Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Bob’s Art Blog: Out of Town and Midtown Art

Borrowing the line from W.P. Kinsella’s book, Shoeless Joe (Jackson) and the film version aka (Field of Dreams), “If you build it, he will come,” also applies to other fields of endeavor like art.

The artist and art visionary Brice Brown of Milton, Pa., and New York City adopted that same philosophy when he opened the Milton Art Bank (MAB)  in May 2017. More than just a gallery or a museum, MAB is also a destination for dreamers that operates out of a converted bank building in Milton’s historic downtown.

Offering art in all its forms, MAB cuts a broad swath across multiple disciplines, including paintings, sculpture, dance, performance art, music, installations and even historical surveys as part of its repertoire. Brown is a firm believer in the ethos that, if you build it, they will come.

He’s now casting a bigger net to lure the fish from surrounding ponds. Milton finds itself strategically close to State College (70 miles), Harrisburg (50 miles) and neighboring Lewisburg just five miles away.

Northumberland County lends its country charm to a cosmopolitan collective that recently unveiled a monumental show, “Black/White,” curated by Brown and running through April 30. Visiting the Art Bank on a Thursday afternoon, we were given a guided tour by Sabrina Wilson, director, and her assistant, Ben Stieler.

“Black/White” sounds like either/or but also finds a partner in the mix of the two in the gray areas of shadow and substance. The exhibit explores the yin and yang of “binary opposition,” covering an epochal transit of time from 1400 BCE to 2019,  a span of almost 3,500 years. The exhibit explodes the myth that black and white are mutually exclusive entities (a dichotomy in terms) as in the end their attraction and repulsion co-exist in perfect harmony. It’s counter-intuitive to think of one without the other. It is like night without day; good in the absence of evil; and light without dark. The pantheon of artists represented reads like a “who’s who” of A-list artists, both past and present. The allure of the show draws its mystique from the stellar cast including Man Ray, Pablo Picasso and Henri de Toulouse-Latrec. Among the two dozen-plus rounding out this compendium of creatives are modern-day artists Willem de Kooning, who adds a jolt of color to the mix. Robert Mapplethorpe, Edward Hopper, Grant Wood and Jasper Johns round out the quartet.

Art critic Lance Esplund lights the way in prose, framing the works in illuminating terms. From a curatorial perspective, Brown has created a tour de force show with “Black/White.” The ebb and flow of polar opposites and the commingling of the two create a rhythm purely its own. The walk through time is unrivaled for riveting attention to the works.The exhibit is enhanced by the spacious layout and open floor format, allowing the art to breathe and stand alone or as part of a continuous thread, weaving its way into the conscience of its audience. All art mediums are represented and given their due. Photography, paintings, sculptures, ceramics and textiles combine to create a powerful visual and provide a master class in art appreciation. Highlights of the show include Piero Fornasetti’s ink-on-paper titled “Wallpaper” from 1955. Jim Dines collective ensemble of six lithographs entitled “Crash” are large and bold portrayed in black ink.

“Black/White” is the sum of all its parts, shining a new light on black and its absence of visible light, while white is the all encompassing presence of light. Together, they form a symbiotic relationship that provides the best of both worlds. Apart, they provide the space between, like songwriter Dave Matthews wrote, “We’re strange allies, with warring hearts, what a wild eyed beast you be, the space between.” That is the very essence of the love/hate relationship which is its flip side. Then, too are “the wicked lies they tell each other.” 

“Black White” promotes the push/pull; attraction/repulsion theme to its desired end. Somewhere, somehow, they find a common ground shading the gray areas with that space between. Sometimes in rare instances a shout, but more often, a whisper…like Matthews concluded, somewhere “between the head and heart.”

“Black/White” runs through April 30 at Milton Art Bank, 23 S. Front Street, Milton. Hours are Thursday through Saturday, noon to 6 p.m., free to the public. For more information, visit their website.

Pictured above:
“Untitled,” oil on newspaper, by Willem de Kooning
“Wallpaper,” by Piero Fornasetti, 1955

Part II Midtown Art Events/Spring Ahead

Susquehanna Art Museum at the Marty: Celebrate the 100th Anniversary of Negro League Baseball
Opening day for Major League Baseball is still a month away, but baseball purists can get their fix early at SAM with the 100th anniversary tribute to the Negro National Baseball League in its “Separate and Unequaled” artistic trip down memory lane. It includes a nod to Harrisburg’s own Giants that operated as part of the Eastern Colored League from 1924 to 1927. The exhibit opens this weekend at SAM. Play ball!

Susquehanna Art Museum is located at 1401 N. 3rd St., Harrisburg.


Millworks/Deja Vu?
It’s that time of the month again. Before you set the clock ahead Saturday night, celebrate the early arrival of spring with the Millworks “First Saturday” on March 7 from 2 to 5 p.m. for an afternoon of art, food and drink at the restaurant and gallery. Meet the artists on hand and see what’s “cooking” for spring in the gallery and in the kitchen.

The Millworks is located at 340 Verbeke St., Harrisburg.


Walke this way at Zeroday
A sneak preview for a 3rd in the Burg event on March 20 may get you to walk this way… A one man show from Ted Walke of Gallery on Second can be found at Zeroday Brewing Co. Breakout the 3-D glasses on hand at the brewpub to view anaglyphs in filtered form, typically red and cyan. Who knew “shades” of the 1950s would return? Perhaps Zeroday will be showing “The Creature From the Black Lagoon” in its 3-D format.

Zeroday Brewing Co. is located at 250 Reily St., Harrisburg.

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