Sunday, March 22, 2020

Revisiting SUPPLICATION - Prayers for ALL OF YOU



 
Supplication (2016), by Tom Wachunas




supplicate \ ˈsə-plə-ˌkāt -  to make a humble entreaty, to pray to God

   I made this work, Supplication, in 2016. Some of you have seen it in a few past local juried exhibits. I am grateful.

   Lately the piece has become louder, more urgent. More 2020. MORE VITAL. The piece is still being completed.

   Consider these words. Please pray them back to God, their author:

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed… - 2 Corinthians 4: 8-9

…Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus… - Philippians 4:6-7

…For I am convinced that neither life nor death, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. - Romans 8: 38-39

  Jesus, the reason for my hope, my peace, my joy. May He be yours too. 

Thursday, March 19, 2020

One Language, Two Dialects


One Language, Two Dialects



Pale Dawn, by Jeffrey Hull

So Easy, by Jeffrey Hull

His Very Last Thoughts Lie Here, by Jeffrey Hull

6-1-2013, by Jo Ann Rothschild

Little Surprise, by Jo Ann Rothschild

July 8, 2019, by Jo Ann Rothschild


By Tom Wachunas

   “Form itself, even if completely abstract ... has its own inner sound.”  Wassily Kandinsky

  “… Abstract art enables the artist to perceive beyond the tangible, to extract the infinite out of the finite. It is the emancipation of the mind. It is an exploration into unknown areas.”  Arshile Gorky

EXHIBIT:  Parallel Tracks: Paintings by Jo Ann Rothschild & Jeffrey Hull / at THE WILLIAM J. AND PEARL F. LEMMON VISITING ARTIST GALLERY at Kent State University at Stark,  Fine Arts Building / 6000 FRANK AVENUE NW, NORTH CANTON, OH 44720


PLEASE NOTE: I’m saddened that the Covid-19 situation has shut down Kent Stark campus and thus access to this exhibit. I simply want to remember and document here that the exhibit was yet more remarkable evidence of this elegant gallery’s cultural importance to our region. I’m extremely grateful for the continuing curatorial endeavors by Professor Jack McWhorter (Kent Stark Fine Arts Dept. Coordinator) and the impeccable work by Jeff Leadbetter (Kent Stark Fine Arts Equipment Laboratory Technician) in installing all these exhibits.

   Most of the works featured in this captivating exhibit –  by Boston-based Jo Ann Rothschild, and Jeffrey Hull, who lived and worked in Boston’s South End from 1979 until his death in 2017 - are abstract paintings. Rothschild and Hull speak the same language, which is to say they’ve consciously applied moistened pigments to a flat surface - a two-dimensional picture plane. They employ the same rudimentary vocabulary elements of color, shape, and line. But beyond their basic “grammar,” their style of syntax as well as ostensible subject matter make for very divergent dialects. Talk about different strokes… 

   In some ways, Jeffrey Hull’s paintings recall the transcendence, or  spirituality, resonant in the 20th century Modernist landscapes by American painters such as Marsden Hartley, Arthur Dove and, more recently, the boldly-colored visions of Gregory Amenoff.  Hull’s iconography, however, while at times suggestive of strange terrains dense with with tangled natural forms, is a bit more enigmatic and surreal, exuding an intensely personal sort of mysticism.

   Pale Dawn and So Easy (both acrylic on canvas) are loosely painted clusters of biomorphic and angular shapes that look like they’re bundled together. Or pulled apart?  Hard to tell which, actually. It’s a chimeric ambiguity that draws you in and keeps you looking.

    Some configurations in these mindscapes look like multicellular organisms undergoing mitosis, or mutation. In these works, one passage – whether  doodled gesture, defined pattern, or contoured form – can often seem to be an automatic reply to an adjacent passage of a wholly different character. One mark or shape or color can call its immediate neighbor into being. Ses dernières pensées se trouvent ici (His very last thoughts lie here) #10 (oil on canvas) employs a more rigid linearity in how the varying shapes are joined. Additionally, Hull’s dazzling color acuity, and the carved texture of his sumptuous impasto surface, give the painting a sculpted, even architectural presence.

   The notion of painterly intuition - allowing one visual element to bring another into being (mentioned above in reference to Hull) - is a call-and-response dynamic also evident in the paintings by Jo Ann Rothschild. That said, her pictorial motifs are decidedly more diffuse and nondescript than we see in Hull’s paintings.

   Paintings such as 6-1-2013 (oil on canvas, named for the date of its completion), and Little Surprise (oil on linen), seem at first to have been made quickly, all at once. But look deeper through the veils of brushy, energetic paint movement, both visceral and gentle.  Belying that appearance of instant spontaneity is a history, a sense of flux. Actions and reactions. Colors, shapes, and marks have been altered, their rhythms re-arranged and re-ordered over time. You could think of Rothschild’s picture planes as evolving improvisatory melodies, with some passages sung softly, like distant echoes, others with real gusto, embellished with bright staccato accents. Songs about old things fading away and new things emerging.

   Some of her oil paintings here are very small (9 x 12 inches), such as July 8, 2019. “Small paintings surprise and interest me,” she wrote in her statement. “In a time of big lies. I want modest truth.” Despite their modesty of physical scale, they still sing in a big way.  
      
   Overall, the exhibit reminded me once again that my deep appreciation of abstract painting, in all its dialects, is rooted in willingness to look long and look slowly. That very act is its own reward. I can assure you that in the future, Kent Stark’s Lemmon Gallery will continue offering vigorous journeys to perceptual thresholds beyond the ordinary.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Nun but the Best in this Rousing Revival


 Nun but the Best in this Rousing Revival 

Joy Ellis

Meg Hopp

Sarah Marie Young (center)

Sarah Marie Young

Allen Cruz (center)


By Tom Wachunas

“…If you feel it, why conceal it, Let your soul rejoice! Raise the stakes! Raise your game! Raise your voice!..”  - Sister Act lyrics by Glenn Slater, from the song “Raise Your Voice”

    I raise my voice once more, as I did in response to the spectacular 2017 Players Guild mainstage production of Sister Act. The musical comedy, superbly directed by Jonathan Tisevich, was a grand success for the Guild. If you need a reminder, here’s a link to my synopsis and review:


   And thus a bar had been set, a bold standard met. Could, then, a revival of this show match that level of excellence?

   Yes, and then some. Talk about raising your game. In this iteration, exactly three years later, Tisevich has again directed a stunning cast, some reprising their 2017 roles, and all gifted with superlative talent.

   Joy Ellis reprises her role of Deloris Cartier, a wannabe disco diva, disguised as Sister Mary Clarence, hiding in a convent from her murderous, boogie-oogie club-owner boyfriend, Curtis (Mark Dillard). Radiant as ever, Ellis is a wondrously facile singer who exudes both muscular sensuality and compelling emotionality. Her voice saturates the very air with an electricity  that clearly charges the convent’s choir of nuns. In this wild narrative, Sister Mary Clarence teaches these tone-deaf sisters how to turn their bilious braying into beatific praying that soars to heights of heavenly harmonies, drawing not only new congregants to their floundering church, but the attention of the Pope himself.

   Meg Hopp has also returned, playing the wry and introspective Mother Superior. Here she gives us an even more poignant and sobering look at her character’s vexing questions and frustrations. Yet in the soulful weariness that seems to color the unique sonority of her voice, there’s remains a sense of strength and resolve. It’s simply intriguing to watch her.

   Likewise, Sarah Marie Young is commanding in her reprised portrayal of the convent’s shy, nervous postulant, Sister Mary Robert.  I don’t think I’ve ever heard Young sing – and I’ve heard her sing in many Guild productions - with more riveting fervor than in her heartfelt solo here, “The Life I Never Led.”

    Allen Cruz plays Eddie, the cop with a crush on Deloris. He’s a delightful combination of sincere ardor and lovable awkwardness.  In the show-stopping number “I Could Be That Guy” - featuring Cruz’s hilariously quick peel-away costume changes - he morphs from being a self-deprecating dreamer into a suave, hip-swaying crooner, imagining himself to be a star of stage and…life.

   Meanwhile, there’s no shortage of gut-splitting laughs when watching  Curtis’s bumbling trio of daffy thugs (Todd Cooper, Anthony Woods-Mitchell, Drake Harbert), especially when they perform an over-the-top parody of lascivious seduction in “Lady In The Long Black Dress.”

    Another endearing element of the production is the performative intensity of the nuns. Each individual is fully invested in, and enveloped by, her character, articulating a distinctive personality within the community.

   In the stirring song, “Bless Our Show,” we hear all of them joyously intone with infectious exuberance, “Bless each note, and each lyric, help us try to stay on key. Bless the lights and the soundboard, bless our choreography. From the top of the downbeat 'till the final curtain call - Bless the day, bless our show, bless it all!”

   And so, additional kudos to choreographer Lauren Dangelo, music director and conductor Steve Parsons, scenic designer Joshua Erichsen, lighting designer Frankie Castrovillari, sound designer Jake Brent, and costume designer Suwatana Rockland for their impeccable work.

   I don’t think it necessary or even accurate to call this event an outright “improvement” on the 2017 production so much as an augmentation and amplification of an already immensely entertaining enterprise. Forgive the pun, but offering consistently electrifying, artful entertainment has long been  a very admirable habit of the Players Guild.

   So here we are in 2020, blessed yet again. You could rightly call it a jubilant sensation of…déjà new.

PHOTOS: Thanks to Players Guild / Jonathan Tisevich
Sister Act, at Players Guild Theatre,  THROUGH March 15, 2020 / 1001 Market Avenue N., Canton, Ohio / Shows Fri. and Sat. at 8:00 p.m., Sunday at 2:00 p.m. / 2:00 and 8:00 on Sat. March 14 / Tickets: Single tickets - $34 ; 17 and younger - $27; Seniors -  $31 / Order at www.playersguildtheatre.com    or call 330. 493.7617 

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

An Enthralling side-by-side with the Pros


   An Enthralling side-by-side with the Pros

CSO Assistant Conductor Matthew Jenkins Jaroszewicz

In rehearsal - photo Canton Repository/Scott Heckel


By Tom Wachunas

   “Education in music is most sovereign because more than anything else, rhythm and harmony find their way to the innermost soul and take the strongest hold upon it.”  - Plato

   Unlike some other MasterWorks concerts by the Canton Symphony Orchestra (CSO), there was no single, dominant musical theme or concept  uniting the selections on its February 16 program. There certainly was, however, a unifying energy working from the podium - CSO Assistant Conductor Matthew Jenkins Jaroszewicz.

   His zestful attentiveness to the most subtle details of orchestral tone, texture, and tempo was riveting throughout the entire evening, beginning with a vivacious rendering of The Merry Wives of Windsor: Overture, by German composer Otto Nicolai. Much of the overture’s melodic content was taken from Act III of Nicolai’s 1849 opera based on the Shakespeare comedy, Falstaff. Merriment indeed, the orchestra was a rollicking embodiment of magic and mischief in a forest at moonrise, fully capturing the elfin sparkle, galloping pace, and intricate harmonic twists of the music.

   For the following two works – Finlandia, by Jean Sibelius, and Crown Imperial (Coronation March), by William Walton - the orchestra was joined by 34 members of the Canton Youth Symphony Advanced Orchestra (CYSAO), which Jaroszewicz has directed since 2017. This remarkably gifted group is comprised primarily of high school students from six counties, including Stark County. Throughout the brilliant lyricism and dramatic solemnity of Finlandia, and into the swelling grandiosity of Crown Imperial, both ensembles were bright, alert, and seamlessly blended to put forth a magnificent sonority. Excellence side-by-side with excellence.  It was highly gratifying to see and hear Jaroszewicz’s passionate commitment to the CYSAO. These young artists are compelling evidence that the future of classical music, at least in these parts, is in good hands. 

   Interestingly, after all the aural power and pomp articulated by those two works, the evening concluded with a decidedly more introspective, though no less inspiring work. In the CSO’s performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6, the “Pastorale,” the ensemble played as if immersed in an aura of contemplation, or singing a hymn of praise. Even in the brief thunderstorm sequence, there was the palpable sensation of serene reverence for the  rhythms and textures of nature. Beethoven called his symphony “…an expression of feelings rather than a painting in sound.” Accordingly, the masterful performance here was imbued with a gentle urgency as conductor and players united in a mutual probing of the music’s emotional identity. Not melodrama, but beautifully mellow.

Monday, February 17, 2020

A Funky Fraternity


A Funky Fraternity

Together, by Matthew George

Night Owls, by Matthew George

Figure Studies, by Matthew George

Research Facility, by Justin Pope

New Species, by Justin Pope

Bo Bo Dingle's Nightmare, by Justin Pope

Two Hearts, by Patrick Bell

Big Headed, by Patrick Bell

Torso 3, by Patrick Bell


By Tom Wachunas

   “The Old Soul is more inclined to be a lifelong learner, constantly feeding his thirst for insight through his own persistent efforts. His learning has not been forced into him through education or learned out of obligation, but has been absorbed out of curiosity and personal choice.” ― Aletheia Luna

EXHIBIT: Old Souls: Ceramic Sculpture, Prints & Painting by Matthew George, Justin Pope, Patrick Bell / THROUGH FEBRUARY 28, 2020 / KENT STATE UNIVERSITY AT STARK / THE WILLIAM J. AND PEARL F. LEMMON VISITING ARTIST GALLERY, in the FINE ARTS BUILDING / 6000 FRANK AVENUE NW, NORTH CANTON, OH 44720 / Gallery hours Monday – Thursday 11 a.m. – 6 p.m., Friday 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

   Each of the three artists featured in this exhibit completed his undergraduate college work at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. Matthew George is now an assistant director at Artists Image Resources, a printmaking workshop in Pittsburgh. Meanwhile, Justin Pope is pursuing his Master’s degree at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, while Patrick Bell is close to earning his at Kent State University’s main campus.

   The intriguing title of their wildly entertaining exhibit here at Kent Stark hints at something beyond their common academic past or ongoing friendship. These young “Old Souls” share a quirky psychospirituality. In some ways, the exhibit is a sympathetic nod to a much older era of artmaking that emerged during the 1960s and 70s in the form of “underground” and “countercultural” folk or pop art. Think Zap Comix, or the bizarre hilarity of Monty Python’s Flying Circus animations, to name just a few. Surreal, satirical, sobering and silly all at once.

   Half the fun here might be in making up your own narrative to connect separate works. Matthew George’s screen prints, such as his joyous “Together,” are loosely drawn and infused with bold colors that pop out from  subtle layers of implied textures. Elsewhere, are the strange birds in his “Night Owls” symbols of dream-time guardians, or sentinels of the subconscious? They stand at attention, silently watchful. Maybe they’re poised to converse with the very loud, contorted demons pictured in George’s charcoal and acrylic figure studies. Are these gargoyle-like  creatures threatening and dangerous, or are they simply laughing at their own whimsicality? 
  
   More untethered flights of edgy imagination continue in the works by Justin Pope. The delineated geometry on a black field in “Research Facility” (acrylic, screen print, and graphite) resembles an architect’s schematic for a shelter, or bunker, floating in outer space. A yellow light emanates from inside this cosmic outpost – a beacon, perhaps, symbolizing the artist as embedded in the limitless expanse of creative inspiration. And speaking of geometry, there’s Pope’s cheeky screen print and graphite “New Species (The Preservation).”  In parodying the mathematical symmetry of Leonardo da Vinci’s “Vitruvian Man,” Pope’s humorously positioned figure looks as if he’s either desperately trying to become the Renaissance model of idealized anatomical elegance, or break free from it altogether. It’s a goofy sort of dance, transpiring in a vast field of undulating waves made with accumulated concentrations of obsessively tiny pencil lines.

   Patrick Bell’s approach to human anatomy is less overtly cartoonish. His ceramic sculptures are raw, somewhat jarring examinations of body parts and exposed viscera. Innards turned outward. The surface colors can simultaneously exude morbidity and vitality. This dichotomous character of clay as an art medium is most apparent in the piece called “Two Hearts.” One of the hearts is finished ceramic – fired clay made all shiny with glaze. Is this permanent, immutable statue true to real life? The other heart is simply dried-out clay, unfired, suggesting lifelessness. It’s a stark memento of mortality, of vulnerability and corruptibility, of dust to dust.

    In thinking about this show, I remembered that during the mid-20th century, painter Jean Dubuffet’s art brut was a blunt rejection of many traditional Western art philosophies and practices, favoring instead the intoxicating power of pure expression, unfettered by academic rules. At one point he wrote, “…Let reason teeter! …Delirium!...Art must make you laugh a little and make you a little afraid. Anything as long as it doesn't bore.”

   So, then…boring art? You’ll not find it here.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Maternal Meditations


Maternal Meditations

She Nurtured Both Growth and Decay, by Carole Epp

Sleep When the Baby Sleeps, by Jessica Gardner

Internalized Norms, by Jessica Gardner

Die Mutter, by Janis Mars Wunderlich

The Navigator, by Kristen Cliffel

Passages of Transformation, by Rhonda Willers


By Tom Wachunas

“Motherhood has a very humanizing effect. Everything gets reduced to essentials.”   - Meryl Streep

“The phrase ‘working mother’ is redundant.” -Jane Sellman

“Be a full person. Motherhood is a glorious gift, but do not define yourself solely by motherhood. Be a full person. Your child will benefit from that.” ― Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

EXHIBIT: Crowns: Crossing into Motherhood / at The Canton Museum of Art, 1001 Market Ave. N., Canton, Ohio / Through March 8, 2020 / Museum hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesdays-Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays, 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays, closed Mondays. Free admission on Thursdays /

 330-453-7666 / www.cantonart.org

Exhibiting artists: Kristen Cliffel, Stephanie DeArmond, Carole Epp, Kate Fisher, Erin Furimsky, Jessica Gardner, Eva Kwong, Rose B. Simpson, Rhonda Willers, Janis Mars Wunderlich, and Summer Zickefoose

   In her eloquent statement for this exhibit, guest curator Jessica Gardner wrote, “Motherhood in our society is at a crossroads. The intersection of home, career and societal expectation is not a new one, but is now being examined through the unforgiving lens of social media and the rapid pace of contemporary society.”  Further, she noted that all of us are “… literally crowned by our mother’s hips as infants in the womb, and the role of motherhood might be described as a crowning moment for some…”

   The notion of “crowns” in this context might at first suggest a glorifying outcome - a woman’s perfectly realized aspirations to achieve a societally approved identity of the ideal mother. But navigating life’s complicated intersections can be a particularly challenging journey for a contemporary mother, strewn as it is with mixed promises of joyous fulfillment, angst and pain, failure and shame.  
     
    The eleven accomplished ceramic and mixed-media artists in this exhibit are all mothers who have probed their transformative and complex personal experiences of motherhood. All of them have made provocative works that are compelling not only in a formal aesthetic sense, but also in their emotional, spiritual, and conceptual depth.

   Many of the pieces are poignant symbols of fragility and vulnerability, struggle and searching for a reconciliation of conflicting ideas and forces. The woman’s face in Carole Epp’s “She Nurtured Both Growth and Decay” is eerily serene even as her flesh appears slashed by the passage of counted days. She wears a crown of blooming roses, like a bouquet placed at a gravestone, signaled by the gaping skull embedded in the top of her head. 

   In “Sleep When the Baby Sleeps,” by Jessica Gardner, the pious-looking woman delicately set on a teetering mound of pillows, plates and teacups resembles traditional representations of praying saints. A devotion to the incessant demands of domestic duty? There’s a similar sense of precarious balance in Gardner’s “Internalized Norms.”  An aura of peaceful determination seems to emanate from the woman’s head perched on a curvaceous pile of crinkled porcelain chips. They form a strange, unstable mountain of sorts, as if on the verge of collapse.

   The totemic figures by Janis Mars Wunderlich are  marvelously detailed, fantastical icons imbued with a primal spirituality. “Die Mutter” (The Mother), for example, is an intriguing representation of a mother’s fierce tenacity and resilience in raising children – an arresting meditation on mothers as sanctuaries, at once beloved and beleaguered.

   Kristen Cliffel’s “The Navigator” is a delightfully luminous sculpture that looks like something from a Disney cartoon. Here’s the proverbial larger-than-life Bluebird of Happiness - wide-eyed and plump – sitting contentedly on a nest of gold in a seemingly too-small boat. Ironically, this buoyant rendering of domestic expectancy might well be a cautionary tale. After all, can having babies really be so completely bright and blissful? 

    Not surprisingly, amidst the sheer diversity of styles in this exhibit, some works are bound to confound easy interpretation. None more so than Rhonda Willers’ “Passages of Transformation.”

   It’s a distinctly minimalist vision comprised of 120 ironed tissues hung from almost invisible monofilament threads attached to the wall with gold safety pins. Those pure white planes aren’t all uniformly flat, but rather undulating, as if caught by a wind. There’s a subtle tension, an enigmatic fill-in-the-blank suggestibility. Is this an allegory,  a terse metaphor for a mother’s accumulated experiences and memories?  Tissues. For wiping away tears, for comforting, for cleansing. Maybe they’re the soft, fragile pages of a life both remembered and yet to be written - variations on a theme of potentiality.

    Willers’ work is profoundly poetic in the way it embodies the overarching character of this entire exhibit. Heavy – and wondrously contemplative – lies the crown.

Friday, January 31, 2020

An Electrifying Union of Organ and Orchestra

Heather Cooper

Matthew Jenkins Jaroszewicz

An Electrifying Union of Organ and Orchestra

By Tom Wachunas

   “Organ playing is the manifestation of a will filled with the vision of eternity.”  - Charles-Marie Widor

    Among many fascinating aspects of the January 25 performance by the Canton Symphony Orchestra (CSO) was the ensemble’s untiring attentiveness to the conductor. Here was a remarkable connectivity, a sharpened focus, a palpable state of eager readiness. The musicians were always alert, ever poised to instantaneously respond, with riveting precision, to signals from the podium.

   Those signals were transmitted in delightfully animated fashion by the CSO Assistant Conductor, Matthew Jenkins Jaroszewicz. Throughout the entire concert, beginning with an exuberant performance of Berlioz’s Roman Carnival Overture, his lively baton technique was itself a kind of dancing at the podium. During the Berlioz work, he often leaned into the orchestra in flurries of pronounced gestures and prompts, as if to further embolden the whirling woodwinds, the sprightly percussion, and the blazing brass.

   The remainder of the evening featured the captivating organ soloist, Heather Cooper, in three late-19th century French works. The first of those was Alexandre Guilmant’s Symphony No. 1 for Organ and Orchestra. The work is a marvelous employment of the organ’s full range of aural colors and voicings, seamlessly integrated with the powerful sonority of strings and brass. Call it an orchestra within an orchestra. Cooper’s nuanced shaping of passages ranging from sumptuous majesty to quiet, idyllic lyricism was utterly stunning.

  Her rendering of the grand Toccata for Organ and Orchestra, the final movement of Charles-Marie Widor’s Symphony No. 5, was equally breathtaking. With bright, rhythmic punctuations from the brass and timpani, Cooper’s execution of the work’s thrilling cascades of constant staccato arpeggios, balanced with rich, syncopated chords, left the audience clamoring for more. She generously obliged with a barn-burner of an encore - J.S. Bach’s Gigue Fugue. The mesmerizing spectacle of her fingers moving along the keyboard, her feet gliding along the pedals, conjured a giddy vision in my mind: Imagine someone typing 100 words per minute while simultaneously doing a fast and intricate tap dance.

   Following the intermission, Cooper joined the full orchestra for a magnificent performance of Camille Saint-Saëns’ Symphony No. 3 in C Minor (the “Organ Symphony”). While her artistry was certainly brilliant throughout, in this complex work, the organ isn’t a stand-alone virtuosic element so much as it’s on equal footing with the orchestra. Both articulate a scintillating array of colors, textures, and moods. From serene and ethereal moments, to substantial summonings of remarkable orchestral power, Cooper and her ensemble partners formed an altogether electrifying union.

   The exhilarating symphony ended on a note of such splendorous grandeur that when conductor Matthew Jenkins Jaroszewicz finished his podium dance and turned to face the packed house, he seemed literally aglow. His triumphal, wide-eyed smile was contagious, prompting well-deserved joyous shouts of approval from all present.