For Deirdre Murphy, the sky’s the limit when it comes to her art – especially when the backdrop is the Philadelphia International Airport. That’s where her installation, “Sky Paintings,” is on exhibit for the next year alongside the moving walkway of Terminals C and D. For the thousands of passengers who board flights daily, a pause in the rush is in order to experience Murphy’s dynamic and colorful panoramic vistas that were inspired by Hawk Mountain’s birds and their collective movement in Berks County.
Murphy, who resides in Montgomery County, teaches drawing and painting at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, where she earned her master of fine arts. It has been her love of travel combined with her art that focuses on an exploration of birds and the human connection to the larger natural world. Her “Sky Paintings” series features work that explores the patterns, murmurations and energy of bird flocks, much of which she discovered at Hawk Mountain.
It was fellow-artist Nic Coviello of Philadelphia who, back in 2012, whetted Murphy’s artistic appetite for the Berks County site, one of his favorite places for artistic inspiration. At the time, his “Seekers” series of figurative landscapes was on exhibit at the Philadelphia International Airport and depicted people like himself who, as he explained, “used the outposts to wander, discover and record natural events and, in the process, refresh their own sense of self and with spirits soaring.”
Murphy said she literally “set up shop” in her room for three days at a stretch at a nearby bed and breakfast while exploring Hawk Mountain.
“I was doing plein air painting in 26-degree weather,” she recalled, “and taking my art back to my studio in Philadelphia.”
When she first saw her “Sky Paintings” on view at the airport, she said the biggest thrill was standing back and watching passengers make a connection by taking selfies, or digital self portraits, against the art.
“It’s satisfying when a viewer walks away feeling like he or she just had a fabulous, seven-course meal,” Murphy described. “They walk away and digest what they just took in. That’s a connection. That’s a success to me.”
Leah Douglas, director of the airport’s exhibitions program, said she had been aware of Murphy’s art. Her original acrylic-on-panel paintings were 11-inches-by-36-inches, presenting Douglas with the challenge of enlarging them to billboard size. Douglas said she also knew she wanted to place them along the terminals’ moving walkway. For the thousands of passengers who would tread it daily, Douglas said the art had to be “powerful and a quick read.”
“Murphy’s paintings, with their themes of nature and, in particular, the skyscapes accentuated with birds and kite-like elements in flight, are a perfect fit for the airport traveler,” Douglas explained. “Her exhibition features work with color-filled compositions, rooted in a sense of motion that will captivate travelers as they ready themselves for their own experiences in flight.”
According to Douglas, whose headed the exhibitions program since it was established in 1998, said there are 20 exhibit locations at the airport that rotate art in and in between its seven terminals throughout the year. She said art not only provides a nice diversion for its more than 30 million passengers each year, but also communicates to those passengers what the region has to offer.
“Bravo Broadway” is the final pops program of the season for the Reading Symphony Orchestra on Saturday at 8 p.m., at the Santander Performing Arts Center, with special guest artists Doug LaBrecque, Christiane Noll and Anne Runolfsson performing favorites from the American Musical Theater. Guest conductor is Sameer Patel, associate conductor of the Fort Wayne Philharmonic.
LaBrecque appeared as The Phantom and Raoul in the Harold Prince production of “The Phantom of the Opera.” He also was Ravenal in the revival of “Showboat.” Noll is a versatile stage performer whose range extends from comedy to drama, and jazz to opera. Aside from theater, Runolfsson is a recording artist who has appeared in cabaret and concert halls worldwide. She was Carlotta Giudacelli in “The Phantom of the Opera” and was a standby to Julie Andrews and Liza Minelli in “Victor/Victoria.”
For further info: readingsymphony.org
Guest violinist Karina Canellakis once again performs with the Pennsylvania Sinfonia Orchestra on Saturday at 7:30 p.m., at First Presbyterian Church, 3231 W. Tilghman St., Allentown. The program, titled “All Nature Sings,” features Frederick Delius’ “On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring” and “Summer Night on the River.” Canellakis collaborates with the musicians for Felix Mendelssohn’s “Violin Concerto in E Minor, Op 64.” The program also includes Dmitri Shostakovich’s “The Chamber Symphony, Op. 110a.”
For further info: PASinfonia.org
The youth of Civic Theatre School in Allentown will present “Annie, Jr.,” a one-act adaptation of one of the world’s best-loved and most-performed family musicals, with four performances beginning tonight at 6, and running through Saturday, at the Nineteenth Street Theatre.
“Annie, Jr.” stars Hannah Whitson in the title role. The cast includes Mason Steltz as Sandy, Erin McGowan as Miss Hannigan, Jackson Haught as Oliver Warbucks, Aubree Williams as his secretary Grace Farfell, Dylan Gambos as Rooster, Malerie Razzis as Lily, Molly McGorry as Molly and Jonathan Krippe as FDR. The ensemble cast also includes 85 students from across the Lehigh Valley enrolled in Civic’s educational programs this academic year.
Co-directors/choreographers are William Sanders and JoAnn Wilchek Basist. Musical direction is by Brian Foley.
For further info: civictheatre.com