YORK COUNTY — Whether you’re on the hunt for a new masterpiece, or simply looking for local artistic inspiration, On the Hill Gallery offers two-dimensional and three-dimensional art for sale that’s created by hometown artists. The gallery is nestled in the heart of Historic Yorktown at 402 Main Street in the Burcher Cottage.
The gallery is operated by the Yorktown Arts Foundation (YAF), a non-profit organization that’s been in existence since 1975. The foundation was initially created by the Arts Committee of the York County Bicentennial Committee and ignited by their shared interest of supporting the arts for citizens of York County and its neighbors.
YAF has operated an art center hub and gallery since it’s establishment. Initially, the Yorktown Creative Arts Center was operating from a building on Church Street in Historic Yorktown. They’ve had a few different locations and name changes along the way.
The gallery has been at its current location since spring 2014. Prior to that, they were known as Gallery on the York with a storefront located off of George Memorial Highway from 2003 to 2013. From 1981 to 2003, the gallery was named On The Hill Cultural Arts Center and located at the corner of Ballard Street and Alexander Hamilton Boulevard in Historic Yorktown, which is now occupied by York County Tourism Development.
“Our goal is to promote an appreciation of the arts locally by providing a venue for art sales by local artists, along with art education and art outreach,” said Lisa Trichel-Beavers, current president of YAF and clay artist.
Each month, On the Hill Gallery features artists in the categories of the two- and three-dimensional art, as well as a third category of jewelry. Two-dimensional arts includes watercolor, oil, acrylic, drawing, encaustic, mixed media, printmaking and stained glass. Three-dimensional art includes clay and porcelain pottery and sculpture, fiber arts, basketry, decorative painted items, woodworking, and metal art, for example.
Trichel-Beavers’ interest in working with clay was inspired by trips to art shows as a child. She always found herself memorized by the artists throwing clay on the wheel. She obtained a degree in sculpture and opened StoneLace Pottery, where she currently works as a full-time artist when she’s not at the gallery. Her art is currently on display as the three-dimensional featured artist for the month of August. Trichel-Beavers’ current specialty is Raku.
Tenley Raithel was featured as the two-dimensional artist at On the Hill Gallery for the month of July.
After a fulfilling 23-year career as an educator, Raithel retired from York County School Division as a kindergarten teacher, recently achieving her dream of being full-time artist as well. Her medium is painting, and she works in natural flora and fauna, or images found in the natural world, such as animals and plants. Her exhibit displayed acrylic paint on historic slates.
While walking around Historic Yorktown, Raithel noticed some discarded slates that had once resided on the rooftop of Grace Episcopal Church. She was granted permission to take the slates by the church’s reverend at the time and feels a personal commitment to keeping them local.
“If I have a show, and it’s outside of Yorktown, I don’t sell the slates because I think the significance of them will be lost. Those aren’t just any old slates; those are Grace Episcopal Church’s slates. Even though I’m not a member of the church, I appreciate their historic value,” said Raithel. Due to the pandemic, Raithel had a lot of time to paint and has sold about 100 slates.
With roughly 35 current artists, those who feature their work at the gallery are required to volunteer six hours per month. Volunteer hours can be fulfilled by working in the gallery, writing newsletters, flyer design and website maintenance, to name a few. The gallery artists’ backgrounds are as varied as their artwork; some are veterans, psychologists, homemakers and professional photographers.
A former teacher, York County Board of Supervisors member and politician, longtime YAF member Shirley Cooper fulfilled her volunteer hours in June by running a free summer camp that revamped the Revolutionary War mural that runs parallel to Grace Episcopal Church and it’s cemetery on Read Street in Historic Yorktown.
Cooper reached out to Danielle Day, the art teacher at York Middle School, to solicit the talent. In addition to two Tabb High School students who assisted, Day gathered about 10 former Yorktown Middle School students to help with the repainting and sealing of the mural.
“It took them a week and two days from about 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. to repaint and seal the mural. They painted the wall from the top to the bottom and added a Drum and Fife Corps silhouette to it that wasn’t originally there,” said Cooper. The students signed the wall to commemorate their historical contribution.
Cooper said the project was funded by a $3,000 grant from the County of York and a $2,000 donation from Spain Commercial Inc. “As you can imagine, we are very appreciative of the grant donations that made the project possible.”
Though the free 2021 summer camps have come to a close, the gallery hopes to offer adult and children’s classes soon and are formulating a schedule. The gallery’s hosting its Third Annual Veterans’ Art Show Nov. 3-20. It will showcase artwork from active duty military and veterans in a juried show that offers first, second and third place awards. With no entry fee required, the exhibit is free and open to the public. The categories offered are two-dimensional art, three-dimensional art and photography.
YAF members receive free admission to participate in all shows sponsored by the foundation along with access to members-only events, class discounts, special events and a 10% discount on gallery merchandise. The gallery sales commission is 65% to the artist, and 35% to the gallery.
In order for artists to display their works in the gallery, they must be juried in and accepted for a gallery display. YAF membership is open to the non-artist public as well. Memberships cost $40 for an individual, $50 for a family, and $10 for students.
For more information, visit On the Hill Gallery’s website, Facebook page or call them at (757) 369-1108. Hours of operation are from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday; and noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays.