Artists come together with ‘Transformations’

Arthaus Projects, formerly Converge Gallery, in downtown Williamsport, is pleased to present “Transformations,” a group exhibition by Kurt Herrmann and Tom Svec, highlighting the work and influence of mutual mentor Bill Foster, now through March 31, 140 W. Fourth St. Lectures will be held with Lock Haven University students while the exhibition is on display.

Both Herrmann and Svec studied with Bill Foster at Lock Haven University.

Herrmann was a fine arts major, while Svec was a liberal arts major. Hermann wanted to establish himself as a studio artist from the start, while Svec gravitated toward the art department late in his academic career in pursuit of a degree in design, specifically furniture design.

“It is not always the norm that a professor of art will have been an outstanding studio artist, energetic and ambitious in pursuit of his or her creative vision,” Svec said. “It is also not the norm that a successful studio artist can be an outstanding teacher. Not only was William Foster an outstanding teacher but he was able to separate his own artistic style from those of his students while maintaining valid artistic criticism.”

As a group, they represent three different generations of creative undertaking. Foster started his undergraduate studies in the late 1940s, graduating from Columbia University with an MFA in fine art in the early ’50s. His mature work, his transformations as he called them, began to take shape in the mid to late ’50s and evolved on into the ’80s.

Svec graduated in 1979 and established a furniture design workshop and studio shortly thereafter. From that point to the present, designing and building furniture has been his sole occupation.

Herrmann graduated in 1995 with a BFA from Lock Haven University. He and Svec worked together for several years building furniture while he set about the task of putting together a studio. In 2000, Herrmann established himself as a full-time studio artist.

“Mentoring is a human art the basis of which is the suppression of one’s ego to the point where constructive criticism can be rendered,” Svec said. “Without valid critique, one can seldom move forward effectively in any creative undertaking.”

Mentoring in the case of Bill Foster involved not only moral support and constructive criticism but also actual monetary support.

“Bill owned our work,” Svec said. “We became lifelong friends in the bargain.”

Located on the Great Island, just east of Lock Haven, Svec’s workshop and studio has been in operation for over 20 years. The site has been a center of agriculture and commerce since before the arrival of Europeans in North America. To this day, it remains one of the most prolific sites in the state for Native American artifacts. It seems appropriate to continue with that tradition of hand craftsmanship.

All of Svec’s pieces are original in concept, minimal in their use of materials, and respectful of the sustainable hardwood timber resources indigenous to the Northeast.

The intent is to produce timeless, utilitarian design objects that will enrich the environments in which they are placed. Mindful of the ever-increasing demand by collectors for handmade American Crafts, all pieces are signed and dated.

Herrmann is a painter from the hills of Appalachia in Central Pennsylvania who does both figurative and abstract work, but above all is a colorist at heart. Herrmann has exhibited nationally and internationally since graduating from Lock Haven University in 1995. In 2016, he was commissioned by Lock Haven University to create two large canvases for their newly renovated Ulmer Hall. This winter he created his fifth beer label for Elk Creek Cafe + Aleworks in Millheim. He currently lives and works in the mountains of Central Pennsylvania, where he recently built a new studio.

For more information visit www.arthauspro