Triad Brilliant, Passaic River Hills

Current and Upcoming Exhibitions

Fall 2014

Lanny Sommese: Image Maker
August 26–December 21, 2014

Lanny Sommese, "Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts," 1999, offset lithograph. Collection of the artist.Lanny Sommese, Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts, 1999, offset lithograph. Collection of the artist.


The Palmer Museum of Art is proud to celebrate the eminent career of Lanny Sommese, Penn State’s distinguished professor of graphic design, who retired this spring after forty-four years of teaching within the College of Arts and Architecture. Perhaps best known locally for his posters for the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts, which he has designed annually since 1974, Sommese is recognized worldwide as one of the leading voices in his field. In 1999, he was elected to the prestigious Alliance Graphique Internationale, an association, based in Zurich, Switzerland, that invites only the most accomplished and influential graphic designers into its ranks.

The exhibition features a selection of works Sommese produced during his tenure at Penn State, together with numerous studies that helped to bring each to fruition. The title of the show reflects Sommese’s oft-expressed view that graphic design has less to do with personal expression than it does with the creation of images that respond to a multiplicity of external factors, such as the needs of the client and audience reaction. “Designing is not art making,” Sommese has written. Designers, he reasons, “are concerned with getting results, like selling products, filling auditoriums, identifying companies, and presenting information understandably.”


Henry Varnum Poor: Studies for the Land Grant Frescoes
September 2–December 21, 2014

Henry Varnum Poor, "Landscape with Farm, study for the Land Grant Frescoes," 1939, graphite and pastel. Gift of the artist, 72.87.Henry Varnum Poor, Landscape with Farm, study for the Land Grant Frescoes, 1939, graphite and pastel. Gift of the artist, 72.87.


In 1939, Henry Varnum Poor accepted a commission to decorate the north wall over Old Main’s grand staircase with a fresco based on Penn State’s founding as a land-grant institution under the Morrill Act of 1862. The painting, completed the following spring, was so successful that plans were made to extend the design to the east and west walls of the balcony level in Old Main’s lobby. World War II intervened, placing the project on hold until March 1948, when Poor returned to campus to work on the east balcony wall. The west wall was begun in November of that same year, and a third visit by the artist, made during the spring of 1949, brought both sites to completion.

Held to celebrate the recent unveiling of the University’s two-year effort to conserve the Land Grant Frescoes, this exhibition features a number of preparatory studies selected from the Palmer Museum’s permanent collection. Chief among these are several drawings of Abraham Lincoln, signer of the Morrill Act, whom Poor featured as the central figure in the north mural, as well as sketches of various Pennsylvania locales made by the artist as he traveled throughout the state prior to developing his final designs for the frescoes.


Marcellus Shale Documentary Project
September 23–December 14, 2014

Martha Rial, "Well flaring in Jefferson Township, Greene County," 2012, digital archival print © Martha Rial.Martha Rial, Well flaring in Jefferson Township, Greene County, 2012, digital archival print © Martha Rial.


The Marcellus Shale Documentary Project features photographic images that tell the personal stories of Pennsylvanians affected by the Marcellus Shale gas industry. By creating a visual document of the environmental, social, and economic impact of the drilling, the work aims to engage communities in the current Marcellus Shale debate while providing important historical images for the future. In capturing images of the people and places most affected by gas drilling, photographers Noah Addis, Nina Berman, Brian Cohen, Scott Goldsmith, Lynn Johnson, and Martha Rial examine both the positive and negative results of the recent boom in the gas industry and how the environment and the communities that live with the resources are being shaped.

The exhibition is augmented by a small selection of photographs by Penn State faculty members John Beale, Katarin Parizek, and Steven Rubin, who have directed considerable energy and talent to documenting the socio-cultural, environmental, and economic effects of natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania. Marcellus Shale Documentary Project will be complemented by a series of exhibitions of student work in several venues across campus and downtown State College, broadening the potential audience, expanding the conversation to multiple disciplines, and promoting critical discourse on sustainability and the extraction of Marcellus Shale. These venues include Borland Gallery (September 23–October 26); Earth and Mineral Sciences Museum and Art Gallery, Deike Buiding (September 23–December 14); Betsy Rodgers Allen Gallery, Schlow Centre Region Library (October 2–26); HUB-Robeson Galleries, Art Alley (October 2–December 7); and University Health Services (October 6–November 30). Collectively titled Storied Images: Marcellus Shale, these satellite exhibitions are supported in part by a Reinvention Fund grant through Penn State’s Sustainability Institute.

The Marcellus Shale Documentary Project was organized by the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, a non-profit community arts campus offering arts education programs and contemporary art exhibitions and providing services and resources for individual artists throughout western Pennsylvania.



Spring 2015

Hidden Mother
January 6–April 26, 2015

Unknown photograph, tintype, 1860s–70s. Collection of Laura Larson.Unknown photographer, tintype, 1860s–70s. Collection of Laura Larson.


Hidden Mother explores a widespread vernacular form of nineteenth-century photography, ranging from the comic, almost slapstick, barring of the mother to more macabre examples of her literal erasure. A practical strategy deployed by the photographer unintentionally yielded an evocative representation of the mother in absentia; never meant to be seen, her presence nonetheless haunts these images.






Song of Myself
January 13–May 10, 2015

Ann Hamilton, "flectere," 2000, Iris print. Gift of Sue Patterson, 2012.49.Ann Hamilton, flectere, 2000, Iris print. Gift of Sue Patterson, 2012.49.


Taking its title from Walt Whitman’s celebratory paean to American democracy, this exhibition of works on paper will bring together a selection of the many individual voices that have contributed to the increasingly pluralistic, culturally heterogeneous art world of the last several decades.




Francisco Goya: Los Caprichos
February 3–May 10, 2015

Francisco Goya, "The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters," plate 43 from "Los Caprichos," 1799, etching and aquatint. Courtesy Landau Traveling Exhibitions.Francisco Goya, The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters, plate 43 from Los Caprichos, 1799, etching and aquatint. Courtesy Landau Traveling Exhibitions.


The exhibition features a first edition of Francisco Goya’s Los Caprichos, a set of eighty etchings dealing with such themes as the Spanish Inquisition, the corruption of the church and the nobility, witchcraft, and child rearing, and featuring a cast of goblins, monks, aristocrats, procuresses, and prostitutes who populate a world on the margins of reason, where no clear boundaries distinguish reality from fantasy. Organized by Landau Traveling Exhibitions, Los Angeles, in association with Denenberg Fine Art, West Hollywood, California.









Summer 2015

Recent Acquisitions
May 5–August 9, 2015

Flora and Fauna
May 19–August 16, 2015

Studio Glass from the Collection of Norbert and Audrey Gaelen
June 23–August 16, 2015


Previous Exhibitions

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