By KAYLA PONGRAC
Our Town Correspondent
Bottle Works Arts on Third’s nine resident artists will have their work on display in the Bottle Works galleries through Feb. 25.
The exhibit, dubbed “Studio Works,” opened to the public Jan. 27.
“This is an opportunity for us to showcase and share with the community the talent of our resident artists who are here quietly creating all year long while exhibits, events and classes go on around them,” said Laura Argenbright, Bottle Works’ newly appointed executive director. “It is also a chance for the public to discover and support the arts movement that is thriving in Cambria City.”
Bottle Works’ resident artists, all of whom have studios either in the Bottle Works building or the neighboring Art Works building, are Josh Ensley, Marcene Glover, Jaime Helbig, Brandon Hirt, Holly Lees, Joanne Mekis, Todd Stiffler, Christopher Tower and Laura Williamson.
Argenbright said this exhibit is as unique as the artists themselves.
“Each artist brings his or her own style and statement to this exhibit,” Argenbright said. “I think that people will delight in the diversity of this exhibit, realizing how each of our artists brings his or her own perspective to the collective show. Together, they form an impressive collaboration of work ranging from impasto brushstrokes of realism to dynamic contemporary expressions.”
Ensley said that his artwork is inspired by “the way (his) art impacts people and the way that they interact with the finished piece.”
“My job as an artist is to fill the world with more virtuosity,” Ensley said. “I work in a lot of different styles using a wide variety of materials. Each new medium, motif or material sharpens both my critical thinking and physical skills so that my work improves across the board with each new project.”
Glover enjoys painting subtleties that hint at subject matter, coax viewers to define the details and inspire viewers to engage in the conversation with the painting. Glover is a former congressional portrait artist and courtroom artist who is active with national arts advocacy organizations, commuting weekly to New York City to exhibit her work and help curate shows.
Helbig, an oil painter, has honed her skills as a contemporary figurative painter. Her latest work features a series of local cityscapes.
Helbig has a bachelor’s in art education and a master’s in painting and drawing. She also serves as an adjunct professor at Pennsylvania Highlands Community College.
Hirt, a photographer, described his art by saying: “My photography is a box of chocolates that is full of variety image-making. My sweet tooth really is long exposure photography. Using these techniques, I am able to create luminous landscapes that reveal a peacefulness or chaos to a scene.”
Lees, also a photographer, recently became an art and mindfulness teacher. She is particularly interested in the role of art as a tool for self-discovery and acceptance. Her portraits share stories of individuals and communities around the world.
Award-winning graphic designer Mekis has created logos and symbols for a wide variety of clients around the country. She also enjoys acrylic painting, plus teaching art and art history to both children and adults.
Stiffler’s mixed media work is created from action figures and collaged comic book images. He aims to attract viewers’ attention through vivid shapes and patterns.
Tower also uses patterns in his work; the artist creates a wide-ranging color combination of marker and black pen outlines on paper. In his patterns, described as “caveman meets comic book,” he strives to create art that is “crazy, cool and fun.”
Williamson is a piano teacher who opened her Bottle Works studio, “Piano for Pleasure,” to the public in 2014. She teaches recreational piano classes to adults of all ages and abilities. Her career as a music-teaching artist includes solo and collaborative piano performing, editorial consulting, mentoring, and teaching private and group lessons.
Argenbright said that each resident artist is, in his or her own unique way, making a positive impact on the community.
“Each artist feels passionately about his/her work and projects it through teaching, community/public art projects such as the Pillar Project and exhibiting,” Argenbright said.
In celebration of the exhibit, Bottle Works will host an “Art Bites” luncheon Feb. 11 beginning at noon. The luncheon is to give attendees an opportunity to meet and talk to the artists, as well as participate in a panel discussion.
Bottle Works—Arts on Third Avenue is located at 411 Third Ave. in Johnstown’s Cambria City neighborhood. For more information about the exhibit or the upcoming “Art Bites” luncheon, visit www.bottleworks.org online or call a staff member at 814-535-2020 or 814-536-5399.
Gallery hours are Tuesdays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Argenbright said she’s thrilled about this exhibit, and viewers might even walk away from it with a unique gift for someone special.
“The artistic aptitude that is evident in this show is a testament to the talent Bottle Works fosters here in Johnstown,” Argenbright said. “The majority of the pieces in this exhibit will be for sale, and it does lend itself to a very meaningful, locally crafted gift for Valenitne’s Day or any special occasion.”