Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Bob’s Art Blog: Pop Goes the Easel

Art pop-ups may well become the go to venues for featuring “of the moment art” that is here today and literally gone tomorrow. Promoting a capsulized version of an art fair into a one-day format, with a ticking expiration, brings urgency to the foreground.

Proving to be old hands at this, Charlie Feathers and Reina Wooden return to create a seasonal symphony at the Civic Club of Harrisburg for a May gala in the garden, as well as occupying The Overlook mansion for an afternoon tea party of art. Based on their two-day event at the Civic Club back in February, the couple felt it was the perfect time to reunite artists and art lovers for a spring fling, “Art of the Susquehanna.” The impetus behind the art pop-up is to showcase emerging artists creating diversity through art. There is no better place to do so than the spacious Civic Club and its sprawling grounds. With the backdrop of the rolling Susquehanna River, an outdoor party is perfect for the season even if the weather should turn playful. A veranda and porch will provide shelter just in case. Feel free to carry a parasol to stroll the grounds for that fashionable “Sunday in the Park with George” persona. And that Sunday is May 23, just days from now.

A painting by Ruby Doub

It’s always hard to top the one before, as in the Civic Club’s two-day event for February’s fete, but this edition does just that, as it is taking on the hoopla of a Hollywood movie production. The “Usual Suspects” will be there, of course, with only one missing—Keyser Soze—no surprise there. As before, the “Maestros of Midtown” will be there from the first show, plus a star-studded cast of new faces. From artists to musicians to poets to BBQ, it promises a day to remember. So come out and take part.

With any luck at all, mixed-media artist Nora Carreras will be tickling the ivories at the baby grand downstairs, vying for playing time with musical magician, Jonathan Frazier. Next to them are two of my personal favorites, my beautiful wife Jana and our granddaughter, “La Petite,” selling handmade soaps while the little one promotes her one-of-a-kind clay bead bracelets from kid to adult sizes. You better buckle in for a wild ride as the Huckle Buckle Boys, Zack Rudy and Garrick Dorsett, will be in high gear with their outsider art. Bethany Nicholle’s, abstract paintings are just one of her many offerings that include tongue-in-chic masks, buttons and magnets, et al.  Larry Washington Jr. (aka Larry Lenzz) rejoins the “Maestros” with photographic panache of sights from around the city. Ghost Bae haunts the grounds with “art plus” beyond her tattoo prowess. Jelani Splawn, aka Jelly the photographer and man about town, always has his camera at the ready. Claudie Kenion’s Black Lives Matter will be spreading the word through his venture featuring masks and gear in his effort to Unite Central PA. Chad Whitaker’s art could make for a soft landing with his sculptures, puffy and playful. Charlie Feathers always brings surprises to the party and loves to catch the community off guard and avant-garde. Grace Robinson makes a plea to color.ur.soul with her passionate paintings poetically placed.

A work by Darius Davis

New faces joining the scene are Jeannine Marie with her fashion round up known as, with uniquely upcycled wares. Darius Davis, acrylic artist and entrepreneur, will be certain to make a splash. Steve Zerbe is known for pen and ink and adds acrylics in his art, too. Brad Maurer, featured as TheBurg’s “Artist of the Month” in April, works wonders within illustrative insect entomology cartoons. Quincy Yates gets tie-dyed up with clothing for kids (, while Jamie Earl hawks custom buttons and pins under The rose between two thorns, Ruby Doub, “sticks” to Keegan Beinhower and Donny Lyons as this trio artistically dabbles in acrylic paints among their other interests. Individually, acrylic is their go-to medium that rounds out and rounds up the Maestros of Midtown to a full roster of 24.

Tie-dye by Quincy Yates

Spinning vinyl will be an import from Carlisle, D.J. Joe George, while Ace Rhoad will be “grilling for chilling” with Smoking Aces BBQ, “where every day is a tailgate.” In fact, Ace will have that food truck card up his sleeve. They wouldn’t be called “the Maestros” without musical components, performances and artists. JAH the G.O.D is taking the stage, sharing a personal journey. In addition, Jonathan Frazier will be romancing art-goers at the piano indoors while, in the garden, violinist and trumpeter, Morgan Hackett, provides the sounds for the season. After sounding reveille, I am hoping for a rendition on the violin of “Moon River,” perfect for the backdrop of spring on the Susquehanna. Troubadours Cherry Springs and Winter Parks will be showcasing their musical talents, as well. Even Maria James-Thiaw, creative writing program coordinator for Capital Area School of the Arts, will be sharing her poetry. She knows art, too, as the CEO of the Reclaim Artist Collective.

Art by Donny Lyons

Again, no better venue for this one-day only special event Sunday, May 23, from 1 to 5 p.m., than the Civic Club of Harrisburg. A big thank you to the president of the oldest civic organization operating in Harrisburg, Marybeth Lehtimaki. And a round of applause to hostess, Reina Wooden (R76), for an art party like no other, perhaps the one of the spring season. No expense was spared in creating this Hollywood opus of a production that exceeds expectations on all levels. The event is free, with masks and social distancing mandatory.

This art blog comes to you special delivery as today I turn 70, which is the new 35. We are returning from art heaven in Asheville, N.C., full of inspiration and ideas. See you on Sunday at the Civic Club with a surprise (no, not a cake).


3rd in the Burg Events: A “Free for All” at the Art Association (opening May 21)

Growing up as a kid in the ‘50s, when I heard the phrase “free for all,” it was code for anything goes, meaning all bets were off. One can only imagine what ensued…the gamut from brouhaha to brawl and anything in between. Better head for the hills! Or better yet, to…the Art Association of Harrisburg for their latest show, opening this Friday for 3rd in the Burg. This 3rd annual “Free For All” is a more well-mannered affair. After all, it is being held at the AAH. The only pugilistic posture, perhaps poised precipitously, portrays paintings packed peerlessly palatable. Where is Peter Piper when you need him? Perhaps you’ll find him perusing paintings patiently at 21 N. Front St., home of the AAH.

An image from “Free for All”

Prized juror and former art instructor at this venerable institution, artist Maaike Heithonig-Hickok, has a field of entrants to preside over, from members and students alike for this open show of artists. It allows for one work from each person in the juried venue. CEO Carrie Wissler-Thomas and curator Rachel O’Connor shared that this annual event is back by popular demand—and who is to argue that? Any discussion could very well lead to a free for all. So, come out and join this free for all at the AAH for 3rd in the Burg or anytime over the next seven weeks, as the exhibit runs through July 8. An appreciative note to gallery assistant Nate Foster for sending a photo preview of this upcoming show.


The Susquehanna Art Museum

The SAM at the Marty welcomes Midtown Property Management to the neighborhood in opening their courtyard as part of its welcoming party to this business for 3rd in the Burg from 5 to 8 p.m. Ralph Diekemper will be offering up on the piano, “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood, won’t you be my neighbor”? The evening’s festivities are sponsored by Messiah University.

The above events are just two of 22 venues open for this Friday’s 3rd in the Burg on May 21.

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