In­au­gu­ral art ex­hibit to open at hospi­tal

The Colonial - - FRONT PAGE - By M. English

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.”

Pho­tos by ADRI­ANNA HOFF

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.

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