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Bob’s Art Blog: 3rd at Burg & Issues of Identity

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More than two dozen amazing venues are combining their efforts to end the year for the final 3rd of the 2021 Burg event. Barely six blocks on North Front Street separate two of Harrisburg’s oldest civic institutions and, this Friday evening, they offer two distinctly different views on identity.

Rachel O’Connor, curator at the Art Association of Harrisburg, unveiled an exhibit that could well serve as a time capsule for the year 2021 as she showcases a microcosm of global attention on topics that capture attention on national and individual identity. When we look at ourselves in the mirror every day, what do we see beyond the reflection watching us? For a quartet of female artists, the responses present ideas through art mediums to the AAH for this closing show of the year.

“Situation: Confronting Identity” offers artists Bridie Alvarez, Lucy Giboyeaux, Larissa Ramey and Destiny Santana a personal investigation by digging deep into cultural and historical tropes. The exhibit tackles race, nationality and gender in its powerful presentation which at times leaves everything to the surface, taken at face value and, at others, shows subtle, nuanced truths, barely alluding to meanings hidden under layers of paint or in the subject’s gaze. This think tank delves into the very essence of what makes us who and what we are. Beyond the physical lies the contextualization of culture and the duality of the psyche, often intertwining to create complex machinations of external and internal forces.

Art by Bridie Alvarez

Bridie Alvarez, a Mexican American artist, deals with themes of identity filtered through a lens of “memory, loss and isolation”. She finds “religion, family, gender and ethnicity” at the heart of the narrative elements that she incorporates in her paintings. Using the medium of collage drawn from ‘family photos, political displays and beauty advertisements’, she brings to the fore a sense of cultural topicality by capturing interpersonal and psychological moments that reflect the past and present as a alone.

Illustrations by Lucy Giboyeaux

Lucy Giboyeaux is a Puerto Rican artist who works in sculptures that pay homage to her heritage. She keeps customs and rituals – and the language that evokes them – clearly visible and central to her hand-crafted works and paintings. She explores the internal drive of her people, who, although beset by tragedy, continue to move forward. Giboyeaux achieves this by highlighting human resilience through relational bonds (family and friends) as well as the human bond (the community as a whole). She holds a mirror of cultural identity, focusing on “her own Puerto Rican identity in the diaspora”. By referring to “the Taino language for many of its titles, it honors its cultural past and helps keep it alive”.

Art by Larissa Ramey

Larissa Ramey is a biracial artist who uses photography as a medium of choice. His works cover topical themes such as race, heritage and body image. She is often used as a subject in her quest for what it means to be Black to her not only as an artist but as a woman of color. The lens of labels becomes secondary in uncovering true meaning, revealing how parts of heritage and ancestry connect with the present.

Destiny Santana is also a multimedia artist whose work is both figurative and abstract. Her paintings are emotionally charged, depicting hard-wired traits such as facial expression and body language that share the stories from within. An artist born in Harlem, Santana takes inspiration from the streets of New York and uses this backdrop as a canvas to tell current events and how they affect her culture. Her group of paintings is titled “Shadow Work”, which addresses the close introspection of dealing with the dark side of the psyche and learning how to overcome it. By realizing how to accept and understand herself, she concludes that this is achievable through self-love and self-discipline.

The exhibition opened on December 3, but the artists reception is the centerpiece on Friday 3 at the Burg from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Hosted by Tracey Meloni, the party will feature master musician Jonathan Diggs Duke on trumpet and piano for a night to remember.

The Art Association of Harrisburg is located at 21 N. Front St., Harrisburg. www.artassocofhbg.com.

Holiday art exhibit at the Civic Club

What started as a revolutionary outpost for diversity through art in February has now grown into a cultural mainstay on the calendar. This seasonal approach to showcasing new talent takes place at the Civic Club of Harrisburg.

Art by Bethany Nicholle

Identity comes here in the way of personal growth. The life cycle of an emerging artist can be compared to that of the caterpillar going through a complete metamorphosis, resulting in a magnificent butterfly. Artists can go through a series of new techniques, explore various mediums, and in so doing, develop a style that becomes their own, a dramatic metamorphosis, so to speak, from chrysalis to evolving identity. Friday’s 3rd at the Burg marks the fourth round of assembly of this special group, “The Maestros of Midtown”, for the closing chapter of 2021.

Art by Nicole Herbert

You’ll see familiar names and faces like Bethany Nicholle, who brings her abstract paintings and a full set of marketable merchandise, including books of poetry she’s authored and will sign for posterity. Carrie Feidt’s paintings of lovable animals and imaginative ways capture an innocence, softly serene. Lily Roque, tattoo artist by day and by night, adds an air of mystery through her manga and her comics. Annie Crow’s paintings deal with the universal theme of death, but, for now, I choose to stay among the rapids, as long as I can. Jeannine-Marie recycles clothes to create unique personalized pieces for her Savagehabitexchange.com, while Douglas Beard amazes with his handmade lamps. Generalist photographer Larry Washington Jr. aka Larry Lenzz returns with her dramatic cityscapes night scenes, while pop art painter Grace Robinson, via Color Your Soul, features commissioned pieces as well as iconic images like Bob Marley.

Art by Mansa Abuchi Mawakili

Nicole Herbert’s work embraces photography, ceramics and found objects. Quincy Yates returns to the scene with his goal of seeing the world dressed in tie-dye as promoted by his Shopkidsinc.com. Recurring artist Mansa Abuchi Mawakili has expanded her collection of artisan Afrocentric jewelry for the holidays. Darius Davis dabbles in acrylic paints when he’s not creating fashion videos. Jemar Sweets, photographer, specializes in architectural prints as well as landscapes by capturing views of the city. Painter Tyler Minnich will participate in a live demonstration of his craft as a special feature of the evening. Group leader Brad Mauer gathered this eclectic entourage for the overnight event from 5 to 9 p.m. The “Cercus” insect cartoons are synonymous with Brad’s fascinating foray into the art world.

Music will be provided by violinist Marie Valigorsky from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Who knows, maybe even Santa Claus will show up unless there is a clause (e) in his contract with no public appearances until the big night.

The Harrisburg Civic Club is located at 612 N. Front. St., Harrisburg. www.civicclubofharrisburg.com

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