LEWISTOWN - Starting in September, the work of local artists will find a permanent and public home in downtown Lewistown.
At "Meet the Artists," an event hosted Friday evening by the Mifflin-Juniata Arts Council and sponsored by Community Partnerships RC&D, council president Angela Niman announced that the council soon will be opening an art gallery at 3 West Monument Square, the former Montgomery Ward building, in Lewistown.
"We want it to be a place where kids can come and learn about the arts and show people that there really is a future in the arts," Niman said.
Sentinel photo by MATT STRICKER
Joanna Lauder of Lewistown, gazes through the window at a drawing on display at the Mifflin-Juniata Arts Council Art Gallery on Monument Square in Lewistown. The Arts Council recently rented the office space located in the former Montgomery Ward building. The official gallery opening is Sept. 21 with an exhibit of ‘Art Deco.’
The official gallery opening will be Sept. 21 and will feature an Art Deco-themed exhibit in honor of the venue's artistic history.
According to the Monument Square's website, the building's bay windows, metal accents, vertical structure and brick work are all indicative of the popular 1920s and 1930s style, and it is the only building in Lewistown to feature art deco architecture.
In the exhibit, Niman said the council plans to showcase the work of artists who would like to contribute pieces in the art deco style as well as local photography featuring art deco architecture. She said they also are interested in working with area antiques dealers who would be willing to loan prints and pieces from the era to include in the exhibit.
According to Niman, the council's goal for the gallery is not limited to just visual art or simply art appreciation, however.
She said the council also plans to host field trips, writers' workshops and art classes for students and adults and use the gallery as a venue for evening events such as open mic nights.
In the back of the building, Niman said there is also space for the council to create an artist studio which will allow the public to see some of the area's artists at work.
"This way, it's going to be totally interactive," Niman said.
Joanna Lauder, a Lewistown resident who attended the event said the council's plans are "very exciting."
"It will help continue the clean-up of downtown, and it's something we don't have," she said.
In addition to the announcement, "Meet the Artists" featured the first art to be housed in the future gallery. Paintings, drawings and sketches from local high school graduates Sarah Smith and Tyler Mitchell were on display for the public to view. Mitchell and Smith each received scholarships from the council in May.
Also in attendance was mural artist Dwight Kirkland who's most recent piece, a tribute to the Logan Guards, can be seen from the gallery windows.
Niman said Kirkland's murals are one of the artistic avenues that the council takes pride in.
"Dwight is such a great talent," she said. "His murals are definitely one of the things we're doing right."
Kirland said he is looking forward to seeing the gallery come to life.
"They needed a place for artists to go, and I'm glad to see it happening," Kirkland said.
The gallery is opening on a trial basis for the first six months and Niman said that the council would like to feature new exhibits about every six weeks.
Previously the Arts Council was most often known for planning the Mifflin-Juniata Arts Festival, which was cancelled earlier this year due to lack of involvement. The Council hopes that the art gallery will be an opportunity to extend its community impact to more than just a once-a-year event.
"We came in in May and everything's happened pretty fast," Niman said. "We're trying to move quickly and efficiently and will give the community the best art experience."
Council vice-president Todd Cubbison explained, "As a new Arts Council, we're trying to create more of an art presence. We want to start promoting art for people to appreciate, acknowledge and learn from."