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“From There to Here: Military Veterans’ Experiences” Opens To A Standing Ovation!

DVS Project

“From There to Here: Military Veterans’ Experiences” Opens To A Standing Ovation!

In a spectacular night held to further dialogue with our veterans, created and presented by veterans, “From There to Here: Military Veterans’ Experiences” opened Thursday, February 12, 2020 at New York’s historic Salmagundi Club to a standing ovation.

Curated by Duggal’s own Omar Columbus, a U.S. Air Force veteran and NYC-based photographer and poet, “From There to Here” sought to encourage an empathic conversation within and between the military and civilian communities.

Held in the Salmagundi Club’s Patrons’ Gallery, the work on display is thoughtful and thought provoking, as well as provides veterans a voice and outlet to communicate through. The veterans presenting their art are from all across the country as well as local to NYC,  they come from all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, and their experiences span from World War II through to the present conflicts.

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Elizabeth Spencer, President of the Salmagundi Club opened the evening and introduced Karen Loew, Committee Chair of the Salmagundi Club’s Coast Guard Art Program (COGAP) to thank the evening’s sponsors. Loew and Paul Murray, co-curator of the exhibition, presented Roy DeFranco of the Naval Order of the United States NY Commandery with a mug handmade by Ehren Tool, US Marine Corps veteran and potter, for their generous support of COGAP’s  activities on behalf of military veterans. Duggal’s Marc Lovci was also presented with a handmade mug by Tool for his tireless work promoting veterans’ art through the Duggal Big Picture Foundation. The Big Picture Foundation sponsored the evening and produced some of the work for the exhibition.

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Following the thank you’s, Omar Columbus officially opened the evening with his poem When I Sleep. Omar was then succeeded by Phil Milio, Vietnam veteran and FIT professor, with his reading of Dad’s Cigars,  from There to Here and back. We were then treated to Chris Barnes’ poem The Stigma. An active duty member of the US Air Force currently serving in Virginia, Barnes and Columbus were once stationed together in Colorado Springs. Jenny Pacanowski, Iraq War veteran and Founder & Director of Women Veterans Empowered & Thriving, closed the poetry portion of the evening with Selfless Slaughter.

Next came a performance by Exit12, a veteran-pioneered contemporary dance company led by Roman Baca. He began with the story of how Exit12 was created after he returned from war. Their work is committed and devoted to serving those who have been touched by conflict by expressing their stories. He was then followed by Adrienne De La Fuente, Company Manager & Dancer. Dressed in a camo jacket and flat hat, De La Fuente’s performance combined music and movement to a spoken word narrative telling of isolated dissociation prerecorded by Baca. Lisa Fitzgerald, Associate Director & Dancer ended the evening of live performances with a movement set to the frantic anxieties of one’s inner monologue.

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As this wonderful evening of veterans’ stories and experiences came to a close, all the veterans who performed and whose work is on display took a bow to a standing ovation.

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“From There to  Here: Military Veterans’ Experiences” will be on view at the historic Salmagundi Club in Manhattan, New York through February 21, 2020. Hosted in the Patrons’ Gallery, the exhibit is open free of charge to the public, Monday through Friday 1–6 PM, Saturday and Sunday 1– 5PM.

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