Arts Around Town

Arts Around Town: Bebe Traylor captures the essence of country for SOTA

Even at age 6, Allentown's Bebe Traylor was painting oils. She grew up in the art world, with her mother, Margrete Barnes Vause, a renowned Southern watercolorist from New Orleans. It made sense that the love of creative expression through the strokes of a brush would follow the young artist through her life.

Traylor's primary subjects nowadays are landscapes in oil, pastel and watercolor. The Prattville, Ala., native, whose birth name is Virginia, traveled around the country as well as absorbed the composition of foreign lands such as Izmir, Turkey, on the Aegean Sea. The constant uprooting including Monterey, Wichita, Houston and Baltimore was due to her husband John's military service in the Army. Now retired, he is working with Air Products.

Living in Turkey for two years was an awesome experience for Traylor, whose husband was based there while working with NATO. Her travels are often subjects for her landscape paintings. Both her American and European landscapes and still-lifes are most popular and widely collected.

"I love doing special paintings like an old house a grandmother was born in, or a favorite blossom from one's summer garden," Traylor said.

Her painting style captures the essence of light and bright colors favored by the Impressionists.

Traylor's most recent exhibition was at Moravian Village. Her next show will be at Moravian College in June. One of her latest works is a watercolor of the Victorian farmhouse at Three Chimneys Farm in Coopersburg, the current site of the SOTA Designer Showhouse & Gardens, open to the public through May 20. She has been a member of SOTA (Society of the Arts) for nine years. The service-oriented women's volunteer organization has supported the advancement of the Allentown Art Museum since 1964, through volunteer and fundraising activities.

A cum laude graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, Traylor currently teaches private art classes to teens and adults and conducts workshops. She also attended the University of Alabama, taking classes with watercolorist Richard Brough. She studied with Richard Poink at the Art Students League of New York.

Traylor has worked as a graphic designer in Baltimore, Houston and Clarksville for the national accounts of Pennzoil, Trane, and Sysco Foods. She also has done regional TV and print advertising for Whataburger and McDonald's restaurants. An award-winning painter, she is a member of the Lehigh Art Alliance, the Bethlehem Palette Club, and the Parkland Art League.

"I love the many spaces in the Valley open to the public to paint," said Traylor, also a plein air painter and avid gardener of antique roses. Her work will be included in the upcoming garden tours of Allentown, Historic Bethlehem, and Southern Lehigh.

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Arts Roundup:

May is certainly an active month for the arts. An interesting musical with a Lehigh Valley premiere is "Grey Gardens," opening Friday, May 4 through May 19 at Civic Theatre of Allentown. The three-time Tony Award-winner is based on the cult documentary of the same name. It focuses on East Hampton mother and daughter, reclusive, eccentric duo Edith Ewing Bouvier Beale and Edith Bouvier Beale – aunt and first cousin of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis. One is a former celebrated debutante and the other is a high society mother living together in gothic squalor in a dilapidated mansion known as Grey Gardens. Kate Varley is Little Edie, and Pat Birnbaum is Big Edie.

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The 105th Bethlehem Bach Festival, under the direction of Greg Funfgeld, takes place at Lehigh University over the next two weekends, with Bach Cantatas on Friday, May 4 and 11, at 4:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., at Packer Memorial Church. On Saturdays, May 5 and 12, the Bach Festival Orchestra and Eliot Fisk on guitar perform at 10:30 a.m. at Baker Hall at Zoellner Arts Center. "The Mass in B Minor" (Part I) is at 2:30 p.m.; (Part 2) is at 4:30 p.m. at Packer Memorial Church.

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The Berks County community is invited to a free musical event, "Brundibar," on Sunday, May 6 at 3 p.m., at the Sovereign Performing Arts Center in downtown Reading, featuring members of the Reading Symphony Orchestra, Berks Classical Children's Chorus and Berks Opera Workshop.

The children's opera, written by Czech composer Hans Krasa, is the story of two children trying to secure money to buy milk for their sick mother. They encounter an evil organ grinder named Brundibar, who throws them out of town square. They are able to overcome the bully with some help by "friend." Conductor is Daniel Chetel, music director and conductor of the Central Kentucky Youth Orchestra.

During the Nazi Holocaust, the opera was performed 55 times in the Theresienstadt (Terezin) Ghetto north of Prague. Of the 15,000 children who passed through Terezin, only approximately 300 survived.

"Brundibar" and The Theresienstadt Project is a collaboration between the Jewish Federation of Reading, Reading Public Museum and the Reading Symphony Orchestra, along with Fleetwood Area High School, Holocaust Library and Resource Center at Albright College, Berks Classical Children's Chorus and Berks Opera Workshop.

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Multiple exhibitions are opening this month at the GoggleWorks Center for the Arts in Reading. Beginning First Friday, May 4 is "Vanity Fare: ART Inspired by FASHION," a juried exhibition with 80-plus works by more than 40 artists.

Also happening will be Bruce Becker's Second Annual Student Exhibit, with work by students enrolled at his Warehouse Studio. Currently under way is "WYSO's Merry Monks," featuring the work of the late Frank "Wyso" Wysochansky, self-taught painter who used mixed media.

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