Renovated York Structure is Center for Regional Arts Experience
Studio shot of PA Arts Experience artist Robert Patierno. (Photo by Bill Simone Photography)
A consortium of organizations and individuals has combined resources and talents to establish a fine-arts milestone in York. With the imminent grand opening of Marketview Arts in the first block of West Philadelphia Street, the city will serve as the anchor for the Pennsylvania Arts Experience (PAE), one of six designated PA Artisan Trails throughout the Commonwealth.
Internationally renowned Wrightsville painter Rob Evans is the founder and artistic director of the PAE. “This building was a Fraternal Order of the Eagles Lodge, but dwindling membership compelled them to sell it,” he says. “The York County Industrial Development Authority purchased the structure and, along with our input and that from the architecture firm of Murphy Dittenhafer, renovated it to function as an arts center that will house an orientation center and headquarters for the PAE, as well as other arts-related entities.”
The process was a challenging one and took approximately three years to complete. “A private investor also contributed resources, and the state gave us a significant grant,” adds Evans. The results are superlative. All three stories of the building are devoted to a variety of fine-arts objectives.
A beautifully restored parquet wood floor greets visitors to the PAE orientation center on the first level. There, arts-oriented tourists can view a sampling of works by PAE artist members in the front gallery, which features pristine white walls and clean contemporary lines that are repeated throughout the building’s interior space. A large plate-glass picture window looks out on the façade of York Central Market, directly across the street. “We also see this first-floor space as a greeting area, and a place for visitors to enjoy some refreshments, pick up literature about arts-related destinations on our trail and take advantage of our arts concierge service to line up studio visits or gallery tours,” says Evans.
Farther back into the building, an indoor atrium features an original exterior brick wall and leads downstairs into separate glass-fronted artists’ studios, which are available for the public to visit. The rear houses a storage and garage area. “We hope someday to use this space for ceramics,” explains Evans, “and envision putting in throwing wheels, a kiln and other necessary equipment.”
York College has a presence at Marketview Arts, where upper-class painting and drawing students have studio space in a large, second-floor room. Art-glass windows, a vestige of the Fraternal Order of Eagles occupancy, diffuse the light to produce an excellent working environment. PAE Executive Director Joe Jefcoat notes their distinction. “Outside of churches, no building in York County has more art-glass windows,” he says. “We are thrilled that the York County Industrial Development Authority was able to retain them.”
Unique in the building is a second-floor apartment. “A fellowship has been provided to allow a York College painting graduate to reside in the apartment each year, for one year,” says Evans. “We expect that the downtown location and proximity to studio space will provide wonderful professional-growth opportunities for those fellowship recipients.”
The structure’s top floor has a large ballroom that has been converted into prime exhibition space, which Evans hopes will eventually house high-quality exhibits. Although Marketview has a regional purpose, he also sees occasional traveling exhibitions in its future.
“In addition, the third-floor space is available for events and meetings and is being managed by Moxie, a marketing and public- relations firm,” says Evans.
Alluding to the Pennsylvania Arts Experience and PA Artisan Trails, Evans says, “That’s a story for another time. But it can be said that cultural tourism, represented by the trail and by what we’re trying to do in this enterprise, has a positive economic impact. Cultural tourists tend to stay longer and spend more.”
“A similar program in North Carolina, called Handmade in America, spurred an arts renaissance across that state,” declares Jefcoat, whose extensive résumé includes vice president for arts and education at Charlotte’s Spirit Square Center for the Arts.
Evans et al are in the process of developing a corps of volunteers so that regular hours may be established.
Also on the docket is the creation of an endowment to provide a reliable means of support. However, most of the hard work has been done.
Marketview Arts is prepared to fulfill its missions.
“We’re in a good place now,” says Evans.