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Stubborn stagnancy of Harrisburg


Post from Emilie Froh

smedleyandmodelsThe limited gallery scene in Harrisburg is largely sales and audience driven. The typical art-buyer from the Harrisburg area has reserved and rather traditional taste. Thus, the typical Harrisburg gallery displays artwork that fits this description. This buyer-seller relationship sadly prohibits the development of a cutting edge art movement in the heart of south-central Pennsylvania.

The Harrisburg Art Association Gallery is currently holding its Five Artist Invitational exhibition from Oct. 23 to Nov. 24. While the artists are both regional and national, the artwork largely reflects the regional art attitudes.

J. Leo Mendonca presents rather mundane photographic portraits of New York City’s streets and inhabitants. Danuta Muszynska’s pieces are all strikingly similar etchings of intricate and repeating symbols of infinity on a copper or black surface (alternating appropriately in a relentless fashion).

While Carolyn L. Shertzer offers stained glass creations, Janet E. Smedley submits pretty portraits of young children in whimsical poses (image, Smedley and two of her models).

Joan B. Sonnenberg’s work is the most interesting of the group, providing mixed media abstractions with vivid colors and surrealist design.

This is not meant to say that these artists’ works are not inherently beautiful and valuable in their respective manners. It must be the sharp contrast between the inventive Philadelphia art scene and the stubborn stagnancy of Harrisburg as presented in this gallery that disappoints me so.

–Emilie Froh is a student in Colette Copeland’s writing art criticism class at the University of Pennsylvania