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GLENS FALLS — A line, a passage, a stanza carefully plucked from a poem as inspiration for another creation in music or art is what set in motion a spiral conversation of artworks speaking to each other.

And on Saturday, this yearlong exploration will live on in “Last Call: A Collaborative Oratorio,” at the Charles R. Wood Theater with poetry by Paul Pines, set to music by composer Catherine Reid and an exhibition of poetry-inspired artworks by members of North Country Arts.

“You had to interpret the poetry and get out of your box and think differently,” said artist Judith Tully about creating her piece, “Darkness into Light,” for Saturday’s show and exhibition at the Wood Theater. Tully selected a passage from Pines’ poem, “The Vedas is Now Revealed to Thee.”

“It’s very different from what I do,” said Tully, who generally creates landscapes and detailed florals. A peek at her piece for the exhibit shows it was an emotionally charged departure with its dark, vibrant blues and blacks.

This project of artists as muses for each other came about when Reid set to music one of Pines’ poems — “Andrew Wyeth Enters Heaven.”

“She orchestrated it with four to five voices, a piano ensemble,” said Pines in an interview at his Glens Falls home. “It blew me away.”

Pines, who has written several novels, a memoir and 11 books of poetry, talks about the dialogue between works of art: “Setting a poem (to music) brings up underlying themes emotionally available with the music.”

After the Wyeth poem, Reid said she’d like to do more.

“I said, ’Why don’t you pick them’ (the poems), and Catherine went through four or five books and picked a selection and has been working on the music ever since,” Pines said. “We both had in mind performing it and we applied for a LARAC grant.”

But with a LARAC grant, they needed a sponsor and Jacquiline Touba, with North Country Arts, loved the idea, brought it to her board members and they agreed to sponsor the grant.

“They wanted to produce it and I thought we could bring it to the artist members,” said Touba, who created two pen and ink drawings for the show from the poem, “Last Call at the Tin Palace.”

“We started last fall, sending information to the artists. It is all based on Paul’s poems. We sent six to our members,” she said. “They could do any medium, any size, we let them run with it … we want to see how they interpreted it.”

On Saturday, the culmination of these collaborations will be presented at the Wood Theater, with the art exhibit remaining in the theater until it moves to the Crandall Public Library.

Pines said real art is not for the faint of heart.

“There is risk, going where it’s not familiar,” he said. “I find that in Catherine’s music, she is willing to take risks and discover the meaning.”

“I’d wrap them both in glowing particles of breath …” — Paul Pines, taken from the poem, “The Upanishads say”

Kathleen Phalen-Tomaselli is a features writer at The Post-Star. She can be reached at for comments or story ideas.



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