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Central Penn College Welcomes Local Artists

Art Association of Harrisburg Winter Soiree held in Capital BlueCross Theatre

By Christine Fusselman

Media Club Reporter

Central Penn hosted the first Winter Soiree of the Art Association of Harrisburg (AAH) in the Capital BlueCross Theatre on Jan. 31.

Visitors entering the black-box theater were drawn in by the striking artwork displayed on metal grid frames and a few tables throughout the room.

Central Penn’s own Danielle Klebes’ larger-than-life oil painted portraits were displayed front and center. Klebes has won Best in Show in the AAH Annual Figure Show two years in a row.

Her paintings included the familiar faces of Summerdale campus students “Kamal” and “Steve-O,” and another artist-in-residence, Dalton James, who is the college’s writing center director and her spouse. (Klebes uses the last name “James” in her personal and non-art professional life.)

“I feel like the painting describes me, because it’s big, like my personality,” quipped Steve “Steve-O” Osango.

According to Carrie Wissler-Thomas, AAH president and sales gallery manager, the association’s soirees, typically held throughout the summer at various homes and businesses, are designed as audience-builders and fundraisers. She added that the Central Penn show was the first AAH meet-the-artist soiree held on a college campus.

“The space surprised me,” said jewelry artist Alonna Marie Columbo. “It is a great space. The exposed dark ceiling … is simple and elegant. It is a beautiful space to display fine art.”

Columbo displayed her handcrafted jewelry, some of which was made with gold sandstone and tiger’s eye.

Sarah Davidson, who works in the Central Penn marketing department, shared her photography, which she said included “examples of nature in all forms of life, from beginning to decay.”

Davidson said the show was a “very nice way to mingle with local artists and other members of the community.”

Dustin Nispel and Jessica Flynn, two owners of The Rooted Artist Collective, in York, shared their talents from the theater’s stage. Both worked on paintings during the show, with previously painted works nearby, but also took some time to present a poetic duetNispel and Flynn performed “Bottom of the Blossom,” a poem that won them first place in an international poetry contest in Macedonia in October. According to Nispel, the trip to Macedonia required some serious fundraising, but was an incredible experience, which included touring a mosque built around 1406.

 Jessica Flynn and Dustin Nispel performing a poetic duet, “Bottom of the Blossom.”

Jessica Flynn and Dustin Nispel performing a poetic duet, “Bottom of the Blossom.”

Nispel’s book of poems, “The Tower,” and Flynn’s poetry book, “Through the Cracks,” are both published by Poem Sugar Press and available on Amazon.com.

Representing the art of music with his combination of electronic and international traditional instruments, including a Chinese Hulusi, poet, painter and musician Jonathan Frazier entertained the audience with a variety of melodies.

Frazier said he has “always played keys and guitar,” but his collection of international instruments began developing more recently with his purchase of a flute from the annual Native American Pow Wow held during Harrisburg’s Kipona Festival.

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Painter, illustrator and musician, Jonathan Frazier entertained soiree guests with international instruments such as a Chinese Hulusi shown here.

Frazier, a former Central Penn adjunct instructor, also works as an illustrator when he is not playing music.

AAH member Andrew Guth presented a sampling of his work with block printing at the soiree. Guth’s colorful shapes were displayed on fabric bags and framed prints. His work can be viewed at the Millworks in midtown Harrisburg, where he leases studio space.

Guth felt the “vibe” was different than that at the typical soiree, but said, “The staff and president were very welcoming.”

Romeo Azondekon, Central Penn’s director of cultural diversity, displayed some framed works in mixed media.

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Central Penn College’s Chief Diversity Officer, Romeo Azondekon, shared his artwork which combines bursts of color and texture.

Local photographer Mary Fox also exhibited.

“This may be the start of a wonderful tradition,” according to Matt Lane, director of the Central Penn College Education Foundation.

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