Art scene is alive and well in Bellefonte
by Emily Tarconish
There are times when State College, with its big university and bustling streets, overshadows the quieter, more stable Centre County seat, Bellefonte. And there are other times when Bellefonte’s quaint beauty, well-preserved historic architecture and small size make it shine beyond county borders.
Bellefonte’s history as an artist-friendly community helps give that shine its power. Founded in 1795, Bellefonte has retained much of its Victorian architecture against a backdrop of natural landscape that inspires, local artists say.
The environment presents enticing subjects for many painters and photographers. Painter and Bellefonte resident Susan Nicholas Gephart often features Bellefonte’s landscapes on her canvases.
“There are so many awesome vistas around here, such as sweeping fields that reach out to the mountains, farmlands, fresh air and water,” she said. “Painting Bellefonte is my quiet voice’s way of supporting and caring for the environment.”
Local artists Sharon McCarthy and Mary Vollero also depict the local landscape. McCarthy works with a range of mediums, including water colors, pastels and oils, and sometimes constructs collages, combining her own strokes with print.
Vollero, a digital imagist and graphic artist, focuses much of her work on political issues. She often combines paint and photos to create striking images with meaning. Her work includes portraits of soldiers who have died in Iraq and the bloody head of Jesus Christ painted on a shower curtain (Voices cover November 2007), a symbolic protest of war.
But all artists need support: an affordable place to live, a community that appreciates them, grants and loans to help them continue their work and places to display their wares.
Jim Dunne, a member of the Bellefonte Historical and Cultural Association, helps many local artists promote their work.
“It’s always been a big trend in our area,” Dunne said. “The art scene has more and more places to display itself in our community, and we all try to contribute to that.”
Reprinted with permission from Voices of Central Pennsylvania
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