Mary Beth Brath of Gallerie 13

CPAG: What was the driving force behind the inception of Gallerie 13 and its sister gallery, the 2nd Floor Gallery?

MBB: Jeffery Van Boskirk started the 2nd Floor Gallery on Market Street about 10 years ago with his own fine art collection. He then started to add local and regional artists. In 2006, Mr. Van Boskirk opened Gallerie Thirteen on Main Street. Each gallery has its own atmosphere.  You have to visit both to understand the differences. The quality and price of the artwork is the same at both galleries.  We hold free monthly events for the public to enjoy that include live music and refreshments.

CPAG: Why Mechanicsburg? With all the buzz surrounding revitalizing arts areas like Midtown Harrisburg, wouldn’t it have made sense to capitalize on the momentum of an area like that?

MBB: All of Central Pa is brimming with talent. Our unique location between NYC, Philadelphia and DC/Baltimore provides countless opportunities. The region has several Art Associations with first class instructors. The Mechanicsburg galleries have a large group of patrons that have been loyal for the past ten years.

CPAG: One of the goals of the Main Street Mechanicsburg Advisory Council is to be a “magnet of opportunity for culture and innovation.” As one of downtown’s commercial “residents”, tell us a little about what’s happening to move toward that.

MBB: Many storefronts are getting “facelifts.” New shops are coming in this year, and people are working together to get through the bad economy. The community is encouraged to come downtown and enjoy each other’s company.

CPAG: It’s been said that the Central Pennsylvania region’s artistic and musical talent is on par with that of many major metropolitan areas. What can we do to get the word out beyond our immediate region?

MBB: Of course, social media is very important in our industry. All of our artists should be posting event information for the region.  Posting photos and videos from regional events is very effective.  Simply posting jpegs of artwork does not show the excitement and vitality of the community. Also, focusing on the word Central can be powerful, too. We are a crossroads for many metropolitan areas.

CPAG: “1st Friday” events have been successful for the gallery, both in terms of promotion and as a way to bring artists together with the public. Tell us a little more about that.

MBB: We average around 200 people at our monthly First Friday opening receptions. Our gallery is in a perfect location on Main Street. The floor plan is conducive to holding large events. In the front showroom, we have an open floor plan and massive wall space for large featured shows. One of our stipulations for showing at our gallery is that the artists attend the First Friday receptions.  This is a key point in the success of the event — our patrons can talk with the artists.  Many buyers enjoy having their photo taken with the artists, too. In holding these events, we give the public the experience of the entire “art scene.”

CPAG: OutLoudLit, a reading series held every few months at Gallerie 13, features current students, alums, and faculty from the Wilkes University Graduate Creative Writing program. Give us your thoughts on the symbiosis between literature and the visual arts.

MBB: Ally Bishop organizes the literary events. Every other month, we have the writers stand up and “perform” in front of a gallery full of people. You never know what you are going to hear! The readings include fiction, non-fiction, skits, comedy, memoirs and, sometimes, very sensitive topics. Holding the event in our gallery is the perfect place for creativity to flow. The writers are surrounded with local and regional fine art. The visual artists and the writers have come to realize that we share a very similar creative process. After the readings are finished, the crowd enjoys live music and refreshments. So, really, we bring together four disciplines in one event: writing, visual art, music and performance art. Now, all we need is a chef to join in on the fun and we can include the culinary arts as well!

CPAG: We know that virtually anything arts-related has been hit hard by the economy. What’s your prognosis for the local arts scene? Are we finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel?

MBB: I can’t speak for the entire arts scene, but I can tell you how I see it. The economy will bounce back. Out of tough times often comes something fresh and powerful. People, in general, have been pushed to work harder and be more creative. Something that I have seen in the art arena is the increase in “groups” forming. Artists have come together for support and camaraderie. The serious artists understand that when the economy is weak, being prolific and honing their skills is very important. When the economy strengthens, these artists will have a large body of work and be ready for the clients.

CPAG: So what’s new and exciting on the horizon for Gallerie 13?

MBB: We have several new studios within the gallery as of this spring, including Linda Benton McCloskey and Bob McCloskey of Harrisburg, Lori Weaver Photography and Steven “Fritz” Weiss from New York City. The RecordSmith music shop is also a part of our growing community within Gallerie 13. We have many large group shows featured this year, including The Seven Lively Artists, Daily Painters of Pennsylvania’s 2nd Annual Capitol Show, The Harrisburg Camera Club, and the Susquehanna Valley Plein Air Painters.

Comments

  1. Both 2nd Floor Gallery and Gallerie 13 have such a laid back atmosphere that makes it comfortable to enjoy art and learn about it. A visit to either gallery is fun for ANYONE.