Monthly Archives: February 2016

Stark County Artist Profile: Li Hertzi

Each week in January and February we will be featuring a different Stark County artist. Get to know the amazing talent in our community.

By Laurie Fife Harbert

North Canton native Li Hertzi is a fiber artist, teacher, designer, author, and illustrator. If her last name rings a bell to those familiar with the local arts community, it is because she is part of a well-known local artistic heritage. Her mother, Judith, was a beloved art instructor, having taught at the Canton Art Institute (now the Canton Museum of Art), The Little Art Gallery of the North Canton Public Library, various area schools, and from her home studio. Judi was best known for developing a wax resist painting technique that she shared with her students. Li’s father, Joseph, is an artist best known for his geometric abstraction style. In 2013, Joe was honored with the title of ‘Director Emeritus’ at the Canton Museum of Art for his 38 years of service there. With this creative lineage, it was only natural that Li would follow in the family business.

Hertzi attended Kent State University, Parsons School of Design, and the University of Colorado. Prior to returning to live in North Canton once again, she resided and worked in New York City, Colorado, and California. While she has been involved in many creative ventures such as surface design for sportswear and graphic design for advertising, Li is best known locally as a fiber artist. Her fun, vibrant doll creations evoke a sense of whimsy, while subtly paying homage to ethnic customs and art history references. Oozing imagination, suggesting movement, and bursting with color, the dolls are as unique as the artist who makes them. Whether in forms reminiscent of humans, animals, or a quirky composite of both, they are sure to bring a smile to anyone who gazes upon them. Her book on these fascinating dolls and the inspiration behind them, “Art Doll Adventures: Exploring Projects and Processes through Cultural Traditions,” is available for Kindle through Her fiber art has been featured at Journey Art Gallery, the Canton Museum of Art, Translations Gallery, The Little Art Gallery’s May Shows, and Malone University.

Li has been featured in numerous art and illustration publications. Her work is in the permanent collection of The Little Art Gallery, and in numerous private collections nationwide. In addition to running LiHertzi Design, her art and design company, she is currently an art instructor at Malone University. More information about Li and her work may be found at, or she may be contacted via email at

Laurie Fife Harbert is a writer, a Canton native, an ailurophile, a visual artist, a bibliophile, a mother of two,      and an oenophile—not necessarily in that order. 144w" sizes="(max-width: 150px) 100vw, 150px" /> Laurie Fife Harbert is a writer, a Canton native, an ailurophile, a visual artist, a bibliophile, a mother of two, and an oenophile—not necessarily in that order.

Massillon Museum’s Holocaust Art Exhibition Travels across the Continent

As a young Jewish child, Nelly Toll and her mother survived the Nazi occupation of Poland by hiding in a tiny room, sheltered by a Catholic family. Rather than dwelling on the horror and deprivation of the world, the little girl wrote whimsical stories and painted make-believe pictures of what she wanted her world to be.

As an adult, she studied art at Rutgers University, Fleisher Art Memorial, and the Academy of Fine Art in Philadelphia, and earned her doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania in literacy and education. Toll currently teaches a course in Holocaust literature in the Reading/Writing/ Literacy Division at Penn’s Graduate School of Education. In 1993, she published an award-winning book, Behind the Secret Window, based on her childhood wartime diary.

When Massillon Middle School students read Behind the Secret Window in 2009, their teacher, Renee Parr, invited the author to speak to the class. Toll traveled from her home in New Jersey to talk about her book and her experiences.

The Massillon Museum participated, adding an art component, which led to scheduling a MassMu gallery exhibition of Toll’s work (March 5 to April 11, 2010) in connection with the National Endowment for the Arts reading initiative, The Big Read, and the Museum’s book selection for that year, The Shawl.

As a result of that positive relationship, the Museum organized a main gallery exhibition, Imagining a Better World: The Artwork of Nelly Toll (2014), which earned the Ohio Museums Association 2014 “Best Exhibition” award.

“At the Massillon Museum, art and history intersect, so telling the Nelly Toll story and sharing her childhood artwork as well as her adult paintings fits well with our mission,” said Massillon Museum Executive Director Alexandra Nicholis Coon. “We have the credibility and an obligation to tell this story, which has the potential to inspire and educate. We’re proud to have the honor of telling and preserving her story.”

Upon the Massillon Museum’s receipt of an Institute of Museum and Library Services grant specifically to create and travel two versions of Imagining a Better World, the traveling exhibit debuted in Toll’s home, Cherry Hill, New Jersey. The larger version is now on view at the Holocaust Memorial Museum of San Antonio (Texas). The smaller exhibit will open at the Dennison Railroad Depot Museum on March 5, 2016, and will continue through February 2017. The exhibition is booked for the Troy-Hayner Cultural Center in Troy, Ohio, from May 6 through July 10, 2016, and at the University of Alberta, Canada, in February 2017.

Imagining a Better World, comprised of reproductions of Toll’s watercolor paintings and a selection of her original contemporary paintings,  is readily available for rental because the two versions (one includes more paintings) allow flexibility and opportunities. Because the artwork has been reproduced from the originals, it can be exhibited at schools, libraries, museums, galleries, cultural centers, universities, churches, and synagogues. An extensive teacher’s resource accompanies the traveling exhibit. Rental information can be obtained by calling Massillon Museum Traveling Exhibits Coordinator Heather Bullach at 330.833.4061 x108 or emailing

Now two watercolors Toll painted as a child are part of a collection of Holocaust art at the German Historical Museum in Berlin. Artwork for the exhibition, Art From the Holocaust, came from Israel’s Holocaust museum, Yad Vashem, and its collection of more than 10,000 pieces of Holocaust art. Toll donated eight pencil and watercolor works to that institution many years ago.

The Berlin exhibit includes 100 works by 50 people who secretly created their artwork between 1939 and 1945 while in concentration camps, labor camps, or Nazi ghettos. About half of them did not survive World War II, but their work was preserved. Toll (80) is the only living Holocaust survivor among the artists included in the exhibition.

Toll attended the opening, where she was given a 10-minute visit with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The Massillon Museum arranged for award-winning filmmaker diane estelle [all lower case is correct] Vicari to film Toll’s visit to Berlin in January. Vicari’s related credits include co-directing/ producing the multi-award-winning documentary feature Sugihara: Conspiracy of Kindness and facilitating interviews for Steven Spielberg’s Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation.

Vicari is producing a documentary about Nelly Toll’s life story. “The one-hour film combines vérité cinematography with rare archival footage, 3D animation of Toll’s watercolors, and cutting-edge virtual-reality recreations to tell her incredible story,” said Vicari. To learn more about the film production, visit

Short segments of the film with narration by 2016 actress and Critic’s Choice Award-winner (Best Actress in a Drama Series) Carrie Coon are presented with the traveling exhibition.

Chancellor Merkel used the Berlin exhibition opening to confront resurging anti-Semitism in Germany, hoping lessons from the Holocaust would encourage more tolerance for the millions seeking asylum in her nation.

“We can still derive inspiration from Nelly Toll’s artwork,” Coon said. “It teaches us acceptance and tolerance and reminds us we have the power to imagine better times. Art helps us find common themes, which we can apply to today’s genocides, mass oppression, and refugee issues.”

Today, Toll teaches a graduate course in Holocaust literature at the University of Pennsylvania. She continues to paint large, colorful abstract pieces.

The Massillon Museum receives operating support from the Ohio Arts Council and ArtsinStark.

The Massillon Museum is located at 121 Lincoln Way East in downtown Massillon. For more information, call the Museum at 330-833-4061 or visit

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Dialogues on Diversity to Hold Events on March 1

Dialogues on Diversity, a diversity training company, will hold two programs on Tuesday, March 1, 2016. At 2 p.m. the Stark County Leaders meeting with the Dialogues on Diversity owners, Larry Tish and Ron Young, will take place at the Stark Community Foundation, 400 Market Avenue, North, in Canton. Why should community leaders take valuable time out of a work day to join a conversation about diversity? Because time alone does not provide a profit or create a product, but diversity can create a more productive and profitable environment.

The second event will take place at 7 p.m. at Kent State University-Stark Campus, 6000 Frank Avenue, NW in North Canton. The public is invited to attend this event, admission is free. The program is designed to promote dialogue and awareness of diversity, cultural sensitivity, and social justice for all community sectors. The presentation will be entertaining, informative and interactive.

Dialogues on Diversity, established in 2005 to promote understanding around diversity, has been highly praised and profiled by major university, corporate and community audiences. Lois DiGiacomo-Jacobson, a founding member of Coming Together Stark County, has been planning this program since October of 2014, with a goal of inspiring honest conversations that will build a better world and make Stark County a better place to live. The event is sponsored by Kent State University – Stark Campus, Temple Israel, Canton City Schools and ArtsinStark. For further information, contact DiGiacomo-Jacobson at 330-768-7500 or, or visit













Godspell at the North Canton Playhouse

Godspell at the North Canton Playhouse.

By James Dennison

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February 18th a new production debuts at the North Canton Playhouse theater of the musical Godspell. The performance will run until March 6th, starting at 8pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and a 2pm Matinee on Sunday. Tickets for adults are $15.00, Seniors and Students are at a reduced rate of $13.00. Tickets are available online at, on the phone at 330-494-1613 or can be purchased at the box office which opens one hour prior to the performance. The North Canton Playhouse is located at 525 7th Street North East inside of the Hoover High School.

Godspell has been a popular hit in theaters since it’s original inception in 1971. The delightful musical features humorous songs and scenes telling the parables and tales from the life of Jesus. The production blends various genres and time periods into this ancient story reaching into vaudville and ending in late 60′ radio pop music. The ending casts a somber note as the actors explore the last supper, crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. This production is the 2012 revised version of Godspell which was a slight update and  modification of the original Godspell for the 2012 Broadway production.

The North Canton Playhouse has been a part of Canton’s theater community for four decades since it was originally founded in 1976. The theater is a charitable and educational institution, whose mission is to provide entertainment, enrichment, education and to encourage theatrical arts throughout the North Canton Community, Stark County and the Northeastern Ohio area. The theater is staffed by a group of dedicated volunteers who provide an wonderful service to the Canton theater enthusiast. The theater is known for it’s fun and off-center productions which keep the theater scene exciting and relevant. Previous productions include a theater version of the films Carrie, Legally Blonde, Shrek and The Little Mermaid as well as traditional theater work like Les Miserables, Gypsy and The Nutcracker.

If you are looking for an evening of excellent theater and fun entertainment, ditch Netlix for a night and share a delightful evening of live musical theater in one of Canton’s longest running theater groups for a low price of $15 to $13 a ticket. You’ll laugh and cry at this wonderful production of Godspell at the North Canton Playhouse. If it’s your first time viewing in the theater it certainly will not be your last. This production is an absolute must see!
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Massillon Museum to Offer Intro to Photography Class

The Massillon Museum will offer a three-week introduction to photography class on Tuesdays, March 1, 8, and 15, from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. Instructor Gary Spangler invites adults and students ages 12 and older to participate.
Students will discover some of the earliest methods of capturing images. Each participant will make a pinhole camera, camera obscura, camera lucida, and photograms.
From Kent State University, Spangler holds bachelor’s degrees in visual art: fibers and art education: K through 12; from The University of Akron, he holds a master’s degree in education. He has taught art at Massillon City Schools, The University of Akron, Malone University, and the Massillon Museum. His teaching spans all ages and innumerable art forms including handcrafted books, photography, fibers, jewelry, enameling, origami, and ceramics.
The class fee is $35 ($30 per Museum member), including materials. Pre-registration is required for this class by February 25. Mailed registrations must be postmarked by February 22. Students may register by phone, by mail, or in person using cash (exact change), checks, or credit cards. For a detailed class schedule, call the Massillon Museum at 330-833-4061 or visit

Stark County Artist Profile: Jeff Mueller

Each week in January and February we will be featuring a different Stark County artist. Get to know the amazing talent in our community.

by Laurie Fife Harbert

While artists have always been experimenters, innovators and envelope-pushers, somehow purists have always been slow to accept new forms of artistic media as true fine art. Though seemingly contrary to the very definition of art, this has long been the case. Watercolors were first eschewed as mere studies for oil paintings and not as works of art in their own right. There are still those who refuse to acknowledge photography as fine art. As with anything new, consistent use and education by advocates eventually change things.

When computers first became popular, there were cries of it being the end for artists. On the contrary, in true creative fashion, artists have embraced computers as both tools to further their skills and as an artistic medium in its own right. Within digital art there are two forms, digitally manipulating uploaded images via design tools, layers, and filters, and creating original works by hand while using the computer and digital colors exactly as one would use a traditional brush and pigments. It is into the latter form of digital art that Jeff Mueller’s work falls. He takes photographs of his subject matter, possibly combining two or three to get the exact composition he desires, but only uses the photos as a reference point. Utilizing Photoshop, he hand-draws the composition onto the screen, which he refers to as a digital canvas, manipulating the software’s brush and pen tools to individually apply lines and strokes of color. His computer creations are then rendered physically via printer’s ink. ‘Ink now for me has become paint,’ he states. His commercial art background and familiarity with the printing process all aid him in his work, which he refers to as ‘tradigital’ art.

To turn a virtual work into reality, Mueller sends the file to a print lab in Akron, choosing the size and background. Background options include canvas, metal, or wood, with canvas being Jeff’s current go-to choice. Digital painting offers some benefits not found in traditional painting, such as some time is saved in color mixing and pixels can be manipulated to a much more precise degree than is possible with a brush, resulting in much greater details in a work. However, the inks do pose some restrictions. An understanding of ink colors and how they will transfer onto a physical canvas is crucial in this type of artwork. When the printed canvas arrives, he traditionally paints in acrylics to finish them and to fix any weaknesses that result from the limitations of the inks.

Jeff’s subject matter includes slice-of-life people scenes, animals, landscapes, and surrealism. His latest project is ’52 Shades of Blue,’ a year-long study of the light, seasons, and atmospheric conditions surrounding the Brentwood Water Tower. The water tower, located near the corner of Market Avenue and Schneider Street in North Canton, may seem a curious choice for an artistic study. Mueller stresses that it is not the tower itself, but the beauty of nature reflecting off of the tower that drew his artistic eye. The variety in the images depending on where he stands to take the photo, the time of day, the season, the cloud cover, and the weather is simply amazing. The documentation process will be complete by the end of April. His goal is to produce a piece of art featuring an image from each week of his study in a variety of media including photographs and paintings in digital, watercolors, and acrylics. A book featuring the artwork is also planned. He is organizing a Kickstarter crowdfunding project to fund the venture. To follow his progress, search ‘52 Shades of Blue A 1 Year Study of Light’ on Facebook.

Speaking of social media, Mueller has taken to this obvious choice for promoting his digital art, knowing that exposure to his media will lead to greater understanding and acceptance of his chosen art form. He utilizes the marketing aspects available through social media to promote his work, open dialogues, make connections, and build relationships with artists, art world professionals, and customers all over the world. To follow Mueller, search ‘Computer Art Man’ on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.  His website may be accessed at or he may be contacted via email at Mueller’s next intended projects include a study of area vineyards and a journey into large-scale art and murals.

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Harbert 144w" sizes="(max-width: 150px) 100vw, 150px" />Laurie Fife Harbert is a writer, a Canton native, an ailurophile, a visual artist, a bibliophile, a mother of two, and an oenophile—not necessarily in that order.


Valentine’s Day Weekend in Stark County

Love is in the air in Stark County, and we’ve got the list of spots where you’ll want to be with the one you adore. From the casino to the symphony, Stark County is the place to be to make Valentine’s Day Weekend extra sweet!

For the Musical Lovebirds:

  • MasterWorks Young at Heart Concert
    When: February 14, 7:30PM
    Where: Umstattd Performing Arts Hall
    Tickets:  $25, $35, $45
    Learn More:
    What is more romantic than the story of the young love between Romeo and Juliet?  The CSO will be performing Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Overture Fantasy on the MasterWorks concert “Young at Heart,”  featuring the Canton Symphony Orchestra, Canton Youth Symphony, and Canton native and current Juilliard School of Music scholarship violin student, William Shaub as guest soloist.
  • Scotty McCreery in Concert
    When: February 12, 8PM (doors open at 7:00PM)
    Where: Canton Palace Theatre
    Tickets: $44, $64
    Learn More:
    Scotty McCreery burst onto the national music scene in 2011 at age 17, quickly establishing himself as one of country music’s hottest new stars. By age 21, the talented singer/songwriter has sold nearly 2.5 million albums and received both Platinum and Gold album certifications, and debuted three consecutive albums at No. 1 on a Billboard chart! The concert is presented by Dusty Guitar Promotions and The Repository.

For the Foodie Sweethearts:

  • Addicted to Love
    When: February 13, 7-11PM
    Where: Fieldcrest Estate
    Tickets: $75 per couple
    Learn More:
    You might as well face it, you’re addicted to love.  Get your “fix” this Valentine’s Weekend with a couple’s treat featuring fondue appetizers and dessert with a full meal in between.  Choose from a chicken or vegetarian offering at just $75 per couple with cozy seating and heart- pumping tunes played by Canton’s own DJ Nikolina. Cash bar. Reservations can be made by calling (330) 966-2222 or visiting Book a room at the Inn and really make it a night!

For the Casino Casanovas:  

  • Canton Ballet’s Red Velvet Party Casino Royale
    When: February 12, 6:30PM for VIP Guests, 7PM for Casino Guests
    Where: The Joseph Saxton Gallery of Photography
    Tickets: $75 General Admission, $125 VIP
    Learn More:
    A fun-filled evening with dinner by Brookside Country Club, a cash bar, live music, as well as Blackjack, Texas Hold ‘Em, Russian Roulette, Craps tables, and slot machines presented by Great Lakes Casino Events. You may wish to take a chance with the different raffles that will offer very special items such as trips and getaways, gift certificates, exceptional wines, and more! Start the party early and be a VIP guest who will enjoy a private wine and champagne tasting in the Belden loft.

For the Artsy Admirers:

  • Valentine’s Couples’ Clay Workshop
    When: February 13, 1:00-3:00PM
    Where: Massillon Museum
    Tickets: $20 per couple for Members / $25 per couple for Non-Members
    Learn More:
    Share some creative fun with someone you love during a one-day clay workshop for adults offered by the Massillon Museum. Instructor Kaitlyn Gutshall, a graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Art, will lead the session. The registration fee includes instruction and materials. Massillon Museum classes are open to the public. Pre-registration is required. Participants may register by phone at 330-833-4061.
  • Studio Arts & Glass Sweetheart Sale
    When: February 12, 10AM-6PM; February 13, 10AM-5PM
    Where: Studio Arts & Glass Sweetheart Sale
    Learn More:
    Give your Valentine a unique gift of glass to treasure forever by visiting the Sweetheart Sale at Studio Arts & Glass!  Browse an extensive selection of stunning, handmade, one-of-a-kind pieces. Studio Arts & Glass features wearable art, stunning jewelry, glass flowers, hearts, hand-blown vases, and so much more!

For the Cultural Heartthrobs:

  • Discover Downtown Celebration
    When: February 12, 5-9PM
    Where: North Market Street in Downtown Minerva
    Learn More:
    Minerva’s Discover Downtown celebration will highlight the arts, shopping, and food/drink available on North Market Street. Kishman’s IGA has craft beer and wine tastings; the Market Street Art Spot is celebrating its fifth anniversary; All About the House and Soul Creations have great sales on their unique gifts; McFeeders Tae Kwon Do and Komodo Dragon Martial Arts both invite visitors to observe classes. Al & Dave’s Pizza and Que Pasa are open and offering extensive menus. Pick up a map at any participating business, get it initialed or stamped at six or more locations, and return it to the Art Spot by 9:00PM to be entered in the raffle to win gift certificates to local vendors valued from $10-$200!

For the Theatrical Paramours:

  • Murdered by the Mob, A Roaring ’20s Gangster Murder Mystery
    When: February 12 at 7PM (doors open at 6PM)
    Where: Skyland Pines Event Center
    Tickets: $35
    Learn More:
    Enjoy a night of mystery dinner theatre as performers from Louisville Community Theatre turn Skyland Pines into “D’Angelo’s,” the hottest speakeasy in all of Chicago. If you think the ‘20s are roaring, you ain’t heard nothin’ ‘til you’ve been to this joint! Ticket price includes dinner (choice of entree) and a uniquely interactive performance. Cash bar.  For reservations, call 330-685-1927 or email

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KidFest in Canton!

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Canton’s Kidfest

By James Dennison

Canton Kidfest is coming to the Civic Center on Saturday February 13th 2016. The event runs from 11am to 5pm with tons of fun events for our amazing Canton Kids! The Civic Center is located at 1101 Market Avenue North, Canton, OH 44702 near beautiful downtown Canton.  Admission is free for all kids under 12 years of age but $3 more to play in the inflatable bounce houses. Adult admission is just $5. This is the first of what is hoped to be a fun tradition in Canton for our local kiddos.

The Canton Kidfest is featuring a lot of fun mascots and entertainers. Master magician and Cleveland favorite Rick Smith, Jr. will be there performing magic and illusions. Corporate mascots Ronald McDonald and Chuck E. Cheese will be on hand as well as the Canton Charge dancers and their fun mascot Pozzi! Every girl’s favorite Disney Princess and Queen will be there, Elsa and Anna taking photos and meeting fans. The fun continues with the Candy Apple Dance studio performing and the on-air teams of Mix 94.1 and News-Talk 1480 WHBC.

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The focus of the event is giving the local youngsters a warm fun place to stretch their legs and play and they are going to find plenty of that at Kidfest. Kidfest will feature half a football field of inflatables as well as rock wall for climbing. There will be legos and an instrument zoo to check out. Your kiddos will absolutely love the face painting, petting zoo, giant abstract sculpture building and numbers of other vendors and fun interactive events, games, and prizes.

Please come out and participate in the ArtsinStark live art event where the kids will be working with local artists to build a giant sculpture by fitting PVC pieces together and painting them live! We will have local artists Tim Carmany from The Hub as well as Pam Neff, Kim Wise and Dillon Sedar. It’s sure to be an event to inspire your little artists to dream big!

Come on out Saturday February 13th for a tons of fun! For the best deal please stop by and get FREE VIP passes  at  Pat Catan’s 4pm-6pm Tuesday, February 9th. The VIP passes are good for a free adult admission or a free child access to all of the wonderful inflatables! We will see you there!

Calling all kooks: OddMall comes to Canton

By Judi Christy

I admit it. I’m stumped. I’ve been sitting here for a few hours, well actually about 3 minutes, trying to figure out how to write this article about the upcoming OddMall coming to the Cultural Center for the Arts on Saturday, February 13 and Sunday, February 14. The Who, What, When, Where, Why and How – the normal starters to any news piece, are not necessarily Stylebook ready, as the gist of this event defies logic or reason. OddMall is not a craft show or a comic con, nor is it an art fair or gaming festival. OddMall by its own admission is the Emporium of the Weird, thus having all of the pieces parts of art, geek, craft, vintage, music and magic sprinkled, not so subtly, with people, booths, costumes and customs that may only have been glimpsed between the sheets – of free press, free speech and free love of everyone.

OddMall is truly a free for all. Well, actually it’s 5 bucks.

But, don’t think that you can launch your Lincoln and then stroll through the doors at 1001 Market Avenue North in Canton with your clickety tongues and rolled eyeballs. The FREE, in Odd Mall standards, extends beyond the almighty dollar. The FREE at Odd Mall means judgement free as well. Their press kit states: “If you like to dress up like a giant action figure and have your picture taken with strangers GO FOR IT! If you dig making life-sized models of your pet cat out of old socks, do your THANG! Are you a collector of unusual art? Is your other car a TARDIS? Do you know Bruce Wayne’s middle name? Do people call you weird, strange, bizarre, nerdy, geeky, artsy-fartsy, or Gertrude? If so, Odd Mall is the place for you. ONE OF US! ONE OF US!” And, as a personal endorsement — any organization that quotes the 1932 classic, “FREAKS,” gladly has my vote and my admission every dang time.

Where else could I find 113 (my favorite number) of vendors with names like My Little Demon, Bedazzled USB, Tick-Choc Chocolates, All Day I Dream About Clay, Soap Alchemy, and 3Cat Collectibles – amazingly boothed beside the Stark County District Library, Northeast Ohio Ghostbusters and, if you can believe it Bath Fitter, Leaf Guard and Pampered Chef?

But it’s not all comfy-cozy. Members of the NEO Roller Derby will be zooming around the 330,000 square foot facility and taking no prisoners. So be sure to bring Mom and Dad. It will be hoot. There will be plenty to look at, as these OddMall folks go all out for the sale and the spectacle. They have fun interacting with the crowds, providing good photo bombs and even better conversation. Engage with them. They’re a blast and they are uniquely talented.

And, if you don’t find the vendors entertaining, there are actual entertainers in the house. A special guest for OddMall is Tom Smith, a common name for a not so common man. According to his website, “there’s every other singer out there… and then there’s Tom Smith.” He’s on stage both days, smattered between Saturday’s belly dancing with Shuvani Dance Company, Gandersnitch’s Stupid Goblin Game Show, and the not to be missed 3 p.m. treat of the Odd Mall Costume Contest & Parade. Tom’s back on Sunday along with The Goblonian National Volunteer Orchestra and Recitations of Love Valentine’s Day Special EXTREME!, and followed by a really creepy, yet slightly fetching dude named Leeman Kessler who has been impersonating HP Lovecraft online and on stage, and according to his bio is “back in Ohio to make people feel really uncomfortable whenever they go to the beach.”

But, don’t worry about your weight that day. These Odd Mall folks bring food. Good food. Who could resist Fear’s Confections or Jimmy’s Funnel Cakes? And, lest you think you will drown in sugar, Jake and the gang from ArtsinStark will be serving up less sweet lunch-fare at their onsite café.

OddMall’s go on all year – with this one titled, Expedition Elsewhere. The phenomenon began with a freelance artist named Andy Hopp, who, I was delighted to learn, lives in Green. Since this is my home base as well, I no doubt stood behind him at Giant Eagle or breathed in his exhaust fumes at one of our many round-abouts. Yet, astonishingly, we have not met.

So of course, I’m attending his Odd Mall. Not just to meet Andy. But to support his creative and collective spirit. And, I’m bringing cash. (But, just in case you’re a card carrier, there is a stocked ATM at the Cultural Center). What will I buy? Who the heck knows? But with homegrown favorites like Arrowhead Vintage & Handmade Goods and Erin Mulligan Fine Art, mixed in with a healthy dose of Spooky Grrrl Bath & Body, Alexandra’s Adornments, Stylish Geek and SilverFox Massage & Crafts – I’m not only intrigued, but also a little tantalized.

Besides, I’m game for a little freaky fun – especially on a Valentine’s weekend.

So, I say let the lemmings sip chablis and cuddle around their chocolate diamonds. I’m much more daring…At least for a moment or two.

Check out all the details and join me:

A Busy Year for Canton Youth Symphonies

The Canton Youth Symphonies, under the direction of Canton Symphony Orchestra Associate Conductor Rachel L. Waddell, will be very busy in the second half of their season.  The Canton Youth Symphonies consist of three groups – The Canton Youth Strings, Canton Youth Symphony (CYS), and Canton Youth Symphony Advanced Orchestra (CYSAO).

The Canton Youth Symphony Advanced Orchestra is a full orchestra comprised of students in grades 9-12 who perform at an advanced level.  Members of the CYSAO will have the opportunity to perform side-by-side with the professional musicians of the Canton Symphony Orchestra (CSO) on the MasterWorks “Young at Heart” concert February 14.  The concert also features Canton native and CYS alum William Shaub as guest violin soloist.  This is the first time the youth orchestra has been invited to perform on a Masterworks performance. “I think it is a tremendous responsibility and honor, and a real compliment to the artistic integrity and quality of the ensemble,” notes Waddell.  The students have been rehearsing the repertoire for the concert since mid-December and will rehearse with the CSO twice in preparation for the concert.  “It will be inspiring for the students to hear the level of detail and nuance the professionals perform with, and, of course, to have the opportunity to work under the baton of (CSO Music Director) Gerhardt Zimmermann for the first time,” she added.

The Canton Youth Strings consists of beginning violin, viola, cello and bass students in grades 2-6 while the Canton Youth Symphony (CYS) is a full orchestra of intermediate level students in grades 6-9.  These two ensembles will be performing a concert on February 28 at Umstattd Performing Arts Hall.  The concert celebrates Latin American dance music and music by Latin American composers. Waddell and the ensembles are partnering with students from the newly created Canton Guitar Society taught by James Marron of the University of Akron and George Dean, director of the string program at Canton City Schools’ Arts Academy at Summit. The concert offers a variety of pieces including some for solo guitar, guitar ensemble, string orchestra, and full orchestra.  “It will be an eclectic concert and a unique opportunity to showcase guitar with orchestra,” Waddell explains.  “It is a pairing that does not happen too often, especially in a classical setting.” The program includes two arrangements of Latin American dances for youth orchestra, Telemann’s Don Quixote Suite, and Anderson’s Blue Tango.

On April 16, Waddell is taking the CYSAO to Columbus Ohio for a day-long event with the Columbus Youth Symphony.  Students will have the opportunity to perform next to each other in concert, and receive coachings from Columbus Symphony Orchestra musicians, among other events. In the evening, the CYSAO students will attend a Columbus Symphony Orchestra performance. This is the first time any CYS group has gone on a “tour”. Waddell believes it is very important for students to get a chance to meet and work with other students their age. “It’s a small world, especially in music, and these students could become colleagues later in life,” she explains.

The youth symphonies will close out their season at the end of April with a very unique opportunity.  In 2015, the Canton Youth Symphonies were named the 2015 Youth Orchestra of the Year by the Classics Alive Foundation in Los Angeles. As part of the award, the youth symphonies have been given a $500 scholarship and will also receive a residency with internationally-renowned violinist Lindsay Deutsch.  Ms. Deutsch will perform as a soloist with the Canton Youth Symphony Intermediate and Advanced Orchestras on their final concert of the season on May 1. Prior to that, all of the students will have an opportunity to spend a day with Ms. Deutsch for a masterclass for Canton Youth Symphonies’ violinists and seminars on practice techniques and careers in music. CYS students will audition to participate in the masterclass, but it will be open to observation by students everywhere. It is tentatively scheduled for April 30 with specific details to follow.

Founded in 1962, the Canton Youth Symphonies offer aspiring young musicians a professional learning environment focused on the highest artistic standards. Its participants rehearse weekly in preparation for three concerts annually, and students have the opportunity to work closely with Canton Symphony Orchestra musicians and guest artists. There is no minimum age requirement for CYS.  Membership in CYS is by audition only.  Auditions are normally held in late summer, however interested students may be allowed to audition for the ensemble at any point during the school year. An audition may be arranged by calling the Canton Symphony Office at 330-452-3434 ext. 604.