Thursday, October 30, 2014

Goods News About The Arts In Norristown

I wonder how many of you will read this, either because I said "good news" and some of you only seem to want to hear bad news, or because I said "The Arts." Although the arts have become a very real part of our town's persona in the last few years, lots of you seem to purposefully ignore the fact.

At any rate, first I'm going to announce the great news about Theatre Horizon. Remember how their plays had garnered 9 nominations for Barrymore Awards and that they were up against productions by longer established professional theaters from all over the Delaware Valley, like People's Light, the Arden, and the Wilma?

Well, the results are in. Theatre Horizon's I Am My Own Wife won both the Virginia Brown Martin Philadelphia Award and also Best Leading Actor in a play (Charlie DelMarcelle).

Theatre Horizon's current production, The Syringa Tree, has been Barrymore recommended. One of the stars of that  show, Alice M. Gatling, also just won a Barrymore for Outstanding Leading Actress for her work last year in Gideon's Knot at the InterAct Theatre Company. If you haven't seen The Syringa Tree yet, you still have time. It runs through Sunday, November 9. For information about show times, go to Don't forget, if you're a Norristown resident, you can get in FREE (subject to availability). Tickets can be reserved by calling the Box Office at 610-283-2230.

The other good news for the arts in Norristown is that Municipal Hall has jumped on board and is supporting local artists by exhibiting their works in the lobby and side hallways at 235 East Airy. The artwork brightens up the place considerably. I went to last night's open house and Arts Reception, which was attended by maybe 40-50 people. Artists represented were, Adam T. Cusack, Jeleata Nicole, Lynn Jentes, Pedro Zagitt, Asa Watts (also a Codes Department employee and, wow, she's got talent, too), Stephanie Yuhas, and Mydera Robinson (who many of you know as Mydera SpeakMeFree--you've probably heard her poetry, come see her paintings). You can arrange to purchase work by these artists at Municipal Hall, so the town is truly helping to promote our local talent.

I was very happy, also, to see paintings by Frank Batson in the display case. I met Mr. Batson at a fair in upper Montgomery County last September. He painted a whole series of scenes of Norristown in the 1960s, which are wonderful. He's sort of the Norman Rockwell of N-town and deserves the recognition. I hope to see him in person at future Arts Hill Fests.

Municipal Administrator Crandall Jones said people have been asking for a Community Art Center. While something like that is likely in the future, Council saw no reason not to use Municipal Hall for the purpose now. He and Bill Caldwell said they envision more art events, and possibly even film festivals in Council Chambers. By coincidence, I met 2 other published authors from Norristown this past week. If I can round up more, maybe we can do a book festival at Muni Hall, too.

I love the idea of Municipal Hall doubling as our community arts center. It was built by the taxpayers, after all, and how much nicer for residents to be able to go enjoy the arts there instead of only associating the place with government, or with negative experiences like paying a fine. This way the hall becomes a real part of the community. Something to be proud of.

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