Our Mountain High Arts Scene

by | May 2, 2018 | News

Ahhh…the first 70-degree day in the First Frontier. It’s the time of year when we here start closing-down streets. That makes it easier for us to draw, paint, act, play, sculpt, sing, dance – generally get together and celebrate the change of seasons.

This month the new Arts Altoona group kicked things off by taking its grassroots art scene literally to the streets. Street artists – trained and untrained, young and old – tackled building size canvases and picket fences alike, adding color and perspectives not seen on certain corners for many years. A piano player dressed in a shark outfit performed a solo jam while remote controlled cars competed on an otherwise empty lot. If that scene seems kind of funky to you – it was – and we liked it. Arts Altoona is helping to engage the avant-garde, organic, democratic side of the First Frontier’s emerging art scene.

Those of us living and working here have tons of ways to engage in the Arts. Since 1906 the Mishler Theater has stood as our nationally recognized grand stage and home to the established arts groups such as the Altoona Community Theater, Allegheny Ballet, Blair Concert Chorale, Family Theater productions, and the Altoona Symphony Orchestra. Since 1966 the Blair County Arts Foundation (BCAF) has served as sole owner, box office operator of the Mishler, and is working to ensure the building provides those in the seats with its original “wow” factor. There is more “wow” there now than ever. All proceeds from the BCAF annual Blair County Arts Festival – which is set for May 19 – 20 this year at Penn State Altoona – goes towards that goal – all of them, like 100 percent.

For the visual arts lover, the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art (SAMA) captures both local and national artists’ works in a setting that rivals the best in any big city. SAMA’s summer gala – slated July 21 this year – has become a mid-summer tradition for many who look for a reason to wear that red tux with tie-dye bow tie. Yes, we really do wear that.

Getting them started young is important to us. Again this year, we here at the Altoona Blair County Development Corporation are proud sponsors of the Isaac Awards. The mission of the Isaac’s is to encourage & support excellence in high school musical theatre in our region through an annual awards event that recognizes student achievement. The 2018 Isaac Awards for High School Musicals are scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, May 26 and 27, 7:30 p.m. at the Mishler Theatre. There will be 20 schools participating from six counties.  To see the list, click on the Calendar of High School Musicals.

So, there you have it.  Consider yourself warned. Roads around these parts may be closed from time to time. Could be some music, art and food being served. Get out of your car and check out what may be the weird, beautiful, brilliant, off-beat, funky, classic, but always interesting side of the arts in the First Frontier.


WPSU’s coverage of the Arts Altoona Event (click here)

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