Arts on the Riverwalk Emerging Artist - Jasmine Duncan

In conjunction with Arts on the Riverwalk, Two Rivers Artisan Coffee Works features the recent of works of the festival’s first Emerging Artist, Jasmine Duncan.  “It is our intention to host a new Emerging Artist each year,” says Hector Marquez in regards to Two Rivers partnership with the Hoyt.

Duncan is a 16 year old student at the Lawrence County Career and Technical Center, majoring in graphic arts.  Citing comics and movies as her favorite ways “to waste time”, her bold use of color and line are well suited to her fascination with contemporary pop culture. All proceeds from the show will support this young artist’s creative growth. The exhibit will remain on display through August 30.

Young Artist Series - Kathryn Evanne Smith

Hoyt Debuts Young Artist Exhibits at Two Rivers

Featuring Kathryn Evanne Smith, January 15-March 14, 2014

The Hoyt Center for the Arts is introducing a new series of exhibits featuring young artists ages 15-25 at Two Rivers Artisan Coffee Works in downtown New Castle beginning with the works of Kathryn Evanne Smith, January 15-March 14, 2015.  The exhibit will feature recent drawings in pencil, pen & ink and “coffee wash” influenced by an interest in animae.

A recent graduate of Lincoln Park Performing Arts School, Smith has been making her mark on whatever surface she could put a marker to since a child. 

“I can’t tell you how many times I got in trouble for drawing hearts and stars all over the walls of my house growing up,“ she said, “but early on I wasn’t nearly as good as my friends and I turned my attention to horses.” 

Smith was born in Cranberry, PA.  Her mother owned a farm where she trained and bred horses.  Art, in general, took a backseat to following her mother’s footsteps until it was no longer possible to keep the farm. From that point, the chapters of her life read like excerpts from Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events. She was even homeless for a short while. Focusing on art provided an escape. 

 “When you have a miserable home life and a miserable school life, things stop mattering to you. Instead of doing homework or studying, test answers were just scribbles of cats and moons. I almost failed the 8th grade.”

That was until a teacher took interest in Smith’s doodles, began asking her to assist with video and digital media, and encouraged her to apply to Lincoln Park Performing Arts School.

“All that drawing produced a few decent pieces and it was enough to get me into Lincoln Park. The great friends I met there began to challenge me and help me grow,” she said, “It was both frustrating and wonderful, but I learned so much.”

Taking every course she could, Smith began working through the tough questions of life with pencil, paint, camera and computer to come to terms with what she thought was important and beautiful in this world.  Influenced by music and dreams, each piece reflects her early connection to animals and Nature with the added belief that each person deserves to be loved, remembered and celebrated in that context.

“At one point, I was so concerned with who had said what, what i should wear and look like,” she remembered, “that I couldn’t be happy.  My horse, coincidentally, taught me what's important.”

Smith was gifted a pony at 18 months old, naming him Coly (pronounced coolie).  “I used to think that riding was about control”, she said.  “I feared if I didn’t have control over Coley that he might hurt me. When I stopped thinking of him as an animal and began thinking of him as equal, with the same ability to think, feel and dream as me, the world opened up. I finally learned what it meant to run though a forest or over a field through his eyes.  I could feel that he was happy and in turn so was I. As equals, our spirits connected.”

It is this almost spiritual, artistic journey that Smith hopes to share through her work, giving a window into the ethereal world that she lives in.  She doesn’t try to control her work but lets it grow organically, and with it her ideas for how she can apply her talents in the future. She dreams of opening a coffee shop of her own one day with art classrooms, a photography studio and farm-to-table foods on various levels. Several of the sepia toned pieces were done with Two Rivers coffees.

A public reception for Smith’s exhibit is being held at Two Rivers Artisan Coffee Works on Thursday, January 15 from 6-8 pm.  Admission is free. All proceeds from sales will support Smith and her continuing education.  She is currently enrolled at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh in the animation program. The exhibit will remain on display through March 14, 2015.

Young artists wishing to be considered for the Young Artist Series should contact Kimberly Koller-Jones at 724.652.2882 ext 11 or hoytdirector@hoytartcenter.org. 

WPA Posters

So what’s the deal?  Or should we say “New Deal”?  The Hoyt Center for the Arts recently installed a collection of WPA posters created under President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal program at Two Rivers Artisan Coffee Works.  These Depression-era posters represent a distinct time and place in American history in simple graphics and vivid color; a time when women were just entering workforce, liberty gardens were commonplace, and men were rallied to end the threat of Nazi Germany.

In response to the Great Depression, FDR’s Works Progress Administration (WPA) provided work and income for over 8 million Americans who were unemployed, including Americans right here in Lawrence County. While most jobs were related to the construction of buildings and roads – the New Castle Armory and a number of bridges and walls are local examples – the WPA also created white-collar jobs including opportunities for nearly 6000 artists, musicians, writers and actors to earn a living.

Under the Federal Arts Project (FAP), artists produced murals for public buildings and schools, works on canvas, sculptures, silk-screen prints, book covers and illustrations.  They were dedicated to preserving American art forms, encouraging art as a pastime, and contributing to education and research. Hundreds of art centers were established and many survive to this day.