2018-03-01 / Shorts

Art Alliance Celebrates 50 Years

Samantha Lauriello

"Girl with Pink Ribbon" by Anni Matsick"Girl with Pink Ribbon" by Anni MatsickIn 1968, The Art Alliance of Central Pennsylvania was founded in the spirit of encouraging and strengthening the community’s artistic core. Since then, it’s served as a bridge connecting art enthusiasts of all ages, providing classes, exhibitions, sales and outreach programs.

In celebration of its 50th anniversary, The Art Alliance will hold a juried show in Robeson Gallery in the HUB Robeson Center through April 27. A free public reception will be held from 5:30 to 7 p.m. April 26 in the gallery to honor award-winning works from the show.

All featured pieces are by artists of the Central Pennsylvania region and were selected by juror B. Stephen Carpenter II, professor of art education and African-American studies, co-director of the Summer Institute on Contemporary Art and chief executive artist for Reservoir Studio at Penn State.

“It seemed to me to be a celebratory moment,” Carpenter says. “I made a decision to select one work from each person who submitted as a way to reflect on and to honor what The Art Alliance means to our region.”

Carpenter looked for pieces that would provoke conversation. Many who submitted to the show took risks with both the message their work conveys and the techniques they used, he says, which is evidence of a supportive community.

“You have a group of people here who are accepting of a range of perspectives, and that must reflect back on the artists to say, ‘Hey, I feel comfortable enough to present my work the way I want to present it,’” Carpenter says.

The show will feature mediums varying from photography to sculpture and artists ranging from veterans of their craft to those who are just beginning.

“We have a healthy community of artists in Central Pennsylvania,” Carpenter says.
Executive Director Marie Doll says the large number and wide range of submissions this show received is a testament to the organization’s growth over the past 50 years.

Now, with nearly 350 members, the alliance has two permanent galleries. In its Lemont Art Center, the organization holds art classes and workshops for all ages. In its Fraser Street gallery, which opened two years ago, shows change each month.

Doll says art classes are one of the most important ways the alliance has touched the community. “It’s played a big role in the visual arts and making them available to everybody, whether it’s someone who’s just a beginner or a professional artist.”

Aside from its galleries, the alliance also holds outreach exhibitions, where an artist’s work is featured for a period of time, typically a month or two, at locations like Schlow Centre Region Library, Foxdale Village, BB&T Bank and other community buildings.

“We think it’s important that people get to see original art when they just go do something like their banking,” Doll says, citing this as an example of how with each year that passes, the alliance finds new ways to enhance its mission of giving art a presence in the community.

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