Some clouds
50°
Some clouds
Hi 52° | Lo 37°

Greenfield

ARTISTIC exploration

Greenfield: Crotched Mountain Rehab’s mid-winter fest

  • Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center hosted its annual Mid-Winter Arts Festival on Monday to showcase a blues concert with help from artist-in-rseidency T.J. Wheeler, and a photography exhibition made possible by photographer Geoff Forester.

    Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center hosted its annual Mid-Winter Arts Festival on Monday to showcase a blues concert with help from artist-in-rseidency T.J. Wheeler, and a photography exhibition made possible by photographer Geoff Forester. Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center hosted its annual Mid-Winter Arts Festival on Monday to showcase a blues concert with help from artist-in-rseidency T.J. Wheeler, and a photography exhibition made possible by photographer Geoff Forester.

    Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center hosted its annual Mid-Winter Arts Festival on Monday to showcase a blues concert with help from artist-in-rseidency T.J. Wheeler, and a photography exhibition made possible by photographer Geoff Forester. Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Left, Crotched student Joseph, plays the maracas and sings during a performance with Dave Kontak, right, an occupational therapist and technology lead at Crotched, who played bass guitar Monday afternoon.

    Left, Crotched student Joseph, plays the maracas and sings during a performance with Dave Kontak, right, an occupational therapist and technology lead at Crotched, who played bass guitar Monday afternoon. Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center hosted its annual Mid-Winter Arts Festival on Monday to showcase a blues concert with help from artist-in-rseidency T.J. Wheeler, and a photography exhibition made possible by photographer Geoff Forester.

    Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center hosted its annual Mid-Winter Arts Festival on Monday to showcase a blues concert with help from artist-in-rseidency T.J. Wheeler, and a photography exhibition made possible by photographer Geoff Forester. Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Center, blues and jazz musician T.J. Wheeler, performs at Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center's Mid-Winter Arts Festival, accompanied by Crotched student Joseph, with guidance by Crotched music teacher Bonnie Arpin on Monday.

    Center, blues and jazz musician T.J. Wheeler, performs at Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center's Mid-Winter Arts Festival, accompanied by Crotched student Joseph, with guidance by Crotched music teacher Bonnie Arpin on Monday. Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center hosted its annual Mid-Winter Arts Festival on Monday to showcase a blues concert with help from artist-in-rseidency T.J. Wheeler, and a photography exhibition made possible by photographer Geoff Forester.

    Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center hosted its annual Mid-Winter Arts Festival on Monday to showcase a blues concert with help from artist-in-rseidency T.J. Wheeler, and a photography exhibition made possible by photographer Geoff Forester. Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center hosted its annual Mid-Winter Arts Festival on Monday to showcase a blues concert with help from artist-in-rseidency T.J. Wheeler, and a photography exhibition made possible by photographer Geoff Forester.
  • Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center hosted its annual Mid-Winter Arts Festival on Monday to showcase a blues concert with help from artist-in-rseidency T.J. Wheeler, and a photography exhibition made possible by photographer Geoff Forester.
  • Left, Crotched student Joseph, plays the maracas and sings during a performance with Dave Kontak, right, an occupational therapist and technology lead at Crotched, who played bass guitar Monday afternoon.
  • Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center hosted its annual Mid-Winter Arts Festival on Monday to showcase a blues concert with help from artist-in-rseidency T.J. Wheeler, and a photography exhibition made possible by photographer Geoff Forester.
  • Center, blues and jazz musician T.J. Wheeler, performs at Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center's Mid-Winter Arts Festival, accompanied by Crotched student Joseph, with guidance by Crotched music teacher Bonnie Arpin on Monday.
  • Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center hosted its annual Mid-Winter Arts Festival on Monday to showcase a blues concert with help from artist-in-rseidency T.J. Wheeler, and a photography exhibition made possible by photographer Geoff Forester.

A full complement of students, teachers and computer equipment filled the stage in Carter Hall at the Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center on Monday . One student played the xylophone, while several others played instruments, like the flute and saxophone, through the use of a computer.

A jam session led by blues musician T.J. Wheeler kicked off Crotched Mountain’s Mid-Winter Arts Festival, with music and dancing Monday afternoon. Scenic photography, soulful performances and live music, all came together for an afternoon of the arts to showcase work clients of the center completed in their arts classes.

The festival was made possible by two artists-in-residency programs and teachers at Crotched Mountain. This year, with the help of the Arts Alliance of Northern New Hampshire and the Very Special Arts New Hampshire, Crotched Mountain invited two experienced artists — T.J. Wheeler, known nationally and internationally as a blues and jazz musician from the New Hampshire Seacoast, and photographer Geoff Forester, who spent seven years as the photography editor for the Concord Monitor and seven more at the Boston Herald. Both artists spent around five to six days working with the clients who showcased their work on Monday.

The festival began with a jam session incorporating a number of clients and Wheeler. He sang and played his guitar, while one client played the xylophone and the rest made music in their own adaptive ways. One student had a saxophone solo, which he played by moving his head in front of a computer screen. Another student played the flute by pressing buttons on a keyboard. All of this music was made electronically and blended with Wheeler’s acoustic guitar and the sound of maracas throughout the room.

Wheeler went on to play some jazz and blues melodies, and clients and friends danced about the room waving American flag bandanas. The dance was followed by a duet with Wheeler on guitar and a music student from Crotched on piano. The two performed “Everybody Wants To Be A Cat” from the movie “The Aristocats.”

Wheeler said in an interview Thursday that when he practiced that song earlier in the week this student, whose name cannot be release per privacy laws, came over to the piano, found the right key, a minor key and started playing a beautiful accompaniment. He considers the song a complex song and said a minor key is not an easy key to quickly find. This same student accompanied him at the festival for the performance of this song.

On Monday, Wheeler also played an original song called “The Overtime Blues,” written by the music teachers at Crotched and Wheeler. Then a few client musicians and a rapper teamed up with Wheeler for a song he wrote with some Crotched Mountain clients about Nelson Mandela.

But the festival was not solely about music. The event featured a slide show with photography taken by clients at Crotched Mountain that date back to the fall of 2013.

A photography student, Armand Gauthier of Hillsborough, said taking photos gives him confidence.

“It totally changes your mood,” Gauthier said in an interview Monday before the festival. “It relaxes you and it takes your mind away from what’s wrong with you.”

He said the theme for his photo series is serenity. Gauthier never had one thing in mind that he wanted to photograph, he said. He just liked observing and taking pictures of subjects that appealed to him. He said photographs help once the seasons change. “You can look at that picture and remember the weather, what was it like that day,” Gauthier said.

As a stroke survivor, Gauthier said his photo class was the good side of therapy. “That class was the best therapy I ever had.”

Crotched Mountain has different types of adaptive equipment for students practicing photography, Director of Marketing and Communications Liz LaRose said in an interview Monday. Gauthier used adaptive photography gear, but his was designed so that the photographer could still use their finger to take the actual picture. LaRose said some photo students used adaptive gear that attached to their wheelchair, and allows them to take a picture by tilting their head slightly, which presses a button on the equipment positioned near the head.

Someday, Gauthier said he wants to take his son Armand, 12, and his daughter Shiana, 13, out into the woods to practice photography. Gauthier plans to continue practicing photography and said he is interested in learning more about photo editing with computer programs.

For well over 30 years, T.J. Wheeler, a blues and jazz musician, worked in arts and education programs throughout New Hampshire. Wheeler said he tries to keep the participants engaged in each moment.

“It’s just so gratifying as an artist to share music and have it affect somebody in such a dramatic way,” Wheeler said in an interview Thursday.

He does a lot of work with people with special needs. “I learn as much from them as they do from me,” he said.

By the fifth day of his residency at Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center, Wheeler said he had already collaborated with clients on an original song about Nelson Mandela and that he already collaborated with some music teachers with another original song.

Wheeler said there’s an uplifting way of music. “They respond to music,” he said referring to the clients .

Wheeler said he would rather bring music to an audience that has less access to it than to play a show at somewhere like the Portsmouth Concert Hall.

“It’s been a delight to be here,” Wheeler said. “I love working with all the students here.”

Wheeler plays guitar, banjo, ukulele, and said music has a healing power. “Each one of the students has participated at what ever level they can,” Wheeler said.

The other artist-in-residency, photographer Geoff Forester, said the experience was remarkable. “Everyone has a creative instinct,” Forester said in an interview Monday. “How do I get creative people to express themselves?”

This is Forester’s fourth year participating in an artists-in-residency program and his first-time participating in a program at Crotched. “It was such an amazing experience, the connections I made, to see the ability [in clients]... And if you can reach the creative center, it’s there,” Forester said.

Lindsey Arceci can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 232, or larceci@ledgertranscript.com.

There are no comments yet. Be the first!
Post a Comment

You must be registered to comment on stories. Click here to register.