Gunnar Kleese Wins Theater Award
Graduating senior Gunnar Kleese is the recipient of the SCCA eighth annual Theater Award. The prize goes to the senior who has done the most for the dramatic arts, on stage or in support of productions, over her or his student career.
Gunnar was selected on the recommendation of the Sullivan County High School theater director, Melissa Mabus, who had this to say:
“Gunnar joined the Griffin Players Drama Club in his senior year and played an integral part in the success of The Greek Mythology Olypmiaganza, by Dan Zolidis. Not only did Gunnar work as a crew member during the run of the performance, he also crafted and designed numerous set and costume pieces for the production.
“These projects included hours of tireless work gluing and painting wings for Icarus and designing and painting the Greek architectural piece that was the visual anchor of the whole stage. Beyond his artistic contributions to the theatre program, Gunnar was treasurer of the department. He left no stone unturned (and no bill unpaid) throughout the course of the production – which is a massive undertaking.
“Gunnar’s artistic spirit and concrete mathematical mind made him a Griffin Player who will be sorely missed next year, but who is certain to be a central figure in and positive contributor to whatever community he joins after graduation. Congratulations, Gunnar!”
The $250 award was presented at the annual high-school assembly on May 23. The Arts Council also presented certificates and checks to the previously announced four winners and one honorable mention of the Literary Awards: Kyler Burke, Samantha Skoranski, Andrew Okolowski, Savannah Silverstrim and Leona Hatch.
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Jasper Graves: Choice of Show
The 21st Choice of Show award went to Jasper Graves for his ceramic teapot, “Eragon,” at the Sullivan County High School art show.
Each year, three judges from the SCCA choose a single work that they feel is the most original and accomplished in the show. The Arts Council then purchases the work from the student, frames it (or in this instance, constructs a showcase) and places it on display in the main high school corridor, along with the previous two decades of winners.
This year’s judges were Pat Arcaro, Kimberly Hamilton (herself a previous Choice of Show winner) and Mary Ellen Minnier.
The last two years stand out as the first time in the history of the award that the Arts Council has picked back-to-back 3-D works; last year’s winner was Hayden Baumunk for his “Bonsai Tree.”
Jasper’s “Eragon” is both a striking piece of art and a functional object – a working teapot. In that sense, it’s typical of the class projects designed by art instructor Dylan Wiesner, nearly all of which touch on real life in one way or another.
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2018 Literary Contest Winners
The annual Sullivan County Council on the Arts Literary Contest was blessed with some of the finest entries of recent years. The judges – Amy Brian-McGee, Ruth Keener and Alan Miller – tussled for some time winnowing the initial 44 entrants down to a manageable nine before settling on the four top winners and one honorable mention.
Kyler Burke took first prize – her second top honor in the last three years – for her elegiac story, “Matches,” which traces a Russian immigrant family through four generations of hardship, grudging acceptance and an often too-easy assimilation. Read her story here.
Second prize went to Samantha Skoranski (moving her a notch up from last year) for her chilling post-apocalyptic science fiction tale, “Into the Dome,” two poems – one optimistic, “The Texture of Hope,” one much the opposite, “The Alley” – and a second story, “‘Til Death,” with a truly unexpected ending.
For third prize, Andrew Okolowski was honored for two prose pieces. “The Historical Significance of the Taj Mahal” takes a personal look at an historical architectural wonder and its cultural setting, while “The Beowulf Dragon” follows a mythological beast on a sorry yet humorous tale of mission-not-accomplished.
Savannah Silverstrim‘s fourth prize entries feature three haiku poems, “Blossom,” “Stars” and “The Bond,” along with “This One Summer,” a story about understanding the differences in ourselves and others.
Honorable mention went to Leona Hatch for “The Locket,” a heartfelt tale of a dying man’s gift.
The Arts Council’s thanks go out to the high school English teachers, Melissa Mabus, Colette Manning, Erin Schultz, Leayn Stockdill and Ashley Panko, along with principal Ed Pietroski for their support of the contest and the written word.
All the Literary Contest winners, along with the other finalists on the judges’ initial list, will appear in Hills and Valleys, the Arts Council’s annual magazine celebrating high-school-level literary and visual excellence within the county. It will also picture the winning pieces in the Youth Art awards.
The magazine will be distributed free to interested Sullivan County High School students following the annual awards assembly, May 23, 1:30 pm in the high school auditorium, and also be available to the general public at the library in Dushore.
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This does not, technically, come under the Arts Council rubric, but because it involves the arcane art of wordsmanship, we toss it in here. The Friends of the Sullivan County Library have established the Last Friday Poetry Readers club that meets monthly on, yes, the last Friday at 6 pm at Winterland Winery, south of Dushore on Rt. 220.
Are these hardboiled poetophiles? Not really, just folks interested in the sadly declining written word. So you don’t need to be a poet yourself (though your own works are welcome) or a master of literary criticism to sit and declaim. It’s convivial and collegial, the sort of thing we all should do, for whatever reason, and what better reason that to read a poem you love? Buy a glass of wine or a bottle of craft beer, order up a cheese platter and find the core of existence hidden in rhyme.
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For a list of all our major programs, look here.
Heading photo by Donna Sherwood