Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

The Painted Word: On the hunt for art at Gallery Walk

Mars #3 by Bryan Thomas Molloy at Old City Hall

Harrisburg’s annual art showcase, Gallery Walk, is nearly upon on us. The 32nd edition features a number of special treasures, so be sure to check them off the list as you search.

Greeting visitors at the Art Association of Harrisburg is an eight-foot zebra grinning from ear to ear and balanced on one hoof. Made of papier-mâché by Harrisburg artist Charlie Feathers, “Jumper” is the unofficial mascot for Gallery Walk. Meanwhile, good things also come in much smaller packages, like the member’s show at AAH, “La Petite Exhibition.”

Chances are you won’t need roadside assistance from AAA, but it does represent “Art, Artifacts and Architecture” at the Historic Society of Dauphin County at the John Harris-Simon Cameron Mansion. Up the street, look for a breath of fresh air from Jonathan Frazier’s plein air paintings in the Riverfront Gallery at St. Stephen’s Cathedral.

Up on Allison Hill, Gloria Merrick, executive director at the Latino Hispanic American Community Center on Derry Street, has assembled a quartet of artists near and far. Legendary Lucy Giboyeaux’s award-winning art is a highlight, as is Peruvian painter Claudia Salazar’s tribute to Frida Kahlo. Raul Cruz’s recycled materials turn into magic. Nora Carreras creates art from found objects and paints with artistic abandon in what may be a one-day show at LHACC.

“Liminality” is the “Twilight Zone” episode you don’t want to miss at Capital Area School for the Arts in Strawberry Square. It is an experimental exhibition and explores transition from “What has Been to What Will Be,” as the liminal space is the crossing-over space. Both students and alumni create this world, which may change your view of the transition from student to graduate. The mood is heightened, as all visitors will be wearing masks.

That exhibit provides the perfect segue to Old City Hall‘s exhibit of stunning proportion from Harrisburg/Boston impressionist painter, Bryan Thomas Molloy, who takes us to Mars in his oil studies. Is there life on Mars? You might find a clue.

Is a church a gallery or a place of worship? In the case of St. Michael’s Lutheran Church, it is both. Its magnificent sanctuary with marble carvings is a work of art, as are the stained glass windows from Germany. Look for art from Sylvia Hepler and photography by John Robinson, Barry Ridge and Eric Smith. And, speaking of churches, don’t miss Barbara James’ art, which mixes mediums with manual dexterity at Salem United Church of Christ.

The State Museum of Pennsylvania unveils its annual blockbuster, “Art of the State,” which runs through Jan. 3. Pre-registration is required and free timed tickets will be issued for viewing due to limited access.

Be sure not to “Overlook” the Civic Club of Harrisburg, which dates back to 1898. Within the landmark riverfront mansion, enjoy the art of Dave Lenker and Stacy Brown with multimedia presentations of “Oneness” and “Blue.” Consider it your civic duty to pay a visit to the organization that was founded to benefit those in need.

And you thought City House Bed and Breakfast was just a place to hang your hat? Anything but as the art showcased by art impresario Robert Armetta of New York and Harrisburg is world-class on all levels. If this is your last stop, make reservations to spend the night.

Up on 3rd Street, stop into the magnificent Historic Harrisburg Resource Center, as there is much under one roof. If it’s a resource pertinent to Harrisburg, you’ll find it here. This includes an incredible exhibit, “With Open Heart and Open Arms: LGBTQ Cuban Refugees and the LGBTQ Community’s Response to the Mariel Boatlift.”

Across the street, Vivi on Verbeke is always full of vitality and variety as Vivi Sterste and Jeb Boyd roll out their vision for the upcoming fall season. The new interior layout features amber inlaid candlesticks, floral acrylic paintings and photography highlighting significant Harrisburg architecture.

Around the corner, raise a glass and toast “Here’s to you Mrs. Robinson,” sung by Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel. Today, she may “Graduate” to more meaningful pursuits at Midtown Scholar Bookstore’s Robinson Gallery, where something is “bound” to grab your attention.

The symbiotic relationship between art and music is amplified to perfection in the groundbreaking exhibit, “Creating Joy: Art Inspired by Music,” which may be viewed at the Susquehanna Art Museum at the Marty. Right next door, the other standalone gallery in Midtown is turning 1 year old. Join us in wishing Michael Hertrich Fine Art a happy anniversary in his upper-level gallery. Award-winning artist Adelaide LaFond pays tribute in pastel paintings with ethereal scenes of our city.

Finally, this veteran gallery-walker offers some tips for the day. Major museums and galleries may be busier than usual with the day’s special events, so perhaps plan on visiting some of the venues on the roads less traveled. Map out your route and call ahead with a planned time of arrival for optimal viewing. Mask up and maintain that safe space of social distancing. Everyone will appreciate your consideration, and it will make for an all-around positive experience. Art lovers care; it is in our very nature.

The unique umbrella of museums, galleries and merchants participating is a testament to Carrie Wissler-Thomas and her inventiveness. One needs to appreciate the scope and work involved by the AAH CEO. The team of art coordinators, as well as the aggregate artists at each venue, is to be commended. A special thanks to Ted and Linda Walke of Gallery@Second for maps designed and distributed for this event. The Walkes create this annually to guide us safely on the path to great art.

Gallery Walk takes place on Sunday, Sept. 13, noon to 5 p.m., at 17 venues throughout Harrisburg. For more information, visit

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