Bob’s Art Blog: Hangover Art, Hanging Art and Turning 100

Gallery Walk attendees watch artist Jonathan Frazier work on a painting at the Riverfront Gallery at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Cathedral. Photo credit: Jana MacGinnes

After five exhilarating and sometimes exhausting hours in Downtown, Midtown and all around yesterday for Gallery Walk, the 34e editing is “conversation”. My partner commented that it was the best kind of artistic hangover she had ever experienced.

The Silver Screen brought part of Tinsel Town to the Burg with the Harrisburg Arts Association (AAH) saluting Hollywood in grand style. Hats off to Carrie Wissler-Thomas, CEO and Rachel O’Connor, curator and, as Ed Sullivan would say, “It was a really great show.” The weather did not dampen spirits, only adding an air of intrigue to the day.

For two of the winners of the AAH Member Lounge, the first name had to be Jeff. Jeff Bye won “Best of Show” with his large-scale oil painting, “Everett Theater.” His work demonstrated his love for old, abandoned movie theaters – this one in decay in Boston. Bewitching and dreamlike, her memories linger from the past. Jeff Wiles took the top spot in photography with a nostalgic nod to the drive-ins of yesteryear in his black-and-white study, “Last Picture Show,” artfully staged and filmed forever.

‘Everett Theatre’, an oil painting by Jeff Bye, won the ‘Best in Show’ award at the Art Association of Harrisburg exhibition. Photo credit: Jana MacGinnes

Art’s hangover was helped by Gallery Walk’s impromptu after-party at milling, where many artists gathered at the bar. Zack Rudy and Brooke De Marco of Huckle Buckle Boys held court to regale us with a “Tale of Two Cities” – Philadelphia the day before with a story you couldn’t make up and now back in Harrisburg and so happy to to be at the house. Reina “R76” Wooden performed a live demo outside the doors of the Millworks restaurant and made a point of directing performers to the bar, including Paul Zemaitis of Moonrise Candle Company, who shared, “Foot traffic was steady all day for Gallery Walk.” Rebecca Adey of Mod Sew Designs led the way with a big smile and dog stories to melt your heart. General photographer Larry Washington, Jr arrived after taking some great photos at the AAH early in the day.Jonathan Frazier dropped by after his painting demonstration at St. Stephen’s Riverfront Gallery.Larry exchanged tips and banter on camera with Jonathan as the two weighed in on the angles and overtures. PD Murray and Tina Barrier share a zen bond with camaraderie to spare. This dynamic duo will be joined by Tami Bitner for the new show featured on the lobby wall which opens this Friday for 3rd in the Bourg. Closing the first hour with a hint of reckless bravado, PD imposed on the chef the soup of all things, for which I will be eternally grateful. Thank you, Mr. Murray. The wandering bon vivants added to the “bohemian rhapsody” vibe, reaching a swell of laughter and frivolity. And to all the art lovers who visited museums, murals, churches, galleries and restaurants yesterday, you are all winners.

Jeff Wiles’ “Last Picture Show” won first prize in photography at the Art Association of Harrisburg exhibition. Photo credit: Jana MacGinnes

Art hanging from CALC

In the GB Stuart Gallery, friendship and painting go hand in hand as female artists and age-old compatriots Peg Belcastro and Gail Walden Coleman express different perspectives in the exhibition “Landscapes of the heart and landscapes. In his own words, Walden Coleman “follows the feelings of his heart” in his intuitive works reflecting his emotional barometer. Belcastro’s love of the lush surroundings one can find in a forest is deeply imbued from a painterly perspective, capturing “the landscape with exciting, bold color”. A study on the other hand shows once again that opposites attract. The abstraction of Gail’s paintings is precisely juxtaposed with Belcastro’s panoramic views rooted in realism. Instead of creating dissonance as one might expect, they draw viewers into two distinct worlds – one with open possibilities, the other taken at face value generously sprinkled with imagination and color. Together or separately, each allows introspection and reflection. “You have a friend in me…” and so do they!

You know you’re old when your doctor recommends a high fiber diet. So we were thrilled to learn about CALC’s new show, opening Friday, September 23—“Wire (not) common”, showcasing fiber art in all its glory, in the upstairs gallery. It will be a contrast and complement to “Heartscapes and Landscapes” below. Curator “Dr.” Cathy Stone, my new art dietician, has assembled a gallery of textile technicians, highly skilled artisans so adept at their craft that “magician” might be a more apt description. Weavers, dreamers and practitioners of tradition, transcending timeless tactile interest, come full circle to a contemporary cache perfect for tomorrow’s stage. Stone’s coterie of artist-jurors run the gamut from eco-dyeing, tapestry weaving, knitting, embroidery, felting, saori weaving and lacework among paper, paint and found materials . A total of 31 pieces were selected, barely 40% of the applications submitted. There is no one better qualified to judge these selected works than guest artist and quintessential felting facilitator, Erma Yost, a renowned Carlisle resident.

Outstanding examples of East Coast artisans include quilting in its many forms. Layered organza and cotton fabrics by Holly Cole are dyed, hand-embroidered, patterned and quilted in free motion. Meghan Udell has used hand-knit “Morse code” in her own unique way. Linda Syverson and Liz Danish are other Quixote Quixotes. Originally from central Pennsylvania, Carol Reed, CALC instructor, fiber artist and land art enthusiast, specializes in natural blended fiber dyeing. Additionally, the only wearable art was created by Jana MacGinnes with a flower fusion tunic via roses adorning the neckline and a recessed hemline with twisted fabric, much like trailing vines blending romance and fiber, like a sonnet garden that captures the fleeting fantasy of beauty. . Considered as a whole, this collection of more than 30 people weaves a dream of aesthetic acclaim where art meets craftsmanship in a cozy atmosphere. Listen carefully as the works whisper to you.

To be 100 years old

It took me 50 years to turn 100 into my writing career, starting with Harrisburg Independent Press in 1972. I never thought I’d see 100…not years, mind you. But this blog denotes my greatest century of art chronicles for TheBurg, including “The Painted Word” and “Bob’s Art Blog”. After my first 3rd in Burg’s cover on the Charlie Feathers show at H*MAC on St. Patrick’s Day 2019, I thought, what happens next? At that time, I had to check with my editor, Lawrance Binda, for topics before going on a mission. Long story short, TheBurg was recently honored for “distinguished service to the arts” to the region in 2022. We were honored to be included that evening at the Whitaker Center to see Lawrance and TheBurg staff—Lauren Maurer, Kelsey Tatge and Artistic Director Megan Caruso – celebrated by the cast of Theater Harrisburg. It’s time to turn 100!

September Art Events

September 16: 3rd in the Burg citywide events
September 17: Hummelstown Arts Festival – 170 artist-jurors on Main St from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
September 23: CALCOpening of the art exhibition “Heartscapes and Landscapes” and “(un)Common Threads” from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

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