LOWER MAKEFIELD >> From a stunning oil painting of a green-eyed girl to a sculpture of a panther depicting black history, the public has a rare chance to see the artistic talents of the Class of 2020 in a show presented by the Artists of Yardley (AOY) in partnership with the Pennsbury School District.

The show opened January 24 with a well attended reception inside the historic Thomas Janney farmhouse, the home of the AOY at the Patterson Farm on Mirror Lake Road, and continues through this weekend from Noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

During the reception, teachers, students, administrators, members of the AOY and the public browsed past walls and display spaces showcasing a myriad of genres from traditional paintings and photographs to decorated skateboards and ceramics.

“This is the fourth year that AOY has joined with Pennsbury to celebrate the incredible talent that lives within our community. It’s both impressive and wide-ranging,” AOY member Allyson Smyth told the gathering. “For all of us who are just starting or for whom artistic expression has been a lifelong pursuit, you know the praise, sometimes the struggle and the peace that living that life brings you. To our young artists, we feel great confidence for your lives ahead because you have embraced the arts.”

Ruth Anne Schultz, Pennsbury’s K-12 Art Curriculum Coordinator, called the partnership between Pennsbury and the AOY Art Center “a win-win for both the students of Pennsbury and the community. We appreciate all the extra effort that AOY is contributing to host this student show and we are excited this is providing more community exposure for the work of our students and their teachers.”

This year’s show was juried by established AOY artists Donna Lynn Sheehan and Connie Dierks, and included prizes for first, second and third and three honorable mentions.

Jessica Bednarcik won first prize in the show for her oil painting of a green-eyed woman in a sweater, her two hands cradling her head.

The jurors were taken by the work’s vibrant, complimentary colors, which they said “stimulate the viewer’s eye. The reds in her well-executed hair, and the lovely shades of green in her eyes and sweater make this painting exciting. Jessica’s piece is both vibrant and harmonious with the play of cool and warm color. The composition of her hands and sweater against her face makes the piece visually exciting.”

Bednarcik said she was surprised and excited by the first place ribbon. Created during her sophomore year, the piece was among her first oil paintings.

“This was a piece I did because I wanted to. I wanted to do something big. Something momentous. I saw a tiny picture and I wanted to make it huge. That’s kind of what I did,” she said.

Bednarcik, who is planning to pursue her artistic talent after high school as an illustrator or in advertising, also had three other pieces in the show - a pencil drawing of an old man, a portrait in orange of PHS art teacher May and a painting entitled “Migraine.”

Looking around the gallery, Bednarcik said she is inspired by the talent on display. “It’s absolutely amazing. I’m so proud of all of them. There are a lot of incredible pieces here.” 

Bednarcik said she was especially happy for her good friend, Kole Meinhart, who won second place for a captivating photograph of an old woman descending a pair of stone steps in Peru.

Taken in Cusco, Peru, Meinhart captured the image while practicing his photography skills on a trip to South America.  

“This was an alleyway I just happen to be walking by maybe no bigger than a doorway,” he. said. “I kind of did a double take where I walked past and slowly backed up and took the photo. I really love the light. And there’s so much culture and character. It’s almost like a whole different world, which is what I want to show in my photography.”

The jurors loved it too, remarking, “There were some wonderful photographs to choose from, but Kole’s photo has qualities that make it special.  The composition use of light and shadow and senses of depth tells a story that keeps the viewer engaged. Does the dog belong to the woman? Is the dog looking longingly at her, hoping she may take him home? The steps alone show depth, but the juxtaposition of the dog in the light and the woman in the shadow provides contrast that makes the viewer want to see where these two are going.”

Jason Turner took third place with his sculpture of a panther covered in a collage of historical and political images depicting Black history and the Civil Rights Movement, from slavery to Colin Kaepernick and Black Lives Matter.

“This piece is exceptional,” said the jurors, “not only because of Jason’s execution of the 3-dimensional shape, but the use of the panther itself as a canvas ... The shape itself is interesting and captures the stealthy, feline motion, and the images on the canvas make the viewer want to look at every part of the piece.”

Turner, who also runs track at PHS and is a student representative to the school board, explained that the assignment was to create an animal in motion. “Not only did I want it to physically look like an animal moving, I wanted it to depict motion in time. If you look closely at it, it starts at the bottom with pictures of tribal Africa and over time it transitions toward slavery and then the Jim Crow era to the Civil Rights Movement to the present day. That represents the motion in time and the progress that has been made in the black community.”

Winning honorable mention were works by Gweneth Child, a still-life entitled “Rolling Pin Painting;” Isabella Milano, a strikingly photograph of classmate Jason Turner; and Meg Girandola, a 3-D teapot.

In her work, Milano chose to represent the song “Yellow” by Coldplay. “I wanted to represent the literal meaning of it. And I also wanted to symbolize the lyrics themselves, which are about happiness, moving forward and being optimistic and positive. High school is definitely a stressful time for me and I wanted to show the contrast within the picture - the black against the yellow.”

The awards were made possible by a new donation from an anonymous AOY member in honor of the art program at Pennsbury High School in the hopes of inspiring these new artists and their families, and a donation made by AOY member, Fran Leyenberger, in memory of her husband, Chris.

The show continues February 1 and 2 from Noon to 5 p.m.  at the AOY Art Center located on the Patterson Farm, 949 Mirror Lake Road in Lower Makefield.

The purpose of the AOY Art Center is to pursue art education for the community. For more about the center or to request private access to the show, visit www.artistsofyardley.org or call Bette Sovinee 215-493-1205.


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