133 North Allegheny Street Bellefonte, Pa 16823
By Serge Bielanko
For Centre County artist extraordinaire, Dotty Ford, the holidays aren't just another opportunity to stress yourself out.
For you and me: holiday shopping probably means we are likely to have a mild heart attack in the Target lot when the last open parking space in the entire joint is four miles away from the door and just got swiped by someone else.
But not for Dotty.
See, Dotty Ford wants to help alleviate your Yuletide pain, people.
Well, every year when December rolls around, Ford, who is an accomplished artist and a retired State College School District teacher, moves in an entirely different direction than so many American retail rats. Instead of hammering people over the head with yet another pitch to buy another piece of squirrel crap for someone who will never use it or care about, Ford turns to that last bastion of civility and wisdom in this mixed-up world: art.
Each year, Ford is invited to be the guest curator and creative force behind the Bellefonte Art Museum for Centre County's (BAM) annual Holiday Show & Sale. Which means, quite frankly, that she is in charge of delivering a lovely respite to the local masses, to you and me if we want it. And by mid-December, I mean, c'mon: I can't think of a single functioning adult in a hundred square miles that could't use a break from the tired old clash of the parking lot titans that 21st century holiday living has become, you know?
This whole BAM Holiday Show & Sale thing, you see, it isn't high pressure neon-powered shop-til-you-drop mega consumerism in any way, shape, or form. We're talking the opposite of all that. We're talking a thoughtfully custom curated and put-together show with a different theme each year. It's an art exhibit in a local museum where the featured works - all created by local artists and craftspeople- are all for sale. Which, in turn, means your entire stop into the museum this time of year brings a certain kind of rare peace into your frenzied day. And THAT, for quite a few years now, has been as rewarding as it sounds...both for her and for Bellefonte shoppers who know about this little secret.
But I'm thinking you ought to pop into the museum, located in the historic Linn House, 133 North Allegheny Street, just see for yourself, okay? You'll see what I'm talking about, I promise. This is not a place where you have to be an art professor or something! The folks who run BAM live to welcome anyone and everyone who is even the slightest bit curious about relearning what we all once understood back in the days of kindergarten crayons and dinosaur dioramas.
Art can heal whatever ails ya.
It just the doggone truth.
And Ford's special year end exhibit and sale is a place where human imagination thrives, where shopping for a unique holiday gift is actually a radically pleasant experience! You won't have to deal with ear-bashing Ibiza music made by robots and a bored teenage sales clerk who is texting while you scream, "Take me to your manager, please!!" In fact, chances are you'll be dealing with Dotty herself if you swing by, and she's the one who selected every single one of the one-of-a-kind locally-sourced paintings and works in the exhibit.
This years theme is Word Play!, and according to the museum's website, "All participating artists (were asked) to make art that either incorporates some form of text in the design or takes its inspiration from the written word."
Figuring I ought to go straight to the source, I asked Ford to tell me more.
Belleonnte.com: This year's Holiday Show & Sale is all about word play, wherein the artists use words and language incorporated into their work. What inspired that theme?
Dotty Ford: The theme was inspired by works of art I’ve seen and talked about at the Palmer Museum of Art (I’m a docent there)," she explains. "I am thinking of works like “Gray Alice” by Tim Rollins and the K.O.S. - which is on display right now. Other artists in the collection that come to mind are Janet Malcolm, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith and May Stevens.
BFT: I think the collision of words and art is wonderful, and natural in so many ways. You know what really comes to mind for me?...Graffiti and street art! Were the local artists who are participating in the exhibit/sale excited about this year's theme?
DF: There are several pieces in the show that were inspired by street art and “tagging.” Check out the Community Gallery upstairs! One of the paintings is 5’ x 6’. I think the participating artists were excited by the challenge.
BFT: Each of the Word Play! paintings in the exhibit is by a local Central Pennsylvania artist and each one of them is for sale exclusively at the museum for December. But tell us some of the other unique holiday gifts that visitors can also purchase this year?
DF: Some of the unique smaller gifts that are available are tree ornaments made from playing cards, earrings constructed from road maps, and a vase of paper flowers made from the pages of a book! The BAM is a great place to shop if you want unique, quality, hand made gifts that the recipients will enjoy throughout the year. Also, The Gallery of Trees (on the lighted 24-hour porch) is beautiful. One of the trees has hand made ornaments that visitors may purchase in the gift shop in Twiga (the museum's official gift shop), which has many beautiful gift items as well!
BFT: If folks come in to see the exhibit and shop around, will they run into you? Are you able to help guide shoppers towards the perfect gift?
DF: I'll be there often. We always have docent greeters on duty to help shoppers and to answer questions. And many of them are artists who have work in the show.
The 2019 Holiday Show and Sale at the Bellefonte Art Museum
Museum-wide. November 29 - December 22.
Friday, Saturday, Sunday 12:00-4:30.
While at your visit to BAM, head up to the 3rd floor to witness Underground Railroad: A Journey to Freedom exhibit. That permanent feature highlights the escaped slaves who sought safe passage to freedom in the north via a secret network of people who wanted to help abolish slavery altogether.
*This exhibition is supported in part by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency fund-ed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.
The Bellefonte Art Museum is supported by the Central Pennsylvania Convention & Visitors Bureau. Learn more about the CPCVB by visiting www.visitpennstate.org.
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