Inaugural art exhibit to open at hospital
Plymouth Meeting artist Susannah Hart Thomer hopes “a gazillion people” attend the opening reception Oct. 26 for the inaugural art exhibit in the new Einstein Montgomery Medical Arts Building, 559 W. Germantown Pike, East Norriton.
Friday’s event — set for 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. — is being co-sponsored by Greater Norristown Art League and “the Medical Providers at the Medical Arts Building.” The show will feature work by some 20 GNAL artists in a variety of media — approximately 50 pieces in all, several of them available for sale. The exhibit is expected to run for six months, and both it and Friday’s reception are open to the public.
Thomer, a respected watercolorist, is co-chairing the reception with fellow GNAL member Martin Wigg. And although the local woman’s “gazillion” is an obvious exaggeration, her promise of “some excellent … very special work” is spot on.
The art assembled for the Einstein complex is impressive. As is Thomer and Trooper artist Michael Adams’ collaborative 10-by-15foot depiction of the iconic Wissahickon Creek, a commissioned piece that will remain on site as part of the building’s permanent collection.
The painting consists of a half- dozen carefully aligned canvases, roughly 5-by-5 feet each. Tranquil green and blue acrylics dominate the six panels and converge as a soothing landscape of lush woods and cool water.
“This whole thing came together very quickly … probably starting in the beginning of September,” Thomer explains. “The art league had already been asked … and agreed to take responsibility for an art show in the new medical arts building. So, Martin and I were over there, meeting with some of the representatives for the building and looking at the space. When we got to the atrium, we both said, pretty much at the same time, ‘This
would be great for a mural.’”
Long story short, the powers-that-be thought so, too. Thomer and Adams, a professional illustrator and painter who also teaches at Philadelphia’s University of the Arts, were engaged to complete the project; a concept — based on one of her signature watercolors — was approved; and the race to meet their “very tight deadline” began.
It helped that the two had recently completed a mural at Norriton Fire Engine Company No. 61, the latest of three such wall paintings they’ve done as a team.
“The people on the Einstein side were very open and positive about doing it, EuW wH VWLll haG a lRW WR fiJure out before we could even begin painting,” Thomer recalls. “Right off the bat, where were we going to paint the thing? Because the building was so close to completion and the doctors were moving in, we couldn’t paint there, so that was the fiUVW WhLnJ wH haG WR GHal with.”
Happily, Rainbow Arts and Crafts owner Wayne Stem offered to let them set up shop in his store at 521 W. Germantown Pike, East Norriton, and that solved the additional problem of “where and how to pick them up and store them” once ordered, she continues. He and son Matt later installed the completed panels at the Einstein complex.
“Wayne is such a good guy,” Thomer says. “He’s supported the art league — and just about every other local art [institution] — for a lRnJ WLPH. HH’V WHUULfiF WR WhLV area’s art students. He gives discounts, donates awards to the different groups and supports our shows. He’s a wonderful man. To be honest, I really don’t know how we would have done this without him. He saved us so much money and, really, solved all of our problems.”
In the end, Thomer was “very pleased with the way it all turned out” and “thrilled to think that something Michael and I [created] will be part of the building for a long, long time.”
“The whole idea is to have art that’s pleasing and calming for the patients who use the building,” she says. “Something they can, hopefully, escape into while they’re waiting for test results or dealing with whatever medical issues they’re having.
“Michael and I have different painting styles. For example, he’s a lot more detail-oriented than I am, as someone who usually works in watercolor. But I think we’re pretty comfortable tweaking each other’s work. Another thing that made this project interesting, I’ve painted the Wissahickon a lot, so the scene was very familiar to me. I almost knew it too well. Michael didn’t have that same [familiarity] with it, so he’d make different suggestions about changing this or that, and I’d think, ‘No … that’s not what I remember.’ But that wasn’t a bad thing … it made the scene new again for me.”
Artists Michael Adams and Susannah Hart Thomer stand before their artwork prior to hanging it at the Einstein Montgomery Medical Arts Building.
Father-andson team Wayne Stem and Matt Stem, of Rainbow Arts and Crafts, help to install the new mural.