Centre County’s art and music worlds to collide at Holiday Art Salon

T.J. Turner has started holding regular “Art Salon” events that feature local artists and musicians.
T.J. Turner has started holding regular “Art Salon” events that feature local artists and musicians. Photo provided

A few years ago, T.J. Turner owned and operated a fitness center in State College where he helped people meet their fitness goals through various forms of exercise and martial arts.

These days, Turner is pursuing a different kind of dream — his dream of being a professional artist.

“I’ve always been an artist, drawing and sketching my whole life,” Turner said. “Over the past couple years, I’ve gotten into woodworking and creating more. I hadn’t ever focused on it long enough to make enough work for a show, but a few months ago I had 10 or so paintings that I liked. So I just decided to throw my own party and show them.”

Visual art and music are naturally sister forms, and with Turner in the midst of the process, there is a quiet movement further conjoining them together in Centre County: the Art Salon events.

The Art Salon events are designed to “make.art.happen.” as the Art Salon website indicates. This time around, the event is being called a Holiday Art Salon, and is happening from 8-11 p.m. on Dec. 9 at 531 W. Fairmount Ave. in downtown State College.

“It’s the third party we’ve hosted to get together with friends and enjoy art and music,” Turner said.

The parties are usually free, but this month, Turner said they’re looking to raise funds to send local artist William Snyder to an art and design trade show in New York City.

“We’d thought about running a GoFundMe campaign, but were already planning to throw a party, so combining them made sense,” Turner said.

Nine visual artists will have their work on display, and two jazz ensembles comprised of five musicians will be performing their music. Featured artists include Cathy Braasch, B Stephen Carpenter II, Benjamin Fehl, Jessica Williams, Natalie Burkey, Adrienne Waterston and Alex Hess.

“We’ve also teamed with Ellen Kline of ReMax Centre Realty for this party, finding a great location in a historical, downtown home,” Turner said. “So the party will showcase the property in an ‘open house’ environment.”

It makes sense to call it a Holiday Art Salon event as opposed to just an Art Salon event, because it’s right in the middle of the Thanksgiving and Christmas/New Year’s holidays, but the focus does not otherwise have to do with the holiday. It’s more simple than that, and Turner draws on his experience running his own business to help develop an awareness around the purpose for the event.

“Having run a fitness center, I have a lot of friends who might not be into the museum or gallery scene,” Turner said. “So the hope is to create a space to bring a community of people together to expose them to local art and music in an alternative venue. Hopefully, this will connect a non-art audience with new art and music of the region.”

Kevin Briggs is a musician, writer and teacher who performs at venues throughout central Pennsylvania. Contact him at KevinTBriggs@gmail .com.