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Sunday, November 11, 2012

imagine/Northampton's Arts Night Out #2: Photographer Joe Don Richardson.



Friday night began Chapter Two of imagine/Northampton journey into becoming a contributing member of the arts community in this small city with Joe Don Richardson's exhibit of  color and black and white photographs he calls "Deep Waters." As you might recall, last month, we launched the imagineGallery with Catherine Elliott's evocative, contemporary Impressionist paintings. Joe Don's Opening Reception was similarly well-attended, and we made some connections with folks in town, including artists. A few of them returned Friday, in fact. More about that later.

I've known Joe Don for almost 10 years. I had the privilege of helping him decide to attend The Hallmark Institute of Photography in Turner's Falls, MA. He's always liked taking photos, including being a summer camp photographer for a few years in CT. Prior to going to the Institute, he'd also taken a trip to Europe and taken a bunch of photographs. He made them into a book. While that of an amateur, it also was obvious he had talent. When he chose to go to school to become a professional I was very glad for him. Going was a big step, but he went after it, and worked his talent to another level.

I was proud of all the work he's put in to do our second show, and proud of him. Unless you've done this, make no mistake it isn't easy to do. You put your heart and soul out there in front of friends and strangers. Doing so feels a kind of nakedness not for the faint of heart. I was also thrilled that many folks talked to him about his work, and one showed interest in purchasing a piece. I know Joe Don left on Friday night feeling drained, but buoyed (no pun intended), and encouraged. Our show brought more folks than his first, and they were supportive.

As we did with Catherine's show we had sumptuous food. One young fellow, by all appearances a college student, came in and blurted out with delight: "Oh, this is where the good food is!!!" Indeed. A number of folks remarked about the quality of what we served. The only refreshment we omitted this time was the wine. We had a bit of a problem last time with someone who revealed himself to be too enamored with the grape, shall we say. He returned this Friday and left within five minutes, not even glancing at the photos. Hmmm. Nevertheless, part of our mission is to offer hospitality which captures people and causes them to linger with the art and with us, wine or no wine.

As I've mentioned in earlier blogposts, it's both about supporting art and building relationships with folks in Northampton. Toward that end, it just so happens a man and a couple  from last month's show returned . We'd learned each other's names and seemed to hit it off then. Last Friday, there was talk with them of dinner together, and the wife is a weaver who's interested in perhaps exhibiting at imagine. She gave a CD of her work to Tricia. They'll be in touch.

Imagineurian Dave Sweeney invited a client who also lives in the area, She came with a friend, liked Joe Don's work, and then inquired about imagine/Northampton. She's walked by our space on Main Street and wondered about us. She took our materials as did others. The conversation we had opened a little door of awareness and understanding. Maybe Jesus will create a relationship. I hope so.

For us, getting face to face with folks and having an opportunity to perhaps reflect Christ to them is a key focus of our Kingdom mission. We need to keep joining the community discourse whether it's having an Arts Gallery, serving meals to the homeless at the Interfaith Shelter (as on the night before Thanksgiving), launching an Open Table in early 2013, running our second 5K Hot Chocolate Run in support of Safe Passages in December, and staying to help clean up, offering a Family Night in December so parents can go Christmas shopping, or maybe even hosting a Writer's Group next year in our 70 Main Street space. The point is we want folks to discover and follow the God who is far more than they imagine in our community, one person, one couple, one family at a time.

We're on our way. It's taken a while, but there is momentum building, slowly, but surely.

Pray for us and stop by one of these days. Come to dinner in Northampton, and check out Joe Don's work this Friday or Saturday evening, 5-9PM. We'd love to see you.






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