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    Discover The Work Of Established And Emerging Artists At Historic Yellow Springs

    In the years that I have been visiting the scenic village of Yellow Springs in nearby Chester Springs, I only recently realized that my visits always centered around a different occasion—art classes and plant sales among them.

     

    My most recent visit was to participate in the annual Yellow Springs Art Show, now in its 45th year and currently running through May 13th. It’s free and open to the public and generally features special events such as painting demonstrations and a wine & cheese party on “First Friday.”

     

    The 79th Annual Herb Sale—hosted by local members of the esteemed Herb Society of America—is an one-day sale that takes place in the village meadow from 10 to 1 pm May 10th. Over the years, I’ve gone many times to purchase a number of unusual native plants and scented geraniums – yes, they are herbs. If you are a novice gardener, don’t worry because the volunteers at the sale are all knowledgeable and very helpful in assisting you find that perfect plant. (Read below for more information).

     

    In recent years, Yellow Springs has become a wedding venue – an addition you will certainly understand once you see the beautiful surroundings of the village. It may be the only historic site in the nation that can claim both “George Washington slept here” and a long stay by Steven McQueen – not at the same time, of course. McQueen made his feature film debut in the 1958 sci-fi horror classic “The Blob” while living as a newlywed in a frame house that now houses the Chester Springs public library.

     

    Springtime is a great time to explore the village’s restored bog gardens and the historic iron and sulfur springs (the latter explains the name Yellow Springs). They date to the 18th century when the village drew patrons for health cures. However, the gardens were restored from the proceeds of the annual art show mainly to honor a time when the village was known for its “County School” run by the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA), the oldest art school in the nation.

    From 1912 to 1952, PAFA students escaped the city of Philadelphia to take summer classes in the village. I’m told that many of the artists settled in the area, even though they were once considered eccentric outsiders. There may be a good reason for that: local farmers who drove through the village in the early years reportedly were shocked to see the school’s nude models posing for students in the gardens.

     

    You won’t find any outdoor modeling today, but the tradition of drawing from life—and landscape painting—continues at Chester Springs Studio. It’s one of two former barns in the village, easily recognized as a ceramic center for its large outdoor pottery kilns and stacks of cord wood. Founded in 1978, the center is nationally known for its pottery classes/exhibits and now operates as an offshoot of Historic Yellow Springs.

     

    It just so happens that this year’s winner of the art show’s annual poster competition—Barbara Grant—is a PAFA graduate who has earned numerous awards for her imaginative landscapes and figurative works. (She may be also familiar to West Chester residents because she recently had a solo show at the Chester County Art Association or CCAA). Although her paintings are often too large to paint outdoors, Grant painted a tribute of sorts to the village’s history of plein air painting with her poster design.

     

    Shown here, Grant’s poster depicts an artist painting the historic Lincoln building where the annual art show takes place. “I have participated in this show for over ten years,” Grant says, “But this was the first time I entered the poster competition. I had just finished a large figurative piece and was looking for something different to paint.”

     

    Like many artists, Grant points to the long history of the art show, which she says “has come a long way from the days of Andrew Wyeth lookalikes.” In fact, the variety of art shown today is almost awe-inspiring, especially since the show has a record number of artists—200 including 24 who are new to the show.

     

    The variety also includes abstract sculptors like Karen Delaney, who has been featured in Fig magazine as a the former executor director of CCAA. Rooms of “miniature” works are shown in the upper floor of the Lincoln Building, and, across the street, in the upper floor of the studio barn, there are racks of prints and originals. Both of these popular aspects of the show give visitors a chance to buy low-priced work or the work of emerging artists.

     

    Artists who enter the annual poster competition can paint anything they want, as long as it’s in the village. In fact, it’s worth seeing some of the old poster designs, a few of which are still being offered for sale in a small hall off a room full of sculpture. Images of the village gazebo was a common theme in the 1980s and 90s, but the posters still reflected a great deal of imagination. One year, the late Mitch Lyons, known for his abstract images made from clay mono prints, told me he used the sulfur water from one of the springs and mixed it with his paint to add an historic element to his work.

     

    Come see for yourself what inspires the artists of Historic Yellow Springs. Here’s the info:

     

    Historic Yellow Springs is easy drive from West Chester and located off Rt. 113, at 1685 Art School Road, Chester Springs, PA 19425.

     

    A special Wine and Cheese Happy Hour will be held on Friday, May 4 from 5:30-8 p.m. Cost for the Happy Hour is $5, which will be collected at the door.

     

    For the first time this year, the art show will remain open until 8 PM both Thursday and Friday nights. For more information call 610-827-7414 or click here.

     

    The Herb Society’s sale will also feature herbal specialties including chutneys, jams, mustards, notecards, essential oil solid perfumes, baked goods, and a few surprises.

     

    On the same day, May 10th, visitors can enjoy a gourmet brunch beginning at 10:30 a.m. Reservations are required and checks should be received by May 4th. Please visit www.hsaphiladelphia.org to make your brunch selection.