The Painting Center is pleased to present Plain & Fancy, an exhibition that makes visible connections between anonymous, traditional artisans of old order Pennsylvania Germans lent by the Historic Bethlehem Museum and Sites, and six contemporary mid-career artists with ties to the area. Traditional PA pottery, quilts, rugs and other artefacts are paired with the contemporary work of Leslie Fletcher, Jill Odegaard, Scott Sherk, Pat Badt, Rhonda Wall and Brian Wiggins. Each artist has developed their work in highly personal and unique ways in drawing, fiber, painting, collage and sound. A sense of touch, texture and an affinity to materials can be found in the work of these contemporary artists.
Plain and Fancy refers to the polarity that existed in old order communities that settled in eastern Pennsylvania and eschewed decoration, nurturing a simple aesthetic of utilitarian objects and a humble, unadorned lifestyle. The fancy lifestyles were those living outside the religious communities, having ties with the outside world, and possibly enjoying themselves. Sometimes, these lifestyles would converge with another; and the Plain would become Fancy, and Fancy would become Plain. These tensions between the insider and the outsider, the worldly and the meditative, and the decorative and the utilitarian continue.