Tag Archives: Jan Bell

Stephanie Benenson HARBOR VOICES light show #GloucesterMA | immigration, conversation & acts of generosity manifest as public art

Stephanie Benenson, artist studio, discussing 2017 Harbor Lights 20171122_091510

Stephanie Benenson, artist studio, discussing Harbor Lights, GIF 1122091429

from a studio visit with Stephanie Benenson Nov 2017

You can join in Stephanie Benenson’s fascinating big vision, Harbor Voices, a public art and cultural piece that’s made from light, sound and community participation. Part of the project is a  large-scale and temporary LIVE light & sound installation which will happen on ten minute loops from 4-8pm on Friday December 8th, and Saturday December 9th, one of many featured events for the 2017 Middle Street Walk. Harbor Voices will be held inside the Kyrouz Auditorium in City Hall , 9 Dale Avenue, Gloucester, MA.

Come experience a sweeping ocean of sound, stories and light, drawn by the voices and acts of generosity of neighbors and friends.

Benenson, a Rockport native and North Shore based fine artist, received a prestigious and competitive RISD grant to create Harbor Voices. Benenson collected over 100 stories in eight languages of recent and ancestral immigration to Cape Ann. For the past year she led (and continues to lead) practical and creative storytelling sessions and workshops at area schools like Veteran’s Memorial and Gloucester High School,  as well as community organizations and centers such as Sandy Bay Historical Society. Students talked with Benenson about “their ancestors* and families bringing cultural heritage to Cape Ann.” She said that kids mentioned “family members that started businesses here (like Jalapenos, Sclafanis, and other cultural destinations on Cape Ann)…and how meangingful that was to them…and people that they had deep respect and admiration for…” They discussed “family recipes, music, food and how immigration historically has made American art and culture come alive.”  Mayor Romeo Theken was the first story collected. Other Cape Ann storytellers outside of the schools and non profit partners include: Jean Testaverde (Portuguese fishing ancestry), Ingrid Swan (Swedith quarrying ancestry), Heather Lovett (descendent of Roger Babson), Sal Zerilli (Awesome Gloucester and Rockport), Jan Bell, Buddy Woods, Susannah Natti (Finnish and descendent of Folly Cove designer), Rich Francis (GHS teacher), and Celestino Basille (GHS teacher).

Depending upon age and preference, stories were written, recorded, or drawn. All were mixed into materials and audio that will choreograph connections directly into the light installation, and an enlarging community. At first, Benenson thought the light might guide any audio. Instead voices continue to guide the light.

Every story and act of generosity is linked to the installation and transformed into light.

Blurring the lines between public art and social sculpture, LIVE happening and virtual action, Harbor Voices emblematically presents stories, shared connections and actions. Participants of all ages are encouraged to interact with the project www.harborvoices.com and its installation– to bathe so to speak in a community of vibrancy and waves of interconnectedness and support.  Benenson adds that from 4-6PM during the two days of this installation iteration, “children will be offered a small flashlight to engage with this artwork, allowing them a tangible moment to consider their part in this interconnected network of community and local history by creating their own beam of light.” Also, before the installation opens to the public, one hundred Gloucester High School students –including some who have already added into the piece– will come to City Hall to experience Harbor Voices.

Benenson’s promotion for Harbor Voices launched in September. Leveraging attention for this remarkably ambitious project is an essential component as more involvement means more impact. Straight away it fostered community and brought opportunities. For example, Benenson spoke about the project and shared audio of the stories with Rose Baker seniors, Gloucester Rotary and the Cape Ann Museum’s Red Cottage Society. Someone from Beverly has already underwrittten  support for a class at Veteran’s Memorial Elementary School. She spoke about the project with Joey as part of GMG podcast #253

As a third generation Cape Ann artist, Benenson is especially excited to “create art and conversations around our cultural heritage and our contributions to the vibrant mix of people that live on Cape Ann.”

See more pictures and read more about the artist

Read more

Cindy Hendrickson Pitches Cape Ann Foodies Tour

Hey Joey,
It was so much fun seeing you at the Stage Fort Park Visitor’s Center Opening.  Thank you for posing with the new Cape Ann Foodies Signature Fork.
Here are a few pictures of some of the Usual Tourism Suspects mugging with the Fork. 
Cape Ann Foodies is the creation of Gloucester local Patrick Halloran.  What a great idea – a walking tour that combines History, Food, and Local Beer.  It is fun and filling!
Check out the website:  http://www.capeannfoodietours.com or give him a call at 617-902-8291.
I am excited to be one of his tour guides this year; just need to lose the crutch and I’m good to go.
Cheers!
Cindy Hendrickson 

Glam O Rama Reviews and Props From Maggie Rosa and Erika Hansen

From Maggie Rosa-
Gloucester has many treasures –  two of them were celebrated in a unique way this past weekend as vital contributors to the vibrancy of Gloucester’s downtown.

At the invitation of Kathy Slifer and Jan Bell, maestro and treasure RIchard Leonard staged one of his renowned Bananarettes shows in our treasured City Hall as a fundraiser for the restoration of CIty Hall.  During the two shows, one on Saturday evening and one on Sunday afternoon, the genius of Leonard to excite and tantalize with a hint of naughty but nice thrilled all in attendance.
City Hall was transformed from the center of city government to its second function, the center of our community. During its almost 140 year history City Hall seen circuses, Buffalo Bill shows, many parties and the 375th City Anniversary Sculpture Show but as Maggie Rosa, Chair of the City Hall Restoration Commission, remarked during the shows “Nothing, nothing can match the excitement of a Bananas show in City Hall – truly an historic event in an historic building.
From Erika Hansen-

Joey, you totally get how important this event was!

As you know, I have been looking at things that “lift my heart, open my mind and take my breath away” and the Banana Glam O Rama Fashion Show at City Hall did all those things and more!

I am intimidated to even take a stab at recording it, out of fear that I am not doing it justice, but I can’t resist your plea so here goes:

As Jackie Hardy commented, from the moment the lights dimmed and the music started, there was a palpable feeling that we had been transported to Broadway.

And then the first set of gorgeous women glided onto the stage looking like a 30’s Hollywood extravaganza come to life.

The production values were incredible:  everyone and everything looked and sounded stunningly gorgeous against the dramatic backdrop of City Hall’s Kyrouz Auditorium.  (And the silhouettes underneath the “Build not for today alone, but for tomorrow as well” quote were astounding!)

As a producer/director, Richard Leonard channeled Florenz Ziegfeld and Busby Berkeley; as a performer, he channeled Maurice Chevalier and Nelson Eddy.  Most importantly, he added his own inimitable flair and essential Richard Leonard-ness to all of the above and gave us the show of a lifetime!

Each routine was masterpiece:  from Carmen Miranda to Marilyn Monroe & Jane Russell to (yes!) Tom Jones…and all points in between.

It was a perfect mix of costumes, beauty, talent, humor, music, history and culture.

A special shout out to my sissy, Elise, whom many thought was a dancer by the way she moved so gracefully across the stage.  She epitomized 30s glamour and as Sue Ferhmann said (looking striking and elegant herself  in a classic tuxedo), it doesn’t hurt when you look like Elise!

And to Maggie Rosa’s very apt assessment that this event was a celebration of 2 Gloucester icons: Richard Leonard and City Hall, I add a third:  Margi Green’s legs!  Her already popular Relax and Lengthen stretching classes at the Arts & Wellness Center (222 Eastern Ave.) will now have waiting lists I’m sure!

I could go on and on (but I won’t!)…instead I will just leave you with this point:  my daughters, who were mesmerized for the entire performance (although my younger daughter did cover her eyes with her program during Tom Jones‘s gyrations!), were so inspired that they promptly acted out their own version of the spectacular Sisters act they had just witnessed (nuns (!) singing the song made famous by Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen in White Christmas).  As event visionary and organizer Kathy Slifer put it, “that’s what it’s all about!”