No amount of precognition could have prepared me for the pleasant surprise that, in a show reserved for world-class talent, central PA artists held their own and then some.
Art Association CEO Carrie Wissler-Thomas greeted me at the venerable institution’s Front Street front door. For as long as memory serves (1980 to be exact), Wissler-Thomas and the Art Association have been synonymous with the art community at large in the Harrisburg area. But that’s a story for another day.
The juried show, which opened during 3rd in the Burg on Friday, is a collection selected from artists the world over, giving its “International” title the designation it deserves. Every medium imaginable is represented: from textile wall hangings to seamless sculptures to paintings and photography. Lauren Zelaya, assistant curator at the Brooklyn Museum, served as the guest juror for the exhibit.
I immediately fell under the spell of artist Sri Koya’s acrylic painting in the foyer. Her “Dark Gold” (left) set the tone for the evening ahead as enchanting, mystical and most of all, enlightening. Monique Johnson captivated my imagination with a mixed media assemblage of a multi-layered photograph entitled, “Wavering,” which made me think of images from the portal of the Titanic. I found her work upstairs, entitled “Crest,” of a young maiden outstretched on a cloud floating off into the ether, soothing in a Maxfield Parrish vibe.
AAH Curator Rachel O’Connor’s vertiginous delivery of “art electric” is also featured upstairs in the Milford Patterson Gallery. Her handiwork as a curator is greatly in evidence in the explosion of color and materials represented, creating the curator’s “Game of Tones.”
Ingrid Guderle and Toby Bouder offer a pair of unusual pieces. Guderle wove a talking heads tapestry of embroidery floss, canvas and paper called “Cross Words.” In today’s culture of talking at each other (instead of with one another), this piece is topical and timely. Bouder’s vase made of box elderwood is beautiful in its natural simplicity.
Devin de Pamphilis’s playful foray consists of tongue-in-cheek photographs called “Hiking Across Do Si Dos,” which depicts a trio of scouts trekking on a confectionary continent. Another of his works, “Jumping In Ice Cream,” features two miniature humans on an ice cream scoop—you guessed it—“we all scream.” A creative take in another mixed media mash up is aptly called, “Paint a Wall, Clear Your Mind,” by Bernadette Scelta, who employs paint stir sticks to frame her acrylic-on-canvas work with the title uniquely rendered with twisted wire.
Fascinating in its theme and tone, Tina Berrier’s “He Gave Me a Wooden Nickel” (top image) provides charged commentary on the plight of Native Americans in its visual depiction of broken treaties and the toll it has taken on their way of life. Colors abound from a wild woodpecker alighting atop a head, pecking a wooden totem. The figure’s dress is both spiritual and symbolic of a heart broken by false promises. Powerful in its presentation, the acrylic work on stretched canvas speaks volumes with just the figure’s gaze.
“Decaying In Silence” from Michael Munchel shows a burnt-out structure with a pink piano still intact, a stark portrayal of abandoned atrophy. His use of color saturation highlights the photo in unexpected ways, conveying a heightened sense of beauty lost forever. In the same vein, “Remnant,” from Michael Hower, is a digital, black-and-white photograph of an old garment factory left in tatters for all time.
Lastly, in an unintentional (or not) homage to Michael Mann’s groundbreaking TV series, “Miami Vice,” Chad Whitaker’s “South Beach Artifact 1,” in the sculpture/ceramics category, creatively uses bed sheets, styrofoam, wood, glue, paint and rope in a pastel pastiche reminiscent of character Sonny Crockett’s Daytona Spyder hitting a wall going 172 miles per hour. And this is what it would end up looking like. One can only hope that Crockett would live to say, “Hey pal,” just one more time.
“International Juried Show” runs through June 20 at the Art Association of Harrisburg, 21 N. Front St. Harrisburg. For more information, visit http://www.artassocofhbg.com.
Picture above: “He Gave Me a Wooden Nickel” and “Dark Gold.”