Poetry, Art Collaboration Brings Arts Together In Southern Maryland

College of Southern Maryland Professor of Languages and Literature and poet Neal Dwyer offers remarks on the artist-poet collaboration, in which calvART Gallery artists created pieces inspired by poems written by Southern Maryland poets. Artist Lonnie Hawkins, in hat, stands nearby.

The reception for Visions of Verses — a show celebrating both written and physical art and the inspiration behind them — was attended by more than 75 art enthusiasts at the calvART Gallery in Prince Frederick on April 14. The show, which runs through May 6, features local artwork that was inspired by local poetry.

The inaugural Visions of Verses show is a collaborative effort of artists from calvART Gallery, poets from the College of Southern Maryland (CSM) as well as other well-known local poets and the show’s organizer, the Arts Council of Calvert County. The Maryland State Arts Council was a sponsor.

“The Arts Council was so excited to sponsor this event and include the calvART Gallery artists and CSM and local poets, to create this special night of poetry and art. We felt it brought creative thoughts and visions together as one for our guests to experience,” said Arts Council of Calvert County Executive Director Carol Eberly.

The Visions of Verses reception begins as poet Michael S. Glaser, St. Mary’s College of Maryland’s Professor Emeritus of English, cheers, along with Arts Council Executive Director Carol Eberly holding the gong as Eleanor Nelson, Arts Council VP, gives opening remarks and gallery president, Pam Callen, right, looks on.

The evening reception featured 11 poets reading their work and the display of more than 18 pieces of art that were inspired by those poems, including paintings, jewelry, ceramic and fused-glass pieces.

“The Visions of Verses reception was a great success,” said Carol Wade, one of the participating artists. “Each time we heard the gong, a new poet was introduced and he or she recited their poem. Then they passed the microphone to the artist who created an art piece inspired by the poem. Hearing the poem out loud was much more moving than reading it to yourself. The poets seemed to enjoy the surprise of seeing the art that was created based on their poem. The art was more varied and forced the artists to think outside the box. I hope we can do this again next year.”

CSM Professor Neal Dwyer said that the Visions of Verses collaboration achieved “a creative confluence. Artists are a solitary breed. They like to work on their own, to listen for and feel poems, images come to them, and sometimes collaboration with others can get in the way. But not this time,” Dwyer said. “The combination of artworks and poetry at the April 14 event lent itself to a third genre — like when you hit a tuning fork, two tones sound from the same source. We enjoyed the words of the poets and visions of the artists, which complimented each other in ways I doubt anyone in attendance expected.”

Participating poets include former Maryland Poet Laureate Michael Glaser, Carol Harvat, Dwyer, Katherine Lassman, Elisavietta Ritchie, Hiram Larew, Sherbrooke Lea Carson, Rocky Jones, Jeanne Vote, Rachael Heinhorst and Jeffery Coleman.

Artists from calvART Gallery participating in the collaboration are Wade, Ray Noble, Phyllis Noble, Pam Callen, Ann Crain. Lonnie Harkins, Suzanne Shelden, Ray Bogle, Sylvia Hill, Mary Blumberg, Denise Breitburg, Marie Estabrook, Alyson Schwartz, Ann Trentman, Mimi Little, Wendy Schneider and Jo Anne Gilhooly.

“Special thanks to CSM for their collaboration, EZ Thai for the beautiful food buffet, Ruddy Duck for the craft beer and patron of the arts Rene Cunningham for all the beverages,” Eberly said. “In addition, a very special thank you goes to Michael Glaser and Carol Harvat for coordinating the poets and to Pam Callen, president of calvART Gallery for bringing the artists together for this special event. The Arts Council plans to make this an annual event, with help from Calvert County funding along with the State of Maryland Arts Council grants for us to continue supporting the arts in Calvert County.”

College of Southern Maryland Assistant Professor of Languages and Literature Rachel Heinhorst reads her poem “Stage of Acceptance” as calvART Gallery artist Pam Callen, who painted the accompanying artwork of a well-known old Southern tree, listens.

For information on this and other arts events in Calvert County, visit www.calvertarts.org. For information on calvART Gallery, visit http://calvartgallery.com/. For information about language and literature studies at CSM, visit https://www.csmd.edu/programs-courses/not-sure/areas-of-study/languages-literature/.