‘WarFront/HomeFront’ ex­hibit open­ing Fri­day

Kent County News - - NEWS - By LEANN SCHENKE lschenke@thekent­coun­tynews.com

CH­ESTER­TOWN — For its first ex­hibit in its newly ren­o­vated build­ing, the Kent County Arts Coun­cil will honor vet­er­ans by dis­play­ing their art­work.

“Here’s a great op­por­tu­nity to use art to help peo­ple bet­ter un­der­stand some­one’s ex­pe­ri­ence in the mil­i­tary,” said John Schratwieser, co-di­rec­tor of KCAC. “When we talk about the United States go­ing to war, we know our whole county doesn’t go to war, it’s our mil­i­tary that goes to war, and they see things that we won’t ever see and ex­pe­ri­ence things that we civil­ians won’t ever ex­pe­ri­ence.”

The ex­hibit, ti­tled “WarFront/HomeFront: Through the Eyes of Our Mil­i­tary,” in­cludes vet­eran and civil­ian work ex­press­ing mil­i­tary ser­vice and war through paint­ings on re­cy­cled mil­i­tary uni­forms turned into pa­per.

The gallery’s grand open­ing will be from 5 to 7 p.m. First Fri­day, Nov. 3 at the KCAC build­ing, 101 Spring Ave. in Ch­ester­town.

The ex­hibit also can be viewed dur­ing the coun­cil’s gallery hours, from noon to 6 p.m. Wed­nes­days through Fri­days; from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Satur­days and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sun­days.

“It’s ba­si­cally a col­lec­tion of a cou­ple of dif­fer­ent or­ga­ni­za­tions and out­reach pro­grams,” Schratwieser said. “Essen­tially the bulk of the work in our show is go­ing to be work on hand­made pa­per made by vet­er­ans on ac­tive duty ser­vice who are ac­tu­ally re­cov­er­ing at Wal­ter Reed or fam­ily mem­bers of vet­er­ans and ser­vice peo­ple.”

Schratwieser along with cu­ra­tor Tara Tap­pert, founder and prin­ci­pal of Arts & the Mil­i­tary, and Michael Fay, founder of the Joe Bon­ham Project, have been col­lect­ing pieces for the gallery.

Schratwieser will take over as di­rec­tor of the arts coun­cil when Les­lie Rai­mond re­tires in De­cem­ber. Rai­mond has been the di­rec­tor since 1991 and has been an ad­vo­cate for many as­pects of art in Kent County.

Con­tin­u­ing Rai­mond’s legacy of bring­ing art to the com­mu­nity, Schratwieser be­gan plan­ning the ex­hibit by reach­ing out to his long­time friend Tap­pert about her col­lec­tion of art­work by vet­er­ans.

Schratwieser said he met Tap­pert when he was di­rec­tor of Mary­land Cit­i­zens for the Arts. He said he and Tap­pert were work­ing with vet­er­ans who had re­turned from the Afghan and Iraq wars. The vet­er­ans had been artists be­fore they had gone over­seas and wanted to get back into their art.

Tap­pert said she first learned about pro­grams that helped fa­cil­i­tate the cre­ation of art with vet­er­ans in 2009. At the time, she felt “ab­so­lutely com­pelled” to col­lect the pieces and dis­play them. She said she now refers to the pieces in her col­lec­tion as “AR­Ti­facts.”

Ac­cord­ing to KCAC’s web­site, themes for the paint­ings in­clude “pa­tri­o­tism, national- ism and per­cep­tions of duty, suf­fer­ing, hero­ism and loy­alty.”

“Here’s an op­por­tu­nity use an art form to al­low those vet­er­ans to con­vey their ex­pe­ri­ence and maybe make a bet­ter con­nec­tion to the civil­ian pop­u­la­tion and maybe help us bet­ter un­der­stand the ex­pe­ri­ences they had while over­seas,” Schratwieser said.

Con­tri­bu­tions to the col­lec­tion come from var­i­ous grass­roots vet­eran art groups in­clud­ing But­ton Field Pa­per, Com­bat Pa­per Project, Peace Pa­per Project and Vet­er­ans in the Arts, as well as the work of in­di­vid­ual vet­eran-artists.

Later in Novem­ber, KCAC will hold two ad­di­tional events in­clud­ing a po­etry reading and an il­lus­trated lec­ture.

The po­etry reading ti­tled “Medic Against Bomb: A Doc­tor’s Po­etry of War” will be­gin at 2 p.m. Sun­day, Nov. 12. Fred­er­ick Foote is a re­tired U.S. Navy physi­cian who served in the Viet­nam War and has 29 years of ser­vice. For the past 15 years, he had been work­ing to cre­ate holis­tic medicine pro­grams for wounded war­riors and vet­er­ans.

The il­lus­trated lec­ture “Be­yond Stereo­types: War, War­riors and the Cre­ative Arts” will be given by Tap­pert and Fay at 2 p.m. Sun­day, Nov. 19. It will fo­cus on World War I and com­bat artists.

Schratwieser said KCAC will con­tinue its mis­sion of bring­ing art to the com­mu­nity and start­ing con­ver­sa­tions in the com­mu­nity with its spring ex­hibit, which will fo­cus on the opi­oid cri­sis. He said the fo­cus of the up­com­ing ex­hibit is to “use art to break down the stigma of ad­dic­tion and to open up av­enues of con­ver­sa­tion.”

“Art can re­ally play a role to cre­ate con­ver­sa­tions and get peo­ple who might not oth­er­wise be talk­ing to each other, to talk to each other,” Schratwieser said.

PHOTO BY LEANN SCHENKE

Painted on re­cy­cled mil­i­tary uni­forms turned into pa­per are vet­er­ans’ de­pic­tions of their ex­pe­ri­ences in a war. Th­ese im­ages are part of an ex­hibit at the Kent County Arts Coun­cil that will open First Fri­day, Nov. 3.

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