A living art piece will inhabit Mount Gretna this summer as its wings transform from lush greenery into tropical florals.

Mount Gretna’s Luna Moth made its first appearance of the season during a press party Saturday afternoon. Live music from a strolling violinist and bubbles from a machine contributed to the ambience of the event.

This year marks the 50th year of the Mount Gretna Outdoor Art Show. “With Lebanon proclaiming 2024 the Year of the Arts in honor of the show, we’re doing all kinds of celebratory events, community-based art,” Mount Gretna Outdoor Art Show director Kerry Royer told LebTown.

As part of the Year of the Arts’ festivities, Visit Lebanon Valley and Mount Gretna Outdoor Art Show commissioned Ryan Fretz to conceptualize and construct the living art piece installed in front of the Mount Gretna Playhouse.

Throughout the season, visitors are welcome to pose with the set of wings for the camera and share the pictures using #lebanonvalleyarts on social media platforms.

Mount Gretna’s Luna Moth. (Lexi Gonzalez)

In a LebTown-exclusive interview, Fretz, an artist native to Mount Gretna, said that the living art piece involved a collaboration with Royer.

“It was a good bit of back and forth,” Fretz said. “Initially, I was kind of reluctant to do a wing art piece because it’s been so done. But she convinced me that if I make it my own and make it unique, it could be something special.”

Fretz mentioned seeing neon angel wings illuminated by neon lights while eating at a restaurant as well as seeing wings made up of pizza slices at another place. Like the luna moth, his version of a wing art piece strays from the ubiquitous.

“The moss is wrapped around basically a foam board that has … a layer of felt in there,” Fretz said of the living art piece’s design. “And it will have to be kept alive by keeping it wet. So, it’ll be misted daily. I’ll be building an irrigation system into it.”

“There’s a four-tier planter box in the background,” he added. “It’s currently just staged with a bunch of plants from my place. And I’m going to swap that out with tropical plants that over the summer, it’ll all fill out and be very colorful.”

Sustainability was a large aspect of the piece’s design, with Fretz disassembling wood pallets that others were getting rid of and using scrap wood to build the planter box. The foam board, felt, and screws were the only supplies he said he used that were not scavenged or recycled.

Fretz said that he started working on the initial stages of the piece this past winter and completed an extensive amount of work the week leading up to its unveiling. A drumroll and countdown predeced the removal of the white sheet from the luna moth’s wings during the press party.

While he keeps track of his hours, Fretz said that he is reluctant to know the total “because I have a tendency to get carried away on details and I kind of lose track of time while I’m working.” However, he estimated that he put at least 40 hours of work into the living art piece, with the installation of the moss last week being especially time-consuming.

When asked what’s next, Fretz said, “It’s probably too soon to talk about my next big project. I have contracts signed, but possibly doing something large at the Renaissance Faire.”

The strolling violinist at the press party Saturday. (Lexi Gonzalez)

“I’m just so pleased of the beautiful day and the group of people that came out to support this event. It’s important to highlight the arts, and they don’t always get first billing,” Visit Lebanon Valley president Jennifer Kuzo told LebTown. “And when we don’t always think that there’s a lot for people to do in the Lebanon Valley, when you highlight all of the music and the theater and the painting and the visual arts, … there’s quite a bit.”

Following the press party, Mount Gretna held its second annual summer kickoff, which provided attendees with the opportunity to learn about local organizations’ summer happenings while enjoying live entertainment, food trucks, vendors, and an auction.

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Lexi Gonzalez has worked as a reporter with LebTown since 2020. She is a Lancaster native and became acquainted with Lebanon while she earned her bachelor's degree at Lebanon Valley College.


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