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Synergy and Connection
Nineteenth Musing

by Ms. Terious


Synergy occurs many different ways in various situations and is closely related to connectivity. A recent example is the annual Figuratively Speaking members’ exhibit at the Art Association of Harrisburg with Debbie Smith, owner of The Smith Gallery & Fine Custom Framing, judging the exhibit of more than 125 pieces of art ranging from oil, acrylic, mixed media, watercolor, photography, to sculpture.

Debbie explains the synergy and connectivity with Carrie Wissler Thomas, President and CEO of the Art Association of Harrisburg (AAH). The women have known each other for quite a few years but only recently made that synergistic connection that I speak of in this musing.  Carrie exhibited a piece of her art in  The Smith Gallery’s Reflections show, celebrating Debbie’s twenty-fifty anniversary as owner of The Smith Gallery and Fine Custom Framing. After this, Carrie asked Debbie to judge this year’s Members’ Show, Figuratively Speaking. Later this year Carrie will be part of a two-person exhibit, also featuring Jonathan Frazier, that is scheduled to open on November 7th at The Smith Gallery. Debbie has created Art Talks videos with Carrie and Jonathan on her YouTube channel, ArtTalks2U, creating more levels connecting gallerists, viewers, and artists within our community.

Art Talks with Carrie Wissler-Thomas and Jonathan Frazier are both out now!

Some artists exhibiting at the members’ show at AAH are framing customers of her gallery. When choosing framing for a piece, the artist and the framer work together to create the synergy of the combination of the frame and the piece of art that will elevate the painting to a further level. Some of the artists exhibiting in this show have also shown at The Smith Gallery, while some artists were new to Debbie with new connections being made through this exhibit. All these connections create synergy not only for the artists, but also for everyone else involved in the process, whether by viewing or being part of the curatorial team.

Debbie states that this synergy created by viewing and working with various artists plays perfectly into her theory of connectivity and how these connections morph into something that is bigger than the separate acquaintances that have been made.

Debbie talks about the role that Carrie and the AAH have in assisting new artists learning about the ‘art scene’ and getting a foundation in the arts in our area by assisting them to be the best they can be. Established artists also create more visibility for their work by teaching classes, assisting at openings, volunteering at AAH, and taking time to discuss art with viewers who stop by to see the exhibits. This camaraderie and connectivity are other examples of how synergy is developed by various artists, galleries, art students, and viewers.

Debbie goes on to mention that both she and Carrie are gallerists who often exhibit art created by the same local artists and by working together in this endeavor they can elevate artists, putting art forward in various settings for public view.

Debbie explains that while looking at art it is important to think about what goes into creating a piece of art and the various steps needed after creation in order for the art to be publicly viewed. She goes on to say that viewing all of these different artworks gathered around the same theme and displayed in one space create a synergistic atmosphere around the idea of the human figure.

Explaining her role in judging, Debbie states that her decisions were based on composition, use of the theme Figuratively Speaking, her own personal reaction to the piece, but also, based on her years as a gallerist, her feelings on how others might also view the piece. It was necessary for her to take herself out of the mix and try to view the piece as others might, which is quite hard to do! She states that the entire process was very daunting as one is surrounded by absolutely beautiful art but only one piece in each category can be the winner.

In discussing the judging of the exhibit, Debbie also spoke of ephemerality and how that may have a role in viewing and judging art. When one looks at a piece of art, there may be a very distinct first impression. This first impression will morph into something larger as the viewer studies the piece. But there is also the possibility that depending on the day when a piece is viewed an impression may change depending on the viewer’s emotions, the play of light on the painting, or even the setting. A piece of art that you own can become a friend which you share all of your emotions and moods with as the painting reflects this back to you and creates another synergistic connection in your life.

Congratulations to the following winners in AAH’s annual Figuratively Speaking members’ exhibit.

Best of Show:

Eyes of My Beholder by Marina Radanovic


1st place:  Out and About by Michael McCord.

2nd place:  Roommate by Bethany Endicott Gill


1st place: Beth at Rest by Jeff Wiles

2nd place: Color Me II by Brad Maurer

Pastels & Drawings:

1st place: The move to Suburbia: Hercules’ New Labours (Labour #4) by Steve Pearson

 2nd place: The Skeptic by Mindy Deardorff


1st place: Il Mullatierre by Lina Ferrara

2nd place:

Olivia by Jude Stein

Honorable Mention:

Always We Begin Again by John McNulty


1st place:

Stripe by Jeff Bye

2nd place:

Hat Dance by Biruta Hansen

Other Media:

1st place:

Guadalupe is a Girl Gang Leader in Heaven by Josephin Alexander

Sculpture & Ceramics:

1st place:

Beached Mermaid by Avery Swope

If you have not as yet visited the Figuratively Speaking exhibit at AAH, it is a must-see show. The exhibit will be up until February 13th.

Artists whose works have been showcased here are: Carrie Wissler-Thomas, Jonathan Frazier, Maria Radanovic, Michael McCord, Jeff Wiles, Steve Pearson, Lina Ferrara, Jude Stein, Josephin Alexander, and Avery Swope.

Please visit the The Smith Gallery to view more art by these artists and many other talented artists and view our ArtTalks videos for conversations with artists.

Stay tuned for the next musing discussing the synergistic relationship between an artist and a gallery.


The Tenth Muse was created to give inspiration, information and confidence to the reader.

This publication celebrates The Tenth Muse that is alive in all of us! She gives us the confidence to embrace going beyond the nine original muses.

Ms. Terious explores many subjects related to art and framing that can be used in the real world as you explore your own personal tastes and experiences without boundaries.

See all Tenth Muse articles