Abington Art Center celebrates with its own

Posted: May 01, 2009

Amid the fast pace of gallery exhibits, the Abington Art Center is providing a welcome period of stock-taking. The occasion is the center's 70th anniversary year, highlighted in a special exhibit, "Forever Young."

The display celebrates seven decades of activity by featuring the work of 26 regional artists linked with the art center, as exhibitors or teachers, during the last 20 years, some now enjoying considerable recognition.

They include Katie Adams, Astrid Bowlby, Frank Bramblett, Steven Donegan, Ron Klein, Blaise Tobia, Sarah Van Keuren, and Chris Zmijewski - familiar artists all.

Historic content and the center's own history are especially important here. The Alverthorpe name (chosen during distinguished Fisher family ownership) had served almost a century when, in 1937, Lessing J. Rosenwald bought the place, housing his art treasures at Alverthorpe Manor until the National Gallery of Art and Library of Congress took them as gifts.

Abington Art Center's occupancy of Alverthorpe Manor began in 1970. And what seems quite relevant as we recall its litany of consistently held, low-key group shows - and most recently, its solo shows - is Abington's proven ability to retain its diversity, exhibit formats, and professional standards. The marvel is that the center has done this through the years without losing its grip and becoming hollow.

Success in those areas should suggest both Abington's relevance to the current art scene and the breadth of its accomplishment.

Abington's series of annual juried photo shows filled a definite need from 1979 to '93, to mention but one topic. But as our region's only neighborhood art center with large grounds around it, Abington really hit its full stride lately.

It has begun gaining wider public attention both for its potential in the environmental sphere and for enhancing its recently launched Sculpture Park in those wonderfully woodsy acres surrounding it.

At a time when a reinterpretation of our region's 20th-century art seems both necessary and feasible, it's especially good to welcome "Forever Young" to assist in the early stages of that big task.

Abington Art Center, 515 Meetinghouse Rd, Jenkintown. To July 26. Tue-Fri 10-5, Thu to 7, Sat-Sun 10-3. Free. 215-887-4882.

'The Air Is Thick'

Four painters are featured as Cerulean Arts guest artists in "The Air Is Thick."

Marc Connor confronts directly the extremes in rugged weather conditions of his native Chenango County in south-central New York, his energetic use of thick oils and a rudimentary painting style serving him well.

Christopher Schade seems to seek refuge from contemporary reality by creating a private world of imaginary islands. But look again. Schade is from an island culture. His work is noteworthy because it perhaps comes closest here to expressing the struggle to establish an identity.

Textile pattern looms large in the paintings of Zoe Pettijohn Schade and Laurie Riccadonna, the latter using floral motifs. Both convey textile traditions not as picturesque anachronisms, but as potent forces in modern culture.

Cerulean Arts, 1355 Ridge Ave (at Broad). To May 15. Wed-Fri 10-6, Sat-Sun noon-6. Free. 267-514-8647.

At Historic Yellow Springs

The 36th edition of Historic Yellow Springs' popular Annual Art Show classic features 3,000 works by 169 regional artists, including 14 newcomers, who were juried in. That's not counting hundreds of unframed works in portfolios.

Built around a solid core of paintings of representational subjects, this show abounds in rural landscape, florals, and still lifes. People subjects are few, but growth areas can be felt: vacation spots, barnyard subjects (check out painterly pastel close-ups of cows), city streets, Asian genre themes, and entries from Maryland's horse country.

The setting's the thing - environs of an old Revolutionary War hospital and thermal springs the Indians loved. Prices are down somewhat, and many pictures are small.

Historic Yellow Springs, 1685 Art School Rd, Chester Springs. To May 10. Daily 11-5, Fri to 8. Free. 610-827-7414.

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