Spring Intersections, of the Lehigh Valley creative world


by Ellen Shaughnessy. April 2016

Over the last few weeks we’ve been treated to a vast spectrum of art, across 22 miles of the Lehigh Valley; a diverse range of styles, personalities and price tags spanning from $15 to  $15,000.
1. Everything Happens at the Same Time. First we visit the ‘far side’, 22 miles west on 22 at the Cedar Crest College Art Gallery, where Rhonda Wall explained how, Everything Happens at the Same Time.

Malaysia Airlines, Ebola & the Minutemen 2015.
Malaysia Airlines, Ebola & the Minutemen 2015.

Based on many real life experiences, such as the grasshopper hatch that happened in her classroom once – Rhonda manages to mix these lucky grasshoppers with a healthy dose of the pink lady slipper flowers embedded from her time studying for her MFA in Vermont, then add a pinch of penicillin trees that grew just a little too late to save her grandfather who had passed of pneumonia.

Running out of water, Terrariums and Meditation, 2015.
Running out of water, Terrariums and Meditation, 2015.

Who knows? On further investigation you might just find a few cicadas, solar panel robot, random giant ants, Ebola and a doomed Malaysia Airlines flight in her work… then you will understand how everything happens at once. As her children giggled and flitted & darted through the captivated crowd (as if to reinforce the theme), Rhonda gave an intriguing art talk to explain the chaos in her Dada-inspired paint and collage exhibit.

While there is plenty of disaster covered there is also a hint of pop, maybe showing us a glimpse of her 1980s village roots. The balance of patterns, strong human elements plus quirky machines in her work looks almost as if it were designed specifically to fit in this inspired modern gallery space. In Running out of water, Terrariums and Meditation there are wonderful water-glasses with straws plugged into the globes around the ladies’ heads, and the ancient civilization/circuitry costumes of the cell-phoned marching bots (one holding a selfie stick) remind me of the fantastical Peter Max meanies somehow.

Paris, Oxygen, No Guns and Toxic Waste, 2016.
Rhonda Wall gives an explanation of Paris, Oxygen, No Guns and Toxic Waste, 2016.

Wall is an art professor at Kutztown U, and a concerned student inquired about the Ebola, Malaysian air subject matter and whether Rhonda’s an optimist or a pessimist? “I’m definitely an optimist!” responded Wall without hesitation… and there is indeed a sense of hope and joy amidst the chaos, in the pops of color and whimsy that she inserts into her invented factual + fictional world. It’s one of the most far-out and interesting worlds I’ve seen in a while.
Note * I’m sorry but this cool exhibit is no longer hanging – I took too long to write this. Please see RhondaWall.com and check out what’s next at Cedar Crest’s lovely Art Gallery.

2. StreetMeet @HomeBase Easton.
22 miles east, #streetMeet610 continues through April 17 this spring.

The ABE StreetMeet #streetMeet610
The ABE StreetMeet #streetMeet610

so – What’s a StreetMeet?
An intersection of street art meets small label entrepreneurs.  It’s all happening here at a handy crossroads between NY and Philly: 432 Northampton st, where young designers and artists from NYC/boros, NJ, the Lehigh Valley and Philly areas set up shop a la ‘EastonFlea’.

HomeBase carries many small label / entrepreneurial brands that are perfect for the skateboard and street-culture loving set. I got to see the @sneakermessiah , live  in action! Inspired by a cropped underdog insole, he was painting a bright new set of high-top custom Nikes.

@sneakerMessiah aka Swag Jones aka Swaguel L. Jackson aka TuPairs Shakur
@sneakerMessiah aka Swag Jones aka Swaguel L. Jackson aka TuPairs Shakur

HomeBase owner and local street culture maven Andy Po is hosting this as a demo, for a more giant bi-coastal version next year (NY-LA). It’s a multi-culture market organized by ABEmpire, DST46 & HomeBase, that brings together local clothing designers, sneaker collectors, artists & musicians. One of the early nights featured a dj – HomeBase was packed, a neighbor complained and the police came to shut down the music. “I’m looking at it as a success.

HomeBase owner Andy Po is brewing up an bigger & better StreetMeet.
HomeBase owner Andy Po is brewing up an bigger & better StreetMeet.

“We are documenting this trial run …watch out, next year is going to be BIG!” proclaims HomeBase owner and soft-spoken hipster, Andy Po. Check out the 2016 StreetMeet kickoff on YouTube and this StreetMeet promo they pulled together.

3. Intersections: The Street Portrait Series. The third creative intersection this early spring was also of an urban nature… a joint plein air art project by Easton artists Lauren Kindle and Kate Brandes, and the resulting art work is currently on exhibition in the upstairs gallery at the Quadrant Bookmart & coffee shop on no. 3rd street in Easton.
Plein Air simply means outdoors – so Kindle and Brandes decided to take their art to the streets, and just set up their canvases and paint random strangers that wandered along their path and agreed to sit for a painting.

kateLauren1With Brandes at the watercolors, and Kindle at the oil helm they would set up a time, pull out the paints and a fresh canvas, and almost immediately find a new subject. They would each paint that subject in their different mediums and styles, and interview them at the same time – painting as they learned more about each character.

One subject was a young teen in Puerto Rico whose family was afraid for his life – he was put on a plane at 14 and has been carving out a new life here since. “Nobody helps me. I have to help myself.”

The proceeds from the paintings that sell at this show all go to the Easton Public Library. This portrait has sold, and now Nelson [thanks also to the artistry and generosity of Brandes & Kindle] has now helped the Easton Public Library!
Check out Intersections at the Quadrant Bookmart and Coffeehouse, through April 24.
see Kindle & Brandes’ Intersections project on Lauren’s Blog.

#EastonPleinAir has been taking on a new life.
It started as a contest at the EastonRiversideFestival.org
$2000 in prizes ($1000 to first place) for the top art: Sept 16+17, 2017.

you can purchase a box set of #EastonPleinAir art notecards, or a hand-stamped festival tee (only $7.00!) * all proceeds will help to fund this years Riverside Festival of the Arts festival!
On sale when you  stop by iMiJ shop/free bridge realty at 140 Northampton St. for the Easton out LOUD kick-off event: May 26, 2017

This blog is sponsored by your friends at Free Bridge Realty, llc.  An independent locally-owned full service Real Estate Brokerage licensed in NJ+PA, located at 140 Northampton St. in Historic Easton PA 18042 * FreeBridgeRealty.com 610.252.2552

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