Lancaster city is a well-known destination for the arts, but the art scene outside the city limits is thriving too.
Last year, the New Holland Historical Society Museum featured a major retrospective of renowned watercolor painter Myrtle Tremblay. The Lancaster County Art Association in Strasburg hosts monthly exhibits featuring the work of its members. Lititz, Manheim and Mount Gretna all host major art festivals. And last year, with its Mount Joy Festival of the Arts, Mount Joy got in on the action.
“Mount Joy is steadily growing as an additional art scene. This event is helping establish Mount Joy as another place in Lancaster County where you can enjoy art,” says Dave Schell, executive director of Main Street Mount Joy.
Mount Joy Festival of the Arts is organized by Main Street Mount Joy, whose mission is to showcase Mount Joy’s small-town charm and its small businesses. The event, set for Friday night and Saturday, pairs local artists with local businesses.
The festival — sponsored by Lanco Federal Credit Union and First Citizens Community Bank — takes advantage of the lack of other arts festivals during the winter months and energizes local retail outlets by giving shoppers and art fans a reason to come out and shop during a typically slow time of year.
The walkable festival covers three blocks in downtown Mount Joy, from Main Street to Market Street, and features locations such as Moon Raven Alley, Mystical Realm Artisan, Time After Time Clocks as well as chances to get some food and drink at places such as Harvey’s BBQ, Mosby’s Pub, Twisted Bine Beer Co. and Bube’s Brewery.
The goal of the festival is not only to show off the charm of Mount Joy, but also the work of 30 talented local artists. The second year of the festival includes artists returning from the first year, but many newcomers, too. The lineup has nearly doubled from the first year.
“All the artists are local,” Schell says. “Most are within 10 miles of Mount Joy.”
The festival features work made from an array of mediums including acrylics, oils, charcoals, photographs, ceramics, wood pieces, stained glass, fabrics and more.
“I tried to find artists that would cover a wide range of interests,” Schell says. “There is something for everyone to enjoy in this show.”
Though he doesn’t consider himself an artist, Schell himself has work available in the festival. Schell turns wood on a lathe to create wooden bowls that show off the natural curvatures of the wood.
“I really enjoy seeing the natural art in the wood fibers and wood grain that is hidden behind the bark of a tree,” Schell says. “I love making ‘bowls with holes’ where there are voids in the wood. I think there is a beauty between solid wood and voids in wood.”
Other work on display includes quilts and quilted items by Sherry Caldwell, of Mount Joy; photorealistic acrylics by Jill Brinser, of Elizabethtown; meditative plein air landscapes by Joanne McIlvaine, of Lancaster Township; and much more.
“I enjoy painting in Lancaster County because it’s the landscape I grew up in and painting outdoors makes me feel deeply connected to the land and to my history,” McIlvaine says. “Also there’s a lot of variety here between the gently rolling hills, barns, farms, Lancaster city, the Susquehanna River, parks and everything in between.”
McIlvaine and the others featured in the festival showcase the richness the Lancaster County landscape and the wealth of the artistic talent all around the county.
“A few businesses have reached out to local artists asking them to display art in their business,” Schell says. “Knowing that Main Street Mount Joy is helping spur that growth is a great thing. We’ve already started to think about our festival in 2021.”