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A Tribute to our Retiring Director, Patti Lockwood-Blais

delivered at Patti’s gala retirement party, March 30, 2016

by Bruce Ward, Board President

 

We’re here today to honor and celebrate the achievements and leadership of Patti Lockwood-Blais as she retires from the Opera House and moves into the next phase of her life.

BUT before I do that, I want to take a slight detour and also recognize the tireless contributions made by Patti’s husband Steve Blais over all these years.   For about 12 years Steve has been the primary, perhaps I should say ONLY, sound technician that the Opera House has relied on exclusively for EVERY SHOW, and not only has he done a wonderful job every time and been totally reliable, he has also usually been the cook who feeds the artists for every show.  All this work adds up to easily 8 hours for every show and sometimes more, and incredibly he has done all this week after week completely as a VOLUNTEER and has never taken any pay.  At Steve’s request we are now making plans to provide other sound technicians so he can reduce the number of shows he does, but we are fully expecting it will take a team of 4 to 6 people to fill the schedule that Steve has done entirely by himself.  We are completely in your debt Steve, and as a small token of our thanks I present you with this gift certificate to Big Apple Music, to be used for your OWN band!

Now back to Patti-  I want to start by giving you a little historical context about the opera house before Patti came on board.  As most of you know, our beloved opera house was saved from the wrecking ball in 1971 by a man named Joey Skaggs, who bought the property then donated it to the newly formed non-profit organization, Earlville Opera House Incorporated.

In those early years, that small group of dedicated volunteers did amazing work with very little money to begin the long process of restoring the old building, which had been completely vacant for 20 years.

Over  the next 10 years small grants were secured for the restoration, and with rental income from storefront space, in-kind donations and lots of volunteer labor the building was patched up and made ready to host performances again.

The program offerings slowly grew.  Starting in the 70’s with crafting workshops, a public darkroom facility, and a small gallery, soon the theater was hosting local and regional performers doing classical and theatrical productions, plus a women’s barbershop ensemble and touring productions from both Syracuse Opera and Tri-Cities Opera companies.  An article from the Utica Dispatch in 1987 stated that “classical performances are $7 each,  popular performances $5”.

Gradually thru the ’80’s the organization began to feature more touring professional acts, and to move away from the classical and theatrical programming and toward more folk and roots-style performers, all in the hopes of serving larger audiences.  In 1990, the lineup consisted of five classical acts, two jazz performers, two theater companies, and two folk-roots acts, including Robin and Linda Williams.  The balance continued to gradually shift through the 1990’s until it completely reversed, providing one classical and one theatrical act among a season of professional touring roots music performers.  During this period we also saw the addition of one or two children’s programs to each season.

This major shift in programming philosophy slowly began to have the desired effect and brought more people to the shows.  Still it was a struggle to make revenues match expenses, but the organization soldiered on with lots of community and foundation grant support.  In 1998 the first Holiday Show and Sale began a repeating yearly source of funds.

Patti started working at the Opera House as Program Coordinator, in 1996 under then-director Lisa Reilly.  During that period major fundraising efforts were preparing the way for the improvements that would transform the building into the beautiful multi-arts center we know today.

When Patti was promoted to Executive Director in late 2002, $260,000 had been raised which would cover half of the planned renovations.  Patti made the decision to phase the project so the community could sooner see the fruits of their contributions, and the construction of phase 1 began in 2003, including a new lobby, offices, gallery space, the Arts Cafe, accessible toilet rooms, and an elevator.

With the newly improved facility in place, Patti wasted no time in working to grow both programming and audiences.  She continued working to secure grant funding for programming and marketing, and partnered with universities  and County tourism offices to further develop marketing opportunities.

Within 3 years of her installation as Director, the New York State Council on the Arts recognized EOH with “Primary Organization Status”, and as “particularly vital to the cultural life of New York State.”

Patti continually  promoted the Opera House through Community Outreach in many avenues, including collaborations with the Village of Hamilton summer concert series, the Hamilton Music Mix festival, the Great Chocolate Train festival, the Peterboro Civil War Weekend, the National Abolition Hall of Fame, Madison Hall in Morrisville, the Palace Theater in Hamilton, the Oneida High School theater and the Catherine Cummings Theater in Cazenovia.

When Patti began as director, there was only one gallery and  Artists were required to pay half of promotional costs.  Patti was able to secure NYSCA funding and eliminate that requirement from the artists.  In 2005, Patti expanded the gallery programming from one to two galleries, and later to three galleries with the inclusion of the Arts Cafe.  We noted a dramatic increase in gallery attendance from about 2K per year to over 4K.  With art in all types of media, Patti has struck a careful balance between attracting visitors and providing diversity in contemporary art, ensuring strong grant support.  The rotating exhibits, plus the Holiday Sale plus KidsArt and TeensArt exhibits,  showcases  and supports over 100 artists every year and brings in busloads of students from eight school districts.

Patti has instituted multiple workshops each year including various arts and crafts workshops, writing workshops, songwriting workshops, theater workshops, and the ever-popular annual circus camp.

Any director of a non-profit organization will tell you that it is very difficult  to operate programs that pay for themselves-  and that all non-profits depend on government and foundation support for their lifeblood.   That is also true of the Opera House, and yet for 13 of the last 14 years under Patti’s leadership, the Opera House programming has operated in the black, completely paying for itself and helping to support the organization as a whole.

Meanwhile, one of the tools Patti (and Steve) used to help control costs was to employ their shared hobby of cooking to feed the touring artists before shows (by the way did you know Patti formerly was a partner in a restaurant?).  On at least one occasion, Steven made a full-blown authentic Cajun meal for a New Orleans band who had been on the road for months and were really missing home-town “real food.”  With this homey hospitality and their warm welcoming personalities, plus the charm of our historic theater,  Patti and Steve created a performing venue where the performers are always happy to come back and perform again, often for less money than they might accept elsewhere.

Patti also has a knack for making audiences and volunteers comfortable- as our frequent volunteer Norm VonWettberg once said:  “A  t every performance, before the show, Patti ‘floats’ among staff, volunteers, patrons, and band members, checking in on everyone, solving problems on the fly, taking care of a hundred different details from all directions, and makes it look effortless.  She never gets rattled, and the few times there was a problem, you’d never know it.”

While carefully managing the organization’s finances, Patti has significantly increased our impact and service to the community and the region.  In 1999, Lisa Reilly reported that about 7,500 people attended theater performances and the gallery.  With our galleries, workshops, and shows we now serve nearly 13,000 people every year!

It is obvious that Patti has done a wonderful job in her 14 years as head of our organization, and it is with deep heartfelt thanks we honor her today as she passes the baton.   Thanks Patti!

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“Don’t you just love it when a band simply gets better and better? Well, the latest album from Harpeth Rising proves this is a band steadily exploring boundaries and finding there are none unless made by themselves, a band maturing into harpeth rising cd coverits music, making it emphatically their own and continually developing along the way. Following on from ‘Tales From Jackson Bridge’ they release ‘Shifted’ … and quite simply, ‘Shifted’ is unique in every way. There’s the lusciously constructed harmonies, the inventive edge that pulses through every track and the unexpected direction changes that keep you enthralled, combined with an ability to blend folk, bluegrass, classical and rock and leave no visible joins.

“Don’t you just love it when a band simply gets better and better? Well, the latest album from Harpeth Rising proves this is a band steadily exploring boundaries and finding there are none unless made by themselves, a band maturing into its music, making it emphatically their own and continually developing along the way. Following on from ‘Tales From Jackson Bridge’ they release ‘Shifted’ … and quite simply, ‘Shifted’ is unique in every way. There’s the lusciously constructed harmonies, the inventive edge that pulses through every track and the unexpected direction changes that keep you enthralled, combined with an ability to blend folk, bluegrass, classical and rock and leave no visible joins. Tim Carroll, FolkWords

The Earlville Opera House welcomes Americana genre-benders Harpeth Rising as they fuse Folk, Newgrass, Rock and Classical into a sound that is organically unique on Friday, March 25th at 8 pm. The band is touring in support of their latest CD, SHIFTED.

Choose words to define this latest album – progressive, creative, innovative, imaginative - they all describe what’s on offer from Jordana Greenberg, Rebecca Reed-Lunn and Maria di Meglio. Alternatively, don’t attempt to categorise their ingenuity with words, take the shortest route, immerse yourself in Harpeth Rising and let the music carry you with its flow.” — Tim Carroll, FolkWords

Choose words to define this latest album – progressive, creative, innovative, imaginative – they all describe what’s on offer from Jordana Greenberg, Rebecca Reed-Lunn and Maria di Meglio. Alternatively, don’t attempt to categorise their ingenuity with words, take the shortest route, immerse yourself in Harpeth Rising and let the music carry you with its flow.”
— Tim Carroll, FolkWords

Harpeth Rising is Jordana Greenberg (violin, vocals), Rebecca Reed-Lunn (banjo, vocals) and Maria Di Meglio (cello, vocals). Hallmarks of their music include expansive three-part harmonies, consummate musicianship and a deft, yet soulful lyrical perspective. Harpeth Rising’s roots run deep – from their varied ancestry across Eastern Europe to the musical hotbed of the Mid-South they now call home.

“In what the group calls “chambergrass,” the musicians blend improvisatory-feeling jazzy sections with newgrass, classical and folk. Varied, alternating blocks fold in syncopated rhythms, simple folk melodies and complex harmonies.

“In the arresting three-part acapella sections, the musicians match declamation, shaping each word carefully from beginning to end. Violinist and lead singer Jordana Greenberg’s voice offers strength tempered by gentleness through poetic lyrics…

“The trio’s career path isn’t the traditional one for gifted classical musicians, who often seek jobs as soloists, orchestral players, chamber players or teachers. Their decision simply reflects a shift in the industry…” (Domenica Bongiovanni)

Join us for a riveting night of Americana music with Harpeth Rising in the Arts Café on March 25th! Seating is limited. Admission is $22 and $20 for EOH members and students are discounted to $11. The Earlville Opera House is wheelchair-accessible with a ramp and a lift.

Don’t forget to visit our Artisan’s Gift Shop featuring over 35 regional artists with jewelry to blown glass to pottery. The EOH Arts Café will open one hour before the performance and serves tasty desserts and hot coffee/tea.
More news about the upcoming Summer Season is appearing online every day! For more information, or to reserve your seats, call 315-691-3550 or order online at http://www.earlvilleoperahouse.com. The Opera House is located at 18 East Main Street, in Earlville, NY.

I AM EVE (I am the Reason)

SHIFTED 

WHEELHOUSE 

If you’re of the social media persuasion, don’t forget to check out the Earlville Opera House on Facebook and Twitter!

EOH events are made possible, in part, with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and through the generosity of EOH members.

Eloisa Guanlao's Darwin's Finches

Eloisa Guanlao’s Darwin’s Finches

The Earlville Galleries are pleased to present the work of two remarkable women artists who ask us to look deeper and think about what we’re seeing.

Eloisa Guanlao asks, “What does it mean to wildlife when technological innovations continue unabated and unquestioned?” Her work in the East Gallery focuses on the effect of electronic and radio interference on bird magnetoconception, a sense that allows birds and other animals to detect the Earth’s magnetic field to perceive direction, altitude, or location in order to develop regional maps. Her goal is to decelerate our rapid over-reliance on technology by compelling deliberate meditation upon technology’s benefits and downfalls on the circadian rhythm of all living species.

From Judith Present's On The Curve: Wolves and Peckers

From Judith Present’s On The Curve: Wolves and Peckers

Judith Present’s digital photography in the Arts Café Gallery deals with the deviation of the straight line to create movement from stagnation, to transform still images into dance by using curves, flow, and repetition. Present explains, “The beauty of working with digital photographs is that one can take a blank canvas on the computer and create just about anything, true or untrue, unlike capturing reality. Photographs used to be what the eye sees; now they can be what the eye can dream up and manipulate.”

Guanlao received her MFA in studio art from the University of New Mexico, and has exhibited in Maryland, California, Michigan, Florida, New Mexico, New Jersey, and New York. Artist’s website: www.eloisaguanlao.com.

Present’s work utilizes her background in fashion photography, textile design and theater. Currently based in Pennsylvania, she has exhibited in New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Montana. More about this artist at More about this artist at http://www.flickr.com/photos/presentarts

In the West Gallery, the 12th Annual TeensART Exhibit will celebrate the artwork of over 250 young artists throughout the Central New York community. Curated by art teachers from ten area schools, the gallery walls come alive with the amazing creativity of young artists. This exhibit is generously sponsored again this year by Tom Morris, DMD, of Family Dentistry in Norwich.

A reception for the artists will be held on Saturday, March 19, from 12-3 pm. The exhibits run through April 30. Gallery hours are 10-5 Tuesday-Friday and 12-3 on Saturdays. Admission is free, and the Galleries are wheelchair-accessible with a ramp and a lift. For more information, call 315-691-3550 or visit http://www.earlvilleoperahouse.com. The Earlville Galleries are located at 18 East Main Street, in Earlville, NY.

Exhibits are made possible, in part, with public funds from the NYS Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the NYS Legislature, and through the generosity of EOH members.

The wet collodion glass ambrotypes capture images of “stuffed” birds endemic to the southeast region of the United States which, as a cultural material form, compel deliberate meditation upon the benefits and pitfalls of technology on the circadian rhythm of living species. They are housed in stylized view cameras, harkening to the early days of field photography. The ambrotypes of “stuffed” birds perch as poignant, but pale souvenirs of real birds migrating over real places.

The wet collodion glass ambrotypes capture images of “stuffed” birds endemic to the southeast region of the United States which, as a cultural material form, compel deliberate meditation upon the benefits and pitfalls of technology on the circadian rhythm of living species. They are housed in stylized view cameras, harkening to the early days of field photography. The ambrotypes of “stuffed” birds perch as poignant, but pale souvenirs of real birds migrating over real places. (Eloisa Guanlao)

This series deals with the deviation of the straight line to create movement from stagnation. Using curves and their flow, images are transformed into dance.

This series deals with the deviation of the straight line to create movement from stagnation. Using curves and their flow, images are transformed into dance. (Judith Present)

The Earlville Galleries will celebrate the amazing artwork of young artists in the Central New York community with its 12th Annual TeensART Exhibit, generously sponsored this year by Tom Morris DMD of Family Dentistry in Norwich. A reception for the artists, their teachers, friends and families will be held on Saturday, March 19, from 12-3 pm.

16TeensARTcelebration postcard webThe exhibit showcases the artwork of students in grades 6 of 12 from eleven participating schools this year. This year’s teachers who will curate the work of their students for participation in the exhibit will be: Julie Frear and Adam Reynolds of Cazenovia, Ashley Stagner of Hamilton, Micheal Flint of Madison, Karin Howlett of Morrisville-Eaton H, Jon Vaughn of New Hartford Senior High, Laurie Clark of New Life Christian, Barbara Dwyer and Wayne Franklin of Norwich HS, Matt Wilson of Norwich Middle School, Heather Cigeroglu of Oneida High, Jackie Craine and Kristian Newman of Sherburne-Earlville, Tresta Smith and Linda Salta of Unadilla Valley and Mary Beth McGuire of Waterville HS.

Come and vote for best of show! The top three artists garnering the most votes will receive prizes donated by Golden Artist Colors.

Eloisa Guanlao and Judith Present exhibits will coincide with TeensART 2016

Eloisa Guanlao and Judith Present exhibits will coincide with TeensART 2016

Two other exhibits will also be on display at the Earlville Galleries: DARWIN’S FINCHES by Eloisa Guanlao in the East Gallery asks: Who benefits when technology expands and natural resources are consumed? Who suffers? What could we gain, as a society, from scrutinizing the impact of technological innovation? These questions and more form the nexus of Eloisa Guanlao’s exhibition DARWIN’S FINCHES, which juxtaposes photographs of live and expired birds alongside Smartphone “measuring rulers” to create ambrotypes– literal fossilized records of the bird’s existence and a reminder of the myopia of 19th century positivist science.

ON THE CURVE by Judith Present in the Arts Cafe Gallery his series deals with the deviation of the straight line, to create movement where once there was stagnation. Using different curves and the way they flow I have transformed the images into dances. All three exhibits will run through April 30.

The Earlville Galleries are part of the Earlville Opera House, located at 18 East Main Street in Earlville. Gallery hours are 10-5 Tues-Fri and 12-3 on Saturdays.   The Earlville Galleries are wheelchair-accessible with a ramp and a lift, and admission is free.

EOH events are made possible, in part, with public funds from the NYS Council on the Arts with the support of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the NYS Legislature, and through the generosity of EOH members.

Kayleigh DiMare, 20th Grade, Waterville High School

Kayleigh DiMare, 10th Grade, Waterville High School

 

Shayla Sullivan, Grade Sheburne-Earlville12, High School

Shayla Sullivan, Grade Sheburne-Earlville12, High School

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