Shelly Lipscomb Echevarria has a gift for seeing the spectrum of colors in a blue sky. The skies in her paintings shimmer in blue, green, gold, red, and orange.
“I like painting the skies,” she said as she hangs her artwork at Homeland. “They always change. They’re never the same.”
Shelly is the artist featured in Homeland’s summer 2023 Community Art exhibit, staged in collaboration with Harrisburg Art Association. HAA selects artists whose works resonate with Homeland residents, staff, and visitors. The exhibits, hung in Homeland’s sunny Florida Room gallery, rotate quarterly for a glimpse into the minds and techniques of varied artists.
Shelly’s current showing is not her first time at Homeland. Her works reflect her search for beauty and peace, even in turbulent times, and since an exhibit in 2019, she has returned with a new array of works depicting seashores, mountain scenery, and Freddy Mercury.
Yes, Freddy Mercury, the legendary frontman for the band Queen. The dynamic Freddy Mercury portrait hanging outside the Homeland beauty salon came from a challenge by a college friend to create works based on the Queen song, “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Shelly painted the Mercury portrait and titled it “Momma” from a line of the song. Next to it hangs “My Bohemian Rep So Tea,” a Queen-themed abstract compilation.
Traditionally, Shelly doesn’t paint abstracts but said, “I feel it coming on. I can’t stay silent forever on social issues.”
She hopes to start speaking up through art. A recent visit to the Equal Justice Museum in Montgomery, Alabama, reminded her that “we’re still not at the ‘justice for all’ in this country.”
Through it all, her artwork exudes serenity.
“I’m still doing a lot from nature,” she said. “Right now, the world just seems too ugly in how we treat each other, so I’m looking for a little bit of beauty.”
The younger members of Shelly’s family have set their sights on making a difference with their careers. Her nephew is a future minister, Shelly’s two daughters are a high school junior planning to go into public policy and the law, and a college student studying biomedical engineering and working on creating prosthetics.
“They’re not saying, ‘I want to make as much money as I can,’” Shelly said. “They want to do things that help people. I think that’s pretty cool.”
Shelly’s younger daughter, Jasmin, joined her mom to help hang the Homeland art exhibit.
“She’s a big help,” said Shelly. “It’s good to have help, and she has a good eye.”
As she hung paintings on the Homeland walls, Jasmin recalled helping stage a recent exhibit at the East Shore Area Library and attending the opening reception, where “it was fun to meet all the people who came out.”
That library exhibit emerged from a collaboration with the Lower Paxton Township Arts Council. Shelly serves on the council, appointed by township officials, to help infuse the arts into the community.
“Sometimes, the importance of all the arts is being overlooked, especially in times of financial crunch,” she said. “They’re not looked at as a necessity or important, but having an outlet for people’s self-expression is always important. Being able to create and express yourself, whether it’s through visual arts, music, or writing, is really important for your mental health. It uses different areas of your brain than other tasks.”
Shelly stays busy with her paintings and commissions and recently illustrated her second book. Her first book was a collaboration with college friend and children’s author Bena Hartman, “My Elephant-Sized Dream,” about a girl inspired by a Dr. Martin Luther King speech to lasso shooting stars.
Her latest collaboration is “The Fight,” with author Dr. Brittany Patterson – a relative of Shelly’s and a psychologist whose workbook helps adults who work with teens teach emotional resilience.
Shelly is pleased to bring her work back to Homeland.
“The residents should be remembered and appreciated,” she said. “Everybody was made for a purpose and a reason and a season. I’m sure they will appreciate the exhibit. It gives them something interesting to look at and a change as they go about their days.”
Homeland Center (www.homelandcenter.org) offers levels of care including personal care, memory care, skilled nursing and rehabilitation. Homeland also provides hospice, home care, home health and palliative care services to serve the diverse and changing needs of families throughout central Pennsylvania. For more information or to arrange a tour, please call 717-221-7900.