Weekender

Centre County seasons inspire local artist

Artist Alice Kelsey poses next to “Round Bales — Warm Autumn Light,” an oil on canvas piece that is part of her upcoming exhibit at Foxdale Village Gallery.
Artist Alice Kelsey poses next to “Round Bales — Warm Autumn Light,” an oil on canvas piece that is part of her upcoming exhibit at Foxdale Village Gallery. Photo provided

The public will have a chance to see the region through the eyes of local artist Alice Kelsey when her latest art exhibition, “Seasons — Centre County and Beyond,” is unveiled at the Foxdale Village Gallery.

Running March 13 through April 25th, Kelsey’s award-winning work takes a colorful look at the majestic beauty that surrounds us throughout the year.

“Over the past year, I have been holding onto paintings that I thought would be very fitting for the show, particularly the local, Centre County landscapes,” Kelsey said. “The land is very open and I love it here. There’s always a hiking trail or trout stream 20 minutes away from just about anywhere in State College. I can literally step out my back door and there is something that incites me to paint. It’s wonderful to live in a place that touches my soul.”

An avid lover of the outdoors, Kelsey — who grew up in Chester Springs, Pa.— has spent almost all of her life living in rural areas. For the past 25 years, she and her family have called Centre County home. Living on a small farm just outside of State College, inspiration isn’t hard to find. With a backpack full of supplies, Kelsey is able to go off-road and easily lose herself in the rolling scenery that makes Central Pennsylvania so stunning.

“I grew up in a pretty rural area and the land was so interesting and varied and I really attribute a lot of my becoming an artist to that. It just became a part of me, which is why I like to paint landscapes,” Kelsey said. “The land here in Centre County is pretty undisturbed. It isn’t really polluted and the woods and streams are pretty close to their natural state. I also like the changes that come along with the seasons. There’s always something to see differently and new.

“My paintings really start when I go to these remote places. Something will inevitably speak to me and I’ll start a painting right on site. This way, I can get a much better connection that I would if I just stood there, looked at it and went home. I see so much more this way and that’s how I try to approach my art making,” Kelsey continued. “I formed this bond with the land and that’s what my art is about and I’m always trying to express that connection. There’s a sense of appreciation and gratitude that comes to me when I see certain landscapes and it’s tremendously meaningful when my paintings can capture that sense of appreciation and connection. I really hope that’s what this show is able to do.”

Her interest in art was first piqued as a child through drawing and sketching sessions with her grandfather. During her high school and undergraduate years, she enrolled in various art classes to help hone her fundamentals, giving her a solid foundation to take flight from. Nowadays, Kelsey prefers working in the oil and pastel paint medium.

“I gravitated to pastel and oil because the color intensity is really incredible. You can nuance it from very neutral to very bright, fine-tuning the color. Oils allow you to use transparent pigments, ones that you can see through from one layer to another. Pastels allow you to both draw and paint,” Kelsey explained.

The Foxdale Village Gallery exhibit include 31 original works. Pieces like “Into the Light” showcase the colorful and abstract beauty of the horizon at sunset, while “Fall Evening Reflections-Spring Creek in Bellefonte” takes an impressionistic approach to a popular relaxation spot in the borough.

“I have been working on my craft for so long that it’s now coming from my own inner voice and the way that I see land around me which evolves into a distinctive style,” Kelsey said. “I also try to bridge the gap between abstract and representational, it isn’t just either or, which also adds to the unique aspects of my work.”

In addition to being on hand for the March 13 opening reception, Kelsey will also discuss the show from 2-3 p.m. March 20.Kelsey is looking forward to sharing with the audience all of the efforts that went into this creative venture.

“With the gallery talk, I really welcome the opportunity to discuss the art with people. Letting them know what inspired a painting and how it was created,” Kelsey said. “This is a big show and there aren’t too many venues here in State College that can accommodate such a large collection. I feel that the paintings give such a strong, impressive quality and it gives people a much richer example than a photo would. Seeing this many oils and pastels up close and personal is pretty special.”

IF YOU GO

  • What: “Seasons — Centre County and Beyond”
  • When: reception 3:30-5 p.m. March 13; gallery talk 2-3 p.m. March 20; exhibit runs March 13-April 25
  • Where: Foxdale Village Gallery (2nd floor in main community building), 500 E. Marylyn Ave., State College
  • Info: www.foxdalevillage.org
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