roll.”

The show was witty and caustically sarcastic from the moment it began. Whitesnake’s lead singer David Coverdale made a pre-show announcement that immediately loosened up the audience and made Baker Hall resound with belly-deep laughter. “All cellphones should be turned off. Text messaging during the show makes you look like a douchebag, and if you have one of those ‘blue tooth’ things in your ear… Please, come on.  You look like a dick.”

As would be expected (because of my observations of most other musicals), the rest of the show was a constant onslaught of unsophisticated, school-boy-esque potty humor and vapid, undeveloped characters a-rockin’ and a-rollin’ in studded leather pants and micro-skirts.

But, despite its corniness and superficiality, who can deny the fun found in ’80s glam rock and hair metal? I found myself singing and clapping along on multiple occasions and during the closing scene I couldn’t restrain myself from throwing up the sign of the horns, sticking out my tongue and crinkling my nose in true Gene Simmons fashion.

As the pre-show’s recording promised, Rock of Ages was indeed full of musical debauchery and decadence. If back in the day “you had a dream, a fifth of Jack, and a decent amount of hair” you were surely in the right place.

Is Musikfest Better than Christmas???

It’s the most wonderful time of the year….

Nope, not Christmas. MUSIKFEST!! That time when we welcome all the out of town visitors to our fair city: (northside and southside) Bethlehem. Parking and traffic may creak and groan with all of the extra volume; but we love the sea of humanity that gathers up and down Main street, wanders through the Industrial Quarter, and mostly – buys lots of things to stimulate our local economy!
OK, enough of that! It’s actually about the music, right? This year, the organizers at Musikfest have launched an iOs system mobile app so folks can know about the artists and the massive schedule. If you don’t have an iOs mobile device (that’s anything that starts with an “i”), the performances can be reviewed in their extensive website. You may want to head over to the “Daily Grids” page before you venture to the festival, if only to inform your wandering a bit… Yes, some of the performances do required paid tickets. But check out this list of free performances.
Locals (that includes you, college readers) may want to read up a bit about any parking changes or transportation issues that may impact our regular lives. Also, read through the “What’s New” page. While some things may seem the same to us, there’s a few innovative ideas and experiments to try.
10 days, 15 stages and more than 500 performances. This festival has definitely grown in 29 years.
If you’d like to know more about how Musikfest connects to the Lehigh community, please read this post by Lehigh (’90) alum, Michael Kirkpatrick. Back in his day, Musikfest was scheduled concurrently with Move In and Orientation. Let’s just think about that for a minute….