Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

The Painted Word: Artists offer Sunlight and Shadows for the annual “Art in the Wild”

Art by Carrie Breschi

What started out as a grand experiment in 2012 is about to celebrate its 10th anniversary.

This month, “Art in the Wild” returns to Wildwood Park to mark a decade of magnificent outdoor installations.

In announcing this annual rite of spring, committee chair Jim Caufield shared that he felt “excitement about hosting the regionally recognized outdoor environmental art show at Wildwood Park, providing an opportunity for artistically minded participants to demonstrate their skills in this special genre of the art field.”

A decade ago, Elizabeth Johnson and a few likeminded Friends of Wildwood, including Caufield and Marcy Brenner, made it their mission to create unique, seasonal landscape installations, mounted from April through September’s end.

To date, over 140 works have been placed throughout the park throughout the history of “Art in the Wild,” with a promise of an additional 18 for this year’s exhibition.

For 2022, Caufield and Richelle Corty, environmental educator at the Olewine Nature Center, put out a call to new participants this past fall. A hands-on, mini-day camp to teach what is involved was held on an early November Saturday with four sets of instructors, veterans of the event instructing initiates in the art form. Two members of the class have now joined forces with past entrants for this spring’s event, and the instructional session will now take place annually.

Twelve returnees from past years, along with six new participants, will comprise the field in 2022. Of that half dozen, four will be students, including an art major from Dickinson College, a Central Dauphin High School student mentored by her art teacher, Newport High students and a group of art students from St. Joan of Arc Middle School. Last year’s top three winners are returning to the fray with Carrie Breschi, Jill Lippert and Carol Reed, who took first-, second- and third-place awards, respectively. The exhibit opens to the public Sunday, April 3, offering visitors the perfect time to come out to Wildwood and meet the artists to discuss their visions.

Serendipitously synched to the backdrop of world events surrounding the ongoing pandemic, this year’s theme is “Sunlight and Shadows.” Art enthusiasts creating new works will aspire to incorporate elements of both, sharing a message of hope in sunlight, even with the darkest days of shadows. One can’t help but think of the Irish elegy in song, “Danny Boy,” as the narrator’s solemn oath, “I’ll be here in sunshine or in shadow.”

It begs the question—did the “Art in the Wild” committee have that in mind when choosing the theme? The contrast between light and shadow is one of coexistence, for one does not exist without the other. In the end, it is the choice we make to remain in the shadows or step out into the light. The artist may straddle both, reflective of the balance in nature. To take part in their adventure, make a promise to be there in sunlight or in shadow.

“Art in the Wild” runs April 3 to Sept. 30 at Wildwood Park, Harrisburg. For more information, visit Images are from the 2021 “Art in the Wild.”

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