An Intern in the Gallery

Lancaster’s City Hall building is a lot of things: a beautiful example of our city’s historic architecture. Conveniently located downtown near plenty of places I can buy coffee - home to our awesome city officials. But did you know that City Hall is also home to an art gallery?

When the City Hall Annex was finished in 2014, The City decided to set aside space on the first floor to feature rotating exhibits by local artists. The fact that the Gallery exists at all really shows the City’s commitment to supporting Lancaster’s arts scene. Anyone interested in being featured is welcome to submit a sample of their work and an artist’s statement, and anyone at all interested in art is welcome to come and check out the Gallery. If I were you, I would make a point of doing that soon, because you don’t want to miss the current exhibit “Home,” by long-time Lancaster arts-force Angie Hohenadel.

“Home” is an exhibit of prints and paint-and-ink renderings and reimagining’s of Lancaster. The colors muted, the lines playful, Hohenadel chiefly builds houses and plants into the exhibit’s key motifs. The homes evoke a quiet, domestic life, while the gardens and plants represent growth in its general form, good or bad, organic or unnatural. The cityscapes Hohenadel depicts are completely free of people. We see the containers of human life, but not the humans. In dwelling purely upon these dwelling-spaces, then, the viewer is left with their own meditations, their own memories, nostalgia, and ideas of the future, to make Hohenadel’s houses feel like “Home.”

I, Office of Public Art intern (alas, for only a week longer), was lucky enough to take in the whole City Hall Gallery experience from soup to nuts. That is, from taking down the old exhibit—a really stellar series of photographs taken by Lancaster Country Day students from a class trip to Rome—to arranging, hanging, and eventually hosting the First Friday reception of, Angie’s exhibit. I helped Tracy Beyl, our Public Art Manager to the stars, Angie, and the City carpenter Lee Smith (yes, we have a City carpenter) install “Home” on the first of July.

I’m an American Studies major, reader, and I had never worked in an art gallery before. I had never even considered I would ever work in an art gallery. That’s not out of any opposition to galleries, of course, just more of a polite awareness that I was never really meant for them, perhaps the same way I innately understood to stay away from athletics after I got a concussion in marching band. But from one relative civilian in the art world to another, I’m going to let you in on something about galleries. I am here to tell you that galleries are WORK. You may stroll along a wall of glassy, perfectly-level paintings freely, blissful and arrogant in your ignorance, but I? I will never take those meticulously-spaced frames for granted again. You do not know how much math, measuring, and patience go into each one of those spaces, trust me.

But the mathematics aside, I can’t stress how enjoyable it was to be a part of the City Hall Gallery. Getting to help out with “Home”— meeting Angie and being seriously impressed, informing Lee while he hung the paintings that they were crooked, doing very little to fix that problem myself, getting to look oh-so-professional at the opening reception in July—was such a treat. I’m lucky I got this crash-course. I’m grateful I got to have this experience.

The City Hall Gallery shows rotate every two months. “Home” is going to stay up until September, so August is your chance to take in this killer exhibit and treat yourself. Remember, the Gallery is free and open to all on every First Friday, and there’s even a reception where you can meet great artists like Angie, eat some cookies, and enjoy the general aura of good, arty vibes here. Next time you’re downtown, experience this great exhibit for yourself, and see just one bit of what makes our City Hall—and really, our city—so cool.