Good Life

Art Alliance outreach program envisions art in everyday places

Art by Stacie Bird on display at the National Penn Bank on East College Avenue through Feb. 4.
Art by Stacie Bird on display at the National Penn Bank on East College Avenue through Feb. 4. CDT photo

Community members can plan to attend any number of exhibitions throughout the year, but it’s daily encounters with original, local artwork that the Art Alliance of Central Pennsylvania hopes to expand.

That’s the main goal behind the Art Alliance’s Outreach program, which works with local artists and businesses to hang rotating exhibitions where people are apt to run into them.

“Our idea is to put original artwork throughout the community so that people see original art when they’re just going about their day,” Art Alliance Executive Director Marie Doll said. “They might go in a bank, they might to the State Theater, but the art is there for them to see and enjoy.”

The ideal audience, Doll said, are those people who are unable or have not taken the time to attend a local exhibit through the Art Alliance, the Palmer Museum of Art or another art center.

“And certainly for children whose parents don’t take them to exhibitions, it’s a way for them to see original art, too,” Doll said.

The program started around 2008 with an exhibit in the Foxdale Village Retirement Community. It now includes several community locations where exhibits are rotated regularly — Foxdale Village, the State Theatre, The Village at Penn State, National Penn bank locations on East College Avenue and North Atherton Street, SPE Federal Credit Union plus an annual instructor’s show at Schlow Centre Region Library.

Jill Lillie, director of residency planning at Foxdale Village, said that residents love the program. The community now has three Art Alliance shows a year in the gallery, in addition to exhibits from resident artists.

“Foxdale has always been very community-minded and we look at this as a win-win for our residents who live here and also for the greater State College area to give them an opportunity to see all the different artwork,” Lillie said.

Now, an effort is underway to expand the program and participating venues.

“We have a lot of new members, a lot of artists who have joined us, so we’d like to give that opportunity to more people and it’s limited by the number of places we have,” Doll said.

Local artist and Art Alliance member Brenda Horner recently volunteered to help with the outreach program.

“The Art Alliance provides opportunities for local artists to exhibit their artwork around the Centre Region,” Horner wrote in an email. “By working with local businesses to showcase artwork for sale, we hope to bring together unique and appealing artwork and draw attention to both the business and the artist.”

The local artists — all members of the Art Alliance — take an active role in the community exhibits by hanging their own shows and giving talks and appearances at select locations. For artist Lena Tynell, who has had several exhibits in the outreach program and whose work was displayed in December at the State Theatre, the program has clear benefits.

“I really enjoy when people get to see art in places where they usually don’t see art, and I really like the feedback I get from people,” she said.

When she had an exhibit at The Village at Penn State and gave a talk to accompany its opening, Tynell said she found that some of her watercolors opened up a memory book of sorts for some residents. Many approached her and wanted to chat about her work and to talk about their own travels and experiences.

“It doesn’t have to do with selling or not, it’s more about sharing,” Tynell said.

This month, the State Theatre will showcase abstract, bold-colored acrylic pieces by local artist Charleen Casbourne. Previously, Casbourne networked on her own to get her work in cafes and other community areas after she joined the Art Alliance last summer, she said, she jumped at the opportunity to take part in the outreach program.

“It’s wonderful that an organization like the Art Alliance is helping artists do this,” she said. “I’m extremely grateful when anyone takes the time to look at my work and experience it.”

At other outreach locations this month, pastels by Jennifer Shuey are on display at the SPE Federal Credit Union, Stacie Bird’s photography is at the National Penn Bank on East College Avenue and Betsy Allen has her photography on display at the National Penn Bank on North Atherton. Both The Village at Penn State and Foxdale feature shows by their own residents.

The size of the venue space allows for some catering to the artists, Doll said. Current venues range in size to accommodate large works or provide a more intimate setting.

Doll hopes to continue the program with its current venues and to add exhibit space at businesses in and around State College.

“We would like to see some expansion … because it has been so well received,” she said. “We would like to find more locations and we would like to find locations outside the immediate State College area.”

Those interested in providing outreach space may contact Doll at