Studio B, Boyertown, presents sixth annual showing of ‘The Farm'

Image by Carol Sumner

Studio B, 39 E. Philadelphia Ave. in Boyertown, announces its sixth annual showing of ‘The Farm,’ opening Friday, Jan. 17, with a reception from 5 to 8 p.m.

Prizes are awarded at this annual exhibit. The show continues through Feb. 15.

“‘The Farm’ normally packs the house,” notes gallery director Susan Biebuyck. “It offers a broad spectrum of fresh takes on the traditional subjects of agriculture and farming while saluting our agricultural roots, paying tribute to our area’s natural beauty in creative ways.”

“Our interest in our farming communities endures,” notes Bob Wood, Studio B’s gallery adjunct, fine artist, historian, writer, and retired English teacher. “The popularity of ‘The Farm’ exhibit is a testimony and a salute to our Germanic forebears—farmers by heritage, custom, and inclination--who came to farm and settle in southeastern Pennsylvania,” he continued.

“The farmsteads they carved from the primeval forest had a certain similarity and featured homes, barns, fields, summer kitchens, pigpens, gardens, and assorted outbuildings. The artists featured in Studio B’s ‘The Farm’ exhibit respond to assorted images associated with historic farmsteads and farming life as well as offer insights and perspectives about modern agri-business. Houses, barns, farm animals, farming tools and implements, fields, and gardens are depicted in all media from artists who live and work in surrounding counties,” noted Wood.

“My interest and my art work stem from my local farming heritage. I honor our heritage, while offering a critique of modern agribusiness with its endless seas of genetically modified soybeans and corn, their genes tweaked to survive being plastered with Round-up and a witch’s brew of insecticides bearing chemical tags of unpronounceable compounds,” Wood explained.

“But I’m cheered by the organic movement and the practice of gardening and farming that uses organic soil enrichment and minimal artificial pest control. In this and other ways, the old farmstead endures,” Wood concluded.

Marilyn Fox will jury this year’s show. Fox, an experienced art juror, is a local artist and Arts Coordinator for the Freyberger Gallery at Penn State Berks. The featured artist is Carol Sumner, whose work “The Prout’s Jollyview Farm” was named Best in Show at Studio B at The Farm 2013.

Please visit studiobbb.org for more information.

The Historic Farmstead by Robert Wood

“First, unlike the Germanic villages from whence they came, here in the ‘Abendland’ every farmer lived, more or less, in the center of his holdings. In contrast, in Germany, the unfenced fields surrounded the farm villages. In fact, the Pennsylvania Dutch had no dialect word for “fence” and so used the English word: Fens.

Next, to the Dutchmen, the barn was more important than the house. There’s a saying—translated from the dialect— ‘My barn is new, and my house—well, it’s good enough to live in.’ If the house burned... that was bad, but if the BARN burned, that was a disaster,” Wood explained. “Incidentally, ‘Dutch’ or ‘Pennsylvania Dutch’ is a corruption of the German word ‘Deutsch’—German, and has nothing to do with immigrants from the Netherlands.” Wood offered.

“The 18th century barns we now call ‘bottom barns.’ They were small with stone walls on the first story where the livestock was kept and a frame second story for feed and fodder storage. With increased prosperity in the 19th century, the farmers began erecting the grand Swiss style bank barns. These are the large barns, almost always painted red; we associate with “old farms.” Sometimes measuring as much as 50X100 feet there were universally a southern facing forebay where the overhang sheltered the multiple doors into the cow stanchions and “horse pen,” and on the northern side a sloping earthen bank leading to the large double doors of the thresh floor.

“Adjacent to the house on gently sloping, south-facing land was a fenced kitchen garden where culinary herbs, early vegetables and medicinal herb were cultivated. Between the house and barn was, almost universally, a pigpen. Incidentally, the outhouse was usually at a corner of the pigpen and was marked by a forsythia bush. Almost every Germanic farmstead had a bake oven, free standing or semidetached from the house, where, on Fridays, a dozen or more large loaves of rye bread and seemingly innumerable fruit pies were baked. Every farm had a corncrib, as cob corn must be air-dried or it will mold.

By the mid-19th century, almost every farm had a summer kitchen. Adjacent to the farmhouse and with gables oriented the same way as the house, the summer kitchen was a sort of one room mini-house where summer cooking and food preservation went on during the heat of the summer. Every farm family smoked meats, as a way of preserving them so there was universally a provision for meat smoking, often a separate smokehouse.

“As to other outbuildings, variously found on farms were springhouses, cave and ground cellars, the dry house, the icehouse, the woodshed, the pump house, the butcher house, the wagon shed, perhaps a hay barrack or hay barn and whatever other structures that were erected of necessity or whimsy.

“But more important than the buildings were the fields. To the German farmers the fields mattered more than anything. When I was a boy on the farm, my father used to say of someone who didn’t measure up—‘Does he farm or does he just turn the ground?’ Usually one-in-three fields were alternately left fallow to grow to weeds and wild growth, thus ensuring a rich diversity in the environment,” Wood noted.

Juror Marilyn Fox

Fox’s current work includes paintings and prints utilizing form, texture, color, and line. Recently her paintings have incorporated images that became a series of colorful fauvist-style paints. Fox, a Kutztown University graduate, has had numerous solo exhibitions and invitational shows including the Maria Feliz Gallery, Tim Thorpe, PA; Woodmere Museum of Art, Philadelphia, “Art is Everythere”; The Louise Gonzer Community Library, Kutztown, PA; and The Jack Savitt Gallery, Macungie, PA. Her work is in numerous private and corporate collections including Bank of Pennsylvania, Reading, PA AT&T, Philadelphia, PA; and The Lehigh Valley Hospital, Allentown, PA. Fox also opened the Main Street Art Gallery, Kutztown, PA and is a teacher, lecturer and writer about the arts.

Information provided by Studio B.

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