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Construction has been completed on what will one day be the central gallery of the Retreat Center for the Arts in the Northern Neck of Virginia. The groundbreaking took place early in December of 1999.

Alvaro Ibañez will hold events to continue the work he began in the Northern Neck at Sunrise Studio Gallery in Kilmarnock. sunrisestudio.jpg (46195 bytes) dastudio.jpg (46195 bytes)anounce.jpg (46195 bytes)

Washington DC area artists presented in the first show in December of 1995 included sculptor Alfredo Ratinoff, Russian emigree Tatiana Silvera, Cuban-American artist Pedro Ortiz, and textile artist Felisa Federman, who was born in Argentina. Also displayed was the work of Pam Coulter Blehert, who has been featured in American Artists magazine, and has collaborated on several volumes of poetry with her husband, Dean Blehert. Judith Colton Skilnick's internationally known multimedia work has been on display in the gallery since its opening. The works of the Colombian artists Vairo Benitez and Jaime Benitez were also introduced. Several writers also came from the DC area at the invitation of Ibañez and Denise DeVries, who organized the literary reading on December 8. Poets Martha Sanchez-Lowery, Miles David Moore, Cate Leger, and Dean Blehert read with fiction writer and musician Terence Mulligan.

The gallery's first event of the spring featured Virginia Beach poets Barbara-Marie Green and Sharon Weinstein in a reading on March 15, 1997. Barbara-Marie Green is the author of Love Pain Hope and Dreams and Memories. She is the editor of More Poetic Thoughts, an anthology; and her work appears in the prestigious collection of poetry A Rock Against the Wind: African-American Poems and Letters of Love and Passion. Sharon Weinstein has published poetry, essays, book reviews, and short stories in a wide variety of national publications, including Lilith, Resources in American Literature, The National Jewish Post & Opinion, Ethnic Studies, and The Virginian-Pilot. She has been a professor at Norfolk State University since 1988, teaching creative writing, American Literature, and International Women's Literature.

Local artist Richard Stodart's works were displayed at the gallery in April, along with those of Ron Cox. The literary reading that month featured poets Bill Smith and Hiram Larew. In addition to being published in journals such as The Grasslands Review, SpoonFed, Amethyst, The Tule Review, Antietam Review and others, Larew received a commendation in the Allen Ginsbert Poetry competition, and received the "Louisiana Literature" prize in poetry. His book of poetry won a contest in Baltimore was published in the summer of 1999. Bill Smith, who lives in Lynchburg, is president of The Piedmont Literary Society and editor of the Piedmont Literary Review, a nationally distributed quarterly. His newsletter on marketing and contest news is part of the quarterly. He has read on Joe Campbell's poetry program on television, at universities, at the Lodge of the Fisherman, and has published in several anthologies.

In May, Geraldine Wilner, a resident of Virginia Beach, presented both her art work and her writing. Ms. Wilner was born and raised in Hawaii. Her jobs overseas provided the stepping stones to experience and life in the Far East, Middle East and Europe. Holding a BE/Art Degree from Wheaton College, she took advanced work at the Academy of Art in San Francisco and was a Masters of Fine Arts candidate at San Francisco State. Added experience came from an art filled summer at San Miguel Allende in Mexico. Her printmaking specialty has won her awards from the Boardwalk Art Shows of Virginia Beach, and shows in D. C. As a side line, she wrote a Navy Wives newsletter and a neighborhood newsletter. Travel articles have appeared in the Senior Citizens Gazzette. Some of her children's stories and poems have been read to children at the elementary schools of Virginia Beach. She was accompanied in the literary reading by Karen Ellis. Formerly of Pikeville, Kentucky, Ms. Ellis is a writer of comedy, prose, poetry, and non-fiction. She is a member of Eastern Kentucky Writers' Guild and the Great Neck Writers' Group of Virginia Beach. Karen wrote a monthly column for "Mountain Life and Work" magazine published by Apalshop, and she was a field representative for a community organization that represented disadvantaged and disabled persons. Some of her works includes "Street Susie," "I Once Had a Lover," and "All in a Night's Work."

On June 7, 1997, the featured reader was Karren LaLonde Alenier, author of three collections of poetry: Bumper Cars: Gertrude Said She Took Him for a Ride, Wandering on the Outside, and The Dancer's Muse. She is the editor of Whose Woods These Are, an anthology of contemporary American Poetry. She was the first winner of the Lincoln College Billee Murray Denny Award.

From June 28 to July 19, the community was invited bring Chinese and East Asian art to display in the gallery. John Fulton Lewis of Reedville, whose grandparents, parents, aunts, and uncles served as missionaries in China between 1912 and 1949, loaned some of his Chinese embroidery pieces which he had framed. Mr. Lewis has been a lifelong student of history and culture and for many years was editor of CHINA REPORT and PACIFIC CENTURY. He is now editor and publisher of the local newsletter COMMUNITY FORUM. Donald Lane Miller of Kilmarnock loaned the gallery some examples of Korean art that were given to him by South Korean officials during the the Cold War years following the Korean War. The gifts honored his pioneering efforts to establish a freedom broadcasting service in the Far East. The photography of Adrienne Ruth Dauses was also displayed. Born in Richmond and graduated from the Mills E. Godwin High School in Henrico County, Ms. Dauses now studies architecture and photography in Savannah, Georgia. She and her mother toured the Peoples Republic of China several years ago, where Verna Ruth Sanger, Ms. Dauses's grandmother, spent her early life. While touring 18 different cities, Ms. Dauses took hundreds of photographs capturing the people, and the places where her grandmother had lived.

Washington DC-area poets Marcella Wolfe and Maggie Rosen presented their work in July. Both are alumnae of the Jenny McKean Moore Writing Workshop at George Washington University. Ms. Wolfe has collaborated with Argentinian composer Guillermo Silvera on a libretto for a musical, and has written poetry to be exhibited with the metal sulpture of Consuelo Echeverria and the glass sculpture of Finnish artist Tuija Sillanmaki. Maggie Rosen, originally from Greensboro, North Carolina, teaches English as a Second Language in Northern Virginia. Her short fiction has appeared in an anthology from TransVerse Press, and her poetry has been published in Intuitions, Old Hickory Review, and the Washington Writer's Publishing House anthologyHungry as We Are.

In August and September, Alvaro Ibañez and Denise DeVries took a break to plan their wedding, which took place in Alexandria on September 6. The title of the October 1997 show was "the Art of Fashion," and featured hats designed by Christina McGlynn. It was as a student at Robinson Secondary School in Fairfax County that her main artist focus turned to the theatre . At Robinson she became adept at stage makeup, stage management, costume construction, costume design, and set construction. Her accomplishments at Robinson include costume design and construction for "Fiddler on The Roof" and "A Midsummer Night's Dream." She received her B.F.A. in the Theatrical Design and Production in the spring of 1997 from the University of Cincinnati, College Conservatory of Music. At the Conservatory, she became accomplished in jewelry, hat and wig design and construction. She has also completed a semester of intense study in costume and set design at the Motley School of Design in London, England. While focusing on costume design, she has worked as a costume for the Utah Shakespearean Festival and Wolf Trap Opera Company. She has also designed such productions as Song & Dance, Life Without Instruction, and St. Francis of Hollywood. Christina now resides in London, England where she hopes to broaden her expertise to include set design.

The October exhibit included shawls designed by Northern Virginia textile artist Joan Andrews. She was born in Neenah, Wisconsin and Studied Textile Design at the University of Wisconsin. She exhibited and taught knitting in Alexandria, Virginia. In addition to hand knitting, she does basketry, weaving, hook rugs, needlepoint and embroidery. She calls her design business Handsel.

The final literary reading of the year featured poetry, fiction, and theatre based on the theme of "Fashion Victims." Denise DeVries read her poetry and fiction, and was accompanied by Hiram Larew in a reading from Eliot Byerrum's play Ms. DeVries is a graduate of the University of Colorado and alumna of the Jennie McKean Moore Fund Writers Workshop at George Washington University and the Creative Writing Program at George Mason University. Her poetry has appeared in literary journals and anthologies, and has been presented in readings and on radio in the Northern Virginia area. Portions of her choral poems have been performed at George Mason University as part of Poetry Theater and a seminar on Labor and the Arts, and her chapbook Wheat, illustrated by Alvaro Ibañez, was published in November by Mica Press of Colorado. Eliot Byerrum's comedies have been performed at Source Theatre in Washington, D.C., and her mystery "A Christmas Cactus," is nationally known. Her latest mystery for theatre, "The Angel of Death Rises Early," was be introduced in a dramatic reading in Alexandria the following month.

Paintings by Alvaro Ibañez continued to be displayed in Sunrise Studio Gallery until November 15 when the Gallery closed for winter. Although Mr. Ibañez works with graphic and patent design in his Falls Church business and has a large number of works in pencil, ink, and other media, pastels oils continue to be his favorite. The works on display in the gallery are representative of the variety of styles and subject matter that characterize his collections.

On November 15, 1997, the Sunrise Gallery closed for the winter and remained closed as activities were transferred to the DC and Northern Virginia area.

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