CANVAS Editor Gets the Word Out About the Arts
BLOOMINGBERG—Barry Plaxen says society needs the arts. Plaxen creates, edits, and publishes a monthly newspaper for the arts in the Hudson region to get the word out.
The Delaware and Hudson CANVAS arts newspaper covers every art imaginable—art, cinema, dance, festivals, holistic living, music, opera, poetry, and theatre in venues all over Orange County.
Plaxen was honored in 2015 as a champion of the arts by the Orange County Arts Council. The annual awards event gets a great turnout and Plaxen says “It’s always very moving once the winners get up and start to speak—sometimes they make you cry. They are talking about art and everybody is connected in that way.”
Plaxen said Orange County is especially rich in the arts. “I don’t think there is any other semi-rural, rural area in the country that has arts everywhere,” he said.
He has his personal preferences. Plaxen likes to attend openings, be they visual arts or first night of a performance. He listens to mostly classical music, along with pop music of the thirties, forties, and early fifties. “It was a fine art then” he says, “the lyrics, the way the singers sang, the techniques of their voices.”
Plaxen appreciates the beauty in the craft that performers, writers, and artists give us. “I’m interested in how [the artist] manipulates a craft to express beauty. It’s a connection to spirit.” Their craft comes from another plane that the artist somehow accesses. “Artists are channelers. They channel energy and put it into some form” which becomes a painting, piece of music, or sculpture.
An Arts Newspaper
The D&H CANVAS “is a labor of love. I don’t get paid. It’s like an opening night once a month,” he said. Plaxen especially loves listing events. “I do the calendar in the paper. That’s my thing and that’s what I really love to do. I just love putting in the information. I get a thrill out of that.”
He and editor Sophia Krcic work to have every issue be error-free. Even with a slipup here and there, Plaxen considers every issue to be a success, “not so much because of getting it all in, but because of all of the things people do here. It’s just so broad, the spectrum of what’s available.”
Each monthly issue has a short range goal “not to make mistakes. We don’t have a staff so we can’t proofread.” As for a long range goal, Plaxen hopes to publish 40 pages each month. To reach that goal, he needs more ads. The paper now runs between 28 and 36 pages depending on the season. He would also like to pay his writers and perhaps have a few more staff.
With experience as a “play doctor,” Plaxen can transform most press releases he receives into stories that his readers will say, “I want to go see that.” He said his former job meant editing a play so it worked. “I’d say ‘This scene has to be moved’ or ‘This speech has to come after this one.’ I was very good at it.”
Plaxen spoke about how the magazine gets done: “We have a few writers. Some of them have been with us since the beginning. We have a couple of columnists who write monthly. We have a recipe thing. Again, all labor of love. We use websites. Facebook is a problem. [I’m on the computer] all day, the days that I work.”
He said once the paper comes out, he also helps to deliver it. In the monthly cycle, some times he can take some time off, but on “opening night,” Plaxen said things get very busy.
Plaxen finds a rich source of events in local college lecture series. He says art exhibits and performances are often tied to the lectures. CANVAS caters to artists, poets, musicians, performers, seniors, and the supporters of the arts who go to exhibits, concerts, and poetry readings. He said there is an active poetry community throughout the Hudson Valley.
His main source of announcements is from email. “We do it through emails. That way we don’t spell anything wrong.” He uses a specific email for calendar submissions and another for story submissions. Businesses and arts venues and others who want to place an ad are given a month deadline.
The D&H CANVAS is free, but some readers won’t take a chance of not finding a free copy and subscribe. Plaxen estimates about 200 subscribe. “They are so happy to get it in their mailbox.”
Plaxen said he likes making the paper even more than when he started it 11 years ago. “It was a beginning of something, now it is amazing how it continues. New things come in. We are always getting an inspiration from something that hasn’t happened before.”
The arts council says “Barry graduated from the School for Performing Arts in NYC and has been dedicated to the arts ever since. The arts community is fortunate to have his support.”
The newspaper’s website says “The Delaware & Hudson CANVAS was created to give the public a quick and easy reference guide for arts and entertainment and to give artists and performers a venue that reaches those specifically interested in the arts. We are committed to bringing our readers exciting information about the arts and arts resources in the counties we serve.”
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