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Happy to Be Here: Art in a new space

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The local region is so heavily blanketed with visual arts that it’s hard to believe that Delaware Valley Univeristy is not.

The university has had a highly developed music program for years. Led by Jack Schmidt, the humanities curriculum offers music appreciation and history courses and performance opportunities in the Chorale, the Symphonic Band and the Jazz Band.

Visual arts have not been a priority but that is changing. Now the university has the Arts on Campus Committee, which is reaching out to students to show them how art is – or should be – a vital part of their lives.

Linda Lefevre co-chairs the committee with Schmidt. She is DelVal’s director of admission for continuing and professional studies but the title conveys little about her background. She is executive dean emeritus at Harrisburg Area Community College, where she also held the position of dean of Communications, Humanities and Arts. She has degrees in art education from Kutztown and Penn State.

A painter in her own right, Lefevre studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and had a fellowship at the Vermont Studio School in Johnston, Vt. She has paintings in collections of the Reading Museum of Art, the State Museum of Pennsylvania, the Hilton Hotel in Harrisburg, and private collections. Since moving to Doylestown, Lefevre has shown her work with the Doylestown Art League and Phillips’ Mill.

So when Maria Gallo, the university president, asked Lefevre to be part of the Arts on Campus Committee, “It was like a gift from heaven,” she said.

But where to begin? DelVal has little wall space. And most of the walls are occupied by student awards and notices. A massive painting that Robert Beck donated to the university hangs in the Feldman Agriculture Building on one of the few large wall spaces.

The committee secured a space in the Atrium Gallery on the second floor of the new Sciences Building. It is a glass enclosed showcase covering less than a hundred square feet that is now devoted to showing art in many forms.

Last March, Emily Thompson was the first to exhibit her paintings, with the theme “Urban Archeology.” The opening featured a concert inspired by Thompson’s paintings by the University Symphonic Band and Jazz Band performing city sounds with Aaron Copland’s “Quiet City” and the jazz classic “Harlem Nocturne.”

David Ohlerking of DelVal’s School of Media and Communications, followed Thompson with the first annual juried Student Photography Exhibit last April.

Jim Lard, a professor of art at Harrisburg Area Community College, came next, with “Com-ple-men-tar-i-ty,” a display of wood-fired ceramics. Lard gave the first lecture of the series in September.

The exhibition by landscape painter Lou Schellenberg ends Jan. 31. Her paintings of rural Pennsylvania have been hanging since fall.

Lisa Tremper Hanover, former director of the Michener Art Museum and a member of the Arts on Campus Committee, is curating the next show, which opens at 3 p.m. Feb. 17, with a concert by the DelVal Chorale and Palisades Community Chorus. The choruses will present “Spring and Summer” from Haydn’s “The Seasons.” The show runs in the Atrium Gallery until March 31.

Hanover is bringing together four Bucks County painters whose work reflects the region’s landscape, flora and architecture in “Springtime and Solstice.” The artists, Robert Seufert, Jas Szygiel, Christopher McCall and Richard Lennox, are associated with the Silverman Gallery in Buckingham.

“Springtime and Solstice” will be followed by the second annual Student Photography Exhibit.

Creating the continuing Arts on Campus series is a big challenge, considering the small space and just getting a new idea off the ground but Lefevre has been here before.

She was instrumental in the direction Harrisburg Area Community College took to develop trade programs – HVAC, Construction Code and Safety Science, Woodworking Technology, Welding, and Electrical Technology, all now located at HACC’s Midtown Center. She also led the development of the Entrepreneurial Leadership certificate and degree programs.

While based in Harrisburg, Lefevre served on the boards of a business incubator in Carlisle, and Concertante, a chamber music ensemble based in New York City, and she was a founding board member of the Mount Gretna School of Art.

For the DelVal art openings, the committee dresses up the Atrium with tables and flowers and refreshments. Along with the concerts, it’s a festive and lively event.

But, of course, more is needed, more space, more ways to show art and attract students. Lefevre envisions an outdoor sculpture show as a future possibility. The committee will apply for a Bucks County Tourism Grant to support its programs through Visit Bucks County this spring.


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