Story online (here)
By Kathy Kunkel | email@example.com
Art has no boundaries, a concept even easier to understand thanks to the Internet.
In 2006, four friends living in the Los Angeles area decided the far reaches of the Internet made it unnecessary to deal with media moguls to share their art, poetry, music and films with the public. They left Los Angeles on a 4,000-mile trek by foot, to promote peace, love and self-expression through their various art interests. One of those four, Kevin Smith II, is now living in Tamaqua.
A Pennsylvania native, Smith lived in New Ringgold and Lansdale and attended Temple University in Philadelphia before heading to Los Angeles and Hollywood. An artist and sculptor, he was working in special effects for the television industry when he and his friends, Jonathan White, Jordan “Koz” Cooper and Kam Paign Talbert, made the decision to walk across America.
They created the group “United Souls of Awareness” and broke the trek into seven themed parts — Survival, Emotion, Will, Balance, Communication, Imagination and Understanding. Each section explored a different color and experimentation with a different musical key. Along the way, they met and shared experiences with thousands of people. It took one year for the friends to traverse the country, starting in Venice Beach, California, and ending in Manhattan, New York City.
They started walking 10 to 15 miles a day and worked their way up to 20 to 25 miles daily. They had the route all planned out, but the plan was tossed along the wayside as they sometimes spent days, or weeks, in a particular area that struck their fancy, like learning about glass blowing in Las Vegas, hiking the Grand Canyon and the Appalachian Trail, visiting Camp Justice in South Dakota or discovering Stonehedge in South Tamaqua.
“It was a positive experience,” says Smith, whose art work has been displayed at the Tamaqua Community Arts Center, 125 Pine St., in Tamaqua. The center held a meet and greet for Smith on March 3. The artwork displayed included seven paintings, one created to honor each of the seven themes of the walk, additional paintings and three alien head molds, part of one of his newest projects.
Smith is working on a puppet show and will be taking over the artist space at the Tamaqua Elks Building. There, he will create a sound stage and a puppet show along the line of Jim Henson’s Muppets. Instead of Muppets, the show will feature two alien broadcasters hosting a nightly “news” show, trying to explain humans to their alien counterparts. “The main characters will be polar opposites,” explains Smith, who envisions a weekly online show.
The 4,000-mile walk allowed Smith to “spend a lot of time within my own head,” filling him with “ideas and concepts on ways to promote peace, love and self-expression through the arts.”
One of his ideas was the creation of the “Seed House,” a place where artists come together and share tools and ideas. Known as a “makerspace,” the concept is basically a community center with different types of equipment that is shared between members. Located at 45 Market St. in Tamaqua, the Seed House hosts weekly Saturday events, showcasing the work of varied area artists. The salon style creative mixers have featured musicians, painters and sculptors. Refreshments are served at each event, catered by culinary artist Chef Hiram Quintana of the Lions Den Catering and Solutions.
“Tools” for sharing at the Seed House include computer labs, art and textile studios, a 3-D printer, laser cutter, wood shop, metal shop, audio visual lab, an art gallery, craft consignment shop and a performance venue.
The goal is to offer local artisans, professionals and beginners the opportunity to share, toss around ideas and concepts and experiment with different material.