Art Faculty, Students and Alumni Shine at Philadelphia Fest

By Purnell T. Cropper | August 9, 2011

Arcadia students, alumni and faculty brought their work to a riverside celebration—Art in the Open—along Philadelphia’s Schuylkill riverbanks for four days in June.

“First, two of the featured artists were our faculty,” notes Scott Rawlins, Professor of Art. Abbey Ryan ’03 and Carole Loeffler are assistant professors in Arcadia’s Art and Design Department.  “Second, two students—Vanessa Baskin and Ryan Bross 11—coordinated a family day activity involving botanical sketching in an urban setting. Alumnus Eli VandenBerg also was involved. Last was my own contribution: a workshop sponsored by the Art Museum and held at Mount Pleasant, a historic house on the river in East Fairmount Park.”

Arcadia University was a partner in Art in the Open, “a citywide event that celebrates artists, their inspirations for creating art, and their relationships with the urban environment. Art in the Open debuted in June 2010, bringing a selected group of artists to the Schuylkill Banks– from the historic Fairmount Water Works to Bartram’s Garden–to inspire new ways of seeing the river and the city it runs through,” according to the website. Partnering civic and cultural institutions, including Arcadia University, also offered “extensive opportunities for public engagement with the event, showcasing the vibrant community of working artists, galleries and institutions that make Philadelphia a major Urban Art Center, and its two rivers: waterways which continue to inspire creative response and also serve as an ecologically critical lifeline for its residents.”

The Print Center and Bartram’s Garden held a special printmaking demo with Arcadia alum VandenBerg, the Print Center’s Gallery Store Manager, who was joined by artists Anni Altshuler, Chris Kline and Leah Mackin to create designs inspired by the Bartram’s Garden botanic collection. Designs were printed in the garden as participants watched.

Rawlins, who is an artist and a botanical illustrator, held a workshop on “Drawing from Nature: The Art and Science of Botanical Illustration.” The outdoor workshop invited participants to learn the basics of observational drawing as a method for plant identification as well as a starting point for naturalistic design motifs. It included a look at the interior spaces of the historic house Mount Pleasant, which features architectural carving derived from nature.