Arts Around Town

Arts Around Town: Hares are hopping for 'A Potter's Easter' at Reading Public Museum

'Here comes Peter Cottontail hoppin' down the bunny trail…' Those are familiar lyrics at Easter. Whether it's an egg hunt or a bunny breakfast, it's evident that rabbits rule at this time of year. For Curt Pearson of Robesonia Redware, rabbits definitely reign as subjects for his Pennsylvania German art which will be shown at "A Potter's Easter" on Saturday from noon to 4 p.m., at the Reading Public Museum.

Pearson has spent most of his life designing with clay. It's been a family affair with him and his brother, Thilo Schmitz, co-partners with Robesonia Redware in Berks County. Along with their father, Scott Maderia, the trio has kept alive a family tradition for nearly eight decades of producing top-of-the-line Pennsylvania German redware. From traditional reproductions to original designs, their work ranges from handmade figurines to sliptrailed and sgraffitoed plates, vessels and slab-built works of art.

Maderia was employed by Lester Breininger as a potter for 40 years. His handmade figurines are in many museum collections and even found their way to the White House Christmas tree. Pearson and Schmitz also were longtime employees of Breininger Pottery, serving as chief designers for the last 10 years.

According to Pearson, Saturday's event will feature original Easter redware including colorful plates, eggs and baskets, and free-standing, hand-molded rabbits. Some rabbits will even be in the character of Pennsylvania German Dutch. And, of course, there will be traditional Pennsylvania German wares with designs of butterflies, strawberries and distelfinks. Pearson said in the potter tradition, each piece will be signed, dated and etched with the weather of the day of firing. He added that weather can have an effect on the firing process. Some people even find sentimental value in knowing what the weather was like on the day their special piece was made, he said.

It may have been bleak and dreary this winter, but Pearson said it was warming to be making vibrant Easter eggs back in January. "People love the colors used in the Easter ware," he said. "The traditional colors of yellows, greens and browns take a back seat to the blues and reds at Easter."

Robesonia Redware, currently located at 511 Texter Mountain Rd., will open its doors at a new location on April 1, at 40 West Penn Ave., former home of The Salt Box. Pearson said in addition to featuring work by local artists in the community, there will be a workshop at the rear of the shop where people can view the potters at work.

"Those who visit will be overwhelmed by the work that can come from the artists of our area," Pearson said. "We're proud to say it's all made right here."

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The Easter Bunny makes a visit to downtown Allentown on Sunday during the Allentown Art Squawk from noon to 5 p.m. The event is a quarterly event organized by local painter Ann Schlegel of Studio 606 – Palette & Pen to celebrate the city's arts scene with happenings at 12 studio-galleries and institutions including the Baum School of Art and the Allentown Art Museum. An Easter Bonnet Contest will be held, with judging at 3:30 p.m., at the studio located at 606 Hamilton St., formerly Solomon Jewelers. A Summer Art Squawk is planned for June 2.

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The Reading Symphony Orchestra will announce its 101st season on Saturday, when it features pianist William Wolfram at the Sovereign Performing Arts Center at 8 p.m. Wolfram will perform Grieg's "Piano Concerto." Also on the program will be Gade's "Hamlet Overture" and Dvorak's "New World Symphony No. 9."

American pianist Wolfram was a silver medalist at both the William Kapell and Naumburg International Piano Competitions, a bronze medalist at the prestigious Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow and finalist in the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.

The Reading Symphony also will celebrate Years-of-Service milestones for the following symphony musicians: Anne Weiser, flute, for 50 years of service; and Paul Reiser, Valerie Levicoff, Lisa Shumas, Elizabeth Hess, and Vladimir Aleksandruk, violin, and Ardath Belzer and Carolyn M. Landis, viola, all for 25 years of service.

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Birdsboro artist Amy Schade captured first prize for her acrylic painting, "Crescende," in the 8th annual Frank Scott Memorial Art Show, "The Art of Jazz," a juried exhibition at the GoggleWorks Center for the Arts in Reading. Juror was Robert Stickloon, who wears many hats as an art instructor at Penn State University Schuylkill campus, professional exhibiting regional artist, and jazz drummer. Curator was artist Fran Parzanese. The Frank Scott Memorial Show and Award honor legendary local jazz musician Frank Scott.

Second place went to Paul Laincz of Reading for his digital drawing, "I Hear Bessie Singin' the Blues." GoggleWorks artist Birdie Zoltan received third place for her mixed-media sculpture, "Jazz Bones." Honorable Mentions went to artists Scott Krenitsky, Audrey Bordanaro, Lynn Millar and Amy Schade.

The exhibit will run through Wednesday in the Rolf and Renate Schmidt Gallery at the GoggleWorks, leading up to the 23rd annual Boscov's Berks Jazz Fest, April 5-14, presented by the Berks Arts Council.

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