A new exhibit, “Design for the Stage: The Scenic Art of John E. Bielenberg,” will open at Waterfall Art’s Clifford Gallery Friday, April 1 with a public reception from 5 to 7 p.m.

John Bielenberg has degrees from Carroll College, Northwestern University and Ohio State University (PhD), all in theater.  He taught at Eastern Illinois University before beginning his long association with the State University of New York at Binghamton, now Binghamton University. He was chairman of the theater department there from 1976 to 1992, during which time he founded the Cider Mill Playhouse in Endicott, N.Y., and served as its producing director for 16 years. The Playhouse is still flourishing, more than 30 years later.

Though principally a scenic designer, with more than 200 productions to his credit, Bielenberg also has enjoyed numerous acting and directing opportunities including an 18-season run as Ebenezer Scrooge in the Cider Mill’s annual presentation of his adaptation of “A Christmas Carol.” He is a Professor Emeritus at Binghamton University and lives in Belfast.

Bielenberg said that a scene design exhibit is, first and foremost, an opportunity to view some “lost art,” for stage settings are nearly as ephemeral as the performances they enhance. With the notable exception of sets created for long-run commercial hits, most scenery is destroyed within a few weeks after completion.

“Though this is an accepted reality for designers working in theater, considering the amount of creative energy, time and money expended, it is, nevertheless, an unfortunate reality. Production photos, while not the form in which the original designs were meant to be experienced, do provide us with the means to recapture a bit of the original ‘stage magic,'” he said.

The exhibit will continue through Friday, April 29. In conjunction with the exhibit, Bielenberg will give a talk on designing for the stage and show examples of his work Tuesday, April 26 at 7 p.m. The talk is free, but donations to Waterfall Arts are always welcome.

Clifford Gallery hours are Tuesdays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and by appointment; to arrange a visit, call 338-2222. Waterfall Arts is located at 256 High St. For more information, visit waterfallarts.org.

VillageSoup Art/Entertainment Editor Dagney Ernest can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by email to dernest@villagesoup.com.