On Saturday, June 19th, an art exhibit entitled “Valley Forge as Inspiration” opened in the park’s visitor center. This juried exhibition contains both two- and three-dimensional works of art created by members of the regional Artists’ Cultural Exchange (ACX) who have been inspired by the beauty and history of Valley Forge.
National parks have long provided places of inspiration – this exhibit offers visitors an opportunity to see Valley Forge National Historical Park through the eyes of a diverse mix of artists. Superintendent Mike Caldwell believes that this exhibit will encourage visitors to explore new areas of the park or to see those old familiar places in a new and exciting way.
Valley Forge NHP selected ACX as the partner in this exhibit because the organization would bring a varied range of art media and skill levels of artists, from amateur to professional. ACX is a volunteer, non-profit collaborative whose goals are to function as a support group for artists and to improve the visibility of art in the community. It was formed in the early 1980s by a small group of artists meeting on the campus of Temple University's Tyler School of Art.
The opening reception, sponsored by The Friends of Valley Forge Park, included the awarding of prizes. Judges for the exhibit included Superintendent Mike Caldwell; Don Naimoli, president of The Friends; and Keith Ragone, artist and master lecturer at the University of the Arts. Though the media ranged from copper and brass sculptures and oil paintings to “photages” (photographic collages), the judges made the difficult choice of which works were well balanced in their composition, captured the spirit of Valley Forge, and would touch the mind, heart, or soul of the viewer.
First prize was awarded to Marilyn Lavins for her work “Valley Creek,” a digital photograph printed on silk. Second prize went to Elaine Buono for her collagraph “Butterflies.” Third prize was for “Early Morning in Valley Forge,” a photograph by Arnold Winkler. Honorable mentions were awarded to Bernice Paul for her pastel work “Valley Forge Landscape” and to Frank Burd for his photograph, “Statuesque,” a detail of the General von Steuben memorial.
“Valley Forge as Inspiration” is the perfect blending of the National Park Service goal of wanting people to explore and enjoy parks in varying ways and the ACX’ goal to improve the visibility of art in the community. It may even encourage viewers to create a work of art inspired by Valley Forge. The exhibit is open from June 19th through September 19th.