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Berks artists showcase work along Schuylkill River in Hamburg

Booths set up along river displayed wood, pottery, paintings, photographs, fiber arts

By Kolleen Long, For Digital First Media

Friday, June 8, 2018

Art was in the air in Hamburg, Kempton, and surrounding areas on Saturday, June 2. It was the day for the annual Hawk Mountain Arts Tour and Sale featuring local artists. And 2018 marked the first year that the Hamburg Area Art Alliance (HAAA) participated fully in the event.

Artists booths were set up on the trail of Etchberger Memorial Park, Hamburg, with clear views of the Schuylkill River. As guests browsed displays of hand-crafted wood pieces and pottery and original paintings, photographs and fiber arts, smells from a food truck, sounds from a baseball game and breezes from the water drifted overhead.

Petra Martin and Karla Jenson said they saw steady traffic at the HAAA stand throughout the day.

“We’ve seen lots of really interested people, many who are new to the tour,” Jenson said.

They welcomed newcomers, provided tour information and offered for purchase prints and tee-shirts featuring an original art-deco piece by Randy McCurdy. The alliance table also sold raffle tickets for an original garden sculpture created by Hamburg artist Bill Rhodes.

Tom Lowery of Shillington stood near his display of scroll-saw art, including artfully stained wooden pieces, hand-crafted duck calls and pens shaped from deer and bison antlers.

“I like wildlife stuff. I enjoy doing it,” the artist said, noting he crafts from a variety of materials and tries to find projects for resulting scrap pieces. “If I’m using the scroll saw, I like maple. But if I’m using the lathe, anything exotic.”

In the next booth, Wade Phillips, Shartlesville, presented his acrylic paintings and dispensed advice on finding supplies and inspiration to a young artist visiting his display. Charlotte Golden, Hamburg, offered prints of her photographs taken at local sites and around the world. Another local artist, Mark Hoffman, displayed turned wood pieces. He explained to guests that his signature wooden cutting boards, crafted to resemble brick walls, are in honor of his father, a brick layer.

“It’s really good work,” one guest told him. “It’s a great idea, and pretty unique, obviously.”

Martha Ressler had a tent filled with her fiber-art pieces, including small, framed traveling quilts made during her recent tour of Eastern Europe. One, titled “Across the Ages,” was inspired after her visit to Auschwitz concentration camp and features a hand-stitched replica of a child she saw in a photo. Next to her display was that of her husband, photographer Jay Ressler, who layers images of old mansions and iron hinges, for example, to create composite images.

Sitting by her colorful pottery pieces, Pirjo Jussila L’Esperance chatted with visiting friends. She concurred that the new event and location were good opportunities for local artists.

“It’s been steady, maybe a little bit slow,” she said midday on Saturday, “but this is our first year. And it’s exciting, doing something new. You have to give it a chance.”

Rounding out the Hamburg art venue were Kenneth L. Liskey, who creates oil paintings based on photographs of natural scenes and animals; photographs by teen artist Emma Ketterer; and Roger Anderson, whose colorful wooden spinning tops were a hit with youngsters walking by.

Dina Madara is art director for the Our Town Foundation (OTF) of Hamburg. She said that joining the Hawk Mountain tour was an obvious choice for HAAA members. Several alliance members had already participated as individuals in the past. Also, when OTF opted to discontinue Hamburg’s yearly art festival this spring, they decided to ask the Hawk Mountain group if they could join in their event.

“It seemed to be a reasonable request since the tour sort of wraps around Hamburg to the north and east,” Madara said. “Hawk Mountain welcomed the additional tour stop, and both organizations cross-promoted the tour.”

Madara said HAAA members saw Etchberger Memorial Park as the perfect setting.

She explained, “It has flat ground, a straight-away walking trail, and parking, just about everything you would want for an arts festival. I’m sure the artists being there caught the attention of the people at the baseball diamond and the people at the Hamburg pool. It was just a great way to engage with the community as well as the tour-goers.”

After the festival wrapped up, a winner was drawn for the yard sculpture: Mary Ann Price of Mount Carbon, Pa.

For details about the Hamburg Area Art Alliance readers may contact Madara (610.562.3106) or visit the alliance’s art gallery, located adjacent to the Our Town Foundation, 335 State Street, Hamburg. Info on the Hawk Mountain Arts Tour & Sale can be found online at and on Facebook.