The Environmental Center at the Clarence Schock Memorial Park at Governor Dick plans to have a new artist-in-residence, Karen Beall, for the Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 programs.

Karen Beall has an abundance of experience in public art and has a passion for natural history. Beall loves to collect and study mushrooms and plants that she finds on walks “to serve as sources of inspiration for her sculptural and functional artwork.” She currently teaches as an adjunct art professor at Lebanon Valley College and is the owner of KRB Ceramics Teaching Space and Shop, a teaching studio located on 278 Northwood Drive, Lebanon.

“I had been thinking about doing a public art project at Governor Dick for a while, as I live nearby and frequently hike the park with my family,” Beall said. “Governor Dick is a hidden gem in our area and I wanted my project to help promote its many offerings. I have been teaching art for many years and one of my greatest pleasures is sharing my love of nature and art with others. The park is a perfect place for me to realize an environmental art project involving the public. One day Sally Schach, who works at Governor Dick, sent me a Mt Gretna Council on the Arts grant application, and that is when my ideas started to come together.”

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This program will incorporate two public art projects. “Forest Fable” is the first project and will start in October. 20 pre-registered participants, who will be divided into two groups of ten, will meet at the Environmental Center where Beall will explain the project in detail and assign a tree to each participant. 

Next, there will be a hike with Lebanon Valley College Professor Rebecca Urban to identify and learn about the classifications and types of tree species in the park. Characteristics such as bark, leaf, fruit, leaf bud or twig and flower will be discussed for each tree species. Beall will teach participants the process of making clay tiles using 20 different tree species found in the park. The project will be stationed in the main room of the Environmental Center.

“Once back at the center, the participants will create a composition of the identification markers in a 12-inch diameter circular format,” Beall said. “Each participants circle will include: the botanical name of the tree, a bark print, leaf print, a fruit print, a leaf bud or twig print, and the flower. The elements that are not available to us in the woods at this time of year—such as the flower or fruit—will be represented by a botanical line drawing using a clay surface technique called ‘sgraffitio.’”

When the ceramic pieces are created, Beall plans to take the art back to her studio to do an initial firing in a ceramic kiln. A week later, the participants will come back to glaze their pieces.

“The ceramic pieces will be fired in the kiln again to set the glaze,” Beall said. “Over the winter, I will mount each participant’s work on circular wooden boards and install the finished pieces in the main room of the Environmental Center for the public to enjoy.”

Participants may sign up now for “Forest Fable” Fall Art Celebration on Oct. 3 or 4 from 12:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., and Oct. 10 from 12:30 to 2:00 p.m. The rain dates are Oct. 17 or 18 from 12:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Oct. 24 from 12:30 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. To register for the programs, contact the park at 717-964-3808 no later than 24 hours before the event or e-mail the park at and leave your name and phone number.

In the spring of 2021, the second part of the program will recommence with a project titled “Spring Souvenir.” Participants will hike with the naturalist/executive director, Audrey Wells, to learn about the natural history and the medley of flowers in the park. Afterward, an art program will take place and participants will use spring flowers and plants to create a nature-themed keepsake using clay and glaze to then take home.

“In creating an artist-in-residence program, I would like to use art as an exploratory tool to engage our visitors in a new and meaningful way with the plants located within the park,” Wells said. “By looking at the spring flowers through an artistic lens we hope to build an understanding of the flowers and trees and how they relate to their surrounding landscape. This kind of understanding helps to build environmental knowledge and stewardship among our park visitors.”

For 15 years, the park Environmental Center has offered programs suitable for families including “Story Forest” in the summer, “Toddlers in Tow” in the spring and fall, Fitness Hikes, Golden Eagle hikes for adults over 50, natural history walks, and school environmental education programs.  Starting next year, the center plans to present art programming, as well as an educational series that utilizes the accessible boardwalk trail that was introduced to the center in 2019. The 315-foot length boardwalk is accessible for anyone with limited mobility or using a wheelchair.

Photo Story: Taking a fall foliage hike up to Governor Dick Observation Tower

Clarence Schock Memorial Park at Governor Dick is located at 3283 Pinch Rd, ​Mt Gretna. The Environmental Center Coordinates are 40 ° 14’ 14.72” N – 76°  27’ 31.22”W. The Environmental Center hours are Wednesday to Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Sunday from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The artist-in-residence program is fully funded by a grant from the Mt. Gretna Arts Council. There is no fee to take part in the program. All who attend the events are asked to practice social distancing. Visit the park’s website to view all upcoming events, programs and further details.

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