Friday, January 30, 2009

The "State of the Arts" in Schuylkill County

Since “Global Warming is slightly off this year, and February figures to be the typical cold, indoor activity kind of month, I take this opportunity to discuss the “State of the Arts” in Schuylkill County. (Hint hint ... an opportunity to visit indoor attractions)

First I want to state that many notable fine artists have called Schuylkill County home. Still life artist *1Rubens Peale, lived outside of Schuylkill Haven until his death in 1865. His father was Charles Wilson Peale, portrait artist for Washington, Jefferson and others. George Benjamin Luks lived in Shenandoah and Pottsville in the late 19th Century and gained notoriety as an illustrator for newspapers in Philadelphia and New York City. He helped establish the “Ashcan School” realistic art movement of the early 20th Century. Nicholas Bervinchak of Minersville chronicled coal region scenes and people through his charcoal sketches during the mid 20th Century, while Howard Watson of Pottsville gained notoriety as a water colorist commissioned by Presidents Carter and Clinton. These are but a few examples of the fine artists who have walked our streets, yet many more Schuylkill County natives contribute to the artist’s craft.

From my point of view, I know that the arts flourish when the human condition enjoys a certain level of comfort in life. In our society, we can measure the success of our culture through the quality and quantity of creative expression that surrounds us. If you take a closer look at Schuylkill County, you quickly witness that creative forces are hard at work throughout our community.

The Allied Artists of Schuylkill County and the Schuylkill County Council for the Arts both share a long track record of providing venues for local artists to share their talents with our neighbors and visitors alike. The Allied Artists traditionally hold their art show in the summer, but their members’ works can be viewed year round at the Schuylkill County Courthouse and the Schuylkill Chamber of Commerce. The Council for the Arts routinely hosts gallery shows for local artists. The work of Lance Rautzhan can be enjoyed there until the “Schuylkill County High School Art Show” opens on March 29th.

Speaking of high school talent, Lazy Dog Coffeehouse, located at 18 East Sunbury Street in Minersville, will host ten of Pottsville Area High School’s aspiring artists at a gallery show during the later part of the month, with an opening reception scheduled for Sunday, February 15th from 2 until 4 p.m. In March, Minersville’s own Jack Flynn will be the featured artist, while the Allied Artists of Schuylkill County will follow later this year.

The Gallery at the Tamaqua Art Center at 114 West Broad Street in Tamaqua will host “The Generosity of Art” Exhibit & Sale to benefit the Tamaqua YMCA Programs in February. A number of local and regional artists will participate in this event beginning with the opening reception on Friday, February 13th from 6 until 8 p.m.

Friday the 13th is a busy day, as Many Worlds Gallery, located at 205 West Market Street in Pottsville, hosts a gallery opening featuring the work of Paul Karabashian and Kristen Egan with painting, collage and sculpture at 7 p.m. This will be the first of six new shows scheduled for 2009 at Many Worlds Gallery.

In this, my 2009 “State of the Arts” thesis, I declare that our artistic institutions provide all of us with the opportunity to enjoy the many creative energies that surround us. I would encourage all of my readers to check out the efforts of so many of our talented neighbors who make Schuylkill County such a great place to live.
*1 Painted Image of Rubens Peale provided on left margin

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

New Visitors Guide is Available

The new year always brings a new Schuylkill County Visitors Guide and this year of course, is no different. The 2009 version of our guide provides a focus on the many great hiking opportunities that abound in our county.

The cover scene was taken along the Historic Tow Path Trail, which meanders along the Schuylkill River near Port Clinton. When most hikers hear the name Port Clinton, they think of the Appalachian Trail which cuts through the southern end of town. Every year thousands of "Through Hikers" visit the Port Clinton Hotel for a meal, or stop in at "Ye Olde Backpacker" to resupply.

Most of the locals know that three hiking trails pass through Port Clinton including the Tow Path Trail, the "AT" and the John Bartram Trail. The John Bartram Trail is part of the Schuylkill River Trail system and when completed, will link Hamburg in Berks County, with Schuylkill Haven and Pottsville years from now. At present only a six mile stretch of trail runs from Hamburg to an old Pennsylvania Railroad Bridge located a mile below Auburn. But this trail, which was completed in 2007, is experiencing an increasing amount of activity.

Hiking in Schuylkill County is not limited to these three trails. There are dozens of trails found in every corner of the county, with popular trails being found at the Schuylkill County Fairgrounds in Summit Station, Sweet Arrow Lake County Park near Pine Grove, Tuscarora State Park and Locust Lake State Park near Barnesville, the Schuylkill Valley Trail between Tamaqua and Middleport, and the Lehigh and New England Rail Trail that runs parallel with Route 309 south of Tamaqua.

For scheduled walks through Schuylkill County, Porcupine Pat leads hikers on a variety of hikes throughout the year. Here is Pat previewing the day's hike on January 24th. More than 80 individuals showed up in 30 degree weather for the first of the season's hikes. Through Pat's efforts with "Schuylkill on the Move" residents and visitors to Schuylkill County will have a variety of hikes to choose from throughout the year. You can check out the Schuylkill on the Move website for more details.

I can tell you that in February, Pat will be taking a crowd out to the Silver Creek Fire Tower in Blythe Township on the 28th. So hey, go take a hike in Schuylkill County.