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Arts Around Town

Arts Around Town: Colored pencils are defining art for ACE artist Jeffrey M. Green

Colored pencils. While they may be perceived as elementary in nature, they're the defining art for Northampton County's Jeffrey M. Green. For more than 20 years, the self-taught artist has been pushing soft lead to the level and impact of a painting and most often hearing back, ‘That is colored pencils?' Believe it…that is colored pencils. Green will be one of many artists exhibiting work at the annual ACE (Arts Community of Easton) annual members' show beginning Saturday. The show runs through Nov. 1, in the Easton Hospital Gallery at the State Theatre Center for the Arts in Easton. An artists reception will be held Oct. 11, from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

Also exhibiting at the theater in the gallery annex will be photographer Frank Smith with "The River's Edge – A Compilation of Lehigh Parkway Scenes." A second exhibit by Smith, titled "India: Land of Many Contrasts," will be held in the main gallery beginning Nov. 8, when a combined artist reception will be held. Smith's shows run through Dec. 15. The theater gallery, located at 5th and Northampton streets, is open 90 minutes prior to most main stage performances.

Green, who resides in Pen Argyl, Northampton Co., will be exhibiting his colored pencil original -- a 15"x19" (unframed) table scene titled "Shadows, Water and Light." He held his first solo show last month at the Nazareth Center for the Arts, and participates in group shows at the Gallery at St. John's in Easton. His work, "Peppers, Onions, Garlic," was featured on the July cover of "CP Magazine." He is a member of the Colored Pencil Society of America, the Forks Township Art Society, and the Paint Box Art Club in Nazareth.

Although he's experimented with a wide variety of media since his younger days, his preferred medium for 20-plus years has been colored pencils on art and illustration boards. He's been at it professionally for the last three years. Each step in layering and burnishing allows him the maximum control. His style is realism, influenced by traditional and classic art. While battling emotional and mental struggles, Green said he found drawing to be his saving grace. Growing up in Monmouth and Ocean counties in New Jersey, his early work centered on the shore. His move to Pennsylvania brought floral themes inspired by his mother's home garden, plus country landscapes. He also works separately with pastels.

"Most people describe my work with the words peaceful, serene and beautiful," Green explained. "I consider it a wonderful blessing from God that these themes have shown through in spite of these trials. …With an appreciation of God's healing, I see my art, my self and my life in a whole new light. …with every piece I create, the continual journey of growing, stretching and striving for my best is what drives me in my art."

Green will present a colored pencil demonstration and the technique of layering and burnishing for the Pocono Mountains Art Group on Nov. 13 at 7 p.m., in the community room of Western Pocono Community Library, 2000 Pilgrim Way, off Route 115, in Brodheadsville.

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Lower Macungie Township's Bob McGee has always loved drawing wildlife. He embraced nature and animals wherever he lived, and he lived the world over since his father was serving with the U.S. Air Force. Overseas travel took him to the Azores, The Philippines, Germany, England and Australia. It wasn't until he was 16 that McGee actually spent a year in the United States and graduated from Boyertown High School. From the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, to the beaches of South Australia, McGee explored all kinds of creatures in their natural habitat – and always with his sketchbook in hand.

"I carry that same fire to this day," said McGee, an acrylic artist who will be exhibiting his work at Hawk Mountain's annual wildlife art show on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the visitor center and the newly renovated education building in Albany Township. The show will include a broad range of wildlife offerings ranging from painting, illustration and sculpture, to photography and carving by artists Susan Bankey Yoder, Dan Christ, David Hughes, Patrick Gnan, Chris Scheidler Pagano, Richard Summons, Joanne Minnick, Phil Campbell, Melanie Hummer and Jeff Keiffer.

McGee said while residing in Australia with his grandparents, his art was influenced by his grandfather who also liked to draw. Other than doing an independent art study in high school and later using watercolor and gouache as his medium, McGee said he had no formal training. He honed his painting skills and style by attending workshops led by artists Jan Martin-McGuire and John Seerey-Lester. He began to gain an awareness of the habitat and the atmosphere that surrounds the animals in his paintings.

It's important to pay attention to detail when painting animals and telling a story, he explained. It has to be the right season and environment. For example, a fox would appear thinner during the summer season rather than the winter. During camping trips around the country, McGee said he takes along a sketchbook while his wife, Carol, takes along her camera and photographs not only wildlife but minute details found in trees, stumps, and grasses. It all lends to the credibility of the story being told on canvas.

McGee said he hopes those attending the Hawk Mountain art show use their imagination when viewing his work.

"I like to capture expression in an animal, in their stare and stance," he explained. "With an animal looking off in a direction, it's up to the imagination of the viewer as to what the animal is actually attracted to."

Murals painted by McGee can be found in the radiology department of St. Luke's Hospital in Fountain Hill, Lehigh Co., where his wife is employed. Feedback has been positive from both patients and staff, he said, who find the art to have "a calming effect." McGee also will be exhibiting his paintings at Union Evangelical Lutheran Church of Schnecksville on Nov. 16.

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A special tribute to the late Bill Marley will be made on Saturday at 1 p.m., by local writers and poets at the 17th annual Riverside Festival of the Arts along the waterfront in downtown Easton. The tribute will be held in Riverside Park's amphitheater. Marley, of Easton, was an author, playwright and artist who passed away this past February at the age of 87. He was active in the local arts community, having several of his award-winning plays produced and performed locally and regionally, and also serving as an evaluator for the Freddy Awards.

The arts festival runs Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and features live music, kids' projects, and a Plein Air Contest. Activities are in both Scott and Riverside parks along Larry Holmes Drive. Free parking is in the Governor Wolf lot across from Riverside Park. This year's Riverside poster design is by Maciek Albrecht.

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Music happenings are on both sides of the Delaware. Centenary Stage Company at Centenary College in Hackettstown, N.J., presents the Tony Award-winning Betty Buckley in "Ah, Men! The Boys of Broadway," at the season opening gala on Saturday at 8 p.m. The performance will be in the Sitnik Theater of the David and Carol Lackland Center. Buckley will sing some of her favorite songs sung by male characters from Broadway shows, including numbers from "Sweeney Todd," "West Side Story," "Guys and Dolls," "Mame," and "La Cage Aux Folles." She won a Tony for her performance as Grizabella, the Glamour Cat, in Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Cats."

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The Beach Boys return to the State Theatre in Easton on Thurs., Sept. 26, at 7:30 p.m. With Mike Love and Bruce Johnston, along with Christian Love, Randell Kirsch, Tim Bonhomme, John Cowsill and Scott Totten, the group continues the legacy of the iconic American band  with such hits as "Fun, Fun, Fun," "I Get Around," California Girls," "Good Vibrations," and "Kokomo."

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