Tag Archives: The Burg

You Saved HACC Arts: Shawna Purdy-Beaver & Ariana Bronson

How profound it is to be resilient… Thanks to the students who took time to share their stories with me. Thank you for demonstrating strength in community and the value of art. And thank you to HACC for listening to the needs of your students and community.

You saved HACC Arts.

A few weeks ago, students and professors at Harrisburg Area Community College quickly took action, organized, and worked with the college’s administration to restore arts courses that had recently been removed from the curriculum.

Due to their efforts, five of the six courses have been reinstated for the Fall 2018 class schedule and HACC’s President, Dr. John “Ski” Sygielski, has promised that the college will continue to better assess the needs of it’s students.


I spent time with some of the students who are not only enrolled currently in those classes, but are part of a tight-knit community of makers thriving and supporting each other through the arts programs at HACC. As of Wednesday, they are relieved and excited to continue their arts education here at the community college.

Shawna Purdy-Beaver throwing in the ceramics studio at HACC. March, 2018.

Shawna Purdy-Beaver originally worked as a hairdresser and hair educator in Harrisburg. In 2013, after owning two different salons, raising her children, and getting married, she decided to go back to school. Shawna started taking photography courses at HACC… which led her to explore glass art and eventually, ceramics as well. “I fell in love with ceramics!” she states passionately.

Shawna hopes to eventually open an arts center. She has always loved to teach and is fervent about the ‘desire in [her] heart’ to open a place in Harrisburg where people of all ages can come to learn to be makers of art. Agency through art and the programs at HACC helped her discover her own gifts and she wants to help others do the same. “When you get involved in the arts you always hear people say, ‘I always wanted to try that…,’ and I want to have a place where people can try it. I don’t care if you’re 80 or 95 [years old],” she says, “come on in here. We’ll find you a slow wheel and some soft clay and we’ll teach you how to throw.”

Ariana Bronson shows her classmates, Megan Caruso and Allanah Green, the progress she has made experimenting with crystalline glazes in the ceramics studio at HACC. March, 2018.

Ariana Bronson was homeschooled and cyber-schooled before coming to HACC to study ceramics in the Fall of 2015. Ari comes from a family that cherishes the arts and, as a result, states that she has, “always had a tactile sense of learning.” Acknowledging the cost of tuition at four year institutions and hoping to avoid extraneous debt, she values her education and resources here at the community college. A large portion of her time in the studio is dedicated to experimenting with and developing her own crystalline glazes and building a portfolio to apply to four year schools to pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts.

“I’ve been president of the ceramics club at HACC for the past two years,” she says. “It has been what I consider to be one of the most valuable learning experiences in my life so far. The sense of community that we have and share is like no other.”

The Burg, The General, & Frank McManus

Did you see this month’s The Burg?! So excited to see my portrait of Harrisburg Receiver, Bill Lynch on the cover!

The General was definitely the most personable political figurehead I’ve ever met. He’s a pretty fascinating person. Good images and great chats. Or, let’s put it this way, I haven’t been lacking interesting subjects!

The Burg also revisited one of my photos of Frank McManus this month. But of course, I love seeing Frank get local support! I’m biased! He’s my friend! But he’s also an incredible artist. If you haven’t seen his work, you should probably check it out.

Cheers, Harrisburg!

Art & Enterprise: Harrisburg’s Entrepreneur Pipeline

Once again, Ole Dan Webster found something right up my alley… A photo story about the serge of young entrepreneurs in Harrisburg and their community collaboration. They’re our local go-getters, movers and shakers, friends, loves, and neighbors. Perhaps you’ve already seen some them in my blog. Maybe you already caught wind of the article by Dan Webster and myself in this month’s The Burg.

“…the artist in each of them should not belie the strong acumen they have for business here in Harrisburg, and as a community, we would do well to keep these folks here for a long time, so we can continue to catalyze and empower this growing paradigm of enterprisers.”

Indeed, Webster.

And here they are:

The Stash ladies Jes Flynn, Jen Merrill, Haley Harned, and Anela Selkowitz hangin’ at Little Amps with Alan Wycheck, Anela’s other business partner from Studio A.

… and high-fives from Liz Laribee.Steph Perry from Yellow Bird Cafe joining this jolly group.Anela doing her thing… Shooting photos.Ammon Perry from Yellow Bird Cafe, Peter Allan from Little Amps, and Adam Brackbill from St@rt  Up Harrisburg getting fresh cuts from Mike Lawler at Lords & Ladies.Peter Allan knows that everyone should have a copy of the last issue of Local: A Quarterly of People and Places.Steph and Ammon Perry checking out the display at the Homegrown Market with Liz Laribee.Liz and Peter getting work done at St@rt Up Harrisburg.Well, maybe with a little distraction from Adam…Adam Brackbill about to crush an awesome sandwich at Yellow Bird Cafe…And last but not least, Aaron Carlson getting dressed in the best by Jes and Anela.

HOT DOG! Another Harrisburg photoing success!



Today’s the day, Harrisburg.  Today is always a good day to work towards making this city better.  And there is a groundswell of positive people in Harrisburg that are here to be the movers and shakers that will hit the ground running, rebuild, incite action, and maintain the good things happening here.

Tara Leo Auchey is the creator and editor of today’s the day Harrisburg, an online community news publication.  Through ttdHBG, she aims to “facilitate the free exchange of news, ideas, and calls to action which better the City of Harrisburg in any way.”  She writes a column for PennLive and the Patriot News called “Q&A with tla,” where people can ask questions pertaining to the City of Harrisburg and she will develop an informed, mindful answer.  Tara also writes monthly for The Burg Magazine and you can find past articles she’s written on the Roxbury News website.

Boiled down, she’s here to spread good the vibe.

Here is Tara in real life: