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Eric Holstine’s Solo Exhibit – Through May 25, 2014

Steam at Harper’s Ferry is pleased to present Eric Holstine’s first solo exhibit at Steam entitled “(EH=MC2): The Art of Electrodynamic Illumination” through May 25, 2014. Eric was born and raised in Charleston, West Virginia. His works include “Melton the Mechanical Marvel” and the “Steampunk Time Machine.” His multi-media art incorporates stained glass, brass fixtures, and robotic elements.

From_Earth_to_the_Heavens

“From Earth to the Heavens” (c) 2011 Eric Holstine (with permission)

For the opening celebration, we were treated, not only to Eric’s art, but musical accompaniment (with Game Boys, no less!) by Garrett Boone, a/k/a STAR☆DRIVER. 

Don’t miss this exhibit! These are bonafide one of a kind pieces that are guaranteed to delight! It is not every day that you will see a robot carrying his own stained glass umbrella.

Melton_the_Mechanial_Marvel

“Melton the Mechanical Marvel” (c) 2013 Eric Holstine (with permission)

3rd Annual Bolivar-Harper’s Ferry Community Art Walk – April 26 and 27, 2014 – Thank you!

Thank you everyone for attending the 3rd Annual Bolivar-Harper’s Ferry Community Art Walk! The weather was perfect and we had some wonderful performances on the Pavilion. Thank you Bolivar/Harpers Ferry Public Library, The Corporation of Harpers Ferry and the Arts and Humanities Alliance for Jefferson County!

What’s New at Steam?

We have the new book by Terry Pratchett, “Raising Steam,” and have a new collection of Toulouse Lautrec prints – just the right size for your home or office. Two “Lady Mechanika” signed posters are for sale and on display – so come by and check those out.

Look for Steam at Harper’s Ferry owner, Cynthia Gayton, at the Steampunk World’s Fair in a few weeks. Steam at Harper’s Ferry will also be at the Strasburg Rail Road Steampunk unLimited event in September for the second year in a row! We have just a few more prints of Leigh Anne Cassell’s work here at the gallery, as well as three original illustrations which are on display. Hope to see you soon!

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Steam at Harper’s Ferry is pleased to announce a solo exhibition featuring the works of Eric Holstine. Eric’s theme for this exhibit is “(EH=MC2): The Art of Electrodynamic Illumination” and will be on display from April 26 through May 25, 2014.

Eric Holstine

Eric Holstine

Eric Holstine was born and raised in Charleston, WV. He discovered at an early age that he enjoyed taking things apart and seeing how they worked. As he said in a recent interview, “Sometimes I used the parts for something else, and sometimes I just tried to make it do something different than it was intended.” His talent was acknowledged early – in the second grade. Other than basic art classes provided in junior high and high school, he hasn’t had any formal art education.

His family provides ideas and inspiration for his work. His mother is a retired school teacher, and as he said, “quite crafty.” Eric credits his mother with giving him a lot of encouragement. He spent time with his grandfather who also worked on various objects and who taught him how to fix things. With his wife’s grandmother, Eric made huge toy soldiers. He continues, “I built them and she made the clothes.” The goal was to have the soldiers march in place, but Eric didn’t have all the parts to complete the project.

Can you guess what this is? Courtesy Eric Holstine with permission.

 Courtesy Eric Holstine with permission.

When Eric spoke about his artistic influence, he said that he always liked Steampunk style. He found inspiration in movies, books and video games. He said, “Some of my favorites were ‘Myst’ the video game, followed by the books. I also enjoy the ‘Doctor Who’ series, the ‘Time Machine,’ ‘Wild, Wild West,’ and ‘20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.’”

He works professionally in the IT field and found that he can use his computer training to enhance his art and make it unique. Prior to his IT employment, he did electrical work which he said has “merged and evolved into my style of art.”

In many ways, he is a classic tinkerer. He will look at an object and think about how it can serve the same function, but be displayed in a new way. He said, “I tend to look around for items that I can either re-purpose or breakdown and create something completely different.   If I can’t find what I need, I figure out a way to make it. Sometimes it takes trial and error and most often, time. I have works waiting, unfinished until I find that missing object that just seems to complete piece.”

Eric doesn’t think that he fits into a specific artistic mold or genre. He likes to try out different things, including stained glass, painting, woodwork, metal, and polymer clay. When considering which medium he prefers, he responded, “I prefer trying to see how I can merge them together to present a more unique piece.”

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Jefferson County West Virginia is facing a budget crisis – and in the crosshairs is the Bolivar/Harpers Ferry Public Library, among other public libraries in the county. The public libraries are facing 15% cuts for FY 2015 which are largely due to decreased gambling revenue to the tune of $1.5 million over the past 2 years. There are other critical services being threatened – among them emergency services and arts organization funding.  But, in my humble opinion, without access to knowledge, opportunities are slim – whether you want to be a paramedic or an illustrator. Libraries open up worlds of opportunities to young and old minds alike.

In the May 22, 1909 issue of Harper’s Weekly, there was an article about travelling libraries, written by C.P. Cary, the Wisconsin Superintendent of Public instruction entitled “Educating All of the People All of the Time.”  In it, he quotes:

“In the work of popular education,” said Melvil Dewey, “it is, after all, not the few great libraries, but the thousand small, that may do the most for the people.”

According to regional newspaper, The Journal, Gretchen Fry, the director of the Bolivar/Harper’s Ferry Public Library, said that the library received $65,000 in funding from the county last year and that the reduction in county funding could impact the library negatively.

1909 MAY 22 Harper's Weekly Traveling Libraries008 (2)

What a small price to pay for the resources, helpfulness and general public service provided by this and other county libraries! For myself, libraries have always been such an important part of my life, I can only express sorrow that anyone would threaten such an important part of the communities’ fabric.

Please support your local libraries!

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Even United States presidents get motoring to Harper’s Ferry to enjoy the view!

The Washington Post reported on October 17, 1915 (WILSON AT OLD INN, Motors to Harpers Ferry and Country Dinner is Served, TIPS WAITRESS WHEN HE PAYS) that President Wilson and his fiance, Mrs. Norman Galt, along with his cousins, Misses Lucy and Mary Smith of New Orleans motored to Harper’s Ferry for lunch.  (NYT version here.)

“The party left the White House yesterday morning without telling even White House officials where they were going. It was raining and the roads were muddy, but the holiday makers were not to be discouraged, and noon found the White House car at Harpers Ferry, 72 miles away. At an inn overlooking the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers the President registered, writing ‘Woodrow Wilson and party.’ “

And what inn was this? Hill Top House, of course!

“Hill Top House is run by Thomas Lovett, who took the greatest pleasure in escorting the party over the hotel, taking them on to the great balcony, where can be seen the beautiful country for miles around, including numerous points of historical interest. It happened that it will be 56 years today since the famous John Brown started his raiding at Harpers Ferry.”

They were served a dinner in the main dining room which sounds delicious! Roast lamb, fried chicken, boiled ham, creamed rice and corn dodgers the “well-known southern corn cakes.” President Wilson paid for the meal himself and tipped the waitress, Martha Smith.

Later that evening, the Woodrow Wilson party attended a performance of George Bernard Shaw‘s Androcles and the Lion at the Belasco in Washington, DC.

There you have it! Another reason to visit Harper’s Ferry this weekend!

P.S. The visit to Harper’s Ferry may not have been entirely coincidental. President Wilson was initially supported by W.E.B. Du Bois, as well as many other African American leaders, but President Wilson introduced segregationist policies for federal government employment. Woodrow Wilson has been identified as the presidential candidate who greatly encouraged African American voters to leave the Republican Party and join the Democratic Party. Another Niagara Movement participant figured in Woodrow Wilson’s policies toward African Americans, William Monroe Trotter. In July 1915, United States forces invaded Haiti which drew a lot of criticism from Du Bois. 

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Every once in a while, it is a good thing to check out other neighborhoods to see what’s new. Last weekend, I had a little time to return to some old haunts.

First stop, Martinsburg, WV, where I had to pick up some chocolate (deFluri’s) and sewing supplies (All About Fabric). They were out of their toffee crunch ;-(, but they had more than enough dark chocolate covered cranberries! All About Fabric has redesigned their space to accommodate more quilting supplies and is having an Open House this Saturday, August 10th from 10-5. There will be a knitting demo and quilt class!

One thing I love about Martinsburg is the architecture. I walked into a new (to me) bakery called “CakeFace” and met pastry chef, Amber Wallace Garrison. The space reflects Martinsburg history – the old time fixtures and seating are worth a visit!

Next stop, Washington, DC to attend my niece’s birthday party at Be with Me the Children’s Playseum. It was crazy! But the kids had a great time and there were cupcakes to be made.  I hadn’t been to that part of town in over 10 years, so it was a remarkable and eye opening experience. It is close to Eastern Market, if you are familiar with the area. Then a lime cookie from Ted’s Bulletin and down to The Sweet Lobby for dessert, two cupcakes and a six-pack of macarons. No, I didn’t eat all of it – I shared.

Then back to Harper’s Ferry! It was a great day! Good to see so many new places and revitalized neighborhoods.

Have a wonderful weekend!

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Call to Artists – Exhibit “Travels in Time” – Submissions due September 3

Steam at Harper’s Ferry announces a call to all artists to submit work for selection for its next exhibit “Travels in Time” in Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia September 21 – November 17, 2013. Artists are requested to submit work related to the H.G. Wells book, “The Time Machine,” ideally with a steampunk twist, by September 3, 2013. Artists may submit up to 3 works for selection. There will be a $30 administration and promotion fee if selected.

Around the World – June 29 – August 25, 2013 – FINAL WEEKS!

The “Around the World” exhibit opened on June 29 and continues through August 25. This exhibit features the work of John Hoffmaster (illustration, “Still Waters”); Leigh Anne Cassell (illustration, “Legs that Can Can”); and Jason Edwards (painting, “Captain Tomorrow” and “Captain Tomorrow gives chase in his red balloon”).

 

What’s New at Steam

Cynthia Gayton will be making a steampunk in literature presentation at the Bolivar-Harper’s Ferry Public Library on August 15 at 6 pm. In addition to discussing steampunk-themed books available at the library and elsewhere, she will talk briefly about Victorian-era inventors from Harper’s Ferry. The library, in its awesomeness, will have refreshments! Steam will also have a few 3D art pieces on display.

Steam has released another publication under its SciFi/Steampunk imprint, Steam at Harper’s Ferry Press, entitled “Guide to Creating and Protecting Fictional Characters.” This Guide, as well as the story “Of Steam and Spring” are available for sale at the Gallery as well as at Amazon.com in a Kindle version.

Artomatic in Jefferson County – October 2013 – REGISTRATION CLOSES AUGUST 12!

Artist registration for Artomatic@Jefferson began on June and ends August 12. Registration fees may be waived if you are a full-time student. Student registration has been extended to September.  Contact Cynthia if you have an idea for an art demonstration or artist-focused education program. Please see their website for details: http://artomaticjefferson.com/.

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View from Hill Top House April 2013

View from Hill Top House April 2013

On the Occasion of West Virginia’s Sesquicentennial

West Virginia is nothing if not a dual-natured state. On one hand, it was during the “War between the States” that a dedicated, wily few decided to finally wrest unsuspecting Eastern Panhandle slavery-leaning counties from the Old Dominion by hook or by crook to secure the railroads heading west and form a new free-leaning state. On the other, it is the state where, in 1898, an African American attorney, J.R. Clifford, successfully argued before the West Virginia Supreme Court on behalf of an African American teacher,  Carrie Williams, that racial discrimination was illegal – the first such ruling in United States’ history.

There are bucolic pastures and leisurely flowing rivers along with sharply descending and precipitous cliffs. Even its name, “West Virginia” is somewhat duplicitous. The word “west” suggests a forward thinking state, yet its name retains the colonial heritage of Virginia.

The state’s motto “Montani semper liberi” or “Mountaineers Are Always Free” could also indicate duel meaning. Upon the state’s formation, were mountaineers free from something or free to do something?  I prefer the latter. You may fight to become free from something, yet find yourself in a predicament you didn’t anticipate. Aspiring to be free to do something opens up possibilities. That aspiration, the dream to do something other than what had come before, to break with comfortable traditions and a way of life, the jump into the future in the midst of a civil war, speaks volumes about the state.

From my front porch I can hear those lonesome trains, and reflect upon what they represent. A state cut within and from the mountains, forging a future for itself that is still being realized. Many made sacrifices for the state – the price for which is lost in the mists of time. One only needs to take a deep breath in the mountain air, in that mist, to be fortified by the little known, and the renowned, who leapt feet first onto a path of their own choosing in hopes of building a new life for themselves as well as everyone else who has come to call West Virginia home.

Steam at Harper’s Ferry is selling paper and fabric commemorative flags. See this and other celebratory memories here.

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