About Us

History

In 2001 Laura Flynn of Our Towns: 2010 and Judy Olinsky of the Williamsport Main Street Committee joined forces to start an art event called First Friday. Each First Friday of the month downtown Williamsport would celebrate the arts with musicians and visual artists, showcasing their art in coffee shops and galleries and even on the streets! Artists Jeane Ryersbach, Lynne Maietta, and Ricki Moler were a driving force in "wanting more art in downtown Williamsport." They had already started to create this reality working through the Coalition for Independent Artist and Artisans (CIAA) with poet Penny Austin by displaying art in The Coffee and Tea Room. Soon Moler, Maietta, Ryerbach, Flynn and Olinsky were joined by Bernie Katz of the Williamsport Merchants and Business Association in forming the First Friday Committee. The committee added gallery openings, musicians and other performers to their list and First Friday took off. As a result of the work of this committee, a high school gallery, a college gallery, a grade school gallery and an annual regional juried street art show were created.

Soon after the launch of First Friday, Moler developed a program called Air/Scape (Artist in Residence/ Small City Art Program) through which the committee gave an artist a grant to create a small piece of public art on First Friday. New public art started to appear all over downtown Williamsport. People in the community began talking about public art and became interested in murals. The First Friday Committee brought speakers to town for seminars about public art and murals and mural artist Michael Pilato was invited to create 'Lycoming County: Inspiration The Mural'. Because the mural planned to show the story of the history of Williamsport, many different groups in Williamsport became involved in funding its creation. The Chamber of Commerce and Our Towns: 2010 were lead partners in the mural project and held a major fundraising party called Mural Madness where over $40,000 was raised. 'Lycoming County: Inspiration' can be seen across from the Community Arts Center, 4th Street, on the walls of The Bullfrog Brewery and the Public Art Academy.

Some of the women who were behind Mural Madness, including Laura Flynn, Linda Schultz, Karen Pinsonnoneault, Molly Logue, Yvonne Roskowski, Tania Thomas, and Sharon Clapper, had a great time working together for the arts. They decided they wanted to stay together and continue having "fun with art." Laura Flynn invited her old art buddy Judy Olinsky to join them and Public ARTWORKS', a committee whose mission was to bring public art to Lycoming county, was born. Wanting to partner with others in the community, the group invited Mark Murawksi, Lycoming County Transportation Planner, and Roseanne Pelleshii, on staff with the United Way; Public ARTWORKS' first project was a wood sculpture for the regional airport. Looking for a second project, members of the group were surprised to discover that Williamsport already had a sizeable collection of public art, so they decided to publish a downtown walking art tour map. When the new pieces from First Friday were added to that collection there was enough art to create an hour-long walking tour.

The Our Towns history of working with the county to bring about the creation of the Riverwalk made Public ARTWORKS the logical group to add a sculpture park to the River Walk. This is now the current project, and Murawski, who was in charge of the River Walk project, continues to be involved. County planner Rochelle Ricotta brought Timber Trail money to the project, which enabled the addition of benches, trail markers and the first piece of art. Regional artist Pam Barner created the bronze lumberjack titled Woodhick. Sandy Hill and Laura Jannsen are the most recent members of Public ARTWORKS. The group continues writing grants, fundraising and has issued a Call to Artists to find the next pieces of art for the River Walk Sculpture Park.

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