With sun shadows penetrating the crowns of conifers and chestnuts, light overlooking the lake, patches of wildflowers and quaint cottages along winding trails, Mount Gretna has long been an ideal and idyllic place for landscape painters. Mount Gretna and art have been mixed since the late 19th century saw the creation of Lebanon County, just outside Lancaster County. The district has hosted an annual art exhibition for nearly 50 years, and going back even further, in the 1890s, the Pennsylvania Chautauqua was established on Mount Gretna.

Chautauqua is a movement for the education of adult arts and culture, popularized in the late 1800s. At its peak, outdoor summer camp training fees numbered more than 200 places throughout the county, but today Pennsylvania Chautauqua is one of 17 remaining, according to the group’s website.

The Chautauqua movement is important to the history of the Mount Gretno School of the Arts, a charity 501 (c) 3 that is indebted to this movement but a separate organization.

Mount Gretna School of the Arts will celebrate its 10th year of work with Fr. profitable art auction at Lancaster Galleries (34 N. Water St.) from 3-5: 30 p.m. Sunday. The auction features nationally recognized oil artists along with some former students of the Mount Gretna School of the Arts, and proceeds go to artists, scholarships and support from the Mount Gretna School of the Arts.



Jay Noble (left) with Mount Gretna School of Art students from the 2021 session.




“I’ve had a lot of formative experience drawing in nature,” says Jay Noble, an artist, professor of arts at York College, founder and CEO of Mount Gretna School of the Arts. “It was a big deal for me.”

One specific outdoor experience was at the Chautauqua School of the Arts in Chautauqua, New York, where Noble attended three classes as a student and three classes as an instructor.

“I recommended such summer programs to my students, and I realized that they weren’t enough, or the students couldn’t afford to get in,” says Noble of Lancaster. “It was very difficult for me, knowing how important it was for me to see talented, willing students who have nowhere to go because it’s not just a summer class. It’s a completely exciting, seven-week household pressure cooker. “

Noble says he understood well how an intensive summer art program focused on plein-air landscape painting and modeling should work. Mount Gretna was a great place, so he decided to create his own school focused on college students.

“It was perfect – like a gloved hand,” says Noble. “The infrastructure for the school was just there and a community of people who had an extra interest in art and education.”

Now, after 10 years and more than 200 students, the school continues to find new ways to provide affordable tuition to serious students with scholarships and scholarships to make the school more accessible to low-income students. And the school has expanded its program to include summer residencies and opportunities in the fall and weekends open to non-traditional students.



Mount Gretno School of the Arts is a learning moment

Instructor Kimberly Trowbridge and Katie Bell share a moment of training during the 2019 summer session.




“I feel thrilled,” Noble says. “I feel again the same excitement that I had or maybe still have when things turn upside down and everything I thought I knew or thought I could do is going through a big shift. I really hope that the students will experience something transformative. “

New visions

The beginning of the school can be traced to Lou Schellenberg’s porch on Mount Gretna.

Here Noble presented the idea of ​​the program to a small group, including Schellenberg, a famous oil artist and one of the founding members of the Mount Gretna School of the Arts. Schellenberg later held the first board meeting in his living room.

Ten years later, Schellenberg says she is particularly impressed that the school continues to focus on the basics of oil painting and drawing.

“What I like about the program is the intensive observation work,” says Schellenberg. “A lot of art programs have gotten rid of drawing, which for me is like taking piano keys.”

She recalls how she felt when the first group of students came.

“It was really exciting to see the first group of students come in that first year,” says Schellenberg.

“It was just fantastic to see students painting in the streets and in different yards on Mount Gretna, and just to see all these easels installed. Was it like I woke up and landed in a dream? ”

Schellenberg, who has taught as an art professor at Elizabethtown College for 20 years, has given students several gentle critics in that first year and says she was inspired by their work.

“They created new and fresh visions of Mount Gretna,” Schellenberg says. “I saw Mount Gretna in a new way through the eyes of these young people. There’s a lot of great energy. “

John David Whistler, a renowned oil artist from Litz and president of the Mount Gretna School of the Arts, shares Schellenberg’s enthusiasm for student creativity.

“For me, as a person who has been painting for over 40 years, it’s interesting to look at what they do and admire what students do,” says Whistler. “There is a spirit of devotion. It’s about learning and drawing with a good foundation of drawing and vision. “

David Holmgren, an artist from New York, attended school in the summer of 2018 and plans to return to independent study at the seminar this summer.

“For me, it was incredible. It was quite intense, – says 26-year-old Holmgren. “The program brings together people who are serious and want to learn and do something.”

And the emphasis is on making things. Holmgren says that during his seven weeks at school he did at least one painting a day.

“This is probably the most significant concentrated experience I’ve had in creating art,” Holmgren says.



Mount Gretno School of the Arts - Ying Lee

“Onsernone Valley (Passage)” by Ying Lee (12 x 12 inches, oil on linen) is one of the works available at the Mount Gretna School of Arts auction on Sunday.




Steady growth

Noble seeks in his head the exact wording of Thor’s quote. (Quote: “If you built castles in the air, your work should not be lost; that’s where they should be. Now lay the foundations under them.”)

The reason he thinks about this quote is that he previously realized that if he wants to support his dream of an art school in the woods, he needs to think ahead. This thought led him to purchase four cottages on Mount Gretna for 10 years with the intention of using them as housing for students. The nobility is slowly repairing houses.

“If you’re a beginner, you don’t want to overdo it, but once we saw that the school was successful, it seemed like a good idea to buy cottages,” Noble says.

Noble is restrained and restrained, and does not seem to like to talk about himself, but members of his board are more than happy to talk about his leadership.

“Jay managed this program so well,” Whistler says. “He’s a practical creative director. We are slowly buying real estate in Gretna, and these old cottages are beautiful, but some of them need work. And he can wave a hammer as well as he can draw. ”

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