PA Modern: A Photography Exhibit of Midcentury Architecture

Please be sure to check out the November program listings for events coming up this weekend and the rest of the month.
Today’s guest blogger is Beth Hager, PHMC’s Director of Strategic Initiatives. She shares some info about the new State Museum exhibit, “PA Modern,” which she co-curated with Amy Hammond and Carol Buck, with assistance from the PA State Historic Preservation Office and the Pennsylvania Heritage Foundation.

Last spring on Trailheads we shared a call for photographs of Modernist buildings in Pennsylvania to enter a juried photo exhibit at The State Museum of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg. In honor of the 50th anniversary of The State Museum and Archives Complex this year, the earlier post explained, the show would help celebrate and shine a light on a distinctive, progressive style that, although found throughout the Commonwealth, is often “hidden in plain sight.” It was sort of a tall order – would photographers embrace the assignment and would a solid exhibition result?

We’re happy to report that Pennsylvania photographers – from amateur enthusiasts to seasoned professionals – did in fact step up to the task in a brilliant way with stellar entries. “PA Modern” opened to the public at The State Museum on Sunday, October 25, with an audience of approximately 150 photographers and fans of Midcentury Modern. Two award winners were announced at a brief ceremony; both photographs will become part of PHMC's permanent collection.

Andrew Hoff, a Camp Hill photographer and artist often featured in “Art of the State,” won the “Best of Show” purchase prize for his photo of Barlup’s Appliances, a “Jetson’s –style” circa 1960s store in Enola (Cumberland County)

Uniontown resident Joseph Skompski, a newcomer to juried exhibits, won the “Best of The State Museum and Archives” purchase prize for his evocative portrait of the Pennsylvania State Archives tower

The show includes 98 photographs (list of photographers and their home counties) showcasing Modern architecture from across the Commonwealth, with diverse scenes of homes, churches, skyscrapers, diners, and schools. All photos in the exhibit were selected by an independent panel of jurors: Dennis Hockman, editor of Preservation magazine (National Trust for Historic Preservation); Betsy Manning, Philadelphia-area photojournalist; and David Oresick, Executive Director of Pittsburgh’s Silver Eye Center for Photography.

Attendees at the exhibit opening included architect Irwin Stein, who in 1958 designed the home featured in Laura Kicey's entry, "Wallingford I" (photo of Mr. Stein by Don Giles)

"PA Modern" is complemented by a display of early images and objects related to the creation of the Museum and Archives Complex, including the original architects’ model and furniture made by Savoy Furniture of Williamsport for the building 50 years ago (and recently refurbished)

Join me at the State Museum for a tour of the exhibit on Sunday, November 15, at 2 pm and meet “Best of Show” award winner Andrew Hoff and PHMC historic preservation specialist Bryan Van Sweden. This will be the first of several “Artists Conversations” that will take place during the course of the show, which is open through February 28, 2016.


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