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Artist Evelyn Dunbar: A moment of respite for Homeland staff and residents

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Look closely at Evelyn Dunbar’s paintings, and you might find “a little gift” – a tiny fairy worked into the scene or a little light.

“That’s for my mom,” said Evelyn, also known as Evo. “She was my biggest fan. She always encouraged me and was so devoted.”

Evo is Homeland’s featured artist for Spring 2024, showing her works in the sunny gallery of the Florida Room. Every three months, Homeland exhibits the work of a local artist, arranged through the Art Association of Harrisburg’s Community Gallery Initiative. The exhibits give residents, staff, and visitors a moment to pause and bask in the beauty of nature and people as seen through the eyes of the region’s most talented artists.

Evo knows the power of art to bring peace to a fast-paced setting. She is a retired emergency department nurse who remembers stopping to view the art displayed at a hospital where she worked, “even on the busiest days.”

“I was happy to come to Homeland,” she said. “What better place for my work than someplace where I have done service? I know how people who work and live here can be transported. I remember how I was transported by seeing somebody’s paintings.”

Like many of Homeland’s residents, Evo tells a life story of resilience and service. She began drawing as a child and once chalked a “Star Wars” mural in her bedroom. The second of seven children of hardworking parents, she grew up in Puerto Rico, graduated from high school with honors, and studied theoretical physics in college.

Evo entered the U.S. Army Reserves to help pay for her education and loved it so much that she dedicated her time to the military. She and her husband met while they were both in the Army, and Evo was deployed only a few months after her first child was born.

Her husband left college to care for their son. Evo came home as a combat veteran to a baby who didn’t recognize his mom. To cope with her PTSD, she built walls around her life, returning to school to study nuclear medicine and nursing. She worked in “several wonderful places” until 2020 when her granddaughter was born with the debilitating genetic condition known as Edwards Syndrome, which causes physical growth delays during fetal development.

When the baby died at only a few weeks old, “it just broke me,” Evo said. “Every wall I had built after the war just came plummeting down. After that, I used painting as therapy. I would lose myself in my room and paint for hours.”

Evo said she sees colors everywhere and translates them to the canvas. Many of her paintings reflect her husband’s love of diving and their shared joy in hiking scenic trails, “where you find yourself transported to a magical place.” Other works project a magical realism, where mermaids frolic, or a cliff transforms into a woman’s face.

Her hikers and kayakers blend in with the scenery, becoming one with nature. One painting, “The Journey,” depicts a canoeist flanked by water, trees, mountains, and sky.

“When you kayak and canoe, there’s a calmness,” Evo said. “You have to stop in the middle of it. There are no sounds but nature — just the birds and water. There’s so much calmness.”

Evo lives in Frenchville, Clearview County, and she and her husband travel and enjoy time with their eight grandchildren. You can see her paintings and photographs at www.artworksbyeodunbar.com.

At ArtsFest in Harrisburg, May 25-27, 2024, she plans to bring her fantastical paintings custom-matted to match and set in repurposed antique frames.

For the Homeland Center showing, Evo brought some of her more serene pieces, including landscapes, dragonflies, and depictions of the Victorian-era women she envisions in historic settings she has visited. While hanging her works, Homeland Center staff and residents stopped to look and admire, just as she hoped.

“I’m delighted to be part of Homeland, and I hope they can enjoy the paintings I have brought,” she said.

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.

Artist A. Wendy Warner Brings Verdant Scenes and Charming Portraits to Homeland

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A. Wendy Warner felt a sense of oneness with art and nature as a little girl.

“It sounds sort of crazy, but I felt like I could almost touch things that were beautiful in the sense that I would drive down a mountain and lift my arm and feel as if my arm was touching the treetops,” Wendy said. “That’s how I enjoyed both the visual and the tactile.”

Wendy is the first artist of 2024 to exhibit in Homeland’s Florida Room gallery. The quarterly rotating exhibits showcase the works of local artists hand-picked by the Art Association of Harrisburg to bring artistry and beauty to the residents, staff, and visitors of Homeland.

Behind Wendy’s shimmering landscapes and piquant portraits is a determination to hone her skills through constant learning. Wendy was born in the Boston area. Her parents owned businesses, but she wanted to emulate her grandfather, an artist who painted in oils.

In her 20s, she tried to learn oil painting but put away the brushes after a few unsuccessful tries.

“I had no idea what was wrong, except that I didn’t like them,” she said.

In the meantime, she pursued a career in the nonprofit sector, helping schools and communities manage and program their grant funding.

“I felt very comfortable in the world of nonprofits,” she said. “I loved it.”

Fast forward to her retirement years. Wendy wanted to paint the faces of her “gaggle of grandchildren” – 10 of them.

“I wanted to leave something to them,” she said. “It’s a natural part of me.”

Still unsatisfied with her solo attempts, she tried a couple of teachers and finally enrolled online with Evolve Art Education. Evolve’s systematic rigor demanded commitment, but “if you just muddle through and work and work and work, I’m convinced that probably 90 percent of people can actually paint,” Wendy said.

As her work matured, Wendy served as an artist in residence at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort. She also found her community with the Susquehanna Valley Plein Air Painters. ”Plein air” translates to “fresh air,” which challenges painters to sit in nature and capture a scene even as light and weather change. It’s all part of her never-ending learning trajectory.

“Getting to know people who have been painting for so many years and are so skilled, in a group where there are people of every level, was very good for me,” she said.

Going public was a big step, overcoming the feelings of vulnerability that come with “putting your work out in front of perfect strangers.” Her expert work in portraiture is attracting commissions, including winsome portraits of children and a skateboarding bulldog named Charley Girl.

A portrait of a smiling boy peeking out from the corner, posted on her website and on display at Homeland, is one of Wendy’s grandsons. Her two children live in Pennsylvania, one in Pittsburgh and one in Dillsburg, near her home.

People like to know the stories behind the artworks and their titles. Viewers at Homeland get to see “Kuerner’s Pig,” depicting an interior from the landmark Kuerner Farm in Chadds Ford, PA, that inspired artist Andrew Wyeth for decades.

Another painting at Homeland depicts a young woman wearing an enigmatic expression as her loose hair falls around her face. Its title, “Climate Change,” inspires different interpretations because “you can’t really quite figure out what’s going on with her.”

“I call it that because I see her as being so changeable,” Wendy said. “Her mood can change so quickly. You don’t know if she’s happy, whether she’s sad or whether she’s concentrating on something. You have to stop when you walk past it. You have to take a look to understand it.”

Wendy said her time in painting has been a joy.

“I still have a massive amount of learning to do, but I’m very happy with a brush in my hand,” she said. “Very, very happy.”

Wendy has heard of Homeland’s stellar reputation, and she hopes that her exhibit further brightens the hallways – and the days of its viewers.

“When you see someone walk by a painting and they stop because they need to look at it, it’s like giving a gift to someone,” she said. “It takes them away for a couple of minutes while they’re looking at it.”

Anyone interested in commissioning a custom painting is welcome to view Wendy’s portfolio and contact her at awendy1@yahoo.com or (717) 903-4875.

Artist Margo Konetski: Tapping into creativity

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Margo Konetski didn’t initially think of herself as an artist, but as a child, “everything had doodles on it.”

Teachers would chide her for being inattentive, but now, she knows doodlers absorb learning better.

“The creativity part of our brains,” she said, “is not used enough.”

Margo is the latest artist displaying her work at Homeland through the Art Association of Harrisburg’s Community Spaces initiative. Every quarter, specially chosen AAH members hang their works in the bright Homeland Florida Room gallery for enjoyment by residents, staff, and visitors.

Konetski, a native of Lewisburg, now living in Upper Allen Township, taught school for 33 years before retiring. In her final years of teaching, she worked with Susquehanna Township School District middle schoolers with social-behavioral problems. They were bright children but were behind their peers, so they sometimes acted out to hide their embarrassment and frustration.

“They could be a challenge, but I enjoyed working with them,” she said.

She wasn’t an artist then, but she knew children learn better when teachers use a creative approach. For eighth-graders struggling with vocabulary, Konetski recruited them to help her build a game board involving pulling cards and defining the words on them. They could roll the dice and move on if they knew the correct answer.

“Being a teacher, you’re almost required to be creative,” she said. “I do believe that’s where I started as an artist. Making it fun was a great way for them to enjoy and learn it.”

Retirement gave Margo the time to step up her creative pursuits. A lover of gardening, she became a Master Gardener in 2022. Since moving to a new home recently, she has been working with a landscaper to bring variety and a non-linear look to her yard.

“I don’t like things all straight in a row,” she said. “I enjoy different colors and textures – mixing them up a little bit. The whole creativity thing touches lots of parts of your life.”

As Margo returned to art, she took Art Association of Harrisburg classes and started experimenting with different media. Her work has matured as she learns, but there have been adventures along the way. For a plein air class, Margo went to Wildwood Park, trying to capture the marshes on canvas. But pesky spotted lanternflies, refusing to cooperate with the romantic image of an artist painting in the open air, kept landing on her canvas.

She also struggled with the slope where she set up her easel, aiming for the best vantage point.

“If you could have filmed me, it would have been really funny because I was fighting the bugs,” she said with a laugh. “And I wasn’t stable on the bank. I’m sliding down the bank, with all my paints going everywhere. Next time I did plein air, I made sure I was on a stable surface.”

Margo carries a sketch pad and takes pictures, capturing beautiful scenes and intriguing architecture everywhere she goes. She recently returned from a trip to Lake Ontario in New York State with five drawings.

“The drawing is your first step,” she said. “You have to have some kind of vision.”

Her travels have taken her to picturesque places like Italy, Germany, and Norway, where her son-in-law is from.

“I like painting doors, for some reason,” she said. “In Italy, there are old-looking, interesting doors.”

Her favorite artist is French impressionist Claude Monet, for the way he seamlessly blends his lines.

“When you paint, you look at things differently,” she said. “Even if we’re watching a TV show, I’ll say to my husband, ‘Did you see that picture on the wall in that room?’ That’s what stands out to me.”

Margo has two grown children, and she and her husband have two rescue dogs, a Lhasa apso-bichon mix named Sophie and a dog named Frankie, “a little Australian terrier. He’s a little lover.”

Her Homeland exhibit is only her second showing. Two of her favorite works there, which are also popular with viewers, are small depictions of a fish and a pelican done with colored pencils.

“It’s a nice little hall space,” she said. “A lot of people travel through it, so they get to see the artwork. It’s a cool place to have your work.”

Margo doesn’t try to sell her paintings. For her, art is simply rewarding and fun.

“Painting is relaxing,” she said. “I can go downstairs and start painting, and five hours later, it’s, ‘Oh, my gosh, where did the time go?’”

Artist Shelly Lipscomb Echevarria: A passion for beauty and justice

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Artist Shelly Lipscomb EchevarriaShelly 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.

Artist Phiroza Kapadia: Subtle layers bring serenity to Homeland gallery

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Artist Phiroza Kapadia: Subtle layers bring serenity to Homeland gallery

Maybe it brings to mind a patchwork of scrap paper made by a schoolkid in art class, but Phiroza Kapadia elevates the art form into seamless, peaceful works of art.

Serene lotuses. Elegant geishas. Twittering birds and gliding swans.

Phiroza’s works are on display at the Homeland Florida Room Gallery, demonstrating the possibilities of mixed-media collage in the hands of a master.

The exhibit is courtesy of the community gallery initiative, arranged by Homeland staff for the enjoyment of Homeland residents, staff, and visitors. Through a longstanding partnership, the Art Association of Harrisburg selects local artists who bring their work every quarter to delight, awe, and inspire the Homeland community.

Phiroza Kapadia brought her mixed-media collages to the Homeland gallery in early April. The artist started her journey toward collage around the time she took another journey. That was in 2013, when she and her family left India, where Phiroza was born and raised, and moved to the Harrisburg area for her husband’s work.

Her kids were growing up then, giving her time to develop her artistic vision.

“I remember as a child, my favorite presents were art supplies,” she said. “I always gravitated toward art. I have a natural affinity for it. People who stopped around would see what I was creating and compliment me, and that spurred me to investigate it as a hobby.”

Taking classes in abstract art from the York Art Association, Phiroza shifted away from her traditional “painterly” style. Always willing to try new styles and genres, she decided to take a class in mixed-media collage.

“I was totally hooked,” she said. “The class made you express your own voice.”

Just what is “mixed media?” In art, it means taking a non-purist approach. The artist works in inks, fabrics, and papers with various elements and textures. Phiroza loves an intriguing piece of scrapbook paper or beautiful origami paper.

“If it’s anything that will benefit my art, I’m happy to incorporate it into my work,” she said.

She finds inspiration everywhere. It might be a bird, a bowl of fruit, or, recently, the tulips at Hershey Gardens. Her “trusty iPhone camera” goes with her everywhere.

“Whenever the inspiration strikes, and I see something beautiful, I capture it,” she said. “With a little bit of imagination, I create a painting from it.”

From there, the image gives her an idea of where it goes on the canvas. She starts by creating a collage with that beautiful background paper, then sketches and paints the subject on top.

“The work should be homogenized,” she said. “It’s supposed to speak as a whole painting. I approach it first by working through collage, and that inspires me to see something in the painting.”

Look closely at the works hanging in Homeland, and you might see some of the background paper peeking through the paint.

Some of Phiroza’s recent favorites are hanging at Homeland. She saw large lotuses in a Vancouver garden – trips to botanical gardens provide a constant stream of inspiration – and they reminded her of the lotuses growing in ponds in India.

“The lotuses are a symbol of peace,” she said. “They are a symbol of calm, of tranquility, and I like bringing those peaceful qualities as well as joyful qualities to my art.”

Phiroza shows her work through the Art Association of Harrisburg, galleries in Harrisburg and Lancaster, and coffeehouses. On Instagram, you can find her work at @phirozas.creations.

“I absolutely love working out of my home studio,” she adds. “It’s a beautiful space. It has some large windows that bring in natural light, which is very important for an artist.”

Today, Phiroza’s daughter is pursuing her master’s degree toward becoming a physician’s assistant. Her son is in college, studying to be a mechanical engineer. She enjoys nature walks, exercising, and spending time with her husband, now retired.

“It’s a good life,” she said.

Phiroza hopes that bringing her work to Homeland “might help to cheer people up, and to bring a little bit of joy and fun into their lives.”

Looking ahead, Phiroza was anticipating a planned trip to Longwood Gardens, the Kennett Square attraction famous for its spectacular botanical displays and sparkling fountains.

“I expect to take plenty of pictures and of course, bring those back to my studio,” she said. “Something will evolve from there, I’m sure.”

Artist Marilyn LaDieu: Finding color in nature

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artist marilyn ladieu

From her earliest years, Marilyn LaDieu had relatives who were artists and who always encouraged her in her artistic pursuits.

“I have memories of people saying, ‘Oh, Marilyn’s an artist. She can draw that,’” said LaDieu. “I’ve run into many people over the years who always wanted to try art but were discouraged at some point. You have to keep practicing. If you have an interest, I think you can go somewhere.”

For winter 2023, LaDieu’s works hung in Homeland’s sunny Florida Room gallery. The exhibit is courtesy of the Art Association of Harrisburg’s community gallery initiative, which brings in high-quality work from local artists for residents and staff to enjoy.

Her vibrant works reflect her fascination with color, nature, and architecture. Many are plein air scenes painted in the open air to capture moments when the scenery and light are just right.
LaDieu was born in Rhode Island but moved to the Rochester, NY, area at age 9. Her first job after earning an MFA in illustration from Syracuse University College of Visual and Performing Arts, was creating medical illustrations for the University of Rochester. Ironically, her brother used a textbook she illustrated when he studied medicine.

Later, LaDieu and her husband, whom she met at Syracuse University, moved to Hagerstown, MD, and then to the Harrisburg area in 1976. In those days, LaDieu was busy with their two sons and the occasional freelance illustrating job.

Around 1990, LaDieu returned to fine art, painting large studio works, and in 1993, she and four other artists staged an exhibit at the Art Association of Harrisburg.

She went along when some of her artist friends wanted to try plein air painting. She had to overcome the nervousness from having passers-by looking over her shoulder, but in a few months, “something clicked in, and I was okay with it.”

“When you’re standing outside and see this whole scene, it’s hard to zoom in on some little section of that scene and concentrate on it,” she said. “Every time you look up, you lose where you’re looking. After a while, I became better at it.”

LaDieu and her husband live in West Hanover Township, travel extensively, and spend winters in Venice, Florida. She has painted in plein air festivals in Escalante, Utah, with its breathtaking canyons and rock formations.

“It’s beautiful countryside,” said LaDieu. “There are beautiful rocks all over the place, and lots of colors compared to the east, which is green. Out there are reds, oranges, and yellows.”

Colors fascinate LaDieu so much that she is currently taking an online course from artist Patti Mollica, known for her vibrant color work. LaDieu is learning such techniques as unifying a painting’s look by mixing a single “mother color” into every color used. She is also discovering “colorful grays,” which the artist creates by mixing complementary colors.

“If you have a bright color with one of these colorful grays next to it, it can make the bright color pop out of the canvas,” LaDieu said.

LaDieu belongs to several art associations and has shown her works at Art Association of Harrisburg and the Perry County Council on the Arts. Her eldest son, Ben LaDieu, who draws in pencil and pen and ink, recently won Best in Show for PCCA’s Annual Juried Exhibition (find his intricate, fantastical works at www.benladieuart.com).

For the Homeland exhibit, LaDieu chose scenes from her travels, such as the Cavendish Cliffs on Canada’s Prince Edward Island, but also some of Harrisburg’s historic neighborhoods and riverfront that viewers might recognize.

Homeland’s gallery is “a nice space,” she said. “Homeland is one of the nicer retirement homes to be in. These exhibits give people enjoyment. They can look at beautiful art.”