Duration: Two days and two nights
When you take a trip along the Artisan Trail known as Art Thrives on Route 45, you'll take away many things – an appreciation for handcraftsmanship, a oneness with our curvy back roads, not to mention a trunk full of some one-of-a-kind art pieces. Named for the numerous Purple Heart heroes who made this corridor home, the Purple Heart Highway celebrates their memory with a thriving trail of art with heart. Historic architecture, museums, artists and other craftspeople line Route 45, along with charming B&Bs, inns and guesthouses.
There's no better place to start our Artisan Tour than in downtown State College. The tree-lined streets, unique storefronts, specialty stores and dining options all blend together to create the perfect place to find that perfect work of art. Take Sarah S. Harvey, whose works celebrates the environment in oil paintings, watercolors, and artists' books. And Melissa Carpenter, who works on her stoneware and porcelain wheel to create functional work that compliments both casual and formal settings. Head to College Avenue on the Penn State campus for a bite to eat (the restaurants outnumber even the galleries), then visit The HUB-Robeson Galleries where there's always a new artist being showcased. It's a lot to see, but we're just getting warmed up.Read More >
As you head northeast to Bellefonte you'll pass through the small town of Boalsburg, home of the first Memorial Day. We suggest stopping at the Mary Lee Kerr gallery and the Kathleen Frank studio to see a wonderful array of abstract sculptures and landscape oil canvases, with subjects from across Pennsylvania. Go fifteen minutes outside of Boalsburg to the town of Bellefonte. Known by the locals as the “Central Pennsylvania's Victorian Secret” this charming town is home to artists such as Ziggy Coyle, who creates amusing and fun ceramic figurines, to Susan Nicholas Gephart, the award-winning landscape painter – take home one of her colorful impressionistic pastels and oil paintings. And don't forget, in Bellefonte, be sure to check out Etcetera, Etc an artisan store featuring wearable art, accessories, etc, and handles regional and national artists.
Did you know that seven U.S. governors have come from Bellefonte? Probably not, but that's how this drool-worthy pub got its name. The burgers and brew are top notch, as is the “bangers in a blanket,” kielbasa in a puffs pastry with pickled red onion and Yuengling cheese sauce. A meal fit for a king. Or governor.Read More >
Choose from the Rose Room or the Warwick Room, and enjoy the sitting room, two outdoor porches and country gardens. This bed and breakfast is furnished with antiques, yet has the modern amenities like AC and Wi-Fi (like you'll be using that anyway). Private and perfect in every way.Read More >
On the way to Lewisburg, we recommend stopping at Mifflinburg to experience the unspoiled charm of a true 19th century Pennsylvania town and visit some of these participating artisans along RT 45. Find a good breakfast, then stop in and say hi to Bill Lynch, a potter for over 30 years who spins his potter wheel in his showroom. Visitors can watch Bill work the wheel as he makes stoneware, porcelain pieces that are both functional and beautiful. If kitchenware is what you're looking for, then don't miss Ken Snook, a handmade wooden spoon artist that crafts from native Pennsylvania hardwoods like tiger maple and walnut. Just 15 minutes up the road is Lewisburg, home to Bucknell University, a beautifully kept historic district and downtown, and last but not least, lots and lots of galleries. Be sure to check out Nancy Cleaver, a contemporary calligrapher, and David Seybold, an oil painter who captures farmsteads, stone houses, barns and pastures in and around Pennsylvania. For home furnishings, visit Michael Kryzytski, a one-man shop with an emphasis on traditional joinery and hand-selected local woods. We could go on and on, so be sure to stroll the streets and take in as much as you can.
Located just 30 minutes east is our next stop on the tour. Danville is a painting-perfect riverbank community that's lucky enough to have the Susquehanna River flow alongside its city limits. Here artists thrive with a mix of galleries, showrooms and artist studios. Along Danville’s Mill Street you can find both Premiere and Impressions Studios/Galleries. Bob Brown is the proprietor of Premiere Studio and Gallery. Bob works with both film and digital photography; his fine art photos concentrate on landscapes, natural abstractions, historic architecture and portraits. Right down Mill Street is Gordon Wenzel’s Impressions Photographic Studio and Gallery. Gordon’s style includes cutting-edge work in Polaroid transfers and has been exhibited internationally. Sculpture J. Mark Irwin also works out of this studio. Abstract organic wood forms, often incorporating other materials, are central to Mark’s work.
On the outskirts of Danville is the home studio of Deb Rhodes and Jeff Krankoskie. Deb’s mixed media sculptures are reminiscent of magnified seed pods and cocoons. Her prints and drawings of flowers focus on their reproductive structures. Husband Jeff is a potter, focusing on wood-fired raku vessels (both traditional and inventive shapes) utilizing his own unique glaze recipes.
The people here are always friendly, the rooms are always cozy (if not downright lavish), and the restaurant, by the way, is always delicious. The Pine Barn Cowboy Steak is topped with thin onion strings and served with a kicked-up demi-glace. Whoa.Read More >
Palmer Museum of Art
The Palmer Museum of Art sits on the Penn State campus. Its collection of art spans genres and cultures, including ceramics from Peru, China and Japan as well as portraits and paintings. Come by for a free tour.
Samek Art Gallery
Discover some innovative exhibitions and programming at this gallery on the Bucknell University campus. You’ll find exhibitions ranging from the historic to the contemporary.