133 North Allegheny Street Bellefonte , PA 16823
By Serge Bielanko
A newly renovated display area at the Bellefonte Art Museum for Centre County (BAM), 133 N Allegheny St., has a nice ring to it, doesn't it. I mean, look: if you're one of the many who love the museum; if you're a Centre County person who 'gets it',...who recognizes the non-profit museum's never-ending quest to help bring painting and sculpture and photography and a million other kinds of beauty to the masses as a spectacular character in the grand old pageant of this particular community, well then the idea of a repurposed or resurrected spot to exhibit more art within it's walls could never make you feel anything but kind of giddy, right?
Haha! Of course, I'm right!
But that's not even the story here, you see? Not even close. Because what I'm talking about isn't just another repainted room upstairs in the classic old Linn House that the museum calls home. What I'm talking about today is something different altogether; something more innovative and eyebrow-raising. Something we might even call hipper than practically anything else that has happened in the local art world lately.
In fact, BAM's latest brainstorm to bring art to the public is both original and cool. Effective immediately: an entirely renovated 30-plus foot glassed-in part of the museum overlooking the the Judith O'Donnel Sieg Fountain has been permanently repurposed as an art exhibit that never closes, never goes dark, and never turns it's proverbial back on even the loneliest midnight stroller looking for solace or inspiration.
24/7, this new exhibit will be open and free. All you have to do is show up.
"The new Display Window will function as a space for a unique visual art experience that will be viewed from outside the building 24 hours a day," says Lori Fisher, BAM Gallery Manager and one of the creative minds behind this whole idea. "We plan to share curatorial responsibilities with artists from our artist registry who have an idea they want to share with the community. Whether this is visual art, performance art, or something completely different, we want this to be a new edgy art experience that hasn't been seen around this area before."
Art. Free invigorating art. As you're walking to the post office.
With your coffee in the morning in between meetings.
With your toddler in the late afternoon in between meltdowns.
Or with your weary heart in the deepest chambers of the night,: this window will be waiting for you.
Waiting for you with a painting you can ponder, or perhaps a vase or a photo or (my personal wish!),,,a high stack of Spiderman Legos on top of a a full-mounted mule deer's head, all brilliant color rising like ephemeral skyscrapers above the wild lost city of Antlerburgh. But maybe that's just me. No matter, Lori Fisher promises that the art on display will always be engaging and thought-provoking. The kickoff exhibit certainly is.
"For the months of January, February and March, we will display work from our 2018 Imagination Celebration," Fisher explains. "This was an interactive art program held at the museum during the months of June and July and it encouraged local community members of all ages to contribute to several co-creative art projects. Some visitors used acrylic paint markers to color large pre-made doodle panels consisting of fun cartoon characters and objects, while others found the challenge of a blank canvas more appealing and created their own section of a larger community mural. These murals and doodle panels were then cropped and stretched on frames or mounted on foamboard, wired, and installed in the new display window. We encourage those who participated in this project to stop by and see their work displayed around the clock."
And beyond that?
"Starting in April, we will begin allowing interested artists to install their own art experience they wish to share and will rotate each month moving forward."
Whatever might bring you to the window, whatever you might encounter on the other side of the glass, no more will any of us have any reason to be plagued by the misery of lacking the healing power of art in our day, even if it's only for a moment or two. What a glorious little idea.
Made possible with separate grants from both the Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development, and the Central Pennsylvania Convention & Visitors Bureau, the completely refurbished part of the Linn House also includes a remodeled outside porch directly above the new exhibit space. In effect, this area on the side of the building now stands independently as a place to visit even if you can't peruse the indoor exhibits on that particular day.
Which, by the way, is still something you NEED to do. 2019 is now shaping up to be one of the most exciting in the museum's history. I'll be writing more about all that in the coming weeks and months. There will be a special Opening Ceremony and Ribbon Cutting on Sunday, February 24th at 2:00 p.m. to officially announce the new addition.
That said, let's never ever forget just how much artistic magic is always bouncing off the walls inside that old Linn House. Walking through that big front door and taking the time to wander through the building at your own pace is both a pleasure and a privilege we should never take for granted.
"This window is nice for after hours, and adds another element to our already vibrant space," concludes Fisher, "But we hope it will only inspire people to return and see what's happening inside."
There you go. Exactly. Support your local art museum.
Bellefonte Art Museum
133 North Allegheny Street
Museum hours Friday, Saturday, & Sunday 12;00 - 4:30 p.m.
While at your visit to BAM, head up to the 3rd floor to witness Underground Railroad: A Journey to Freedom exhibit. That permanent feature highlights the escaped slaves who sought safe passage to freedom in the north via a secret network of people who wanted to help abolish slavery altogether.
*This exhibition is supported in part by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency fund-ed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.
The Bellefonte Art Museum is supported by the Central Pennsylvania Convention & Visitors Bureau. Learn more about the CPCVB by visiting www.visitpennstate.org.
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