Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Art Debut: Annual “Art of the State,” a feast for the eyes, the emotions; winners announced

The State Museum of Pennsylvania houses many collections, but none quite as diverse and rich as this one.

On Sunday, the museum unveiled this year’s “Art of the State” with an opening reception and awards ceremony, marking an exceptional 52nd edition of the annual juried contest and exhibit.

The exhibit honored some of the best artists from across the commonwealth, with artists both seasoned and emerging joining forces to create a tour de force.

Applications for this juried show started shortly after the new year. Entrants numbered 2,170, and, in the end, 110 works of art from 103 artists across 35 counties were selected. Cash prizes were awarded for painting, works on paper, photography and digital arts and sculpture and craft.

As the State Museum’s curator of fine arts, Amy Hammond, along with Carol Buck, curator of installations, took great care in presenting this latest edition of “Art of the State.”

By purposeful design, Hammond’s presentation replicates that of an upscale gallery, elevating what could be an unwieldy task in highlighting 110 works of diverse media. In this massive undertaking, many hands worked together—from collecting and cataloging to the final finish as the last piece is hung.

The power of art is such that it can transform a mere viewer to a full-in participant. There is art that speaks in a whisper, art that leaves us thunderstruck, and art that bowls us over with a feather.

In no particular order, the following are 10 “snapshots” from the 2019 class of “Art of the State”:

James Evangelista’s “The Law’s Must Change” (pictured top) is a close-up a child’s face peering through a wire fence. No work is more charged politically or fraught emotionally as one imagines a child separated from their family and freedom. This photo speaks a thousand words without uttering a sound.

“Zen Teraglyph” is a color photograph by John Meza that depicts a series of crop circles dusted by new fallen snow echoing down the centuries with man’s fascination of mysteries manifested from beyond the natural realm.

The perfection achieved in Bill Snyder’s night skyscape, “Mars Milky Way and Seneca Rocks, almost makes one think it was staged that way. Along with Mars’ amber glow is sprinkling stardust from the Milky Way, making a serendipitous moment captured on film.

Michael Munchel’s “Salon de Musica” is a photographic study of a haunted habitué no longer present. His depiction details a salon of spirits only in showing an ambiance of abandonment. The photo features a neon pink piano as its primary focus. A diffused use of color, tinting and light only heightens the melancholy mood.

At face value, Donna Barlup’s whimsical watercolor painting captures its title perfectly, a girl sitting astride her father’s shoulders gives her the “Best Seat in the House” (pictured). Perhaps they are at a country fair, but the painting shares its deeper meaning—that special bond between daughter and father. Barlup achieves an artistic nonchalance as only a master watercolorist could attain.

The world would look a lot different to us if we only saw it in black and white. If color is king, then Chuck Olson’s “The Meeting Place” delivers the goods. But more than that, the title carries additional import as the oil painting converges head-on at the intersection of abstraction and color.

Michelle Thomas’s acrylic work on canvas, “Route 29 South, Late Autumn,” captures a stretch of road in northeastern Pennsylvania that could just as easily be an unknown destination in our imagination. Brilliantly inserting the viewer behind the wheel creates an eerie sense of entering a dreamscape. What lies around the bend is entirely up to you.

“Embrace the View” is Paul Sirofchuck’s gift to sculpture and craft at its finest. This thought-provoking, imagination-invoking combination of solid cherry, wenge, brushed aluminum and polished mirror standing 7 feet tall, is a statement piece of its own accord. If beauty is truth, then this is as honest as it gets.

Qay San’s “Emergence of the Grid” demonstrates pottery’s testament to time immemorial in its tonal and textural tribute to what looks like could be a Mayan artifact that speaks to lost civilizations. A time when life was lived completely off the grid.

Sandra Moore’s “Fat Egg II” takes Native Okeewemee red clay from North Carolina to create a vessel that defies description. The artist states, “Hot clay dictates the moment when the painting of line and direction of smoke is embedded into the burnished layers of the clay resulting in translucent planes of line and smoke.” The piece tells the story of each of those moments.

More than ever, “Art of the State” exemplifies the vast richness of art and artists distributing a common wealth to all who visit.

“Art of the State” runs through Sept. 8 at the State Museum of Pennsylvania, 300 North St., Harrisburg. It close coincides with the Art Association of Harrisburg’s citywide Gallery Walk.


And the Winners Are:

The State Museum of Pennsylvania today announced the winners of 2019 “Art of the State” juried competition. Awards are $500 for first place, $300 for second place and $200 for third place. 

1st Sanh Tran, “Untitled, No. 1 (Country Mouse)”
2nd Lisa Bennett, “Constructed Lights 5095-45”
3rd James Evangelista, “The Laws Must Change”
Honorable Mention: Irene VanBuskirk, “Divided Attention”
Honorable Mention: Kyle Yates, “Indiana Theater” 

1st Denny Bond, “DIY”
2nd Debbie Baer, “Hostile Takeover”
3rd Robert Arnosky, “Wish I Was There”
Honorable Mention: Paige Tibbe, “Mike” 

Work on Paper
1st Geoffrey Beadle, “Samuel Illuminated”
2nd Cassaundra Flor, “Aeolian Cityscape”
3rd Lauren Scavo-Fulk, “Building and Tree”
Honorable Mention: Terri Fridkin, “Freeriding”
Honorable Mention: Linda Aragon, “Maria” 

1st Amy LeFever, “Untitled”
2nd Paul Sirofchuck, “Embrace The View”
3rd Sue Reno, “In Dreams I Slept in a Cabin”
Honorable Mention: E. Douglas Wunder, “Scramble”
Honorable Mention: Janine Wang, “Snug Stones” 

1st Diane Pepe, “Installation: Selective Processes of Memory”
2nd Brian Glaze, “WPA”
3rd Jennifer Rubin Garey, “Transformation”
Honorable Mention: Tyler Stanton, “Tree House Credenza” 

The State Museum Purchase Award
Cassaundra Flor: “Aeolian Cityscape”
Sanh Tran: “Untitled, No. 1 (Country Mouse)” 

William D. Davis Memorial Award for Drawing
Richard Huck, “Assault”

Art Docents Choice Award
Paul Sirofchuck, “Embrace The View”

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