Artist Shelly Lipscomb Echevarria: A passion for beauty and justice


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 ( 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


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


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

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.”

Pennsylvania proud: Fine artist Valerie Moyer brings memories to Homeland residents.


homeland center Valerie Moyer finalValerie Moyer doesn’t remember a time when she wasn’t doing artwork.

“It’s like breathing,” she says. “I was called to do it. It’s a gift from God and Kutztown University.”

The Pennsylvania native and proud Kutztown alum lives in Beaver Springs, proudly supporting the Snyder County art scene and preserving the commonwealth’s historic treasures. Valerie is Homeland’s featured artist for summer 2022. Her work is hanging in the Florida Room gallery as part of the Art Association of Harrisburg’s exhibition program.

The quarterly exhibits, selected by the Art Association, bring the beauty of works from local artists. Residents, staff, and visitors often stop to admire a painting and take a moment to choose a favorite.

In Valerie Moyer’s work, there is also a chance to play “Spot the Bunny”—as in, find the rabbit hidden in every painting. They are tiny creatures, often found only through the glimpse of a white tail. The bunnies are always on the ground—never in some un-rabbity spot like the clouds or a tree.

The idea came from the suggestion of her husband that a trademark would further distinguish her work.

“What is most common in central Pennsylvania? Rabbits,” Valerie said as she hung her artwork in the Homeland gallery. “I paint a landscape, and there are rabbits.”

Valerie says she doesn’t have a gift for portraiture, but her landscapes and buildings come alive with their own sense of character. Many may recognize the sites depicted in the paintings, such as the famous Neff Round Barn on the road to State College.

“My paintings are pastoral, peaceful, a nod to what life was like in the good old days,” she says. “There are a lot of barns, mills, and covered bridges.”

Valerie uses her artistic gifts to help preserve those landscapes and historical treasures. A portion of the sales from paintings created with Farmland Preservation Artists, a collaborative of the Art Alliance of Central PA, goes toward the Centre County Farmland Trust. And when organizations and individuals commission her work, they can buy the rights to the final piece and make prints for sale or gift giving.

“Some churches will use it as a fundraiser, and then they can buy new windows or mission trips or whatever they like, which is nice,” says Valerie. “That way, it’s more than one painting on the wall. Because it can be reproduced, many people can enjoy it.”

In Valerie’s world, the scenes sometimes choose her as their portraitist. In the Homeland exhibit, there’s the charming portrait of Bessie and Bossy, two calves in a barn door. Valerie was working at a historic barn with the Farmland Preservation Artists, “and I turned around, and they were sitting there going, ‘Valerie. Valerie.’ They were calling my name.”

The same goes for a pair of sheep named Ethel and Emmet.

“I was at my Amish neighbor’s home, and I walked out the door, and there they were,” she says.

Some of the paintings Valerie chose to bring to Homeland were first-place award winners at art shows. A vivid still life of bottles in a historic mill was another case of the subject choosing her, the beauty taking her breath away when she discovered it during an apple butter festival at Little Buffalo State Park. She says awards “validate that you are doing what you are meant to do.’’

Valerie recently joined the Art Association of Harrisburg at the suggestion of a friend, branching out into southcentral Pennsylvania. At heart, she is Snyder County proud and “local, local, local,” working with and buying from other businesses in the scenic county tucked between Harrisburg and State College. The day before hanging her artwork at Homeland, she took 16 framed prints to Snyder County courthouse.

“Snyder County Courthouse will now be decorated in Snyder County prints by a Snyder County artist,” Valerie says.

Valerie can be found on Facebook and Instagram or contacted at

“These are our friends and neighbors, and we should support each other. That’s what makes a community,” she says. “Everybody working together makes small towns so great.”

Painter Steve Wetzel brings works capturing nature’s moods to Homeland


Artist Steve Wetzel was hanging his works in the Homeland gallery when a resident stopped to watch.

“This is the first show they’ve hung at Homeland since the pandemic,” Wetzel said. “He was happy to see new art going on the wall.”

Wetzel installed his “plein air” nature paintings exhibit in Homeland’s cheery Florida room gallery. The show stems from Homeland’s longstanding partnership with the Art Association of Harrisburg, which organizes exhibits of its members’ works at public spaces throughout the area.

“I like hanging works in places where people might not have the opportunity to get out and see a little art show,” he said. “They have it right in their home.”

Wetzel is a member of Harrisburg’s legendary Seven Lively Artists, an invitation-only group founded in 1956 by seven distinguished artists (although membership usually hovers around 15). Quality of work is a hallmark of The Seven Lively Artists, who exhibit together and separately around the region.

A retired state official who always knew that he would pursue a second career as an artist, Wetzel smiles as he recollects his first piece: a drawing of Santa Claus made on a brown paper bag when he was 3 years old.

“My mother hung onto that drawing for all of her life,” he said. “When she gave it to me, I thought if it meant so much to her, I wasn’t going to throw it away.”

Wetzel specializes in the “plein air” style of painting – French for “open air.” He started learning the craft in the early 2000s when he took an Art Association of Harrisburg class. The result is a series of paintings capturing nature’s moods, from sunny to stormy.

There are hazards to plein air painting. Wetzel has held an umbrella over his easel while painting during a torrential downpour. He remembers a December excursion to Cooperstown, NY when temperatures dropped into the single digits, and he layered on every item of clothing he had packed.

One of the pieces displayed at Homeland, a striking rendition of a rugged Maine coastline, tells a harrowing tale. To get the right vantage point, Wetzel clambered down some rocks. He was carrying his easel, a 10-pound plein air painting kit, and another 10-pound bag of supplies. His foot slipped, and he came down hard, badly bruising his hip.

Then he set up his equipment and painted the scene.

Some of the paintings at Homeland depict familiar local scenes, including the Harrisburg skyline along the Susquehanna River and the famous Rockville Bridge. Others are products of travels with Wetzel’s plein air-painting friends to places of rugged beauty, including Maine and Rhode Island’s Beavertail Lighthouse.

All reflect Wetzel’s talent for depicting dynamic atmospheres. They also testify to the skill of plein air painters to capture nature’s rapidly changing moods quickly and methodically.

“You try to get the feel of what’s going on,” said Wetzel. “They normally say that you have a two-hour window to paint before things really change, and a lot of times, you don’t even have that, especially if you’re trying to capture a sunset. Those things change by the moment.”

In those fleeting circumstances, he will try to frame out the permanent fixtures of the scene – landscape, structures, horizon – and save the details of the sky and reflections in the water for last.

“They call it chasing the sky,” he said. “If you keep trying to chase the changes, it just looks messy.”

Wetzel loves that several of his works have made their way to London, purchased by a visitor who saw a show at a Harrisburg bed and breakfast.

“Maybe he’ll hang one in the front window, and when the queen walks her dogs, she’ll see it,” Wetzel jokes.

Wetzel and his wife live in the Chambers Hill area of Harrisburg. They have three grown children and five grandchildren, ages 4 to 21.

He likes to think that his works will boost the residents.

“There might be some former art teachers here, or some artists. It might jog some memories,’’ Wetzel said. “It might be someone who’s been to Maine or who’s familiar with the Rockville Bridge. It might bring something back.”

Arrival of the mermaids: Exhibit brings a touch of whimsy to Homeland

Bonnie Bissett

Bonnie and one of her mermaid pieces hanging in the gallery at Homeland Center

On a brisk fall day, mermaids came to Homeland Center

Not real mermaids, of course. These were artistic renditions from the creative mind of Bonnie Bissett, for Homeland’s latest quarterly art exhibit in the Florida Room gallery.

Homeland brings art to the walls through a partnership with the Art Association of Harrisburg, which invites artists to show their works in spaces throughout the region. Homeland remains the only continuing care community in the program, offering uplifting scenes for residents, staff, and families to enjoy.

Bonnie’s nautical pieces suited the space, hanging near Homeland’s newly refurbished aquarium. While exotic sea creatures swim in the tank, Bonnie’s sea horses and mermaids cavort amid foil finishes and shiny glass beads.

As Bonnie hung her works, her pieces attracted considerable attention.

“These are cool!” enthused Charity McCrae, a beautician from the adjacent Homeland beauty shop.

“The residents like coming down this walkway and seeing art on both sides. They might not be able to get out to see artwork, so it’s nice that it comes to them,” McCrea noted. “I put it on Snapchat, too, so other people can get to see it.”

Bonnie’s works will hang through December 2019. She comes from a family of artists, but she spent her early career running the engine rooms of oil tankers plying the U.S. West Coast.

Still, she knew she wanted to “design and decorate and paint.”

“My parents were interested in art, and I was always involved in art in high school, but I never considered it as a formal career because they were supposed to be skinny and hungry all the time – you know, the starving artist,” she said.

Bonnie has designed clothing, painted murals and faux finishes in homes, and sewn historical reenactor costumes.

In the mid-1990s, she relocated from San Francisco to her family homestead in Lewisberry, a rural spot between Harrisburg and York. Her work in interior design and organization introduced her to the Harrisburg Symphony Society Showhouses; fundraisers held every few years when artists remake the spaces of a classic home.

One of her memorable contributions was painting a “forced perspective” telephone room in a graystone home’s foyer. In that same home near Harrisburg’s Susquehanna River, viewers “either loved or hated” her fish-themed powder room, inspired by a high-water mark from the flooding of Hurricane Agnes.

“The showhouses were fun,” she said. “It was a lot of work. The benefit of doing that was meeting other professionals in the field and networking.”

She has taken “classes galore” on faux finishing and gilding techniques. Still, finding her own style as a fine artist has taken time and thought.

“I needed big pieces,” she said. “I told myself, ‘Focus, Bonn, focus.’ So, I came up with the eyeball and the mermaids.”

Bonnie BissettMermaids reflect her seafaring experience and her appreciation for the mythical creatures’ lore.

“They would capture the sailor’s heart,” she said. “Sometimes they’re evil. Sometimes they’re not. They’re mischievous.”

Two of the people who stopped to admire Bonnie’s art on this morning were also artists. Homeland Center Board of Managers member Catherine Rauth’s hands were slightly dirty from planting containers spilling over with flowers and greenery – one of the many special touches by board members to enhance Homeland’s home-
like feel.

Catherine has taken watercolor lessons and recognized the mixed-media nature of Bonnie’s works.

“This is fun,” she said. “This is cheerful. It’s so nice that Homeland brings this art here.”

Housekeeping staffer Cherie Moore has taken Art Association of Harrisburg classes and helped install a mosaic at an area school. Bonnie’s work made her stop and look because “it’s different.”

“It’s cold outside, and this makes me happy,” she said. “I like that they bring in the art, and the residents get to see it.”

Since 2015, Bonnie has enjoyed living in downtown Carlisle, Pennsylvania, in her first-ever brick home, “like one of the three little pigs.”

“I can walk to places, and there’s an interesting little art community,” she said. “They’re very supportive.”

Bonnie also works with elderly clients, helping them create their own works of art. She agreed with the exhibit viewers who appreciated the power of art to brighten Homeland’s halls — and the lives of residents.

“It’s important to be able to see art when you can’t get out and about,” Bonnie said. “It’s good therapy.”