Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Bob’s Art Blog: Notes from the Field

Art in the Wild Part II, “Notes From the Field” includes a chance encounter with an “old friend,” a heavy-handed installation, an angelic visitation and an opportunity to view the world through rose-colored glasses.

But first a word from our sponsor. TheBurg proudly unveils, with the Friends of Wildwood, the ninth edition of AITW. They say familiarity breeds contempt. AITW enthusiast Jana MacGinnes puts a different spin on the phrase when she states, “familiarity breathes content,” with the emphasis on the second syllable of content. She laughed when sharing that, on the first day of installation, she recognized a tree limb from 2017’s “Windows of Perception.” That’s when one knows they are one with the wood(s). Better notify “Twin Peaks” Agent Dale Cooper—there’s a new log lady in town.

The landscape changed dramatically over the past 30 days leading up to the completion of “Art In The Wild.” Going from a frozen state with the last vestiges of snow remaining in early March, the weather progressively turned to spring with each passing weekend. The ground changed from foe to friend, embracing the grooming process, and the remains of Old Man Winter evolved into a youthful countenance contemplating and complementing the season of new life we call spring. The efforts from the artists became less taxing as their final portraits came into view. Working in close proximity with other AITW artists allowed for and encouraged camaraderie and a dose of competitive spirit among all 17 entrants, as the group all became winners this year.

Over the course of its six-month run, AITW will be viewed and admired by thousands visiting the park and its walking path. Opening on April 10, this atmospheric arena of art can be enjoyed by all ages as the select group has installed their environmental edifices in “Reimagining,” the theme for this year’s opus. You can come out and meet the artists this Saturday, April 10, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., and be sure to participate in the Wetlands Festival on April 24, from 10 a.m. 4 p.m.

Unveiling the 2021 edition of “Art in the Wild,” the entrants this year total 17, with 10 returning veterans and seven brand new participants. Leading the pack in years of experience is the MacGinnes team led by Beau who has participated in every edition to date. He is joined by his mother, Jana, who completes her fifth year, and newly welcomed Beau’s sister, Aubrey McNaughton.

Joining Jana with five years or more of participation are Eve Gurbacki, past winner and an elementary art teacher for Commonwealth Charter Academy who enters her sixth year in “Finding Focus” (pictured). Kareena Stellar, a glass bead and paper collage mosaic artist entering her fifth year, creates “The Great Escape.” Multimedia artist and HACC adjunct faculty member, Brook Lauer marks her fourth with “As Above, So Below, So Below.” Also in her fourth year, Jill Lippert, a retired IT project manager, has created “The Dawn of a New Day.” You may remember her “Ecospheric Tones” installation from last year, which graces the cover of the 2021 AITW brochure.

YMCA race coordinator in Harrisburg, Chip Hitz, is in year three and feels a need to share in “Let’s Stick Together.” A quartet begins their sophomore season including Richard Cary Joel, set designer for Theatre Harrisburg, and is assisted by his wife, Maria. Joel feels strongly that “nature is the symphony for the soul” in “Earthly Makeover.” Lorayn McPoyle plies her trade as a sculpture teacher at Central Dauphin High School with “Creating Lotus on the Land.” Steven Reinhart, fabricator and furniture designer, takes “A Step Sideways” to make room for repeater, Isabel Paterson, video editor and graphic designer, who creates a “Meadow Melody.”

New artists who hail from Carlisle are Carol Reed, art instructor at Carlisle Arts Learning Center and fabric artist, who will offer an on-site demonstration in natural dyed materials opening day from 1 to 3 p.m., displaying “Growth” (pictured). Carrie Breschi, founder of CALC and an art activist, showcases that grief is both universal and personal in dealing with family loss in “My Broken Heart.” Breschi expands her unique universe in “transformation of spaces with unexpected visuals, subject matter and material.” Her installation is certain to provide an environmental elegy.

Kristin Ziegler recently moved back to the area and is a textile, fashion designer and book-maker, proving “It’s Just a Phase.” David Reeve is a fabric artist and woodworker with an interest in mosaics as he created “Game of Rome,” adding credence to the phrase, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Jim Glenn is a retired postal worker working with stick figures, albeit walking men. Drawing on his professional experience, his installation is titled, “Wildwood Hiking Club.” Dana Mount uses fibers and textiles in teaming up with Loren Nocheck, exploring mediums and methods to create art with their thought-provoking, “Differences In Common.” Last but not least is artist Charlie Feathers, an “art alchemist who turns trash to treasure,” with his “Reimaging Sight and Sound.” Worth a look and a listen. His wood-limbed xylophone creates the sounds you make on it.

In the end, a total of 17 installations reached the finish line. Leave it to set designer Richard Joel and his wife, Maria, to create an “Earthly Makeover” with a kaleidoscopic view of what our planet could look like (pictured). Their installation reveals re-envisioning the Earth as a universe all its own with the moon orbiting and an optic viewer made of stained glass, allowing visitors to see our “home” through rose-colored glasses.

I caught up with veteran and past winner of back-to-back AITW’s, Eve Gurbacki, on a Sunday afternoon in late March. By day, she teaches 2,100 art students from kindergarten as well as third, fourth and fifth grade through CCA. She created a structure made of twine and roped bamboo poles lashed together as she was “inspired by a camera’s aperture” in “Finding Focus.” To say the installation was outsized is an understatement in that Eve needed to call in the troops to help erect the skeletal structure of bamboo to enable her to build her vision outward. Artist neighbors were only too happy to lend assistance as the community holds a deep respect for each other in achieving success. Along came a security guard named Mike, aka, a heavenly angel about to retire in 50 days, just as the women discovered they needed another set of hands, gladly hopping out of his truck to assist them. Mike may sound like a strange name for an angel but then so are Clarence and Dudley.

For the MacGinnes team, just one letter separates their titled “Haven” from heaven, as both represent a resting place, one temporal, the other eternal (pictured). With the addition of an ‘e’, it brings focus to the environment, our heaven here on earth. The installation’s crown encircling the structure makes a kingly statement worthy of humility and home—its underlying message being the dwelling of life is transitory as we are all but passing through. It is up to us what we make of our time here. In the end, a total of 21 artists enjoyed the fruits of their labors, creating installations for the park-going public to stop and admire, gazing upon environmental ebullience in its natural state. “Art in the Wild” is a magical land of the imagination brought to life for a brief period of time until nature turns to the next chapters, only to start anew again next spring. For now, enjoy the beauty before you.

Thank you’s abound to the Friends of Wildwood, TheBurg as a media sponsor and to Mick Corman, teacher and videographer from Capital Area School for the Arts, who again graciously captured the event. On a personal note, to my dear wife Jana, son Beau and daughter Aubrey, thanks for your “notes” and daily inspiration in my life. And for this writer, a debt of gratitude to Wildwood’s environmental educator, Richelle Corty, without whose insight, assistance and generosity this blog could not have been written.

“Art in the Wild” runs from April 10 through Sept. 30 in Wildwood Park, 100 Wildwood Way, Harrisburg. Meet the artists on Saturday, April 10, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, visit the Wildwood Park website.

Photos: Jana MacGinnes

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