From Fraktur to Steampunk

This is a great time to celebrate art ranging from fraktur to steampunk, with a few stops in between.

Local Upper Perk artists Brad Hendershot and Katie Krieg are guest speakers at this month’s public meeting of the Pottstown Area Artists Guild. They will be presenting “The Ins and Outs (but mostly outs) of Plein Air Painting” at the Boyer Gallery at the Hill School  (717 East High St. Pottstown) at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 21, 2015. This event is free and open to the public.

Brad Hendershot is a painter of coastal Maine and rural Pennsylvania who uses a representational approach.  He maintains a studio in Montgomery County and holds an open studio each summer on Monhegan Island, Maine.  Brad is a member of the American Society of Marine Painters, the Pennsylvania Watercolor Society and the Philadelphia Watercolor Society.  He works mostly with water media and his paintings are found in public and private collections nationwide.  

Katie Krieg is a traditional realist artist who works in watercolor, oil, and charcoal.  Her studio is in Montgomery County and she holds an open studio in Maine each summer.  Katie’s works have been accepted into national and regional open juried shows as well as invitational shows.  Her paintings and drawings are found in collections along the east coast from Virginia to Maine.

The Artist in the Garden exhibit at the Michener Museum, 138 S. Pine Street, Doylestown, reopens on Tuesday, April 21 and continues through August 9, 2015.

The Artist in the Garden explores the relationship between artists and nature from early in the 20th century to today. It begins with the close of the Progressive Era (around 1920), a time when industrial and urban development began to transform the landscape, and ends with recent work by living artists.

While fraktur, defined by Webster’s as “a Pennsylvania German document that is written in calligraphy and illuminated with decorative motifs (as tulips, birds, and scrolls)” and by the Free Library of Philadelphia as “delightfully detailed manuscript art known as fraktur, made by German immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania beginning in 1683,” has long been exhibited and celebrated at our wonderful local museum, the Schwenkfelder Library and Heritage Center at 105 Seminary Street in Pennsburg. Their collection of fraktur is internationally renowned. If you’ve lived in Pennsylvania Dutch area for any length of time, you have probably seen it, whether your realized it or not. Now there is more opportunity to see this art work displayed than ever before. Major exhibitions focusing on this art form are currently being hosted at the Free Library of Philadelphia, Framing Fraktur;

Framing Fraktur explores the relationship between traditional fraktur and contemporary art through two simultaneous exhibitions presented this spring at the Parkway Central Library.

Quill & Brush is an exhibition featuring original fraktur works along with Pennsylvania German artifacts, manuscripts, and ephemera, drawing from the Rare Book Department’s collection of more than 1,300 such pieces. The exhibition will provide current research and interpretation of major examples of historic fraktur and related objects.

Word & Image features drawings, paintings, woodblock prints, and embroideries by seven international, contemporary artists: Marian Bantjes (Canada), Anthony Campuzano (United States), Imran Qureshi (Pakistan), Elaine Reichek (United States), Bob and Roberta Smith (England), and Gert and Uwe Tobias (Romania/Germany). Whereas discussion of fraktur has often been confined to the folk art genre, Word & Image reinterprets and reframes traditional fraktur through a contemporary lens that is international in scope, multi-generational, and diverse in content medium and formal approach. Each of the contemporary artists uses text or type as a visual component of their work to convey particular subject matter about his/her own culture and identity.

Quill & Brush: Pennsylvania German Fraktur and Material Culture is on exhibit from March 2 – July 18, 2015. Word & Image: Contemporary Artists Connect to Fraktur is on exhibit from March 2 – June 14, 2015. Free Library of Philadelphia, Parkway Central Library, 1901 Vine Street (just up the street from the Philadelphia Museum of Art).

This is the final weekend for Drawn with Spirit: Pennsylvania German Fraktur from the Joan and Victor Johnson Collection at Philadelphia Museum of Art, Perelman Building, 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway. This exhibition features a selection of the Johnsons’ promised gift of fraktur along with a variety of Pennsylvania German decorative arts from the Museum’s collection. Final day of the exhibit is April 26, 2015.

If you still haven’t seen enough, then drive down to Delaware to see A Colorful Folk: Pennsylvania Germans & the Art of Everyday Life between March 1, 2015 – January 3, 2016 at the Winterthur Museum, 5105 Kennett Pike (Route 52), Winterthur, DE 19735.

And when you are ready for a change of pace, head over to Bethlehem’s Kemerer Museum to check out the just opened Steampunk: Victorian History Meets Science Fiction

Glide into the future on a 1880s airship, to explore a world of romance and adventure. This exhibition features contemporary art of the Steampunk movement, and antiques behind their inspiration. Steampunk is today’s Science Fiction vision of the future as seen through a Victorian Era looking glass. A small subculture of fine arts, film, fashion and craft has grown into a global movement, celebrated at festivals and in blockbuster films. Similar to Victorian eclectic style, Steampunk may include references to later periods such as the 1920s Golden Age or the Space Age of the late 1950s.  

Steampunk—salvaged, gritty and analog—is tomorrow, off-grid. Visitors will see a range of contemporary and historic objects including Victorian clothing, machinery, toys, medical tools, games and arsenal.

The Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts is located at 427 N. New Street, Bethlehem, PA. In partnership with this exhibit, starting on April 30th, Historic Bethlehem Museums and Sites will hold Steampunk Saturdays, a series of special programs including a Steampunk Cosplay Tea Party, Learn Baritsu: the Gentleman’s Martial Art (popularized by Sherlock Holmes), and the Art of Watch Making. The Steampunk exhibit runs from April 18 through November 1, 2015.

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