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Muhlenberg, Cedar Crest celebrate Lehigh Valley arts community

“Underpinnings,” a collaborative project between Muhlenberg College’s Martin Art Gallery and Cedar Crest College’s Center for Visual Research, brings to the fore art by Lehigh Valley arts institutions officials and employees.

Muhlenberg College Martin Art Gallery Director Paul Nicholson and Cedar Crest College Visual Research Gallery Coordinator Brian Wiggins teamed up to create an opportunity for area creatives who work behind the scenes in the arts community to show their artwork.

Roughly 35 participants from area arts institutions, schools, colleges, museums, private galleries, custom frame shops, and organizations, submitted two works apiece, one for each college gallery.

Media includes drawing, painting, sculpture, collage, and photography. Styles vary from figurative and abstract to conceptual.

The Baum School of Art is represented by Executive Director Shannon Fugate with experimental photography, Director of Exhibitions and Collections Kristine Kotsch with archival pigment prints, Program Coordinator Julia Buonanno with watercolors, and receptionist Emily Strong with an oil painting on panel and an ink on paper drawing.

Works from the Allentown Art Museum include Manager of Marketing and Public Relations Chris Potash’s photography, Community Outreach Coordinator Isaiah West’s acrylic and intaglio prints, security guard Charles Stonewall’s photography, volunteer Barry Assed’s spray paint, charcoal and graphite pieces, and sculpture by Dawn Love.

On display are mixed media assemblages by Lehigh University’s curatorial associate for exhibitions, collections, and publications Mark Wonsidler. Also, James A. DiPietro, a board member of the Lehigh Art Alliance, and Dick Blick employees Janelle Hamscher and Tara Santoro have work exhibited.

The show includes etchings created by Cedar Crest College art department administrative assistant Nancy Biltcliff, watercolors by Fine Art Framing owner Nancy Plass, and paper and mixed media assemblages by Kemerer Museum director of collections and programming Lindsey Jancay.

Other contributing artists include James Gloria, Margie Kavchok, Nina Boodhansingh, Kathleen A. Smith, Wayne Yurchak, Clavertis Miller, George Romberger, Richard Begbie, James Viscomy, Dave Jacoby, quilter Deborah Kandinsky, and spouses Elli and Maciek “Magik” Albrecht who own Magik Studio Gallery.

Nicholson was intrigued by Maryann Riker’s “The Saint of Societal Invisibility,” created with a faded vintage cabinet card of a young woman with a ‘halo’ of plastic beads and thread.

Wiggins was impressed with “Fight for Liberty,” an assemblage of wood, metal, and paint by Lehigh Valley Arts Council’s Zach Kleemeyer. “It probably weighs 70 pounds,” he says. “It’s a door from a very, very old hot tub. And then all this assemblage is built on top of that.”

Although the college gallery directors were hesitant to include their own work, “I felt that Brian and I should participate, even though it is sort of a ‘sin’ to show,” said Nicholson. “With this exhibition, it’s OK because, this exhibition is about the community,” he concluded, “Not sharing our work would be kind of a ‘sin’ of a different type.”

“Underpinnings” launched at Cedar Crest May 25 as part of Mayfair 2018. The second “Underpinnings” exhibit opened June 5 at Muhlenberg College. When the Cedar Crest exhibition wraps up July 26, the artwork from there gets transferred to Muhlenberg’s Martin Art Gallery where two works from each artist will be on display through Aug. 11.

Muhlenberg College Martin Art Gallery hours: noon. - 8 p.m. Tuesday - Saturday. Information: 484-664-3467

Cedar Crest College Center for Visual Research gallery hours: Call 610-466-0666, ext. 3469

PRESS PHOTO BY ED COURRIERMartin Art Gallery Director Paul Nicholson with “Underpinnings” exhibit at Muhlenberg College, Allentown. Copyright - &Copy; Ed Courrier