Salisbury Township, Lehigh County's Michael Sandy has traveled the world to create art he believes inspires and elevates people to a good place. For the last five years, he's honed his lens to capture the natural beauty found in his home surroundings. In his first gallery exhibit in the Lehigh Valley, Sandy showcases the first of a limited series of such fine photographic work at the Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts, 427 N. New St., Bethlehem, through Nov. 30.
Sandy's journey began after graduating from Southern Lehigh High School in Center Valley in 1985 and enlisting with the U.S. Army, where he was a photojournalist. Following his tour, he worked as a staff photographer for the American Red Cross and completed studies at The Art Institute of Philadelphia, graduating with honors in 1993. He freelanced as a photographer for The East Penn Press weekly in the Lehigh Valley before documentary photography led him to Central America, Guatemala, Honduras and India in search of unique portraits and landscapes of nature and the human experience. He later worked for a Pennsburg firm that held defense contracts for optical coatings.
Sandy also ventured into commercial photography with such clients as Marriott and Mario Andretti. His work has been exhibited in galleries throughout the country, as well as held in private collections. Locally, he exhibited this past spring at Mayfair Festival of the Arts in Allentown for the first time. He's been a regular at the Downtown Bethlehem Fine Art & Craft Show on Mother's Day weekend and at Christkindlmarkt.
"It's been a long, unique road," said Sandy, who's weathered the storms of losing a mother to brain cancer, a father to heart problems, and a brother to an automobile accident. At one point, he seriously laid his camera to rest before rebounding, realizing he was wasting a gift he was given.
"I slowly began the journey back into art and photography," Sandy said. "...Both of my parents were a huge influence in my life, and my family has always been a source of support through my whole artistic journey. In caring for my mom as her caregiver, it may have been the hardest thing I have ever had to do. I learned more about compassion and strength having gone through the fight with her."
Sandy's work has been influenced by painters of the Hudson River School, including Thomas Doughty (1793-1856) and Asher Durand (1796-1886). He's also been inspired by Pennsylvania's Andrew Wyeth and his use of color and subject matter. Among photographers, he cited the work of Galen Rowell and Sebastiao Salgado.
"To me, it's always been about capturing that moment," Sandy explained. "I learned to be more patient waiting for that moment when all the elements fall into place. Elements like the lighting and the weather and the color. Years ago, I would have tried to force an image, as now I will just keep returning to a scene until I get what I feel I've captured something special."
Several of Sandy's photographs on exhibit at Kemerer are printed on metal, reminiscent of the tin plate printing in the early years of photography. His work includes industrials such as Bethlehem Steel, landscapes from his home town of Coopersburg, and Lehigh Valley winter scenes. Because of the magnitude of his work, his pieces will be rotated out several times over the course of the exhibit.
An avid and experienced outdoorsman, Sandy also photographs heavily in the Adirondacks, where he spent many summers camping, hiking and fishing as a youth. He’ll be exhibiting some of his new scenes at the 18th annual Riverside Festival of the Arts in Easton, Sept. 20-21. In the meantime, his 2015 schedule is filling up quite nicely with winter projects in Maine and shows at Mount Gretna and State College.
The creative work of The Baum School of Art’s faculty and staff will be on exhibit beginning Wednesday through Sept. 12, at the venue located at 510 W. Linden St., Allentown. Work will include painting, drawing, ceramics, jewelry, photography, and fibers. A meet-and-greet with the artists will be held Wednesday from 6 to 8 p.m.
For further info: baumschool.org
Selkie Theatre brings the return of the Bo Leictreach GreenPlay Festival, a celebration of new, 10-minute green plays by Irish playwrights, happening Friday through Sunday at the Anam Cara Farm, 2317 Minnich Rd., South Whitehall Township, Lehigh County (off Cedar Crest Boulevard between Troxell School and Parkland High School).
Bo Leictreach (Irish for Electric Cow), started as the Electric Cow GreenPlay Festival in May 2011, when Selkie showcased new, 10-minute American green plays at Illicks Mill in Bethlehem. Selkie took the concept to Ireland and co-produced Bo Leictreach with Jasango Theatre and the Birr Theatre & Arts Centre in Birr, Co Offaly, Ireland in 2011.
In making their American debut, Selkie Director George B. Miller said the original Irish plays are "an unexpected pleasure, a wild mix of satire, humor, compassion and smarts."
The intimate, staged performances both indoors and outdoors will end with a candlelit reading in the farmhouse great room at sunset, followed by an Irish-themed meet the artists reception.
In addition to Miller, other green play directors are Jack Armstrong, Pat Kelly and Virginia Wilson. The ensemble includes John Corl, Kevin Deely, Pat Kelly, Jeanie Olah, Marcy Hake Repp, Thomas Rush, Peter Sanchez, Kate Scuffle, Jim Vivian and Brian Welsko.
Tickets are limited; reservations suggested. For further info: firstname.lastname@example.org or 484-212-1804.
Among the entertainment will be Native American recording artist Arvel Bird, violinist and flutist known as "Lord of the Strings." Host Drum is Silver Cloud Singers, Southern Drum; Guest Drum is White Buffalo Singers, Northern Drum; Emcee is George Stonefish of Delaware, First Nations Canada.
The event also will feature the Aztec Fire Dancers with the Salinas family of Mexico City, Native American cooking and craft demonstrations, atlatl and tomahawk throwing, and a children’s craft and activity area.
For further info: museumofindianculture.org