Germantown Artists Roundtable discusses new bylaws, upcoming events at monthly meeting

At Wednesday night’s Germantown Artist Roundtable monthly meeting, there were plenty of flyers and announcements to go around.

The two-hour session, held at BuildaBridge headquarters near Greene and Tulpehocken streets, covered a number of upcoming events.

Germantown writer and percussionist Karen L. Smith is getting ready for the premiere of her new jazz musical, presented through the Producer’s Guild’s Jazz on the Square program.

The musical will be held at Rittenhouse Square’s Ethical Society of Philadelphia on Saturday, March 30 at 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

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Countdown to Countdown to Germantown Day

Then, Roundtable organizer Paula Paul and Friends of Vernon Park representative YahNe Baker spoke about Germantown’s “329 and 1/2th” birthday which will be celebrated at the “Countdown to Germantown Day” event in Vernon Park on April 6.

Partnering with Historic Germantown, the Fairmount Park Conservancy and other groups, the Roundtable will operate two stations at the event: a spoken word, music and poetry performance space, and an art-making area featuring hands-on papermaking and other crafts.

Paul said the day would keep locals “tuned in” for a worthy celebration of Germantown’s 330th birthday on Oct. 6, and “get people used to using [Vernon] Park in a joyous way.”

Also planned for the Roundtable’s tent is the public premiere of local filmmaker Bianca Swift’s 25-minute documentary, “Germantown Boys,” which charts the memories of Rich, George and Jack Alliger, who grew up in Germantown during the 1930s, 40s and 50s.

Important upcoming meeting

Dr. Vivian Nix-Early, BuildaBridge co-founder and Roundtable leader, said the group’s bylaws committee, tasked with developing an official mission statement and guidelines for the organization, will meet this weekend to complete a first draft of the new bylaws.

Members will have an opportunity before April’s meeting to discuss before its finalized. The full draft will soon be e-mailed to all Roundtable members, who now number a few hundred.

“Anything that you can contribute will really make a difference,” Paul said.

She urged members to take the time to read the document and offer their input.

The final policy “will dictate years and years of decisions,” said Andy Walker, warning that those who don’t bother to read, or offer advice on, the proposed policies now won’t be able to change them later.

Member presentations

With a short video and a few examples of her artwork, visual artist Deborah Curtiss explained her lifelong love of capturing the human form and her current environmentally-inspired project, “Meditations on a Post-Human Earth.”

Created on raw silk or linen and subtly incorporating repurposed materials as unusual as the artist’s discarded contact lenses, these works upend the traditional “window-view” norm of square and rectangular paintings, she said.

Curtiss sees her trapezial-shaped works as “shards that reflect the fragmentation of contemporary life.”

With their unusual dimensions and angles, her paintings can be hung any way the viewer pleases.

Finally, Baker offered excerpts of her memoir-in-progress — interspersed with soulful, unaccompanied songs — about formerly repressed memories from a troubled childhood, and the experience of obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Attendees were moved by Baker’s honesty in reading a raw, yet lyrical work which Nix-Early called a “privileged” sharing; the audience had many questions about the development of the work and Baker’s plans for it.

The Germantown Artist Roundtable meets on the third Wednesday of every month from 7 to 9 p.m. at 205 W. Tulpehocken Street. The next meeting will be held April 17.

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