Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Bob’s Art Blog: Earth Day at Home

“My Inner Nirvana” by Katelyn Buchan

The 50th anniversary of Earth Day takes place tomorrow.

“April brought us springtime and the promise of the flowers,” wrote musician Dave Loggins back in 1972.

We all could use a reason to celebrate this spring when a month ago looked very dark on the horizon. Wednesday, April 22, is over the hump day, and it is important to celebrate Earth Day if only in our hearts and with our friends (with social distancing as life’s yardstick times two) and loved ones. The theme this year is climate change, and there is positive news on that forefront. For now, we visit vignettes from art before and after the stay-at-home order.

Katelyn Buchan, featured artist on view before the pandemic hit at Elementary Coffee Co.’s North Street location, shares an affinity with her love of nature. Among otherworldly motifs, Ms. Buchan finds that painting centers her spirit and focus as was depicted on the wall at Elementary. Her philosophy reflects a mood of inner peace and transcendence that we all long to feel during these uncertain times. Her paintings are rich in color and texture. “My Inner Nirvana” is a dramatic oil on canvas. The thought process behind the painting reveals an artist in touch with a greater meaning of life when she states, “I bow in gratitude…to nature.”

Just a few blocks away at St. Stephen’s Cathedral’s Riverfront Gallery, artist John McNulty’s oil paintings are also behind shuttered doors for now. Paintings include “Summer Shade,” which provides depth and movement in a monochromatic, lush verdant tree creating its own respite for peace and tranquility. “Chronicle,” a study in close-up of a multicolored tree branch in its stages of growth, reflects light and shadows. “Conversations” shows friends congregating, which speaks to the gratitude we will share when we can all be together again. Among other accolades attributed to McNulty is being recognized as one of the Seven Lively Artists and as a painting instructor for the Hershey Area Art Association. In addition, he is one of the artists in residence at the Millworks (Studio 210 to be exact) and is a painter whose medium of choice for now is sumptuous oils. Representative of earth’s beauty are his studies of trees in their rebirth of the seasonal cycle to lift the spirit of on-lookers yet to be. Both artists share a love and appreciation for the natural beauty around them.

“Conversation” by John McNulty

This Earth Day is all the more remarkable in that it is the golden anniversary of the first one held back in 1970. There is a certain irony in that the one thing we are able to do this time around is hug a tree. The universal theme celebrated worldwide in 193 countries is climate change. For those bowing in humble reverence to Mother Earth, now is a great time to recalibrate how the world going forward can globally alter the climate change crisis. As recently editorialized by a bio-scientist in the New York Times, there is already a dramatic change in the reduction of greenhouse gases released in the atmosphere due to nations all around the world staying at home. The air is already noticeably cleaner in China and Italy from this reversal.

Through this all, we hope we will have more compassion for one another, a greater sense of community and gratitude for the slowed-down time with family which, for some, led to time working on creative endeavors together. On a recent sunny afternoon, neighborhood budding artists created color chalk flowers, rainbows, stars and hearts to bring smiles to those enjoying time outdoors—a relevant reminder that the innocence of children sheds a light that we, as adults, sometimes lose sight of in our focus on the very things we have no control over. It is the children who continue to believe in and see the beauty all around us, especially during this special time of year. (Pictured: “Rainbow” by Brandi, Madden and Kendall.)

Go safely outdoors and breathe in the fresh air, sunshine and take in the beauty of nature. Keep safe and positive and hopeful. These are some “Pieces of April … for a morning in May.”

Art can sustain us in uncertain times, enrich our lives when it seems there is little else to offer solace, and give us hope that through the creativity of the human spirit, mankind will not only endure but survive and thrive in the days ahead.

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