My favorite local gallery, Lebanon Picture Frame & Fine Art regularly participates in the county’s first Friday art walks (sponsored by Lebanon Valley Council on the Arts). In January, I decided to stop by the arts council building before heading over to the frame shop. While I was admiring watercolor works by Joyce Blouch and her students, I learned that LPF was in the processing of moving from the Lebanon Farmer’s Market to a street level shop on the same block. I spent some time chatting with a gentleman named Christopher Boger on the merits of giclee. He is planning to open an art gallery, Olde Market Gallery, in Reading. Nancy Soulliard had a piece on display that was inspired by figure drawing classes back in her college days. This inspiration has turned into a series of works that are reminiscent of Escher and Dali. It is a change of pace from the styles that I often see produced in this area. There is an intimate sensuality that draws the viewer in. It was good to see that there were some brave art enthusiasts at the council. January can be a hard month for taking in a local art scene. In a way, it is the best month for creating art — there are fewer distractions. If you are snow-bound, why not take advantage of the free time?
The arts council often allows for emerging artists to display their work. February’s first Friday featured a popular vote Smart Phone photography contest. I popped in to place my vote and then made my way to 8th street — I was excited to see the frame shop’s new location. The sidewalks of the city had become congested with old snow and ice that had lingered due to intense cold fronts. As I passed other people in the street, I could see how weary they too had grown of the current weather pattern. The scene in the frame shop’s glass front was compelling. There was more schmoozing than art viewing. Friends made connections, alliances formed, others talked shop. It had the same verve as the old location, despite the smaller venue. The art became a back drop for a growing social scene that I hope continues to develop in Lebanon.
There were three oil artists featured — Robert Heilman, Steve Wetzel, and Jean Zaun. Heilman’s work was of mundane, local scenes done with a quiet vibrancy. Wetzel had similar scenes, although less urban. Sheep Pond Transport had an attractive movement that felt different from his other agricultural pieces. Of the three artists, only Zaun’s featured human and animal subjects. Her work has a dreamy quality. I was especially taken with The Wonton Windies. Here, she captures a moment as women prepare to dance with veils. She is also known for her chocolate art at Wertz Candies.
Due to my recent exploration of water-color, I have sought out pieces in this medium. A painting by Eva Bender was displayed on the wall in the back of the room. I was struck by the inclusion of pencil as an integral part of the subject’s imagery. Noticing a rack of matted pictures, I flipped through the stack, searching for more of her work. There were several pieces inspired by Mount Gretna. I liked how she gave freedom to color while still having discrete forms in pencil.
I left the event inspired and encouraged. Despite the feelings that cold February days can further dampen, I felt I had the right attitude to continue to my exploration of art.