For the month of November, Lebanon Picture Frame and Fine Art Gallery is presenting an exhibition of two distinguished plein air oil painters: Julie Riker and Steve Wetzel. Following the approach of painting in the open air advocated by the French Impressionists, the pair captures the natural beauty of the light and shadow of Central PA and beyond with their own distinctive styles. Open to the general public, the Artists’ Reception is on first Friday, November 2nd, from 5 to 8PM. The exhibition will remain on view for the rest of the month.
Camp Hill artist Julie Riker works as a professional artist and operates her own decorative painting business. For over twenty years, Riker has provided antique restoration, custom murals and faux finishes for many homes, churches, and businesses. Riker studied illustration with an emphasis on academic drawing at University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA, where she completed an MFA in Illustration. After graduation, Riker embarked on her artistic career as a part of the PA State Capitol restoration project. The artist calls herself an “observational painter,” as she primarily paints on location and often travels to “scope out” new areas for inspiration. She is influenced by painters like Sargent, Sorolla and Zorn, “who can capture a light effect using an economy of brushstrokes,” as well as works by Andrew Wyeth, known for their mood and compositions, and Richard Diebenkorn and his abstract paintings based on representational subjects. Even though Riker’s paintings could be perceived by the viewer as representational, she is more interested in the abstract structure of a composition and not the subject matter itself. “I am constantly growing and evolving,” Riker remarked; “the current body of work is representative of where I am right now.” Riker has received many accolades throughout her career as an artist and participated in many Plein Air competitions. She was most recently featured in the Plein Air Magazine Feb/March 2018 issue and has been selected as the “Artist to Watch” for Southwest Art in the October 2018 issue.
Plein air landscape painter Steve Wetzel was born and raised near the Susquehanna River, where the river, as well as its surrounding farmland, meadows and acres of woodland continue to serve as a continual source of inspiration. “The river was visible from my high school parking lot, elevated on a hillside, where we looked down into the valley to sketch the river as it flowed past the bend at Turkey Hill and meandered toward the Chesapeake Bay,” said Wetzel. “These vistas, this scenery, filled me with a deep love of nature, and this is where I always return…to the landscape.” For more than half a century, the Susquehanna continues to be a deeply loved and frequent subject of his paintings. Wetzel utilizes oil as his primary medium and paints in a representational style. He works mostly on rigid surfaces as opposed traditional stretched canvas in order to accommodate his use of the palette knife; a number of these palette knife paintings will be featured in this exhibition. Among his many achievements, some notable exhibitions include Art of the State at the Pennsylvania State Museum, Philadelphia Sketch Club Exhibition of small oil paintings, The Pennsylvania Governor’s Residence, the Pennsylvania State Museum and many others.