State College artists rejoiced as the new Art Alliance Downtown Gallery opened its doors last Friday.
The new venue is located exactly where the Fraser Street Gallery was, right across from the Fraser Center on 123 South Fraser Street. Conveniently nestled near Studio 2 photography and across from new, mega popular Target and H&M, the Art Alliance couldn’t have picked a better location in terms of newfound traffic.
Its October 7 reception was a huge success, featuring an art show titled “Abstract Beginnings.” The show included eight talented contemporary artists working across a spectrum of media including painting, design, and sculpture.
The gallery opened during homecoming weekend, and parade spectators were a huge part of the success.
“People were consistently passing through and checking the place out because they were already hanging out downtown,” gallery manager Kelsey Rieger said.
Those involved with the Fraser Street Gallery are still involved, and so are friends and family of the artists.
“There was also strong community support in general,” Rieger said. “Every time I looked up and around at the crowds, I saw new faces — it was really exciting!”
The Art Alliance Downtown is an expansion of the nonprofit Art Alliance of Central Pennsylvania. The organization’s primary goal is to ensure that artists from Central Pennsylvania have the opportunity to expose their work to those coming from outside State College.
Rieger, a California native graduate student studying art education, has had her heart set on opening a gallery downtown for more than two months. She previously worked at the Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara for three years before moving to Bellefonte and taking classes at Penn State. Rieger also used to teach art as a camp counselor in northern Pennsylvania during her summers, and it expanded her fondness and connection to the State College area.
“Though the art scene in Santa Barbara is much different than the scene in State College, they are more similar than you think. Santa Barbara serves as the hub between Los Angeles and San Francisco, while State College does the same for major cities like Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.”
Marie Doll, the executive director of the Art Alliance, said the gallery’s immediate focus is on featuring local artists. However, the Art Alliance is open to the possibility of welcoming artists from outside Centre County in the future.
Every show will debut on the first Friday of each month and will feature the work of about six to eight 2-D artists and two 3-D artists. Its current exhibition, “Abstract Beginnings,” will be showing until October 30th, so you have plenty of time to stop by and enjoy the works of Jim Bright, Pasquale Cortese, Melinda Curley, Mary Deutsch, Susan Graham, Gary Schuebert, Sheena Sovich, and Adrienne Waterston.
“I didn’t initially want to be an artist,” Cortese said. “It was a hobby. It was a work in progress, I started maybe 20 years ago. What you’re seeing is a product of those years and a hobby I love. Through complex patterns and intricate inking, I create images of a dual nature, both optically dynamic while stable and meditative.”
Adrienne Waterston’s pieces in “Abstract Beginnings” gain unique inspiration from everyday life. Her work includes excerpts of text, photocopies, purchase receipts, and foot-stamp print — all things that represent the everyday motions of life.
“I was curious about how all the things we do and buy throughout the day almost act as a diary,” she explained. “In a way, my work represents sidewalks. I’m inspired by how sidewalks serve as evidence for what’s been there and traveled through before.”
Rieger said the Art Alliance stands out among other local galleries because there’s a heavy focus on artists from State College or Centre County originally. “Penn State is a huge college town, so students and people are constantly coming through and leaving. The Art Alliance Downtown takes the time to highlight those who are from here and have roots to Centre County and State College.”
The Art Alliance Downtown should be an excellent addition to the art scene here on campus, and we anticipate many exciting and unique exhibits to come.