Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Bob’s Art Blog: Spring Has Sprung

The Art Association’s “Figuratively Speaking” exhibit includes a newspaper skirt from fashion designer Carley Furlow (left).

It’s officially arrived…at least on the calendar.

The birds are always the first to know, sounding the news late in February. So says a line or two from the 1940 “The Brooklyn National Anthem,” it’s ode to the season.

“Spring has sprung, the grass is ris,
I wonder where the boidies is,
the boid is on the wing…”

This boidie flew before he knew that fresh art had truly sprung, so join me now, I’ll show you how and where that art is hung.

Downtown beckoned. Starting at the Art Association of Harrisburg (AAH), local celebrity Hannah Dobek, gallery director of Metropolis Collective, gathered her thoughts judiciously when judging the breadth of works assembled for the members show. Curator of the AAH, Rachel O’Connor, had 78 works submitted for “Figuratively Speaking,” the exhibition revolving around the human form from portraiture to statuary.

What does one do with a newspaper after it’s been read? If you happen to be fashion designer Carley Furlow, perhaps you make a skirt. Before hitting the runway in Paris, you’ll be able to view it as part of “Figuratively Speaking.” Her design sparkles, so I’m guessing that the source material came from TheBurg. Carley is but one of a group of featured members at the AAH. CEO Carrie Wissler-Thomas shared that the members show has already been extended through May 13. The best advice for viewing this is in person… go figure!

As the crow flies to Midtown, so did I, landing at the recently reopened Millworks to catch the first show of the new season featuring a “Fast Five” of artists whose works on the main lobby wall curried favor with flavor.

We started with Tara Chickey, the Millworks art director who uses color cogently in her paintings, which bridge abstraction and pop art to perfection. Her colors of choice reflect a “sky of blue and fields of green” and a pink sunset too. Like Easter eggs, the shades are so pretty, Peter Rabbit would be envious.

Works by Tara Chickey hang on a wall at the reopened Millworks.

Pamela J. Black’s spring garden paintings draw on a color palette planted in annuals that quickly become painting perennials. There, you will see all the shades of spring as seen in gourmet beets of a five color rainbow, tri-colored cherry tomatoes that resemble garden candy and baby leaf lettuce in its heirloom cutting mix. Mr. McGregor will be on the alert to keep Peter from Pamela’s garden-colored paintings.

A painting by Pamela J. Black

Tristan Bond’s works defy being pigeonholed as this or that to become focused studies of his varied interests from anime to Afro punk, with some pop culture as well in his unique approach. Tristan’s world will take you on a globetrotting journey of innovation and imagination.

Artwork by Tristan Bond

Amie Bantz draws on her South Korean heritage in her fresh take on folk art. Her tableaux of painted paneled symbols (pictured) share elements of the past linking them to a timely treasure trove for today. Bridging centuries of history and heritage, Bantz bolsters those hallmarks as representative of modern day meaning for future generations to come.

This “Fast Five” is completed with Tina Berrier, artist-in-residence since the Millworks first opened its doors. Berrier balances bravado with bold brushstrokes in unexpected ways to create worlds both real and imagined. Departing de facto design, she inhabits history and cultures, mining the myths handed down in vivid detail to create wondrous portraits honoring indigenous people worldwide. Her cultural communiques reflect only one aspect of this dramatically diverse interpreter of art. The Millworks is firing on all burners and celebrates this with the return of first Saturdays as an added opportunity to meet and greet the artists. Look for the next one to arrive on April 3.

Works by Tina Berrier

Alice Anne Schwab, executive director of SAM at the Marty, shared artist Sanh Brian Tran’s Vault exhibition, “Country Charm,” which runs through April 11 and offers an added bonus. Sanh has created a booklet that accompanies the exhibition, which guests can take along with them. All proceeds of the booklets go to SAM’s neighbors and friends at the LGBT Center of Central PA as a donation to their worthy cause(s). In addition, the recently opened exhibit taking place in their S. Wilson and Grace M. Pollock Foundation Education Center Gallery features “From Selfie to Community.” This showcases Bloomsburg University art students under the tutelage of Prof. Chad Andrews marrying “selfies” taken over the course of the past year during the pandemic to an age-old art form (pictured). This produces a deeper resonance by incorporating woodcuts of the same. This mash-up creates lasting impressions of self-reflective moments literally embedded for posterity. On the surface, the modern day selfie becomes a historical artifact in its finished product. The exhibit runs through July 18.

Rounding out the spring preview in Midtown are two Verbeke favorites. At address #214, you will find La Cultura, an event space enterprise by Elyse Irvis, home to entrepreneurs, artists and an ilk of creatives looking to showcase products, ideas and art. With space to rent for special events, be they business or social, La Cultura has a vibe all its own, bringing an atmosphere of high energy and intimacy to its four walls. La Cultura is an amalgam of art gallery, event space and vendor’s market. It is in fact Harrisburg’s only event space for Black and Brown entrepreneurs, artists and startups. Its mission statement succinctly sums it up, “franchising the disenfranchised we exist to reignite the consistent and frequent circulation of dollars into Black and Brown communities locally.” La Cultura showcases emerging artists across mediums, from fashion to art. You can meet Elyse at La Cultura during any 3rd in the Burg and book your spring happening.

Speaking of “Boyd’s,” one named Jeb shared that his partner, Vivi (Sterste) has been busy round the clock crafting planters for spring posies. The learning never stops in their hot house of ideas at #258 Verbeke. I was recently informed by Vivi of Vivi on Verbeke, proprietress/potter, “Old clay makes better pots and with the intent of filling my storefront window with pay-what-you-can planters” which may fill a need for budding gardeners this spring. She envisioned tulips and daffodils sprouting up in the planters, providing a perfect photo op for partner Jeb Boyd. Taking it one step further, “Studio assistant, Zach, may be bringing some to the Broad Street Market to sell between the two buildings when the weather is warmer.” On a walk through the neighborhood, be sure to plant yourself inside the gallery for inspiration.

If you find yourself out and about in this season of renewal, your spirits may soar like a boid on the wing. When venturing forth into a gallery, restaurant or museum and coming across art that lifts you up, who knows, you may even start chirping.

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