Local artist answers mysterious questions of Lycoming County

Local artist Bruce Storm is an explorer of sorts, digging up the answers to the hidden questions surrounding Lycoming County residents each day. Ever wonder how owls safeguard their young along the Susquehanna or what the spider’s web caught in the moonlight? Were those dragons along the shoreline or just the stars playing tricks on your eyes?

Storm’s exhibit of watercolors, “Lycoming’s Unseen World,” reveals the answers to these questions and more through Oct. 31 at the Peter Herdic House Restaurant, 407 W. Fourth St.

The artist has been drawing and painting his own magical, witty and sophisticated version of Lycoming County for the past 43 years. His work often features quilt patterns in skies or on other surfaces, influenced by his mother’s quilting and his Pennsylvania Dutch heritage.

“I have a strong sense of pattern and design that I see in nature that I frequently use,” Storm said. “For example, at the Herdic House, there is a very long painting that has the whole sky and it looks like a quilt. I like to go out into the countryside and, instead of just putting a sun up in the sky, the whole sky is filled with a quilt design and the quilt design has sort of a sunburst in it. Because my mother was a quilter, she influenced a sense of paying attention to very small details. My work is very precise and it’s also very accurately depicted.”

For instance, he added, when driving by a scene in a car at a fast rate of speed, most don’t see the animals that are around. Storm’s art offers a glimpse into what those animals might be thinking — and often with a degree of romance depicted in them.

“One of them shows one animal taking another to a romantic situation and the one is blindfolded,” he said. “The blindfold becomes removed to show a castle that is in the clouds. I want my work to help you let out some of your inner child that society tends to encourage you to bury. My pieces are optimistic and romantic and full of humor. Many will be drawn in by the beautiful colors and the identification of landscapes, but other people respond to the humor and the romance. Then, once you get past that, there is an encouragement of people to look beyond the obvious and to think about what they are seeing in a completely different way.”

Storm’s choice of colors harkens back to the years he spent in Orange County, California. Sketched on location with details recorded on the back of each piece of work, Storm’s background in animation for Warner’s in California and his illustration experience pays tribute to artists Maxfield Parrish and Howard Pyle and the 1920 children’s books he collects.

Combine this with a New Yorker’s sense of humor and the lavish surroundings of Lycoming County and viewers of Storm’s art find deeply meaningful and dazzling masterpieces.

Storm grew up in Palmerton — or Fifer’s Corners — to be exact. He received advanced degrees from Penn State University, where he was awarded the Phi Delta Kappa Award — the first time this highest honor was ever given to a classroom teacher. He has taught art at PSU, East Lycoming School District; Springfield Township, Flourtown; Pennsbury School District, Bucks County; and in Orange County, California, before retiring in 1998.

His work inspired and encouraged his students to be fine craftsmen in their art, as well as to use their imagination and observation to create a personal, original and aesthetic piece that can travel through time.

“I’m still in touch with some of my students — one of them is my doctor, actually,” Storm said. “I liked feeling like I could offer a positive alternative because younger people are very often misunderstood. And I wanted them to understand that every chair you sit on, every building you walk into, every rug you stand on, they’re all designed by artists. The field is huge for professional artists — from textile design and landscape architecture, to industrial design. Giving people creative outlets is something that is important to me.”

A book of Storm’s paintings is available through the Muncy Historical Society, which he said includes the first 20 to 25 years of his work, as well as sagas and a description of where those paintings were done.

For many years, Storm was the top seller of art through the former B&S Gallery. His art has been seen in one- and two-man exhibits at the Bell Art Gallery, Harvey Cedars, Long Beach Island, N.J.; and the Altoona and Erie campuses of Penn State University Park.

His paintings and other media have been sold in California, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York. He also has worked with collectors from Europe, Scandinavia, Canada and the Dominican Republic.

Storm resides in Muncy with his wife, local artist Nella Godbey-Storm. Enthusiasts of historic preservation, the Storms have restored two homes in Muncy’s Historic District and have lectured on early American period furniture at museums. The couple’s home even was featured in Colonial Homes Magazine in a full-color spread.

The Storms’ art will be featured in the Muncy Historical Society’s Annual Artists’ Exhibit and Sale Nov. 10 and 11 at the Pennsdale Civic Center Social Hall, 261 Village Road, Pennsdale.