Just in time for the season, the Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board (VFTCB) released its Fall/Winter Arts Guide during the organization’s Speaker Series at the new John James Audubon Center.
Autum and the holidays are the perfect time for a getaway to Valley Forge & Montgomery County – the premier arts destination in the Greater Philadelphia region – and the VFTCB’s publication highlights live music venues, museums, popular events and festivals, and world-class entertainment happening in the area to help visitors discover the county’s more than 200 arts and culture attractions.
“Our Fall/Winter Arts Guide gives visitors insight into the best places to experience the arts in Montgomery County – from fall festivals to award-winning theater productions, new museum openings to holiday traditions,” said Jessica Willingham, VFTCB Director of Government & Cultural Affairs. “With more than 200 arts attractions, visitors will want to start planning their next trip to Valley Forge & Montgomery County.”
The Fall/Winter Arts Guide includes:
- A look at the 2019-2020 theater season at award-winning playhouses like Theatre Horizon, which is celebrating its 15th anniversary
- Fall festivals in charming communities and main streets from Ambler to Pottstown, which offer free parking, delicious dining at more than 1,600 restaurants, and more than 79 hotels
- The Philip and Muriel Berman Museum of Art at Ursinus College
- Dinner and a movie at one of Montco’s arthouse theaters
- Holiday tours in the Bryn Athyn Historic District, from a masquerade ball in the fall to Christmas in the Castle throughout the winter season
The brand-new facility spotlights exclusive artwork from famed ornithologist John James Audubon, Grainger McKoy, and Alice Sharp. Each artist focuses on distinct aspects of birds and their environments.
The “Drawn from Nature” gallery houses Audubon’s renowned “The Birds of America” collection of 435 life-size watercolor portraits of North American birds. The collection is displayed in print format, touchscreen digital form, and 3-D print for visually-impaired visitors. Every month, the pages of Audubon’s “Double Elephant Folio” are turned to unveil a new bird for visitors to see. The intent is to present the art in an inclusive and immersive manner.
Visitors can learn about the step by step process of producing print replicas of Audubon’s original watercolor paintings. The fascinating print process includes copperplate etching and engraving and an assembly line procedure that requires specialization and expertise to transition to print.
Audubon’s original goal for his collection was to paint every bird in North America. His art included the life-size bird itself and incorporated its environment, food source, or opposite gender to show the distinction of features. To create the life-size paintings of the birds, Audubon would utilize Double Elephant Folio paper – named for its gargantuan dimensions – to correctly capture the bird’s size.
The way Audubon observed, and painted birds was very unorthodox. Unlike many artists, Audubon used a visual grid instead of recording measurements of scale to adjust the bird’s dimensions. Audubon would pin up the bird against a grid background for accurate measurements and would utilize the pinning for realistic posing and observation.
Audubon’s “Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America” collection of mammal drawings, which he worked on with his two sons, is also on view at the center.
Aside from Audubon’s historic works, the center is also home to contemporary pieces by Grainger McKoy, who specializes in sculpting, carving, metalwork, hand painting, and jewelry. McKoy’s handcrafted bird sculptures are stunningly life-like. He begins his bird sculptures with sketches and metal frames to engineer his sculptures, which helps him visualize his concepts and readjust the wings. Each feather is individually sculpted, and the pieces embody balance and detail.
Drawings by Alice Sharp are also on display. Her series, “Both Downy and Durable: Feathers of Native Birds,” are drawn in such fine detail that it is difficult to distinguish from a real bird’s feather. This unique collection presents a wide range of bird feathers that are sure to please the eye.
The John James Audubon Center museum is open Monday to Sunday from 9:30AM to 4:30PM and the Mill Grove grounds are open year-round from dawn to dusk. Plan your visit at johnjames.audubon.org.
ArtsMontco.com was also recently upgraded by integrating its calendar of events with the Phillyfunguide. Since 2002, Phillyfunguide has been the Greater Philadelphia region’s “go-to” website for arts and entertainment events. Administered by the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, the website receives more than 110,000 monthly visitors and contains information on thousands of events and attractions. The calendar integration allows Arts Montco to capture events it was missing in Montgomery County to create a more robust visitor experience.