ArtsNow Patron Spotlight: Terry Kuhn

Art audiences, supporters, and patrons are all vital to a healthy arts and culture sector. This new blog series will highlight some of the people who make the arts work in Summit County. (Have somebody you want to nominate for the spotlight? Reach out to becky@ampstrategy.com.)

Art needs and deserves an audience and advocates. In our newest series, the ArtsNow Patron Spotlight, we’re putting the stories of our local arts patrons front and center. In this first edition, we meet Summit County resident Terry Kuhn. Terry retired from Goodyear, is a grandfather to three adorable kids, and is one of the forces moving the Himalayan Arts Language and Cultural Academy (HALCA) forward as a cultural asset.

Q: What is your earliest memory of the arts?

My earliest memory of any involvement in the arts was taking piano lessons at age 5. My mother bought a used upright player piano and had someone come to our house and give me lessons. I was not a good pupil and not ready for the required concentration, but it was exposure and I do retain the memory of that and to listening to 78 rpm records of the pianist Frankie Carl. My mother played his recordings all the time.

Q: What was your first introduction to the arts scene in Summit County?

My first introduction to the arts scene in Summit County was attending a concert of the Akron Symphony Orchestra in E. J. Thomas Hall on the campus of the University of Akron. The hall itself was a work of art and the concert was musically impressive.

Q: How do the arts in Summit County impact your life?

I read the Akron Beacon Journal for information about artistic events, artists, musicians, and reviews of performances in this area. I am also familiar with several Bhutanese/Nepalese musicians who have resettled in the Akron area after they lost 18 years of their lives in refugee camps in Nepal when the Bhutanese army forced them out of their homes in Bhutan. They suffered without instruments, food, water, and electricity, all the while hoping and dreaming for an opportunity to develop their musical talents, and to share their involvement with others throughout the world. The Himalayan Music Academy represents the establishment in the United States of America as a place where those talents and skills can be developed and shared.

Q: What artist or arts organization in Summit County do you wish more people knew about?

Coming from the near-to-heaven slopes of the majestic Mount Everest to the less majestic but prominent North Hill area of Akron, Ohio are many musicians and artists who are working to make up for the years lost in refugee camps. They lost those years of their lives, not through their actions, but because of the racism of the Bhutanese government. The Himalayan Music Academy (soon to be renamed, in an expanded role, as the Himalayan Arts Language and Cultural Academy) under the leadership of guitarist, vocalist, and composer Puspa Gajmer is an example of their desire to learn and share their culture. Other local Nepalese musicians include Amber Subba and Bishnu Thecool. They often perform together with others as The Druk Fusion Band.

San Bahadur Tamang is a painter who resettled from Nepal in 2012. San was born in Bhutan and had to leave when the Bhutan army forced his parents to leave Bhutan, with only four days’ notice, angrily telling them “Bhutan is not your country! Get out! Or else!”  He was just three years old when he, his family, and over 100,000 other people from southern Bhutan were exiled. In the camps he turned to painting as a way to find beauty and bring happiness into the world. Some of his most exquisite paintings are done on leaves from the ornamental Bodhi Tree, the tree under which Buddha sat when he found enlightenment. 

When he is in the Akron area, Sushil Bishwakarma is a world-class Bansuri (bamboo flute) performer. He has performed in England, Hong Kong, Baunei, Korea, Sikkim, and India while making recordings and having filled the airwaves of Nepal Radio. 

Q: What is a “can’t miss” Summit County arts experience?

The Akron Symphony Orchestra, The Akron Art Museum, and The Himalayan Arts Language and Cultural Academy.