Thursday, July 16, 2015

State of the Arts in State College

Meteoric - Photography by Jana Scott
Photography by Jana Scott
Last weekend I visited State College, Pennsylvania for the Central PA Festival of the Arts. It was one of the most enjoyable experiences I remember.

For me, the environment and atmosphere of a festival are almost as important as the art itself. It is much easier to catch the nuances of the work and talk with the artists when everyone is excited, comfortable and in a good mood.  

The cool mountain breezes and the shade of the magnificent American elms of the University campus and  downtown streets make State College the perfect setting for a festival. Although it is a large show with 300 jury-selected artists and an expected attendance over 125,000, the booths were spaced along one edge of the streets and mall which allowed plenty of room for everyone without feeling crowded. 

This was my first show outside the Midwest which exposed me to a wide body of work that I hadn't seen before as well as some favorites that I have seen at several shows.  I only have room to mention a few favorites.

The Final View by Walter Arnold
The Final View by Walter Arnold
Walter Arnold is one of my favorite photographic artists and the person who recommended that I come to State College for the festival. While I have written about Arnold and his unique Art of Abandonment before, this is the first time I have seen his work at a festival. It was fun to stand across from his booth and listen to the comments and expressions of awe as people first saw The Final View.

Jana Scott's photography captures the beauty and bold color of rusting metals. She accomplishes this through close ups that show us the detail we would normally overlook. The tight cropping on the organic shapes of the rust patterns create a hauntingly beautiful abstraction.

Ceramic shelf and horse by Paula Brown-Steedly
Ceramic shelf and horse by Paula Brown-Steedly
Paula Brown-Steedly of Virginia Clay Studio also focuses on organic shapes in her ceramic sculpture and shelves.  She explained to me that nature is not symmetrical so she doesn't make her art that way. Her pieces "reveal the force of wind, the rhythm of falling rain, the warmth of the sun, and the fluidity of time, as I see them in nature."

The natural shapes of the earth were also an inspiration to Ursula Perry and her husband Bud Scheffel of Earth Saver Wind Sculpture. Their amazing kinetic sculptures are held together through shape and gravity without welds or solder joints to mar the form. The perfectly balanced pieces ranged in size to grace a table, a room or a garden.