OCEAN CITY – Members of the Ocean City Writers Group met with visual artists at the Ocean City Center for the Arts Tuesday to read their stories and poetry inspired by pieces on display at the exhibit.
The presentation, entitled “Shared Visions,” partnered members of the artisan community to build off each other’s art form, according to Rina Thaler, executive director of the art center.
“Each of the artists and writers have expressed themselves in different ways, whether creating an image or creating a word based on the image,” Thaler said. “That is what is so special about it. We call it ‘Shared Visions,’ but it’s really more of a conversation. Art is meant to do that. It is meant to spark conversation. It is meant to challenge people.”
The yearly events began in 2013, after officials from the center and the Ocean City branch of the Worcester County Library met to discuss a collaborative event among writers and artists. The byproduct of the meeting resulted in what event committee member Don Winslow considers a harmonious marriage.
“What a wonderful alliance this has been between the Ocean City Art League and the Ocean City Writers Group,” he said to a crowded room. “Poets always look for appropriate metaphors to use in their work and this four-year-old, giant effort between our two groups works like a harmonious marriage. With artists and writers collaborating, we now had something bigger than just separate paintings and separate poems.”
Thaler said the committee started working on this year’s presentation immediately following last year’s event and called on Art League members to submit pieces of work for the writers’ consideration. From there, members of the Writers Group each chose a specific painting, which inspired their own prose or poetry.
“There has been so much love and so much energy going into this project before one paintbrush or pen ever lifted and we appreciate their efforts,” Thaler said to event-goers at Tuesday’s presentation.
As the evening began, each author presented his or her interpretation to the respective artist and the other was given a chance to do the same.
One by one, each writer stood in front of the crowd with their chosen artwork and shared their story.
When writer Carl Crimm first saw the submitted painting “Fragrance of Wintergreen,” he admitted he had no idea what it meant. To him, the series of mint-green brush strokes reminded him of childhood memories.
“For me, that goes back 60 years, back when I was a school boy and back when the fragrance of wintergreen was a polis to take care of my wounds,” he told the crowd.
And that is where his short story began. Using the painting as a backdrop, Crimm personified the image into a story of a doctor dissecting a cadaver’s brain.
However, Debra Howard, artist of “Fragrance of Wintergreen,” had a different inspiration for the piece.
“I’m generally a landscape artist, but I would come home and would be too fried to paint a landscape,” she said. “So I started to paint the invisible. I did a whole series of paintings like this where I just inhaled a fragrance of wintergreen and then I would paint sort of what I saw.”
This example was one of 22 artist interpretations presented at this year’s fourth annual event and coincided with the Art Center’s year-long theme “Art Inspires.”
The event serves as a kickoff event for month-long literary workshops at the Art Center, according to Thaler. The paintings and writings will remain in the exhibit throughout the month of January, when the series ends.
Ruth Alcorn, who leads the Writers Group at the library, said the yearly events have been a form of comradery and self-discovery between writers and artists.
“It really is phenomenal because the bond you see grows as well as the writing grows,” she said. “It really touches your soul.”