Exhibiting artists at the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts work long hours at their booths, explaining, demonstrating and selling their wares. They have little time to take in the rest of the festival or to enjoy the many other cultural activities in State College. But thanks to Joyce Robinson, they now have the opportunity to visit the Palmer Museum of Art, which hosts a Sunday morning brunch for the artists before the festival and museum open to the public.
Robinson, curator at the Palmer, was appointed to the board of the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts in 2010 and immediately started planning the Sunday morning event. “I used to go around the festival and invite the artists and their families to the museum. Unfortunately, the hours of the festival and the museum were the same, and no one could come see the summer exhibitions,” Robinson says. “I realized there had to be a way to connect the festival and the Palmer.”
Robinson was elected vice president of the board in October and is already looking forward to planning activities to commemorate the festival’s 50th anniversary in 2016. She says possibilities include inviting local artists to create public art or exhibit work around town, or a special exhibition of work by previous winning festival artists.
Robinson first experienced the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts when she moved to State College 20 years ago. She has seen first-hand the dynamic link between the festival and the College of Arts and Architecture, which originally co-sponsored the event with the State College Chamber of Commerce. A number of College of Arts and Architecture faculty members have been involved, most visibly Distinguished Professor of Graphic Design Lanny Sommese, who has designed the festival posters for more than 30 years. Sue Haug, director of the School of Music, is currently on the board of directors.
In 2012, Sunshine Artist magazine ranked the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts number two on its list of the 100 best outdoor fine art and fine craft fairs in the United States. In addition to the summer festival, the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts organization produces First Night State College, an alcohol-free, family-oriented New Year’s event.
Looking to the future, Robinson envisions festival activities that bring new audiences to the Palmer, using similar formats to the museum’s Art of Music (created by Robinson) and Art of Poetry (created by Dana Carlisle Kletchka) series, which feature musicians and poets sharing their talents in the museum’s galleries. “I see a natural connection between the Palmer Museum and the festival,” Robinson notes. “We are all trying to accomplish similar goals—to educate the public and expose our visitors to a wide range of quality art.”