Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Sharleen Leahey: Singing Out for Activists

photo: Left Forum 2015

Sharleen Leahey is a movement troubadour. She sings Pete Seeger songs, Woody Guthrie songs, her own songs about timeless issues and issues of the day. Her latest CD collection is titled “For the 99.” The first verse of the title song pulls listeners into the middle of a demonstration, whether in New York or New Brunswick, Washington or Newark:

We are gathered here in the people’s square
So we can have our say
We have come today to protest the way
Our rulers have behaved

A Somerville, NJ resident, Leahey ranges around the world in addressing war and peace issues, social justice issues, human rights issues. Here’s two verses of “Good People”:

Drone over Afghanistan
A village laid waste
The pilot can’t get hurt ten thousand miles away
Nintendo death the modern military way
Brought by the good people
Homeless on the street
An old woman stripped of pride
Half a block from the new boutiques
She’s standing on a church breadline
This ain’t the ‘30s
It’s the new millennium time
Where are the good people?

For more words and music, CD ordering information and concert schedule, go to:

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Fire and Ice: Views of Climate Change

"La Tuna Fire," by Jeff Frost 

“Receding lines of ice…advancing lines of fire.”
That’s Tim Blunk’s view of the art show he’s curated at Gallery Bergen at Bergen Community College in Paramus, NJ.

“Artists have historically served as the conscience of humanity; now they may serve as the conscience of the earth itself,” Blunk noted in a curator’s statement for the show, which opened January 24 and runs through March 30. The artists in this show, he added, “hope to instill in the viewer a perceptual shift where the environment ceases to be conceived as a place separate from us…”

Jeff Frost pulls visitors’ eyes to stare across the room at a life-size photo of a Los Angeles freeway closed by a smoke-swirling wildfire blazing up a mountainside. The La Tuna Canyon fire in September 2017 endangered homes in Burbank, Glendale and neighboring parts of Los Angeles. It was one of numerous wildfires that have blazed up in southern California communities in recent years.

"Flag (wildfire 08)" by Peter Alan 

Peter Alan pulls viewers close to look at burnt remnants of his home and studio, destroyed in the wine country wildfires in northern California in October 2017. Alan fashioned charred pieces of wood and other objects into a series based on the shape of the American flag as part of a defiant survivor’s body of work entitled “Wildfire: an assault on humanity, hitting home.”

James Balog reveals the breathtaking melting of a glacier in Alaska captured in time-lapse photos taken between 2007-20017. Videos set at high speed pull viewers closer to contemplate the climate change in the past decade that relentlessly shrunk ice packs near the north pole. Balog’s photography work for the Extreme Ice Survey aims “to give a ‘visual voice’ to the planet’s changing ecosystems,” states his website, extremeicesurvey.org.

Marie McCrary tells a more subtle story in a photo of a lake in Norway, just starting to freeze over last October. “The fastest warming region in the world is the Arctic,” notes McCrary, a physics professor at Bergen Community College. She is researching the physical process of rising temperatures in the Arctic and impacts globally.

Other artists in the show—Helena Donzelli, Andrea Geller, Karen Lynn Ingalls, Mitsuko Nakagawa, Jaanika Peerna and Carleen Sheenhan—offer insightful variations on the theme of people and nature intertwined.

Gallery Bergen is in West Hall at Bergen Community College, 400 Paramus Road, Paramus, NJ. It is open Monday-Friday, 11 am to 5 pm.