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The Yankee Express

Small Stones Festival of Arts presents free programs Oct. 15-24

Sep 21, 2021 01:57PM ● By Chuck Tashjian

Nicholas Basbanes

GRAFTON - The public is welcome to enjoy an array of free literary and music programs, an art collection presentation and juror and artist talks during the 2021 Small Stones Festival of the Arts, the fourth annual juried fine art and photography exhibit. 
           Barbara Basbanes Richter
Five regional arts organizations – Apple Tree Arts, the Worcester County Camera Club, the Blackstone Valley Art Association, the Shakespeare Club of Grafton and the Claflin Hill Symphony Orchestra have collaborated to create the Festival and accompanying events.
The Festival opens Oct. 15 with a ceremony and reception announcing the winning artists at the exhibition at the Great Hall, One Grafton Common, Grafton. The extended exhibit and festival events run Oct. 15-24.
This year’s music offering “Mirror Images – Art and Music through The Periods” hosted by Paul Surapine, founding executive/artistic director of the Claflin Hill Symphony Orchestra and a distinguished faculty member of Apple Tree Arts, will be held Oct. 23, 7:00 p.m. at the Congregational Church of Grafton, 25 Grafton Common, Grafton. 
Tom Saupe, a long-time art collector with over 300 pieces in his collection, will discuss the ins and outs of collecting art in his lecture “Eclectic Eye: Collecting Art on a Limited Budget” Oct. 20, 6:00 p.m. at the Great Hall.
The Shakespeare Club of Grafton has organized several literary programs including a radio play, author-led book discussions and a talk by an educator illuminating the totalitarian effect of the corruption and manipulation of language using George Orwell’s books. 
Members of the Club and volunteer actors of Radio Active Theatre will perform several excerpts from “Spoon River Anthology,” conceived and adapted by Charles Aidman based on poems by Edgar Lee Masters. The  drama will be performed Oct. 16, 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. at the Grafton Public Library, 35 Grafton Common, Grafton. 
Set in the cemetery of the fictional town of Spoon River in Central Illinois, deceased citizens tell the honest, often brutal stories of their lives in a free verse poem style closely resembling an epitaph. Published in 1915,  the bestselling anthology is a classic American twentieth century book. 

                                                            Dr. Daniel Mahoney

Radio Active Theatre (RAT) produces radio and live programs under the aegis of Audio Journal’s executive director Mary Frandsen and Catherine Thornton, a long-time member of both organizations. Audio Journal, a member of the Massachusetts Audio Information Network, serves those who are blind, visually impaired or print challenged. Catherine Thornton of the Club has directed the performance.
Critically acclaimed author Nicholas A. Basbanes and his daughter Barbara Basbanes Richter, accomplished educator and journalist will discuss their recently published books at a book discussion held Oct. 22, 7:00 p.m. at the Grafton Public Library.
Kirkus Reviews has called Mr. Basbanes book, “A Cross of Snow: A life of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow,” a revelatory explanation of Longfellow’s life and how he became a dominant force in American letters.”  Mr. Basbanes, an author of 10 nonfiction works and a former journalist and book editor, writes and lectures about authors, books and book culture. Ellis Henican of Newsday, said, “No living person has thought more about the extraordinary power of books than Nicholas Basbanes.” 
Ms. Richter’s highly readable English translation of “Mademoiselle de Malepeire” by Fanny Reybaud (1802-1870) published by Bancroft Press will bring recognition again to this almost forgotten French writer who was a best seller author for nearly 30 years and left an enchanting body of work. The bestselling novel published in 1854  set in France, a few decades after the revolution, tells the story of the mysterious, wealthy Ms. Malepeire, a beautiful, courageous woman ahead of her time, who renounced everything in the pursuit of freedom and happiness.
Daniel Mahoney, esteemed Assumption University political science professor’s talk, “ ‘A Boot Stamping on a Human Face— Forever’: Orwell on Truth, Tyranny and Human Nature” will be presented Oct.  23, 3:00 p.m. at the Grafton Public Library.  Dr. Mahoney’s discussion will focus mainly on the novel “1984” to help deepen people’s understanding of what the author was trying to communicate about the true nature of human beings and the ongoing threats to the integrity of the human soul. He wants the audience to discover what Orwell meant in a broader approach directed at the meaning of truth and the essence of human nature. 
The lecture will bring a sustained focus to Orwell’s pivotal work so attendees may arrive at their own conclusion about the current political climate and use Orwell’s work as a guide to their own reflection.
Dr. Mahoney said, “The most terrible kind of politics believes human nature can be manipulated or simply transformed, that there is no enduring human soul, so human beings may be reengineered at will. In this understanding there is no objective distinction between truth and falsehood, right and wrong. In this understanding of things, there’s a tendency to reinvent the past or almost erase it.” 
He wants us also to reflect, following Orwell, on how dangerous it is when we attempt to change the meaning of language and the structure of reality. “Orwell remains our teacher in no small part because his thought is finally unclassifiable. He was a democratic socialist who despised Communism as murderous and mendacious, an anti-colonialist and an unapologetic British patriot, an agnostic or atheist who defended a traditional or commonsensical view of right and wrong,” he added. 
The mission of Small Stones Festival of the Arts is to elevate the practice and appreciation of fine art and photography in the region. The Festival’s fiscal sponsor is Grafton Arts, Inc.,  501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization.
The Festival appreciates the support of  the Mass Cultural Council, as well as Cultural Councils of the towns of Grafton, Millbury, Northbridge, Shrewsbury, Sutton and Westborough; The Town House Tavern; Artscope and Yesod Foundation, Inc. For more information, visit or contact Ken Crater at [email protected]