by Dana Reese
While travelling up Stroudsburg’s Main Street, you may not notice the changes in all of the small glass storefronts or pay much attention to what’s inside, but located right next to the Sherman Theater, The Living Room is looking to become the new cultural center of Monroe County. From art to fashion and with ranges of musical artists from all over the area, the venue is quickly grabbing the attention of artists as a new spot to mingle and share creations.
On Saturday, September 1, the venue hosted “The ‘Identity’ Show & Masquerade Ball” in which local artists’ works were hung and everyone was “encouraged to wear masquerade attire.” Much of the crowd came in garb, including the man in charge of art shows at the venue, Shane Izykowski.
Izykowski, dressed in a velveteen green coat with a long-nosed mask and bright silver-colored contacts, was eager to talk with The Courier about the show, the venue, and his work.
“We are doing different kinds of events. These aren’t just stuffy art shows where people are standing around, sipping wine and eating cheese. We’re having a masquerade ball, we have a performer coming later, we just had a trash fashion show, and a local magazine just printed a whole bunch of pictures form that,” Izykowski said. “For such a long time the arts weren’t thriving as much as they should have been. What we’re doing is trying to bring the arts back to life in the area.”
As well as his art, pieces from all over the community were featured, including students from East Stroudsburg University.
“Not only do we have regular students, but we have on our committee Darlene LaBar, who is a professor at ESU,” said Izykowski. “We had some of the Shanghai students that are here submit pieces to the show, as well.”
As well as concerts and art shows, The Living Room has an open mic night every Sunday. The concert and art show schedules are less regular, but the venue is able to offer smaller acts at a cheaper price.
“We have this really interesting set of circumstances where we don’t have to charge people to come in; it’s owned by the Sherman and the Sherman pretty much backs everything. So, we’re not pressured to make a huge profit every single month,” said Izykowski.
After the 6 pm opening time, the room of art quickly filled with costumed and regular guests, mingling and admiring the art. Photographers walked around, asking to take pictures of the attendees, and the small room on Main Street quickly felt like an underground New York art venue.
Narlene Jacobs, an East Stroudsburg resident, happily snapped photos of everyone, praising the costumes and art.
“I’m a big fan of Shane. I think he’s done a remarkable job with The Living Room,” Jacobs said. “I think the talent that he’s showing is remarkable. It’s even better because most of these events are free.”
Walking into The Living Room, no one hounded the guests for donations or looked down on guests who didn’t come in costume. Everything was easy, open, and friendly. Mr. Izykowski travelled the floor in full costume welcoming guest like familiar friends. He was just as open about inviting ESU students.
“What we’re trying to do with ESU is we’re trying to bridge the gap,” explained Izykowski. We want to get as many students over here as possible so the area can become known as a cultural center, rather than just ‘let’s go to Main Street and drink.’ Come take a look at art, listen to some live music and stuff like that. I’m trying to get as many people involved from ESU as possible.”
The Living Room is a great night out for any student looking to get out of the dorms or off the campus for a little while and also a great place for students to put talents on display in a non-threatening environment.
“The thing with this space is the sky’s the limit,” Izykowski said. “We have no rules; we have no limitations, petty much. We can kind of do whatever we want.”
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