Melissa Boyd promotes Montgomery County “Courting Art” project

NORRISTOWN — From a herd of deer grazing in Valley Forge at dusk, to the sunflower fields of an old farmhouse in Worcester, to an abandoned diner in Jeffersonville on a rainy day, there’s rampant beauty in every corner of Montgomery County.

Will it be a grand, detailed landscape or a fleeting moment in time and place that jump starts the brushes of the creative seniors who enter their masterpieces in the Montgomery Bar Association Community Outreach Committee’s “Courting Art” contest?

Court of Common Pleas Judge and MBA Outreach Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Tornetta Carluccio doesn’t much care where and how those age 55 and better connect with their muses.

She’s just anxious for amateur and professional artists alike to take the theme of the contest, “What I Love About Montgomery County,” to heart and get the job done.

“Whatever it is that touches your heart about Montgomery County is good,” she said. “We intentionally chose a broad theme.”

Watercolors, oils, acrylics, mixed media, pencil — whatever medium it takes to spark imaginations — will work for the original paintings and drawings that will be judged in a two-day juried exhibition at the Fine Arts Center Gallery at Montgomery County Community College in Blue Bell. Ultimately, reproductions will grace the walls of the Montgomery County Courthouse, to be relished by courthouse visitors from dozens of townships and boroughs for years to come.

Currently, those drab, dull, lifeless walls of the halls of justice are doing no justice at all to the wealth of 55-plus artistic talent in the county, according to Carluccio.

“We decided to target the senior community, and I think right away when people hear there’s a contest like this they think you’re going to target schools and children,” she said. “But I don’t think the senior community gets much attention in this area, and when you see the artwork they can produce you know that there are some really talented seniors in our community. If you’ve ever walked into some of these senior communities, the art work is astounding.”

Tired of looking at the depressingly vast expanses of nothingness in her criminal court day after day, Carluccio was well aware there was no money in the budget for art.

“I came from a beautiful family courtroom with windows, and I really loved that courtroom,” she said. “There was no art on the walls, but it did have windows. When I needed to move to a criminal court, they moved me downstairs to this room that is like ‘beam me up, Scottie’ … kind of circular. I was frustrated by the fact that there was no art on the walls and no windows. And then I realized there was no artwork in the courthouse whatsoever. Other than the beautiful murals that had been commissioned to be done in the 1950s, nothing else has ever been brought in. So I wanted to come up with a way we could bring art into the courthouse and I wanted to use our community outreach to do that.”

And so Carluccio and Community Outreach Committee Vice Chairwoman Melissa Boyd came up with the “Courting Art” contest idea.

“The Community Outreach is made up of bar representatives, area businesses and nonprofits, and one of our members is an art teacher, whose daughter came up with the name,” Carluccio said.

Boyd added, “the whole concept has grown, and it’s pretty exciting. We’re looking for businesses, law firms, restaurants and retailers to support this effort by becoming a sponsor or donating prizes. One local business, North Penn Art in Lansdale, has already stepped forward to donate ten $100 Gift Certificates which we intend to give away along with dozens of other prizes.”

A $1,000 grand prize will go to the winning artist, with runners-up receiving monetary recognition as well.

All submissions, accompanied by a submission form (available at www.courtingart.com) should be dropped off at Montgomery County Community College Fine Arts Center on May 7, from noon to 7 p.m.

The public can view the works on display on May 10, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and also on May 13, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

A VIP reception will follow the exhibition.

Coincidentally, May is Older Americans Month, Boyd said.

“The timing is impeccable in terms of this being a really wonderful project focusing on the seniors, as May 10 will be the final day of the week-long Senior Games at the college,” she said.

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