Celebrate Centre County’s artistic community

Roger Bingham. Michael Black. Dale Chihuly. Delta School Choir. Michelle DonLevey. Gary Glenn. Oliva Jones. The Makery. Elaine Meder-Wilgus. Vik Muniz. Favio Saggin. Beth Shaha. Jason Tutwiler. You. Me.

Who are we? What do we have in common?

We are all artists of one sort or another. Some famous— others not so much. Some are locals. Others are from somewhere else. But we all have a presence in Centre County as part of our artistic community.

Whether it’s art glass, theater, music, photography or culinary art— be it professional or amateur — it’s all here in Centre County.

In Bellefonte, there’s the Bellefonte Art Museum, the Sunday classical Music at the Library program and the Summer Sounds at Talleyrand Park.

In Millheim, there’s the Drake Art Gallery and the music scene at the Elk Creek Café. In Phillipsburg, there’s the Two Painting Broads Studio, where you can paint, eat and laugh together. State College has art too. As members of the Leadership Centre County 2017 class, the 48 of us took a walking tour of the art scene in State College last month.

Did you find a painted rock somewhere in town or on campus? Members of our class painted “One Word Rocks” and left them for you to find. Mine said “life;” I left it for you on College Avenue to celebrate life.

Have you seen the art at the Palmer Museum? There’s an auditorium where you can listen to art lectures and presentations. In our case, we heard Brazilian classical cellist Favio Saggin, who is a graduate student. If you are interested in Penn State’s music program, check out “This Week at the School of Music” at music.psu.edu for a listing of the hundreds of free and fee-based shows put on by faculty, staff and students. In April alone, there were 88 concerts.

I have an interest in how kids see art. So while at the Palmer, I tried to find art that that might be of interest to children. I found two pieces you might want to take your kids to see. One is a photograph called “Sarah Bernhardt, from Rebus 2010.” From a distance, it is a picture of the actress Sarah Bernhardt. But take a closer look — it’s a composite of hundreds of children’s toys. The other is a piece of fused glass by Ruth Brockman called “Intertwined Fused Glass 2004.”

According to Docent Mary Ellen Litzinger, “Kids love this piece. They go wild over it.” Brilliant colors and lots of plants and animals make up a glass mask.

As a kid at heart, you can also hear, see and eat your art. Michael Black, owner/operator of Black Sun Studio, provided the venue (his studio) for class members to enjoy lunch and entertainment. There we heard vocalist Olivia Jones and guitarist Jason Tutwiler, saw modern dancers Michelle Donlevy and three of her students, and devoured Gary Glenn’s chocolate art.

For those who don’t know Glenn, he is the executive chef for Mount Nittany Medical Center. He is a culinary arts chef who performs his food art at MNMC to make sure that hospital patients have access to “yummy” food.

He said, “I work there because I wanted to change the bad food (you often expect from a hospital).”

And finally, for those of us who don’t see ourselves as artists, we had our own creative moment. Some of us created music, and others became actors or created hands-on artwork. With the assistance of professionals, we each were able to create some form of art. We did it, and so can you!

As Michael Black said, “There’s an artist in every one of you. Tap into it.”

Joanne Tosti-Vasey is a Bellefonte Borough Council member, chair of the Centre County Advisory Council to the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, community organizer and blogger, and member of the Leadership Centre County Class of 2017. For more information about Leadership Centre County go to www.leadershipcentrecounty.org.