Its like the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts opening act a warmup to the huge headliner but talented and engaging in its own right.
Images 2012, a juried regional exhibition of fine art and fine craft in Penn States Robeson Gallery, offers an array of paintings, photographs, drawings, ceramics, prints and fiber art pieces, many for sale.
Sixty-five works by 49 artists will be on display in the HUB-Robeson Center through July 15, the last day of the festival. The show is open to artists from Pennsylvania, bordering states and Washington, D.C.
The people who are in the show are incredibly accomplished, said Rick Bryant, the festivals executive director.
Part of the festival since 1989, the show is meant to complement the nationally recognized sidewalk sale and exhibition and recognize emerging and established artists, according to the festival. Some artists exhibit at both, but for most, the Images show is their Arts Fest.
There are a lot of artists who dont show their work in a little white tent, Bryant said.
Barbara McNulty, the director of the Suzanne H. Arnold Art Gallery at Lebanon Valley College, picked the artwork from more than 100 submissions.
She said she tried to choose a wide variety of mediums, looking for distinctive works within categories.
Its really wonderful to see there are so many people making the effort to produce creative works, McNulty said.
McNulty also judged the prizewinners. Best in Show with a $1,000 prize went to painter Stephanie Deshpande, of Glen Ridge, N.J., for her oil on linen Exploring the Basement, a study of a young girl nervously descending a ladder into a murky room.
Desphandes daughter served as a model, but the painter said her works are intended as depictions of common human experiences rather than portraits.
I just tried to capture that experience of being somewhere where you shouldnt out of curiosity, she said.
McNulty liked all three of Desphandes exhibit paintings.
What makes her portraits particularly intriguing is the environment she creates with them, McNulty said. They have sort of a mysterious quality, very atmospheric.
The show includes several local artists, two of whom won $250 Awards of Merit out of five given.
Susan Parsonage, of State College, was recognized for Fathom, her color woodcut monotype and one of three prints featured in the show.
Parsonage, a printmaker since the 1970s, said her works represent her sensations, emotions and thoughts about the natural world. Fathom, for example, relates to the elements earth, wind and water.
My inspiration comes from experiences, she said. I work from memory rather than from direct observation.
Bellefonte resident Nancy Brassington received her prize for American History two lifesize acrylic portraits side by side, their body segments framed separately, of a slave in chains and President Barack Obama. The work greets gallery visitors.
Brassington, who grew up amid segregation in northern Virginia, said Obamas election victory inspired the work, showing the long ascension of black people in America.
But she had to enter the work before she could create the final disjointed figure a young black man in a hoodie. Brassington added him after the allegedly racially motivated February killing of Trayvon Martin, a black Florida teenager.
She said the trio of figures show that, despite historic progress, racism still plagues the nation.
I think young black males really are in trouble in our country these days, she said.
The gallery normally is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, but will be closed Tuesday and Wednesday this week. During the festival, July 11-15, hours will be from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free.