At one end, the Susquehanna Art Museum spans most of the block. At the other, a cluster of shops, services and spaces comprise a charming collective.
Friday’s 3rd in the Burg felt like Halloween came early this year. Like dutiful “trick or treaters,” we went door to door, and we must have passed the test. As it turned out, it was all treats and no tricks, with some surprises along the way. The best of which was when stepping out of our first stop, we were swept up in a flurry of fleet-footed faithful, following the Sprocket Mural Tour up 3rd to view the latest installations. Whoosh! For a second, this group of 20 to 30 flew by like “The Flash.”
That first stop, the Nyianga Store at 1423, proved to be a great jumping off point for art. A native of Cameroon, the proprietress, Chantal Nga Eloundou, was espousing the merits of her all-natural shea butters while handing out samples to visitors stopping by. It was her first 3rd in the Burg opening. The colorful shop, “where fashion meets nature,” is filled with art, clothing, jewelry, leather goods and much more, presented in a rainbow of colors regal and rich, all created by artists from her homeland.
“Stretching” to 1417½ , we met up with our unofficial tour guide, the “Quicksilver Quixote” of 3rd Street, Erika Malorzo, the force behind commUnity yoga space. She has provided Harrisburg with a wellness space for all the right reasons. Beyond the “pay what you can” philosophy, she also subscribes to the altruistic anthem of community caring in that, for the community at large to be healthy, “it must be based on people’s love and concern for each other” (Millard Fuller). The art there was on the yoga mats filled to capacity, chilling out to Chelsea Caroline and her daughter Selah Bowman’s entrancing escapism on the handpan drum.
A quick pause for sweet sustenance at Dalicia Bakery and Coffee Shop at 1419 allowed us to meet the owners Ajla and Samra Alic behind the counter while taking in the local art on their walls (pictured, the alley courtyard at Dalicia). Malorzo stepped away from her entrepreneurial duties long enough to escort us to Hertrich Fine Art at 1421. After all, she knew the secret passage. Going in the door leading to Ten Toes Shoes, a men’s footwear store, also gave entry upstairs to a whole new world where owner Michael Hertrich waxed poetic on collecting fine art. Settling in amongst the gallery full of visually virtuosic paintings and photographs set the tone for his discourse.
Hertrich made a cogent argument for being a conscientious collector. Art, like any other luxury commodity, should be its own reward for the purest of reasons—a deep appreciation for the object. Hertrich was enthusiastically engaging and enlightening in his frank discussion about his life’s passion of collecting art. The eponymous gallery provides art from classical to contemporary with the emphasis skewing to the latter. Hertrich, a successful art dealer with a 30-year run in Pittsburgh and an artist himself, moved to Harrisburg, opening the gallery in August. He brought with him a stable of Steel City artists and wants to do the same for Harrisburg. For now, Linda Benton McCloskey and Kevyn Knox hold an inside track upstairs. Both Harrisburg artists, Benton McCloskey is ensconced at Millworks and Knox has works at H*MAC.
An evening out on a crisp fall night, exploring a section of the 1400-block on N. 3rd Street, made for a treat of an evening. Delicious baked goods at Dalicia Bakery, exotic art both wearable and wall worthy at Nyianga Store, catching the “Om” vibe at commUNITY and being educated in the world of fine art at the newly opened Hertrich Gallery were all treats and no tricks.
Sunday afternoon at the Susquehanna Art Museum completed the 3rd “Street” in the Burg weekend. Artist Valeri Larko with her hybrid plein air paintings, fused with her love of abandonment, presented a guided tour of her works for SAM patrons in the lobby gallery. Her work is on view through Nov. 17. A shout-out to arts local “band on the run,” as the Harrisburg Sketchers’ final week at the SAM in the DeSoto Family Vault runs through Oct. 27. A group of impromptu artists, the Sketchers bring a street scene symposium that contrasts with Larko’s studied style of specificity. Thirty-five years of painting the urban landscapes that hide in plain sight of New Jersey and the Bronx has afforded Larko an insider’s cache of commerce. She “trades” in what most would view as unremarkable points of (dis)interest. Abandoned lots, parks and buildings speak to her from the highways and byways that exit to nowhere. She seeks them out amongst the graffiti grafted onto geographical gateways, making “tags” glamorous and galvanizing in the same breath. In the end, Larko states that she “finds beauty in the every day; the extraordinary in the ordinary.”