LEWISTOWN - The Monument Square Center was brightly lit Friday evening as more than 90 local art enthusiasts attended the grand opening of the Mifflin Juniata Arts Council Gallery.
The night was dedicated to a 1920s experience, communicating the style of Art Deco through furniture, graphic design, photography, fashion, film, literature and fine art.
"The building of 3 West Monument Square is one of the original Montgomery Ward buildings constructed in 1929," said Angela Niman, president of the Mifflin Juniata Arts Council. "When we were discussing what our first exhibit should be, our decision was inspired by the actual building, which includes a number of Art Deco characteristics."
Sentinel photo by BRADLEY KREITZER
Mifflin Juniata Arts Council member Shane Niman, left, speaks with Dick and Susan Henry, of Granville, Friday evening during the opening of the Gallery 3 West in Monument Square in Lewistown.
Though the term Art Deco wasn't coined until the 1960s, the style was most popular in the "Roaring '20s," Niman said. Art Deco could be found in every aspect of design at the time, not just art. The style represented elegance, glamor, functionality and modernity while featuring linear symmetry, neoclassicism, constructivism, cubism, modernism and futurism, she said.
The walls of the gallery display locally submitted art work and pieces from the 1920s which were donated by the Mifflin County Historical Society. Local artists include: Nancy Knarr Kast, Melody Gehlbach, Nathaniel Therwechter, Heather Confer, Aimee Hubley, Todd Cubbison, Connie Bowsman, Jessica Filson, Barb Devita-Stahl, Jen Hartzler and Holly Lubenesky.
"It's refreshing to see local work and local talent on display," said Melissa Guthridge, gallery visitor. "Someone who enjoys art has to travel all the way to State College or Harrisburg to get the museum or gallery experience. It's nice to have a local venue for the art community."
The front room includes paintings that depict examples of graphic design, oil pastel works highlighting women's glamor, wood designs made from furniture of the ''20s and photographs of the gallery building. Books, radios, beaded purses and flapper dresses were on display as well as a typewriter and an old fashioned camera.
Attendees were treated to the "Gatsby Menu" of hors d'oeuvres and specially picked wines. Snacks could be enjoyed in the gallery or in the movie room, showing the newly released version of "Metropolis" which includes the recently found 28 minutes of footage.
"The gallery is something different, upscale and totally unexpected in our community," said Polly Morrison, attending the gallery opening with her husband. "We wanted to come because we knew one of the artists, but it's clear that people have put a lot of work into the gallery. It's fabulous they have had such a strong response."
Niman anticipates leaving the Art Deco exhibit on display for six more weeks. The next exhibit will coordinate with the yearly Chip Drop, featuring Hartley's Potato memorabilia, she said.
"The gallery is a way for the arts council to have a year long presence in the community," Niman said. "In addition to gallery nights, we hope to have art classes, open mic nights, live music and writing workshops. I don't want to be limited to fine art, but to all kinds of art."
Though the schedule has not been finalized, Niman plans to have the gallery open at least two nights a week. Currently, the Arts Council has leased the building for six months as a trial period. The continued operation of the gallery depends entirely on community response, Niman said.