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Croton Falls' Schoolhouse Theater Exhibits Local Artists

The work of Michael Mapes (left) and Tom Christopher (right) is on exhibit at Croton Falls' Schoolhouse Theater until the end of March.
The work of Michael Mapes (left) and Tom Christopher (right) is on exhibit at Croton Falls' Schoolhouse Theater until the end of March. Photo Credit: Katherine Pacchiana

NORTH SALEM, N.Y. – The current production at Croton Falls' Schoolhouse Theater centers on an artist, so the Schoolhouse invited two celebrated local artists to exhibit their works in the Gallery.

South Salem's internationally recognized Tom Christopher has been dubbed an “urban expressionist” because his paintings reflect the rhythms and vitality of city life. The New Yorker (magazine) wrote: “Monet has his water lilies and Tom Christopher has Times Square.”

The works of Croton Falls' Michael Mapes are in unique contrast to Christopher’s. Whereas Christopher’s art practically splashes across the canvas, Mapes’s work is meticulously organized and carefully assembled. Christopher’s art mainly rushes horizontally, Mapes captures his subjects laterally.

Much of Mapes’s Schoolhouse portraiture was created especially for this show and depicts specific people who have been significant in the theater’s development. Using snippets of photographs, pins and capsules, he practically sculpts a recognizable image by expanding two dimensions to three.

Some of his art is inspired by the Hamsa, a hand-shaped amulet with a single eye, commonly employed in other cultures as a symbol of protection.

“I started doing this about seven years ago,” Mapes said “and now I do it full time. I used to work as a product developer, an idea guy. I’ve created products for direct mail, retail and museum stores and [at one point] I sold several hundred thousand t-shirts.” Mapes also produced and edited TV shows, films and talk shows.

Though always an artist, Tom Christopher has taken a circuitous route to his present style. He worked as a muralist, an illustrator, a courtroom artist, and at the Disney studios. Once he was caught up in the human forces and urgency of city life, however, his current art form began to evolve.

Discussing his painting, “Just an Old Flame,” at the Artists’ Reception on Saturday, Christopher said, “People come to New York for something -- to make something of themselves or to escape something, whether it’s poverty or politics or dad’s dry goods store in Ohio. Some people rise above the challenges, others are hammered down.”

His philosophy is simple. “I find if you have something to say, just paint,” he said. “Most of the time it will find its own way.”

The Christopher/Mapes Exhibition will be on display in The Gallery at The Schoolhouse Theater until the end of March.

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