By KAYLA PONGRAC
Our Town Correspondent
Community Arts Center of Cambria County’s first exhibit of 2017 is titled “Art in the Dark.” The exhibit, which opens to the public Jan. 28, features work by local artist Malcolm Crittenden, whose artwork focuses on black light pictures.
“My study and observation of the heavens has inspired me to become an artist by means of black light pictures,” Crittenden said.
“I have chosen black light pencils as a medium to capture the details of the night sky. It is my desire to recreate the awe and wonder that falls upon those who stand out under the night sky.”
Crittenden signs each piece of his work with “Psalm 19:1.”
“The setting of David’s Psalm is familiar to my artwork: a nightscape, with both the earthly landscape of the Judean hills and the vastness of a starry night sky,” he said.
Crittenden, who served as a Pennsylvania state mine inspector, spent much of his career in the outdoors appreciating the vast landscapes.
He has always been interested in astrology, too.
When the comet Hale Bopp appeared in the late 1990s, for instance, he purchased a large telescope and, several years later, painted his first black light poster titled “In the Beginning.” The poster was used as a teaching tool for a high school astronomy class.
Over the years, Crittenden developed an artistic approach that involved the use of fluorescent paints and pencils to capture nightscape-visions.
Angela Godin, the arts center’s executive director, said she admires Crittenden’s art, and is thrilled to display his paintings in the Goldhaber-Fend Fine Arts Center gallery.
“The opportunity for the community arts center to hold a uniquely diverse exhibition is a true honor,” Godin said. “We are excited to constantly offer new experiences and mediums for our members and the general public.”
Godin described the exhibit as being true to its name: The art will be experienced in the dark, as each piece will be displayed inside its own individually lit shadowbox.
“This exhibit is going to be a total experience,” she said. “The room will be, for the most part, completely black, and there are so many pieces that it will illuminate the room. This is something that hasn’t even been done in the area before.”
An opening reception for “Art in the Dark” is scheduled for Feb. 4 from 1 to 3 p.m. inside the arts center’s historic Goldhaber-Fend Fine Arts Center.
During the reception, Crittenden is to present a gallery talk, which will give him the opportunity to discuss his creative process. Crittenden is also sharing a finished piece plus a work-in-progress.
Local musician Dan Becker is set to perform during the opening reception.
“Art in the Dark” is scheduled to continue through Feb. 28. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays.
“We’re trying to do more diverse and unique things and offer all different forms of art to really capture the essence of every type of medium,” Godin said. “There’s no doubt that this exhibit provides a great start to 2017.”
In addition to viewing the exhibit, people are also invited to vote on their favorite paintings. Those who do will receive a free raffle chance, and the winner of the raffle will receive a black light piece of his or her choice.
The raffle drawing is scheduled to take place Feb. 22 at 7 p.m. Additional raffle tickets can be purchased from a staff member of the arts center.
Crittenden said he hopes that his work will inspire others to take a longer look at the night sky.
“The Goldhaber-Fend Fine Arts Center has a unique gallery in that the grounds surrounding the arts center lend a scenic quality to the normally plain gallery room,” he said. “Viewers, upon seeing my black light nightscapes exhibit, will likely want to step outside and peer at the night sky.”