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Around the Factory with artist Beth Hoschar

December 24, 2011
By BRIAN BUSH ( , Williamsport Sun-Gazette

Beth Hoschar has been making art in Studio 42 of the Pajama Factory, 1307 Park Ave., since August 2010.

"I was the first person to rent these walls," she said.

In the past two years, Hoschar has made the space very much her own. Her work occupies virtually every surface of the studio - walls, ceiling, desk, shelves, floor.

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Hoschar works in a range of mediums: painting, pencil drawing, photography, sculpture, jewelry and spray paint, to name a few.

"I can never stick with anything for too long," Hoschar said. "If I find a new way to make things, then I mess around with it for a little bit and then move onto something else that's interesting. I've always been interested in art, but I haven't yet found something that I love and want to do all the time, like some people paint all the time, or sculpt. I just love making things."

Hoschar's work is so varied in terms of subject and medium, that she had difficulty talking about her work as a whole.

"I don't know how I could sum it up," she said. "I like color and I like words. Music really inspires me. I know everybody says that, but it's true for me. I don't have the ability to write music, but a lot of my drawings have song lyrics in them that are kind of coded, stretched out and warped so that you can't really read it right away; it's not right there in front of you."

Hoschar indicated one such piece: a skateboard deck she had painted with a distorted line of words, a sentence, that took a minute to decipher.

" 'Many men can't see the open road,' " Hoschar said helpfully. "Led Zeppelin."

Her work has been described as "organized chaos," a label Hoschar says is accurate in terms of her working method.

"That's definitely how it goes. I can't sit down and work on a project until it's finished. I have about 10 open projects I'm working on at any given time. If this one's drying or I don't know what to do next, I can just move on to the next one."

Hoschar doesn't have an established working routine, in part, because she wants every new project to dictate its own routine and method of production.

"I don't really have a process of making things," she said. "It's always a learning experience for me."

Hoschar pointed to a small, spray-painted canvas resting against her studio wall.

"That's my first attempt at freehand spray painting," she said. "It's not at all finished, but I'm just learning how to use spray paint. I'm always learning about some new medium. That's how I want it."

The octopus is a recurring motif in Hoschar's work and studio. The more you look around, the more you find - the tentacled Ikea drying racks hanging from the ceiling, her series of seven octopus paintings scattered about the walls and bookshelves of her studio, the abstract marker drawings of what look very much like tentacles. Hoschar said she's always been drawn to the octopus. When she turned 18, Hoschar got her first tattoo - an octopus.

"I don't know what it is about octopuses," she said. "They're strange, sexy, creepy things. It's a weird obsession that I have."

Hoschar has shown some of her photography in downtown venues, but says she doesn't have a strong desire to exhibit her work because, as she modestly put it, "I don't really feel like my work is up to the caliber where I could put it in a gallery or put a price tag on it."

Although many would disagree with her on that point, there is another reason Hoschar is hesitant to exhibit.

"I think art should be free," she said. "I open up my studio whenever I'm here to let people come in and look around, but I haven't really sold anything since I've been here."

Hoschar's free-art ethos is partly inspired by one of her favorite artistic movements: graffiti and street art.

"I'm really interested in both," she said. "It's out there and there's no censorship or anything. That's really inspiring to me. And it's free to everyone. I wouldn't call art a job. It's not work for me. I would never want to have to depend on selling paintings so that I could eat dinner, because then it becomes work and isn't fun anymore."

Born in Ohio, Hoschar moved to Tennessee and lived near Nashville until she was 8, when her family relocated to Williamsport.

"I've been here ever since," Hoschar said. "So, I'd call Williamsport my hometown."

As someone who has spent much of her life here, Hoschar was excited to witness the art scene that has grown up around Williamsport in recent years, and especially thrilled about the opening of the Pajama Factory. "It's really awesome," Hoschar said. "Everybody who comes in here on First Fridays always says how great this building is. You can't really describe it enough to express how great it is to have a place where all these creative minds can meet, work and discuss ideas."

Hoschar said that being a Pajama Factory tenant has been a benefit to her work.

"Having a studio here has definitely been inspiring in terms of trying new mediums," she said. "You can walk down the hallway and get inspired by a photograph, a painting or by what other people are working on. I've definitely started creating more artwork since I've been here because I actually have the space to do it. When I'm here, I'm here to paint and do work. I'm here to focus and get my stuff done."

When she's not in her studio, Hoschar works at a day care. She says her job is a great source of inspiration.

"I work with 2 to 4 year olds," Hoschar said. "It's definitely something new every day and pretty inspiring, too. Just the way they view the world - it's so untainted, it's such an innocent way of seeing."

That childlike perspective is present both in Hoschar's work and in the way she goes about making it. Hoschar called herself a "self-trained artist," a label which seems especially appropriate given her emphasis on exploring new mediums and ensuring that her work is always a learning experience. Hoschar is always learning, always in-training, and so she is always coming to her work with a fresh perspective and an innocent eye.



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