Patchen kicks off Summerfest

Warren artist / poet / author Kenneth Patchen is the inspiration for the 10th Summerfest, and an exhibition showcasing his diverse work opens Saturday at Trumbull Art Gallery as a kick off for this year’s event.

On display in the main gallery will be more than 20 original silk screens from private collectors; reproductions of his exuberant poem paintings from the Sierra Club book, “The Voice and Vision of Kenneth Patchen: What Shall We Do Without Us?”; and pictures and posters from the Kenneth Patchen Coffee Stop at Trumbull Memorial Hospital.

A row of his books, including “The Journal of Albion Moonlight,” “The Doubleheader,” “Because It Is” and “Selected Poems,” will be on view as well as catalogs from Trumbull Art Gallery’s 1989 Kenneth Patchen Literary Festival and other Patchen-related events.

Patchen was born in Niles in 1911 and grew up in Warren, graduating from Warren G. Harding High School. The author of novels, plays and several volumes of poetry, Patchen was an influence on many of the Beat generation writers of the 1950s (Lawrence Ferlinghetti came to Warren for the 1989 literary festival). He also was influential for combining different art forms. He was one of the first poets to read his work while accompanied by live music, and he fused the written word and art in his poetry paintings.

Summerfest will feature about 25 classes and workshops, primarily for children, leading up to a parade on June 28 around Courthouse Square in downtown Warren.

TAG’s West Gallery will showcase memorabilia from past Summerfests and honor Kip Minnick, who was an active volunteer with Summerfest until his death in April. Shortly before his death, Minnick created several paintings inspired by Patchen’s work that target the realities of Warren, which will be displayed.

“What Shall We Do Without Us?: Painted Poem Paintings by Kenneth Patchen” will be on display through July 20 at TAG, 198 E. Market St., Warren. An opening reception is planned from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday with a birthday cake to mark the event’s 10th anniversary.

For more information, call 330-395-4876.