Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Bob’s Art Blog: Jessie Waite’s Map to Somewhere & Millworks IV

As an artist removed from the hum of city life, Jessie Waite is attuned to a slower pace where the beauty of the day slowly unfolds.

For me, the mystery began with not knowing exactly where Jessie Waite’s paintings would lead in their abstract form until I realized they would provide me with the map to somewhere and a place where new adventure lies just around the bend, well worth the trip.

Discovering great art and getting to share it is a lot like driving in a convertible on the perfect summer day with no agenda or plan in mind. Miss Waite is an abstract artist and, by definition, the adjective in this case refers to an idea or existing in thought but not having a concrete existence. When applied to art, it becomes nonrepresentational and yet has substance. Think of Jessie’s paintings as an atlas of imagination. There are no defined routes, no legend to reference for clues, and yet the road is wide open and the scenery poetic.

When viewing her art, you are in the driver’s seat, and the options are endless. Honing her craft for years has allowed insight well beyond her age. She is self-taught, working in an abstract form with acrylic paints, and her canvas is the oyster before her, which is found under the heading of intrigue.

Jessie collects “C’s” as if they were jellybeans that spilled over the top of the bag. A capital “C” for “Color” lays the foundation for the map to form. The palette reflects a pure sense of life-affirming shades; a wispy blue, grassy green, barn red and mellow yellow form landmarks along the way. Whatever the color choices, they end in harmony, creating vistas that always lead somewhere, guided by an internal sense of wonder. In her painting, “Untitled #1,” the road trip unfolds, driving to a visible destination in the distance with landmarks dotting the landscape. All are delivered in snapshots of a bigger picture. The lake, the lookout point, the mountain peaks are all represented by space and shades complementary to their perceived ideals. Waite chooses a color scheme that lends itself to the fluid notion of form following function. The overall impact is complete within the frame. You have arrived at your destination.

“Untitled #1”

“Contour” provides the promise of a third dimension, one both atmospheric and interposed, almost out of body or, so da Vinci alluded to, regarding its state of being. “Untitled #2,” given the colors bright and buoyant in reds and blues, takes one behind closed doors to an interior space, a bedroom not a boudoir. The eye goes from zero to 60 in a flash, showcasing bed and coverings blending dramatically just so in the contained environment of a room.

“Untitled #2”

It is especially nice when, given a busman’s holiday, I get to break out my map to Jessie Waite’s art in an unexpected journey, off the beaten path. “Untitled #3” offers a painting of New Mexico’s basin and range. A pueblo is off to the left of the frame, and a Joshua tree bereft of foliage is found in the flat, arid valley. The image evokes a place in the great Southwest. And so the journey continues unimpeded by any construction sites. The mile markers evaporate in the rearview mirror. That adventure in my mind’s eye takes me to the back roads of beauty and beyond. The imagined byways of verdant fields, hay twists, snow-covered pines and a crystal-blue lake share the continuous thread of the seasons. They all exist in the fertile fancy that Jessie lays before her audience. She illustrates these views to create prosaic imagery. Layering all elements of shape, color and expression with a movement that is undeniably hers, she develops a depth of drama with alarming alacrity. Inspired by countryside sojourns and majestic views of the Susquehanna River with its surrounding environs, her work demonstrates an artist who, in the moment of everyday living, finds fascination in the ordinary hum of the earth’s turning.

“Untitled #3”

Abstraction allows for an open-ended conversation, a free form verse of vital importance and somehow, at the same time, gives a sense of contentment in being able to enjoy the simplest pleasures of life as the perfect summer day unfolds—a great day for a drive with the top down. I think someone may be Waite-ing by the road.

To view Jessie’s paintings, Instagram @jessiewaiteart or at


Millworks IV through July 11

The backstory: Nothing in life happens randomly. Even the convergence of art and artists now grouped together on the main lobby wall leading into the Millworks restaurant for a preview highlights a July 3 “First Saturday” celebration. As the nation awaits Independence Day, there is no better time to feature a group of equally talented, individually independent artists—except two of the five share partners in their studios.

The moment captured in the accompanying photos was graciously arranged by Millworks art director, Tara Chickey, allowing us to shoot unimpeded by foot traffic and gaining glare-free light in the hallway. It produced a quiet, almost supernatural session. Immediately, we were thunderstruck as Paul Gallo’s oversized oil painting of a “Day At The Beach” was captured with every element sparkling like the memory of a perfect day in the sand at the shore. From the opposite wall, whispers were heard even though we were alone. The imaginatively inventive paintings of P.D. Murray spoke to us, clamoring for our attention; now we know where the wild things are (at Millworks).

Murray handed the baton to the Huckle Buckle Boys, brandishing their universe of unconventional characters found often times in elaborate fantasy situations, which added to our mental melee. Unable to take much more exhilaration as the room was spinning by, we segued into a more constrained format. Gathering our composure and bearings brought us before Fennec Design’s grouping of dimensionally dramatic iridescent moving silkscreens.

Rounding out the back half of the gallery wall were the aforementioned outsized oil paintings of Mr. Gallo, along with framed enamel on copper works by Averill Shepps, an enamelist of the highest order, both artfully creating worlds of their own to be admired by patrons of the Millworks. Now, to meet the artists and a sampling of their art.

Art by Fennec Design

“Organic in nature” has taken on a cliched meaning in today’s oft-overused sense of the term, but, in the case of artists Justin and Joelle Arawjo of Fennec Design, the term is sublime. The couple embodies an ethos so closely linked to nature on all levels that it rings true in every facet of their business. Collaboration between Joelle and Justin starts at the initial design and runs through to the end in one continuous thread. From jewelry to housewares and textiles, they create a catalog of items. Fennec Design is born of nature and purity of spirit. Find them at Studio 101 on the main lobby floor.

Paul Gallo, as one of the Seven Lively Artists of central PA, brings immediacy to his oil paintings and describes himself as a painter employing “economy of the brush stroke.” Gallo paints to entertain and to take the viewer out of the moment in his representational art. An educator, instructor and plein air craftsman par excellence, Paul’s paintings embrace the environs of fresh air vistas that he creates in oil renderings. Mr. Gallo is an artist with a heart for worthy causes, donating the sale of his paintings to COVID relief charities like Doctors Without Borders and that can be found in Studio 210. (Pictured: “Day at the Beach”)

With an award-winning career that spans over half a century, Averill Shepps, a Smith College magna cum laude graduate, is in a class by herself as an enamalist. She continues her craft, making jewelry, bowls and works of art, as viewed in her Millworks Studio 216. A member in good standing of the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsman, she has knowledge across many varied disciplines. My wife, Jana, was fortunate to find her in her studio several months ago. She still talks about Averill, taking time to “show and tell” her craft and background.





P.D. Murray of Studio 323 breaks the mold as an artist. A modern-day expressionist painter of over 35 years, Murray excels at “painting exactly and only like himself,” the same advice he gives to novices starting out. The dictum Murray follows is, at the very worst, “you can always paint over it.” Breaking new ground with “moveable parts paintings,” he works in illustrated paper art that is infused with movement and is rife with sentimentality for simpler times, with a longing for the past sans a technology-dominated influence.

Last but not least, we introduce Millworks patrons to the zany world of the new kids on the block, The Huckle Buckle Boys (HBB). Unmatched bookends Garrick Dorsett and Zack Rudy bring their brand of mayhem to the mix in Millworks Studio 318, their new digs. Now at the studio is their latest collection of digital prints. Be sure to stop in and visit with these talented and diverse artists at work in their studios.

First Saturday, July 3, promises to light up the sky with fireworks of an artistic assemblage at Millworks.

Millworks’ art images by Jana MacGinnes

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