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Arts & Culture

New year rituals spark creativity for Northeast Ohio artists

A detail view of visual artist Kate Snow's "Good Day Green" painting.
Kate Snow
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A detail view of visual artist Kate Snow's "Good Day Green" painting.

New year rituals may or may not be for everyone. But habits and intention setting can often spark something positive. A handful of Northeast Ohio artists working in different mediums share how they are nurturing creativity in the new year.

Mary Biddinger - Writer, editor, professor

The new year is Mary Biddinger’s favorite holiday. She relishes the chance to break out a new calendar, specifically a planner.

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Mary Biddinger
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“The planner is just totally analog,” she said. “It’s me, some gel pens and some days and some lines and some unlined things.”

Some of the best things she writes in her planner are in the back, non-calendar pages, she said.

“I'll write down like repeated motifs that I see. I'll also write down different books I've read, movies that I've watched, and so, it kind of becomes like this sort of old-school repository for everything for the year,” Biddinger said.

This ritual enables her to look back later, not to benchmark accomplishments but revisit a time, she said.

“Thinking about the calendar, thinking about what happened on this day five years ago can make me like, reconnect with something that I'd forgotten that I want to bring back up again in a piece of writing,” Biddinger said.

Kate Snow - Visual artist

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Kate Snow
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Kate Snow doesn’t have new year rituals. But this year she is trying to redefine herself as an artist due to long-term health issues that prevent her from painting the way she used to.  

"It took me a while to acknowledge that this was not going away," she said. 

Never one for writing in a journal, Snow is now journaling by painting.

“I come in the studio every day and I work for as long as I can, and every day is different. One day I can come in for three hours. That's a really, really good day. And another day I can come in for 20 minutes,” she said. “Rather than trying to build out a full piece, I'm taking each piece and acknowledging this is what it is. This is my reality today.”

Comparison view of "Bad Day Blue" and "Good Day Green" by Kate Snow
Kate Snow
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Comparison view of "Bad Day Blue" and "Good Day Green" by Kate Snow

Scaling down the size and scope of her pointillist paintings is just part of her effort to forge a new path.  Another aspect is observing, whether reading about other artists’ techniques or taking a photo of a tile she sees in a Starbucks bathroom.

“I have tried to be really intentional about seeking out textures and colors and sort of filing them away in my bank to use at another time,” she said.

Dominic Moore-Dunson - Dancer and choreographer

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Michael Cannon
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At the start of the new year Dominic Moore-Dunson likes to ask, “What am I looking forward to?” rather than “What am I going to accomplish?”

For 2022, he is setting a new intention for his work.

“I'm looking forward to collaborating with artists that are not in dance, but across disciplines, starting that as kind of like a foundational practice of my work,” he said.

He gave this a try in 2021 when he choreographed a piece with horn player Tommy Lehman.

“You start thinking about like what things sound like a whole lot more. And then for me as a choreographer, I start wondering, like what my body sounds like and how it relates to music and how we build a piece together,” he said.


Victor Samalot - Musician

Guitarist Victor Samalot said he, too, would like to collaborate more in the new year.

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Peter Maizitis
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“These days when a musician is recording with you, they don't have to be in the same room with you. They can always send their tracks via the internet,” Samalot said.

This is just one of the ways Samalot said technology helps him as a musician. He said he plans to keep growing his computer recording skills this year. Staying positive helps too.

“I try not to be overly critical, because it's just going to set me back,” he said. “Put [work] down. Give it a rest. Just walk away from it, and come back to it in a couple of days.”
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