With museums shuttered and galleries closed, many of us have headed outdoors, and much to our delight, we can turn to public art to fill the void.
Most notably, for the past few weeks, Carlisle artist Aron Rook could be found at the JFC Staffing Companies building on the corner of West High and North Pitt streets. Slowly emerging from her paintbrushes is a tiger of vibrant color proclaiming “Resilience,” a message not only inspirational but also timely.
Rook began mural painting with international mural artist Ruben Agguirre in Chicago, serving as an apprentice on several of his projects. She not only counts Agguirre as one of her favorite artists, but he’s also been a mentor and friend to her. Since then, Rook has had the opportunity to produce murals throughout Central Pennsylvania.
Her work can be found in Harrisburg, in the downtown on 2nd Street, as well as in midtown on the Harrisburg Midtown Arts Center (HMAC) building. Additionally, her murals are found in Carlisle with a “Big Lebowski” tribute on the Midway Bowling Alley deck and with a rainbow-colored owl in flight in York at The Parliament Arts Organization. She also hints that she has another project brewing in nearby Gettysburg.
Rook’s work is easily identified through her striking use of bright “Pop” color, as well as the sense of movement and fluidity in her style.
Though she is an artist who works in several media, Rook described being “drawn” to murals, finding it to be a challenge to work on such large projects.
“I think people need to see art ... art of all kinds,” she said. “A mural is a public expression of art that’s available to every single person in the community.”
Her current mural came about after she received a grant through the Community Partners Program to paint murals throughout Carlisle. Since the pandemic and sheltering in place orders, she sought to offer a mural that helps lift morale, hence the tiger in tribute to the “Resilience” that exists within each of us in the face of life’s challenges.
Rook seeks to work with more small businesses and building owners to scatter her art around the borough for the community to find when these difficult times end.
“The Carlisle community is my hometown and has been an incredible force of support over the years,” she said. “This project is an endeavor to give back and support my community as it has supported me over the years.”
She references a study by the Center for Community and Economic Development, in central Arkansas, citing that “murals revitalize communities and aid in economic development.” To those ends, Rook said, “I like playing my part in helping Carlisle prosper.”
Rook and sponsor, The Charles Bruce Foundation, are looking for property owners and business persons who are “on board” with the vision for these artistic messages of hope and congratulations to the Carlisle community using Rook’s unique artistic interpretation. Because of the special opportunity afforded by the grant, an individual or business can have a mural at a much lower cost than a privately commissioned mural. Interested property owners should contact the Charles Bruce Foundation at 207-671-0190 for more information.
Rook will be finishing up the North Pitt Street mural this week, and notes that though there are already a few other places that are on the list to complete, she continues to seek out more locations throughout Carlisle to share her public art gifts.
Though many venues for art are on hiatus, the need for art has not been canceled, in fact, it has been magnified. Rook’s art proves to be both uplifting in message and imagery. Her bright, positive mural speaks to optimism for our current, troubling times and an inspiration to those who seek beauty in the everyday experience.
For more information on the work of Aron Rook, and to see more of her art, visit “Aron Rook Art” on Facebook and Instagram.
Joseph George holds a degree in history and art history from Dickinson College. He and his wife, Barrie Ann have spent over 30 years together traveling and visiting art galleries locally and throughout the world. They have been writing about the local art scene for seven years. Their tastes range from fine art to street art.
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