Bob’s Art Blog: Poetry in October


“October Drink” by Jovana Sarver

The English poet Gordon Sumner asked, “Will you be my love in the barley fields?” Many years have passed since those summer days…”

Over Bob’s art blogs, it’s become common knowledge that I have an unabashedly romantic affair with October, the prettiest month of the year for those who are too enamored with fall. It also seems to be the most fleeting month, gone almost as soon as it arrives. October brings with it life-affirming themes, even though it is a transitional season between warm, golden days and those that change the landscape around us, blanketing the earth for the days leading up to the winter.

“Water of Life” at the Riverfront Gallery in St. Stephen

“Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink…” So wrote the romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge in his epic poem, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”, in 1798. Coleridge did not know that, nearly 225 years later, the world would face drastic climate change. Hurricanes, floods, apocalyptic rains and the list goes on prove that he was a soothsayer of circumspect consideration.

St. Stephen’s Riverfront Gallery’s current Water of Life exhibition addresses these and other topics in a tightly-juried exhibition of 23 works by 14 artists. Not to dismiss global alarms, the gallery also reports on the roles, both sacred and secular, that water plays in the everyday world, adding some cautionary tales to the mix.

The exhibition does an exemplary job of the artist’s dilemma by bridging the sacred and secular worlds, as they often seem to be in direct conflict. In religious terms, water is spiritually linked to purity and baptism, being reborn in water resurfacing as a new child in faith, cleansed from sin. Unique works, from photography to collage to painting, water is at the forefront in the collective consciousness of the viewer. In this exhibition, less really is more, with each selection standing out brilliantly.

Jurors awarded local artist Lori Sweet “Best in Show” for her acrylic painting, “Baptism: The Blessing of Water,” which depicts “a woman holding a bowl of water flowing into the world.” The woman is caught between the worlds of the visible and the invisible, offering blessings to both.

Well-known plein-air painter Julie Riker embraces “alla prima”, meaning to complete the work in one session, which she says “keeps the surface fresh”. Julie was honored for her painting, “The Color of Water”, which received the “Prix d’excellence” from the jury. This is an oil on canvas painting that features blue and white water at the edge of a lake, shimmering to the bottom where life is present in the daily order of nature.

“The Color of Water” by Julie Riker (photo: Jana MacGinnes)

Jonathan Frazier’s “Susquehanna Light” is another depiction of plein air painting at its finest. Jonathan captures an “exquisite sense of the colors that abound in our local landscapes as the light changes throughout the day.”

“Susquehanna Light” by Jonathan Frazier (photo: Jana MacGinnes)

Local art teacher Craig Bomberger takes a tongue-in-cheek approach with his acrylic on canvas, ‘Opening Up to the World’, with a ‘bright and vibrant’ color palette capping the body of water with wide eyes. character, perhaps symbolizing that we are intertwined with nature. Both sparkling and dynamic, it lifts the spirits of onlookers.

One half of Vivi’s community-minded artist couple on Verbeke, photographer Jeb Boyd offers a large-scale black-and-white study titled “Viaduct Vista: Steamy Susquehanna,” a dramatic shot of calibration ducts, channeling the ebb and flow of the great river. Partner Vivian Sterste-Brandler’s painting, “Spiritual Retreat at Fuller Lake,” offers insight into how water can restore and heal simply by being near it.

Daniel Petruzzi blended his loves for art history and philosophy, bringing an amalgamation of methods and meanings to the fore in his work, “Maintaining Empire”. This work on multimedia paper won the “Prix de la Cathédrale” and bears witness to the dualistic themes of control and surveillance.

“Water of Life” can be seen at the St. Stephens Riverfront Gallery until November 20 on Sundays from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. For a relatively small exhibit, “Water of Life” makes a powerful statement on many levels and can surprise you like a wave at the beach that comes out of nowhere.

Artist Spotlight: Carrie Feidt

Artwork by Carrie Feidt

In a world that can seem to be constantly frowning, it’s refreshing to see an upturned smile. Art can move us in many ways, connecting on different levels with our inner child. There is pure and simple art that makes us smile and warms our hearts. More often than not today, it can be exactly what the doctor ordered. Carrie Feidt is one such artist who has honed her craft for over 10 years and in the process has brightened up the homes of many local residents. She creates mood boards with her paintings, taking the viewer to a seaside landscape or a dark, creepy alley with only a flicker of light. Other avenues feature frolicking kittens or holiday-themed vignettes. The black and white images of his photography offer local points of interest. Carrie’s work has been shown at the Ned Smith Nature Center, the Civic Club of Harrisburg, the Millersburg Art Association, and at regular outdoor sessions she holds throughout the region. For many artists, “edgy” may be their focus, but for Carrie Feidt, sweet and innocent wins out. As I have read, never underestimate the social conscience and sense of reality in a calm person. They are some of the most observant and absorbing people of all. Carrie’s fall events are:

~ The SoMa Block Party (S. 3rd St., Harrisburg) Thursday, October 20, 7-10 p.m.

~3rd at Burg at SoMa on Friday, October 21 from 6-9 p.m. at Sip @17 (17 S. 3rd St.)

~Face painting at the Capital Region Middle Unit Fall Festival on October 29 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

~Live painting at the Ned Smith Center for Nature

~ Art’s Veteran’s Day Gala at Harrisburg Country Club 6-9pm

Those interested in the paintings can contact Carrie by calling or texting 717-350-1072, or emailing [email protected]

Post Scriptum

There is great poetry in October. It’s evident everywhere you look, and the cool weather draws the eye to the horizon as the trees lose their blanket of nature’s beauty. The magic of the month always becomes elusive, capturing the joy of little faces on its very last day.

“I swear that in the days that remain, we will walk through fields of gold.” ~Gordon Sumner, better known as Sting

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