Art patron and city native Elias Janetias loves Williamsport and wanted to commission an artwork that captured the beauty of the city and the area.
"There's a universal feeling that everyone from the Williamsport area has when they round the mountain on [Route] 15 and when they see the valley ... a feeling that they're home," he said. "I thought that having that captured in a painting would be interesting."
Janetias, who now lives in Boca Raton, Fla., thought that Bloomsburg University Assistant Professor of Printmaking and Pajama Factory tenant Chad Andrews would be the right person for the job.
Bloomsburg University Assistant Professor of Printmaking Chad Andrews is seen working on “Upward Over the Mountain,”?a large painting-in-progress that will be on display in the Allen Hall Gallery at Mansfield University from Nov. 1 to 26.
"I come up to Williamsport a couple of times a year and I met Chad a couple of years ago," Janetias said. "I bought some of his work and I felt that he was a really talented artist."
Andrews happened to be looking for an opportunity to produce some new work and Janetias suggested the artist should do a piece for him.
"It started as something that I might put over my sofa and now it's become something I'll have to loan to an institution," Janetias said. "It's grown quite a bit."
Andrews said, "I told him, 'This is a project I'd like to take on but I don't think it'll be in the 4-foot-by-5-foot dimensions you were considering originally.' "
The artist had something much larger in mind - a piece that now dominates his printmaking studio, Paper+, at the Pajama Factory, 1307 Park Ave. It's currently 12-feet-by-5-feet but is planned to extend 12 more feet horizontally by the time it's finished.
The work is called "Upward Over the Mountain" and will be featured as a work-in-progress in an upcoming exhibition in the Allen Hall Gallery at Mansfield University.
The opening reception will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Nov. 1, with an artist talk at 5:30 p.m.
The painting features several familiar landmarks for area residents - Trinity Episcopal Church's towering spire and the glowing red Old Corner sign, to name a few, as well as the Susquehanna River and surrounding hills.
"This painting will be a year of studying the area," Andrews said.
He also said that the work will feature several styles as he tries to illustrate the area's differences as well as its beauty.
"If I'm painting an old farmhouse, I'm trying to do it in a folk-art style," he said. "There's going to be a colonial style in the way the fieldwork is done ... there will be photographic imagery, naive, child-like, imagery, and even a little abstract, non-objective work the way things are painted will allow you to read into what I'm trying to get at."
And part of what he's aiming for is capturing the complex nature of the city and the landscape.
"I went to Beiter's [Home Center] and they have a painting of the overlook," he said. "It's a beautiful painting, but it's from a singular viewpoint and done with a singular style and that doesn't represent the complexity of this area in any sense ... it's the complexity that I'm trying to grapple with."
Andrews is using "every bit" of his artistic powers to push the work as far as it can go and said that Janetias gives him "words of encouragement" regularly.
"I've never been in this position where I have someone's support like this ... to have someone believe in the vision and allow me to keep moving forward," Andrews said. "I don't have to worry about things - I'm just working."
"I'm just a bystander waiting to see what it warps into," Janetias said. "I've come up a couple of times and I've been able to lob a couple of ideas, but for the most part, he's taken ownership of it. I'm as excited to see it done as anybody else."
Out of the major undertaking that is "Upward Over the Mountain," many other artworks are being born as well, including pop art versions of the farmhouse - which is based on Andrews' home - included in the painting, and mixed-media works that shuffle the imagery in the piece.
"Normally I would avoid doing spin-off pieces," Andrews said. "But given the length of this project, I figured let me stop and make some paintings."
Many of the "offshoot" pieces will be on display as a part of the upcoming exhibition at MU, which will be open until Nov. 26. For more information about Chad Andrews, visit www.chadandrews.com.