'Artists in Our Midst'

More than 50 works are on display in the "Artists in Our Midst" exhibition through Dec. 22, 2021, at Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art at Altoona.

This exhibition brings together regional artists for an eclectic showcase of works.

The annual juried exhibit “Artists in Our Midst” is on display through Dec. 22 at Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art at Altoona, located in the Brett Building, 1210 11th Ave.

The show features works by members of Art in Common, a nonprofit organization that started in 1986 as a forum for artists, photographers, digital artists and sculptors to network.

“This exhibition is works by local artists alongside Art in Common, which is a local organization that we’ve worked with for years, and they invite a juror in who selects the artworks, and we get to host an incredible amount of really talented artists’ works,” said Hannah Harley, site director at SAMA-Altoona.

The show features 58 pieces by 27 artists.

“We have such a collection of talented artists in this Altoona region, and getting to see what they do year in and year out is exciting because there’s change, new folks and experimentation with different ideas, so it’s really fun to see,” Harley said.

“It’s a privilege to be able to show them and share them with the community.”

She said the display has works that will please all artistic tastes.

“That’s the great thing about this show,” Harley said.

“There’s something for everyone.

“There’s photography, watercolors, acrylics, oils, ceramics, sculptures, fiber art and mixed media, so there’s a lot that’s going on throughout the exhibition.”

She said the exhibit also serves as inspiration for budding artists.

“For anyone looking for different techniques, it’s really cool to see how, for example, four different artists do watercolors,” Harley said.

“There’s so much excitement with these different mediums, and it’s fun for us to see it all come together through this one show.”

Serving as juror is Barbara Hollander, previous site director at SAMA- Altoona.

“It was different because I recognized a lot of the artists and I was worried about that clouding my judgment, and I was nervous going in, but once I received the entries, it seemed to go pretty easily,” she said.

“I felt like I was able to be unbiased in my pick.”

Hollander said when picking pieces for the show, she was looking for work that moved her emotionally.

“It wasn’t just about being compositionally sound,” she said.

“I wanted to see if I could feel what the artist was trying to convey.

“Everything hits me at once – color, line, composition – it all has to work.”

Hollander said the quality of the art is exceptional.

“I feel that it’s better every year, and that’s why this is such a good show, because the artists want to look good against each other,” she said.

“I was really pleased with the work and it was really strong. What’s so great about this show is the juxtaposition of the simplicity of some work and some complexities of others, and the mediums itself are all over the board.”

First-, second-, third- and fourth-place winners were chosen, along with juror’s picks and mentions.

“They just blew me away, which is what I was hoping would happen,” Hollander said.

“Going in, I was wondering how I was going to pick, but first, second, third and fourth just seemed like natural choices.”

Harley said supporting local artists is a priority for SAMA.

“We’ve been working to support local artists for years,” she said.

“It’s one of our initiatives.

“We’re an American art museum, and that means not just the famous American artists, but also the American art that is being made in our backyards. It’s important to exhibit their works and invest in their careers.”

Harley said the hope is that the show will help viewers bring out their inner artists.

“My hope is for each person who visits the museum and sees the work, that it will spark something in them,” she said.

“There is this beautiful community here making art and doing a great job at it.

“Being able to see all these different mediums and local talent is inspiring.”

To celebrate the exhibition, an opening reception will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, where attendees will have the opportunity to talk with artists and ask questions about their works.

In addition, exhibition winners will be announced.

“The artists come and bring their friends and family and they’re able to look at their works in a different context,” Harley said.

“That’s exciting because if you’re spending a lot of time in a studio working on a piece and then see it in a museum, it’s really fun.

“We love being able to do that and share that moment with these artists.”

Light refreshments will be served.

There is no fee to attend, but registration is required.

Those unable to attend can join virtually on Zoom for a tour of the exhibition. A link will be provided upon registration.

Gallery hours are noon to 4:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays.

Admission to the exhibit is free.

For more information, call 814-946-4464 or email altoona@sama-art.org.

Kelly Urban is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. She can be reached at (814) 532-5073. Follow her on Twitter @KellyUrban25.

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