There's a need for people to gather, to see one another's faces, to shake hands or to touch a shoulder, to breathe shared air. And where people gather, stories get told.
Welcome to the Mudroom. On Thursday evening, the
AVA Gallery and Art Center
hosted its quarterly homage to the art of storytelling. In an era of addiction to all manner of screened devices, it played to a sold-out crowd who parked themselves on metal folding chairs to share space and listen to their Upper Valley neighbors recount tales. Face to face.
The theme was Going Home. Daniel Deneen narrated his story of cultural misunderstanding in picking up what he thought was trash in a remote part of Mexico. Joy Kosta spoke of losing keys and discovering angels in the Big Apple. John Kerr, a late-in-life park ranger, recalled his dances with wolves in Yellowstone. Rusty Sachs's story was of the never-ending presence of Vietnam for those who served there. After leading her listeners in a brief meditation, Julie Püttgen revealed her decision to "make the leap and come out monastic."
Part of the audience during intermission, which provided a moment to stretch and stroll through the galleries.
The Mudroom is the brainchild of AVA Gallery board member Emily Ridgway, who had been tasked with coming up with new activities that would expand membership and engage some younger members of the Upper Valley community. Her husband, Eric Goldwarg, who served as last night's Mudroom emcee, had experienced a storytelling event while living in Anchorage. Three years ago, AVA 's first drew 50 people. Last night's $5 online tickets were claimed early with only a few available at the door. And guess what? Young people constituted part of a diverse and delighted audience of approximately 200.
Just one of the artistic creations up for bid
Storytelling is of course an art for the ear, but its setting in the AVA galleries provided much for the eye as well. AVA's major fundraiser, the silent auction, is coming to a close with its annual party this Saturday evening, April 2 (for which tickets may still be available). Thus the gallery spaces are full of beautiful things waiting to be taken home.
According to Ridgway, AVA likes to use the Mudroom to showcase other kinds of local artists and artisans too. Cajun food and bread pudding were supplied by Ertie's Catering, beer (for a small donation) by Upper Pass Beer, and live music by Etna Old Time Association.
The Etna Old Time Association played before the storytelling and during intermission. They were also musical timekeepers.
Got a story to tell? The next Mudroom is scheduled for June 23, and the theme is Human Anatomy (loosely defined). Email email@example.com if you're itching to hold that mike.
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