Monthly Archives: April 2016

Thumb Wars: 2016 Canton Film Festival

by Judi Christy

We are all voyeurs – a fancy name for observers, who, given the right set of circumstances also morph into critics. Credentialed or not, we have opinions, often about things we know nothing about, but nevertheless fanatically enjoy giving a thumbs up or thumbs down after (or sometimes mid-way in between) each performance. Blame Siskel and Ebert; they, not Zuckerberg, started it.

Because our love to rate films (and basically anything) came way before the tangle of the World Wide Web. Trust me, I remember.

And, that’s why I thoroughly enjoy seeing new flicks – ones fresh off the hands of After Effects, Final Cut Pro, or one of the hundred other tools that make everyone with a cell phone an editing expert. These independent filmmakers, the true dream weavers, don’t have the budget but they often have the bravado to tell a good story without the prima donna pretense or shock and awe of a Mad Max massacre — (Incidentally, I gave that one a thumbs down).

But, my fingers are primed to not only dip into the popcorn bag but also be nimble enough to applaud (when deserved) entries in the 2016 Canton Film Festival on April 21 – 23 at the Canton Palace Theatre. And, I invite you to do the same. Where else can you see (and yes, critique) films (for just $5 a day) made by cinematic hopefuls who often have “real jobs” while working like heck to make it in the movie biz? Just think of it! You could be on the cusp of something amazing as many of these filmmakers do have the talent but need you cheer them on and, if available, support their GoFundMe pages after you leave the theatre.

Timing is everything.

The 2016 Canton Film Festival falls smack dab between the Cleveland International Film Festival and the Ohio Independent Film Festival, also in Cleveland, but in May. So why drive ALL the way up 77 (she asks with a smirk), when you can cozy up in Canton for this cinematic experience?
According to James Waters, a heck of a great guy and someone who I’ll bet my bottom dollar will be at both the Cleveland fests, started Canton Film with a few of his filmmaking friends in 2011. They organized the group to provide educational resources, networking, and opportunities to showcase the work of independent artists (writers, filmmakers, actors, artists) throughout Canton-Akron and Greater Cleveland. Their goal was (and still is) to put Canton, Ohio on the indie film map. And, according to Water’s, they are doing just that.

For this year’s Festival, Canton Film received 63 submissions, world-wide, in categories ranging from Short Fiction/Drama, Horror/Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Music Video, Comedy, Action, Documentary/Sports. The three nights at the Canton Palace Theatre shine a spotlight on the best films in these genres. Awards (trophies and $250) will be presented to the judge’s favs, before showing top contenders and ending with associated Q & A sessions with notable film folks including Seth Breedlove (Small Town Monsters); Nick Cavalier (motion design, music videos); make-up artist Robert Kurtzman (Misery, Scream, Boogie Nights and Vanilla Sky) plus about four more pages from IMBD; and Ben Patterson (director of the documentary, Sweet Micky for President)

Since I have to work my “real job” on April 23, I’m going to have to miss out on my favorite categories including shorts and documentaries, but I am planning to most definitely see the Thursday film, Beast of White Hall, with Mike Christy, a person whose life’s ambition is to not only see but also capture Sasquatch. Maybe he’ll be satisfied with a sighting of Peanut M&Ms and my offer to buy his ticket. In any case, we will be there… with both thumbs.

You need to come too – for Thursday’s opening night or for all weekend. Believe me, there’s absolutely NOTHING on TV that you can’t pick up from HULU or your friend’s Twitter feed, so live– outside the idiot box sometime between April 21-23.

The line-up for the three nights – at only $5 per night (!) goes something like this:

Thursday, April 21
6:30pm Screening of the Sci-Fi / Horror submissions, followed by awards.
7:30pm Beast of White Hall (Running time: 39 minutes) This film will be followed by a Q & A session with the film’s director, Seth Breedlove.
Film Synopsis: August, 1976: Three teens driving on an isolated stretch of road somewhere in the Adirondacks of Upstate New York have a brush with a bizarre creature, standing over 7 feet tall and completely covered in hair. They report the incident only to find that local folks (and police) recount seeing the creature, as well. As the weeks and months passed more individuals come forward with their own sightings.

Friday, April 22
6:30pm Screening of Music Video submissions followed by awards.
7:30pm Forced Perspective: The Story of artist Derick Hess (Running time: 1 hour: 30 min) This film will be followed by Q & A session with the film’s director, Nick Cavalier.
Film Synopsis: An intimate portrait of iconic Cleveland artist Derek Hess from his early Euclid Tavern concert posters to his expressive fine art pieces, the film is a journey through Derek’s struggle with alcoholism and bipolar disorder. The film presents a view of this celebrated artist, his effect on music and culture while also highlighting the link between creativity and mental illness.

Saturday, April 23
2:30pm Screening of Comedy, Action, Short Fiction Drama and Documentary submissions followed by awards.
6:00pm Presentation by Robert Kurtzman, acclaimed make-up artist
7:30pm Sweet Micky for President (Running time: 1 hour: 29 min) This film will be followed by Q & A session with the film’s director, Ben Patterson.
Film Synopsis: Pras Michel of the Fugees, with no money or experience, fights a history of corrupt and ineffective government in his home country of Haiti by mobilizing a successful presidential campaign for controversial Haitian pop star, Michele Martelly aka Sweet Micky.

Tickets for the 2016 Canton Film Festival can be purchased online at or by calling the Palace Box Office at 330.454.8172 Monday to Friday 10am to 4pm. You can also get tickets at the door.

For more information about local films and filmmaking, visit

The Art of Summer School

by Judi Christy

Back in the day, when dinosaurs roamed the earth and summer left time for chalk cities and neighborhood kickball games in the cul-de-sac, the idea of summer camp conjured thoughts of bible verses, bandana-clad counselors, or the occasional scout master.  Tents, cabins, hand-woven lanyards and possibly a dining hall with big vats of cherry red Kool-Aid filled the day with the flicker of a campfire and scary ghost story about Mary Worth waiting after dark.

But today, the summer camp has evolved into an educational outreach, with overnights often replaced with afternoons; and learning objectives hidden beneath the folds of fun.  It’s brilliant really; a sneaky way to reduce the leak of summer learning loss – and a (little less) guilt-free way for working parents to engage their school-aged children in activities that don’t require Wi-Fi.

The Arts were first in line to jump on this trend, which really started decades ago.  And admittedly I was on board too: Zach went to a film camp (or 2); and Erika had her turn at theatre camps, and if memory serves, something to do with the fine art of petting horses.

In any case, they both loved it.  And, subsequently, so did I.

Now, it’s your turn.

Canton Museum of Art
Beginning June 27 and running in 3 sessions, the CMA offers morning and afternoon camps, recommended for students age 6-14.  These arts camps, 5 days a week, will be broken down into compatible age groups and be led by experience art teachers and the Museum staff.  Sessions include:
2-D Media (Drawing, Painting, Printmaking)
3-D Media (Mixed Media, Modeling Clay, Sculpture)
Creatures, Stories and Fantasy Worlds
Creative Ceramics
Art Gone Wild! (To coincide with the “Art and the Animal” exhibit)
Aren’t you crafty!  (Textiles, weaving, wood, jewelry, etc.)

Canton Ballet
Princess and Prince Dance Camp for 4-5 years
June 13-17 or June 27-July 1
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, 10 am-12 pm
Focus in on creative movement
Ballet 101 Dance Camp for ages 6-7 years
June 13-17 or June 27-July 1
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, 12:30-2:30 pm
Basic ballet steps, terminology, movement

Camp Z – Summer Music Camps
Beginning String Camp: June 6-10 (9am-3pm) Zimmermann Symphony Center
Intermediate String Camp: June 13-17 (9am-3pm) Zimmermann Symphony Center
Chamber Music Camp: June 20-24 in partnership with Malone University (
Civic Orchestra Immersion:  June 20-24 (6pm-8:30pm) Zimmermann Symphony Center

TomTod Ideas presents Camp What If
Camp What if *Massillon
June 6th – 11th, 9am – 6pm (Saturday ending at 8:30pm).
@ The Lions Lincoln Theatre
Camp What if *Canton
June 20th – 25th, 9am – 6pm (Saturday ending at 8:30pm).
@ Stark County District Library (main branch)
Middle School students experience as many aspects of their community as possible, through field trips to the mayor’s office, businesses, art galleries, hospitals, etc.  Plus, each day will be focused on Artsploration, where campers will use the arts to enhance critical/creative thinking skills.  These sessions may include hip-hop, visual arts, story-telling, improv, and movement.

Camp Tippecanoe (YMCA)
July 17-23 will focus on Creative Creatures with guest artist Sarah Shumaker.  With new projects each day, campers explore the world of fine arts through ceramics, painting, drawing and 3D art.  In the afternoons, they can take more time to create in the Mosaic Makerspace or journey into camp for more adventures like archery, kayaking and hiking.

New Direction Performing Arts Academy
Summer Musical Theatre Intensive: Disney’s The Lion King Jr.
June 6-July 10, Monday-Thursday 9am-3pm.  This five-week intensive workshop is designed for any student, aged 8-18, who wishes to immerse themselves in the musical theatre experience through work on songs, acting techniques, and choreography, as they mount a full production of Disney’s The Lion King Jr. on the stage at Umstattd Performing Arts Hall.

Massillon Museum
Block Prints with Diane Gibson (1 day class)
Saturday, June 18, 2-3:30 pm
Grades 1-5
Originating in Japan, Gyotaku is a form of printmaking using fish.
Paint Like Rousseau: Jungle Painting with Diane Gibson (1 day class)
Sunday, June 19, 2:30-4:30 pm
Grades 1-5
Students will use acrylic paint to make a jungle picture like Henri Rousseau, while learning about this famous artist.

Sima Performing Arts Studio
Summer Musical Theater Workshop: Back to the 80s
June 27-July 8, Monday-Friday 9am-1:30pm
Ages 8-18

Creative Canton Arts Studio
Jump Start Piano
Ages 6-8, August 1-5, 9am-noon
Ages 9-12, August 1-5, 1pm-4pm
Designed for children who have NOT previously played piano. Students will learn the basics of piano and note reading through fun group activities, preparing them for a better start to private piano lessons.
Ages 6-8, July 18-22, 9am- noon
Ages 9-12, July 18-22, 1pm-4pm
Designed for current late beginner to early intermediate level piano students. The camp will reinforce important music concepts and build on skills through fun games, engaging instruction, and creative expression.


The above organizations do charge a fee.


EN-RICH-MENT (all summer)

Free to underserved urban youth ages 5 – 18. 
Music lessons, art, dance, voice, CD Production, music appreciation, percussion, drumline, and community art/veggie garden.
Registration, Saturday, April 23, 11 am – 1 pm at the ArtsinStark Education Center, 1014 Cleveland Ave., NW, Canton.  For more information, call 330-546-7724 or email


Disclaimer:  This list is by no means complete.  Some of the organizations are still tweaking their summer offerings – but when they open up, they fill quickly.  My advice – Be proactive.  If you don’t see what you want from the top list, contact Players Guild Theatre, the North Canton Playhouse, Magical Theatre or any of the many Stark County and neighboring organizations that offer classes, camps, retreats and day lessons for youth with an interest in the arts.

My second note of advice — summer is precious and the arts can certainly bridge the gap between boredom and book-learning.  But, whichever course you take, still leave time for a walk in the woods and a dip in the swimming hole.  The colors of the wind don’t always appear with a brush.

Chorus Closes out CSO Season

The Canton Symphony Orchestra will close out its MasterWorks season by featuring the Canton Symphony Chorus and Walsh University Chamber Singers on April 23 at 8:00pm at Umstattd Performing Arts Hall adjacent to the Zimmermann Symphony Center.  Associate Conductor Rachel L. Waddell and Director of Chorus Britt Cooper will conduct.

Opening the program is Von Weber’s Overture to Oberon.  Von Weber is considered to have been very influential in the development of the opera overture as an orchestral synopsis of the story. The choruses will combine with the orchestra on two pieces – Lauridsen’s Lux Aeterna and Borodin’s Polovtsian Dances.  Morten Lauridsen has become one of the most frequently performed American choral composers.  His Lux Aeterna (Eternal Light) refers to light and its power to transform the darkness of grief and sorrow into peace.  Borodin’s Polovtsian Dances is taken from a scene in the opera Prince Igor where the main character is captured by a Mongol tribe whose servants entertain Prince Igor and their leader, the Khan.

Also included on the program is the Ohio Premiere of Christopher Theofanidis’Dreamtime Ancestors.  Theofanidis is an American composer who has had performances with many orchestras around the world.  He holds degrees from Yale, the Eastman School of Music, and the University of Houston.  He has received many awards for his works including the Rome Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, six ASCAP Gould Prizes and the American Academy of Arts and Letter’s Charles Ives Fellowship.  He describes Dreamtime Ancestors as being “based on the Australian aboriginal creation myths connected to ‘dreamtime,’ where each of us is connected to each other through our ‘dreamtime ancestors’ in the past, present, and future.”

Tickets for the concert range from $25-$45.  There are senior, student and group discounts available.  Tickets and the full concert season schedule are available at, by calling (330) 452-2094, at the Zimmermann Symphony Center – 2331 17th Street NW in Canton – weekdays from 10am-2pm or at the Umstattd Performing Arts Hall box office beginning one hour and fifteen minutes before the performance.

Founded in 1937, the Canton Symphony Orchestra is a fully professional ensemble and organization dedicated to performing concerts that enrich, educate and entertain. Under the direction of Gerhardt Zimmermann, the orchestra performs classical, pops, holiday, and educational programs. Most performances are in Umstattd Performing Arts Hall, adjacent to the Zimmermann Symphony Center 2331 17th Street NW, Canton, Ohio. Parking at the Zimmermann Symphony Center is free. For more information, please visit

Walsh University Digital Photojournalism Students to Be Featured in MassMu Studio M

Sixteen students enrolled in Walsh University digital photojournalism classes have examined the work of renowned photojournalists from the perspectives of artistic style, technique, history, and ethical issues surrounding photojournalism. Their project will culminate when they collaborate with the Massillon Museum to host the tenth annual Image to Image exhibition in the Museum’s Studio M.

When the exhibition opens on Friday, April 15, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., the public is invited to meet the photographers, view their work, and enjoy refreshments in the Fred F. Silk Community Room of the Massillon Museum. The party is free and open to all; no reservations are necessary.

Sponsors for the opening include: Walsh University Communication Department and Holmes Laboratory.

Image to Image:  A Comparative Study of Past and Present Photojournalists’ Images, Styles, and Shooting Techniques will feature the work of students in Professor Lee Horrisberger’s digital photography class. It will illustrate that the power of the image is not in the camera, but in the hands of the photographer.

Advanced students Ingrid Chovan, Tyler Dowd, Christian Manns, and Seth Nichols, will participate as will first-time students Carson Bogdanovich, Amanda Bresnahan, Kaci Bucklew, Zaccery Carter, Teresa Klimek, Michael Madden, Dallas Makowski, Alejandro Meza, Brooke Morgan, Ronnie Stokes, Elise Watkins, and Jamie Woodburn.

Among the photojournalists they have chosen to emulate are Berenice Abbott, Harry Benson, Elliott Erwitt, Glen Friedman, Annie Leibovitz, Neil Leifer, Sally Mann, Mary Mark, Bruce Murray, Gordon Parks, Eliot Porter, and W. Eugene Smith. The advanced students will examine ethical issues facing the modern photojournalist. The ethical issues included using Photoshop to correct or change an image; placing death on the front page of the newspaper; manipulating women’s body images for more appeal; and is it required for a photojournalist to get involved in a situation that may endanger a subject’s health or wellbeing, or is it the photojournalist’s job to stay behind the camera and not be intrusive into the scene.

Students have used cameras, computers, and photographic equipment from Walsh’s Communication Department to imitate the photography style, lighting, and content of photojournalists of their choosing. Students have learned the mechanical side of producing a photograph and now understand that it is equally important that a photograph be composed artistically to make an impact on its audience.

“The goal of the project is to demonstrate the impact that style and technique have on artistic content, and also to immerse the students in the historical and social context of the photojournalists’ work,” Horrisberger said. “Students have learned that news is visual, and that storytelling through images can have an impact on society. By taking part in this project, these students have a better understanding of how photography, specifically photojournalism, works within the larger social tapestry.”

Each student’s work will be printed, matted, and hung along with his or her selected photojournalist’s work. Each piece will contain bibliographic notes and detail how the student’s work was created. Students will be involved in the marketing of the event and will be on hand during the exhibition opening to receive firsthand feedback on their work.

Alexandra Nicholis Coon, executive director of the Massillon Museum, and Emily Vigil, Studio M coordinator, will explain the importance of presentation by working with the professor, the students, and their finished photographs that will be hung in the Museum. Students will witness how the exhibition of artistic work, in this case photojournalism, can serve as a social, educational, and entertainment community resource.

The Studio M show may be seen through May 31 during regular Museum hours, Tuesday through Saturday 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sunday 2:00 to 5:00 p.m., except when the Silk Room has been reserved for private functions. A call to the Museum office can confirm that the exhibit is available for viewing—330-833-4061.

Studio M enhances the collaboration between the Museum and the community by showcasing the artistic talents of local, regional, and national artists.  The series of approximately five-week shows will continue throughout the year, selected by jurors from proposals submitted by artists.  Brochures containing guidelines and an application are available by contacting the Massillon Museum at 330-833-4061 or

The Massillon Museum is located at 121 Lincoln Way East (Ohio Route 172) in the heart of downtown Massillon.  A visit to the Massillon Museum is always free.


Featured photo: Bridge of Sighs, Venice, Italy; Seth Nichols

Celebrate World Circus Day at the Massillon Museum

In celebration of World Circus Day, Saturday, April 16, The Massillon Museum invites the community to visit its Immel Circus. The gallery’s main attraction is a 100-square-foot  miniature circus containing 2,620 pieces: 36 elephants, 186 horses, 102 assorted animals, 91 wagons, seven tents, and 2,207 people. Most of the pieces were hand-carved by the late Dr. Robert Immel using tools from his dental practice. Some were handcrafted by friends and retired circus performers.

About the Immel Circus

Every piece in the circus has a story. One story Dr. Immel often recounted was that of a circle of men driving in a stake to hold the tent ropes. The vignette is located at the corner closest to the entrance of the circus gallery. Each man holds his hammer at a precise position so that each strikes at a different moment. In real life, they chanted a rhythmic song as they worked. If one man hits too soon or too late, he could kill another worker!

Visitors to the circus gallery have fun finding other vignettes: a boy running for the restroom with balloons trailing behind him, a veterinarian tending to a sick zebra, two performers playing checkers, a circus worker sneaking some whiskey behind a tent, and a pet monkey, for example.

Many adults remember visiting Dr. Immel’s dental office when they were children. After their appointment, they were invited to visit the circus room in the basement. Dr. Immel donated the miniature circus to the Massillon Museum in 1995, along with more than 1,400 artifacts of circus-related memorabilia. Objects from the circus collection—photographs, circus letterheads, books, costumes, figurines, posters, and circus programs—rotate on display regularly surrounding the diorama. The Immel Circus, in a dedicated second-floor gallery, is one of the few permanent displays at the Massillon Museum.

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About World Circus Day

World Circus Day, created by the Monte Carlo-based Federation Mondiale du Cirque, under the patronage of H.S.H. Princess Stephanie of Monaco, is celebrated the third Saturday of April each year to preserve circus culture and to promote the art of happiness.  To learn more, visit

About the Massillon Museum

Visitors can see The Immel Circus can be seen during regular Museum hours, Tuesday through Saturday 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sunday 2:00 to 5:00 p.m.

Visitors on World Circus Day will be able to view other exhibits:  Masters of American Photography, Massillon’s Masters: Highlights from the Fine Art Photography Collection, Fashion Outlaws, It’s Been Awhile, Paul Brown and Racial Integration in Ohio Football, Image to Image (photography by Walsh University digital photojournalism students), and Las Mariposas: The Mirabal Sisters.

Anderson’s in the City (the lobby café) will serve breakfast and lunch (10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.) on World Circus Day, OHregionalities (the Museum shop) will be open, and the vintage photobooth will be operating—with crazy hats and props available for sideshow-style photo strips.

The Massillon Museum receives operating support from the Ohio Arts Council and ArtsinStark to supplement its primary local funding.

The Massillon Museum is located at 121 Lincoln Way East in downtown Massillon.  Free parking is available on adjacent streets and in nearby public lots. For more information, call 330-833-4061 or visit A visit to the Massillon Museum is always free.


Music Literature and Art Combine for Kinder Concert

The Canton Symphony Orchestra (CSO) will present its 44th annual Kinder Concert, titled “Touch the Brightest Star” on April 13 at 9:45 and 10:45am and on April 14 at 9:45am in the Great Court of Canton’s Cultural Center for the Arts.  The full-orchestra concert is designed to engage and educate children in grades Pre-K through First and will be conducted by CSO Associate Conductor Dr. Rachel L. Waddell.
The CSO has been performing the Kinder Concert annually since 1978. This year’s concert features the children’s book Touch the Brightest Star by Christie Matheson, an interactive story that invites the children to be part of the magic of the night sky. Dr. Waddell will read the book during the concert and conduct the orchestra in excerpts from Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  CSO Director of Education and Community Engagement Lisa Boyer explains, “This delightful book asks children to touch, tap, blink, whisper, and more to make magic happen in the nighttime sky, from sunset to sunrise.  Language arts and science concepts are introduced through an engaging book and Mendelssohn’s music works extremely well with it and allows the children to hear all the wonderful sounds in the orchestra.  And we are so pleased that local artist Joe Martino will also be featured as he ‘paints along’ during the performance, creating a special piece of art inspired by the book and music.”
The Kinder Concert programs are open to the public as well as school groups.  Tickets are $5 for each performance and can be purchased online at or by calling the Canton Symphony box office at 330-452-2094 weekdays 9am – 5pm.  There is a special rate for school groups – call Lisa Boyer at 330-452-3434 ext. 604 for more information.
Founded in 1937, the Canton Symphony Orchestra is a fully professional ensemble and organization dedicated to performing concerts that enrich, educate, and entertain residents of Stark County and beyond. The orchestra performs classical, holiday, and a variety of educational programs in Umstattd Hall, 2323 17th Street NW, Canton, Ohio, as well as other venues in Stark County. For more information, please visit or call (330)452-2094. Administrative offices are located at the Zimmermann Symphony Center, 2331 17th Street NW, Canton, Ohio  44708.

OPENING TONIGHT: The Hobbit at the Players Guild Theatre

by Jara Anton

The largely volunteer based cast has been bringing the heat all winter long with A Christmas Carol, Jekyll and Hyde and even Avenue Q! Now, they will be telling the story of a very reluctant hobbit and his adventurous quest of treasure and narrowly escaped danger. The Players Guild is bringing you their next masterpiece and its straight outta Tolkien—-The Hobbit!

In case you’re not up on the juvenile fiction of the 1930s—-The Hobbit was originally written in 1937 by English writer J.R.R. Tolkien. It has since been re-told. We can all agree that The Hobbit has been adapted and re-told several different ways.

The Players Guild will be performing their version of The Hobbit will be premiering on March 8. Hearken back to a time “between the dawn of Faeire and the Dominion of Men”…

Tolkien’s critically acclaimed novel, The Hobbit was splintered into three separate movies in order to tell the story of Bilbo Baggins and his adventurous quest to win his share of a great treasure guarded by the dragon, Smaug. Bilbo’s journey ranges from light-hearted to sinister and everywhere in between. Follow Bilbo, Gandalf, Thorin and a cast of trolls, goblins and elf kings as he chases down his treasure yet narrowly escapes peril and perhaps certain death!

The episodic quest is broken down into chapters in which a specific creature or brand new type of creature is introduced, building value into Tolkien’s use of fantasy and also geography.

Perhaps the best part about a story such as The Hobbit is seeing which story-line the adaptation will highlight. As we saw the the Peter Jackson movies, there was a lot of chatter about whether or not the movies were as good as or even true to the original juvenile fiction work.

The Hobbit opens tonight at the Players Guild Theatre. Tickets available for evening and matinee shows. Adult tickets are $16, with tickets for children 17 and under, $12.


ArtsinStark to Award $25,000 for Painting Celebrating The Reintegration of Pro Football, 1946

Canton, OH is the birthplace of the NFL, and ArtsinStark, the County Arts Council, is inviting any professional artist living in American to submit a concept to receive a $25,000 commission to create a painting celebrating The Reintegration of Pro Football. “In 1946, 70 years ago, a full year before Jackie Robinson began playing professional baseball, four African American football players brought about the permanent reintegration of pro football,” says ArtsinStark CEO Robb Hankins. “We want to celebrate this historic moment and these heroic men: Marion Motley, Bill Willis, Woody Strode, and Kenny Washington.” Artists can go to to submit their concept until 12 midnight on May 6. The artist selected to create the painting and to receive the $25,000 commission will be announced mid May. The finished painting, to be unveiled on August 5, 2016 during the Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival in Canton, will also be made into a giant mural in downtown Canton.

There had been a handful of African American players in pro football between 1904 and 1933, but from 1934 to 1946 — pro football had its own color barrier. That all changed in 1946, when the Los Angeles Rams signed Strode and Washington, and the Cleveland Browns signed Motley and Willis. ArtsinStark and The Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio are celebrating this historic event as one of the greatest moments in professional football history through a project called The ELEVEN. This project is supported by 1) The George H. Deuble Foundation, 2) The Hoover Foundation, 3) Stark Community Foundation, and 4) Timken Foundation of Canton.

The criteria that will be used for determining the winning concept are: 1) Does it truly capture the moment The Reintegration of Pro Football? 2) Does the work of this artist represent the highest quality of art being made in America today? and 3) Is the concept for the painting so amazing that visitors to Canton will want to see it whether they are football fans or not?

Contemporary Choral Music is Subject of Next ConverZations

The Canton Symphony Orchestra’s free ConverZations lecture series concludes its season on Monday April 11 at 12:00p.m. with Dr. David Kienzle presenting “Contemporary Choral Music”.  ConverZations are free public discussions featuring a variety of musicians and music-lovers alike. The series, sponsored by T. K. and Faye A. Heston, is held at noon in the Zimmermann Symphony Center (The Z), 2331 17th St. NW, Canton, on the second Monday of every month from October 2015 to April 2016.

David J. Kienzle has been Director of Music at Christ Presbyterian Church in Canton, Ohio, since February of 1998.  As organist, he is responsible for playing and directing all services and choirs, as well as administering the Christ Church Concert Series. Under Kienzle’s leadership, the musicians of Christ Church have release two professionally recorded CDs with national critical acclaim, both heard regularly on “Pipe Dreams” as broadcast on NPR stations.  He holds degrees from the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati; Kent State University; and Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey.  He has served Episcopal, Roman Catholic, and Presbyterian churches in Memphis, TN, Cincinnati, OH, Livingston, N.J.; and Salem, OR.  From September 2007 to June 2009 he was Music Director of the Ohio Boychoir, based in Berea.  Additionally, Kienzle is organ soloist and accompanist on four discs recorded with the Memphis Boychoir and Memphis Chamber Choir under the direction of John Ayer on the Pro Organo label.

For the ConverZations discussion, Dr. Kienzle, in his own description, “will offer perspectives of contemporary choral music that lead us to the reassuring conclusion: ‘It’s STILL about melody, thank goodness!’” The program will also include a preview of the popular “Lux Aeterna” by Morton Johannes Lauridsen which will be performed by the Canton Symphony Orchestra and Chorus on the MasterWorks concert on April 23.  ConverZations attendees are encouraged to bring their lunch, and the orchestra provides a light dessert. For more information on ConverZations lectures and other events run by the Canton Symphony Orchestra, visit

Founded in 1937, the Canton Symphony Orchestra is a fully professional ensemble and organization dedicated to performing concerts that enrich, educate and entertain residents of Stark County and beyond. The orchestra performs classical, holiday, casual, and a variety of educational programs in Umstattd Performing Arts Hall, adjacent to the Zimmermann Symphony Center, at 2323 17th Street NW, Canton, Ohio, as well as other venues in Stark County. For more information, please visit or call (330)452-2094. Administrative offices are located at the Zimmermann Symphony Center 2331 17th Street NW, Canton OH 44708.

“The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” at Mount Union this Weekend

The University of Mount Union’s Department of Theatre will perform “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” Friday, April 7 – Sunday, April 10 in the Gallaher Black Box Theatre in the Giese Center for the Performing Arts.

The play centers around a spelling bee in fictional Putnam County with flashbacks and cutaways that help develop the cast of characters. Originally on Broadway in 2005, the play won Tony Awards for Best Book of a Musical and Best Featured Actor. The original Broadway production starred Modern Family star Jesse Tyler Ferguson, while NPR’s Mo Rocca and Saturday Night Live alumnus and PA announcer Darrell Hammond were featured in other casts.

The production is a creative send-up of children’s spelling bees, which meant that guest costume designer Mary Jo Alexander had the task of making the college performers seem nearly a decade younger.

What makes “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” unique is the audience participation element of the show.  Any audience member may be called upon to spell a word, or may even be asked to participate in “the Bee.”

“We chose this play because we wanted a small musical for the Gallaher Theatre,” said Kevin Kern, chair of the Department of Theatre at Mount Union. “It’s an intimate space, and in that theatre you really feel like you’re part of the action, or in this case, the spelling bee.”

The production features live music under the direction of Dr. Otis French, Director of Bands at Mount Union. The production is directed by guest directory Connie Thackaberry, associate artistic director of Actors Summit Theatre, a professional theatre in Akron, Ohio.

“Connie was brought in as part of a new focus in the Department of Theatre,” said Kern. “We’re concentrating on providing our theatre students with professionals in the field. Based on her work with Actors Summit as well as other theatres in the Cleveland area, Connie was the perfect choice to direct our theatre students this semester.”

The performances will take place at 7:30 p.m. on April 7, 8 and 9 and at 2 p.m. on April 9 and 10. For tickets visit or call (330) 821-2565. For more information on the Department of Theatre, contact Kern at or visit 291w, 768w, 1500w" sizes="(max-width: 994px) 100vw, 994px" />