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Arts Around Town: Aerial imagery of Pa.'s topography has impact for photographer Blair Seitz

By Susan Kalan, WFMZ.com Arts Reporter
Published On: Sep 12 2013 09:23:03 AM CDT
Updated On: Sep 15 2013 08:18:04 AM CDT
Seitz picture #1

Blair Seitz

The sky’s the canvas for Berks County photographer Blair Seitz, whose elevated revelations are shared beginning Thursday at 5:30 p.m., in the exhibit, “Aerial Tapestry: Pa.'s Farmland and Natural Beauty,” in the Cohen Gallery of Reading’s GoggleWorks. The show runs through Nov. 10.

Seitz also will hold a book signing on Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m., for his latest project, “Turn the World Around: A Photojournalist Discovers Paths to Peace Traveling a War-torn Planet.” He describes the work as one “for those who want to learn of world affairs through the lens of direct, personal contact.” Seitz also authored and photographed “Pennsylvania’s Tapestry, Scenes from the Air,” “Pennsylvania Yesterday and Today,” and “Pennsylvania’s Natural Beauty,” which will be available at that time.

Also exhibiting work at the GoggleWorks is portrait photographer William Coupon of New York City, with “Social Studies.” His use of a single-light source and simple mottled backdrop as a studio style became the method to photograph global subcultures. Coupon has photographed U.S. presidents for the covers of “Time,” in addition to photographing Michael Ovitz, Jerry Garcia, Mick Jagger and George Harrison for the covers of “Newsweek” and “Rolling Stone.”

For more than a decade, Seitz, of West Reading, has spent hundreds of hours crouched in rented Cessnas scouting the mountainsides for the Pennsylvania farmer who, as artist, spins his intricate design of contour farming and rotation cropping over the hillsides and along the water curves. He is oblivious to the fact that his agricultural delicacy has drawn an appreciation some 1,000 feet above.

Seitz describes his exhibit as “a tribute to farmers and to all who preserve the farms, forests and streams” of our great state. His 40 large photographs measuring three to six feet in width will include farmland in Berks and Lehigh counties, statewide farmland, Blue Marsh Lake, and the town of Womelsdorf in Berks County.

“I hope people who visit the show will be in awe of our natural lands and with a sense of how important it is to continue efforts in preservation, whether it be farmland or natural forest land,” Seitz said.

Some of the subjects in his photographs no longer exist, he added, having fallen victim to suburban sprawl. If anything, Seitz said he’d like to be remembered as a photographer of conscience, and for his visual statement on the impact of natural beauty in our Pennsylvania heritage.

His love for aerial photography in the Keystone State started when his brother-in-law was working on his pilot’s license and accumulating hours while he (Seitz) had the “grand opportunity” to tag along with his 35mm camera. He since has favored photographing in late afternoon sunlight.

“Pennsylvania became my country,” Seitz said, as he began to acquire a new perspective for the land on which he lived. “I was most interested in farm and forest and was taken by the designs created by farmers. Even the curves of the Susquehanna River were interesting. …I saw the earth as living and breathing with its geographic features of ridge and valley formations. I saw the interaction between water and land.”

Raised in Pennsylvania’s northern York County, Seitz majored in sociology at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Va., and attended the University of East Africa in his junior year. With photography as his hobby, he turned from social worker to photojournalist living abroad and covering assignments for Camera Press London and the United Nations. He resided and worked in Kenya and The Philippines and traveled to many Asian and African countries. His photographs have been published in leading magazines and newspapers, including “Time,” “Newsweek,” “National Geographic Traveler,” “Guardian,” and “New York Times Sunday Magazine.” Assignments ranged from revolutionary Ethiopia, to the People’s Revolution in The Philippines which ousted Ferdinand Marcos, and later the visit of Pope John Paul II there.

His work has been recognized by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and New York’s International Film and TV Festival for his work in Kenya. He has exhibited at the World Exhibition of Photography, and at the Museum of Natural History in New York.

Seitz will be guest speaker at a public discussion of his new book, “Turn the World Around: A Photojournalist Discovers Paths to Peace Traveling a War-torn Planet,” on Oct. 7 at 7:30 p.m., at the Berks Peace Community at the Reading Friends Meetinghouse, 108 N. Sixth St., Reading.

For further info: goggleworks.org                  

 

ARTS ROUNDUP

The 30th anniversary of the Lyons Fiddle Festival is being marked with an eclectic mix of music styles on Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., at Lyons Community Park in Lyons, Berks Co. Entertainment includes Keith Brintzenhoff and Uncle Jeffrey, Manatawny Creek Ramblers, Hunter Lyons, Andrew Roblin, ‘East Side’ Dave and the Mountain Folk Band, and Danny Paisley and the Southern Grass. The festival also features a Fiddle Contest with open competition in three age groups, with awards and cash prizes. It’s festival seating, so bring along lawn chairs or blankets. Rain date is Sept. 22.

For further info: lyonsfiddlefest.com

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One-of-a-kind recycled fashion sculptures are the subject of the Reading Public Museum exhibit, “ReDress: Upcycled Style by Nancy Judd,” opening Saturday through March 16, 2014. As a disposable society, our belongings wear out and we simply buy another. But Judd is inspired to look differently at waste and has found a better way to transform trash into glamorous creations. A closer look at a shimmering evening gown reveals crushed glass and salvaged upholstery fabric. Another creation raises awareness to marine life and how fatal plastic bags can be to sea life if tossed carelessly.

Her “Obamanos Coat,” constructed from Obama campaign door hangars and fit to size of our 44th president, recently was accepted into the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Institution.

For further info: readingpublicmuseum.org

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Iconic Grammy-winning soul and R&B artist Aaron Neville opens the fall season at Zoellner Arts Center in Bethlehem on Saturday at 8 p.m. The New Orleans artist will perform songs from his doo-wop-inspired album, “My True Story,” with new spins on such classics as “Tears on My Pillow,” “Work With Me,” “Annie,” “Money Honey,” “Under the Boardwalk,” and “This Magic Moment.”

Zoellner’s annual Gala will feature “An Evening with Matthew Morrison” on Nov. 2, with a concert at 8 p.m. The Emmy, Tony, and Golden Globe-nominated star from Fox-TV’s “Glee” will perform a variety of Broadway standards and hits backed by a 65-piece orchestra.

Tony, Emmy and Golden Globe-winning actor John Lithgow offers a touching and humorous reflection on storytelling as the tie that binds humanity with “Stories by Heart” on Nov. 16 at 8 p.m.

For further info: zoellnerartscenter.org

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Pennsylvania artists whose lives, work or heritage is tied to Italy are the subject of a current exhibit through Oct. 27 in Bethlehem at the Santa Bannon/Fine Art Gallery at the Banana Factory, 25 W. Third St. Aptly titled “Inspired by Italy,” the exhibit features their art which includes collographs, drawings, fresco, mouth-blown and hand-sculpted glass, paintings, fine photographs, sculpture, sgrafitto, and watercolors. Participating artists are Max Victor Alper, Val Bertoia, Sandra Corpora, Paula Chamlee, William Christine, John Choi, Lisa DiCarlo, Adriano Farinella, Holly Fields-Scott, Dennis Gardner, Bruce Katsiff, Isadore LaDuca, Richard Redd, Thomas Shillea, Blaise Tobia, Luke Wynne, and Doug Zucco.

For further info: SantaFineArt.com

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“European Serenade – Chamber Music for Oboe, Flute, Strings and Piano” is the theme for Sunday’s concert by Satori at 3 p.m., at Wesley United Methodist Church, 2540 Center St., Bethlehem. Tickets are available only at the door; a reception will follow.

Selections by Telemann, Britten, Goossens and Schumann will be played by musicians Nora Suggs, flute; Cheryl Bishkoff, oboe; Rebecca Brown, violin; Adriana Linares, viola; David Moulton, cello and Martha Schrempel, piano.

For further info: satori-chambermusic.org