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Local Art on Display Now Through Feb. 2 for ClearWater’s Art & Chocolate Fundraiser

From oil pastels to intricate paper cuttings to found wood sculpture, the artwork in the Art & Chocolate 2024 gallery exhibition open now at 3 Dots Downtown covers a wide range of mediums from more than 20 local artists.

While each piece is one-of-a-kind, they all share one remarkable similarity – they have been generously donated by artists in support of ClearWater Conservancy’s mission to protect and connect vital landscapes, wildlife habitat, and waterways throughout our region. Each item on display is also included in ClearWater’s Art & Chocolate online auction, with all proceeds supporting the organization’s local conservation efforts.

In addition to the exhibit, artists had the opportunity to enter a featured art contest to choose a piece of art that would represent this year’s Art & Chocolate event, the 26th annual since its inception in 1999.

Patricia House of the Bellefonte Art Museum for Centre County, Erica Quinn of 3 Dots Downtown, and Melanie Rosenberger of the Art Alliance of Central PA met in November to review the submitted works and choose this year’s featured art.

They chose two pieces by artist Stephanie Koller, “Caterpillars at Black Moshannon” and “Baltimore Checkerspot Butterfly.”

In addition to her art, Koller is an advocate for mindfulness and sustainability through her work as a yoga teacher and as a Pennsylvania Forest Steward and a Pennsylvania Master Naturalist. “What truly matters can be found in nature,” Koller said.

The judges were all drawn to Koller’s two pieces not only for the subject matter but also for the style. “There’s a certain whimsy about this,” said House. “It has strong expressionistic colors and brushstrokes that attract the eye and signal what the event is all about.”

“As ClearWater is emerging in 2024 with a new director and a new community space, these two pieces resonate with the vision of the organization for the year ahead,” said Quinn.

In October, ClearWater announced both the search for a new executive director following the resignation of long-time director Deb Nardone and the launch of the Campaign to Connect, which aims to raise funds to support the organization’s strategic vision which includes the establishment of a new Community Conservation Center along Spring Creek in Houserville.

"It’s a very exciting time to be a part of ClearWater Conservancy,” said Donnan Stoicovy, interim executive director of the nonprofit. “Whether you’re a long-time supporter of our conservation work or you enjoy the local arts and food scenes as much as we do, we hope you can join us for this year’s festivities.”

Visitors can view the exhibition during 3 Dots’ open hours (currently Saturdays noon to 5 p.m.), or any time the community space is open for events. Beginning in mid-January, the public can bid on the artwork plus local gifts and experiences via an online auction. The art will remain in the gallery through Friday, Feb. 2, 2024, when ClearWater will host its Art & Chocolate celebration. The event is free and open to the public, with optional “Super Sweet” tickets available for those wishing to take home a box of delicious treats donated by area bakeries and restaurants. All proceeds from the event benefit ClearWater Conservancy.

More info about Art & Chocolate is available online at

Caterpillars at Black Moshannon by Stephanie Koller

This piece is part of a twelve painting series I did during the pandemic. Each painting is inspired from taking walks in nature near my home. Maple leaves were just starting to fall from trees. It looked like a scene from a fairy tale. When I returned home, I created this fictional account of my experience, imagining caterpillars intertwined with the forest litter and mushrooms.

Interesting Discovery: Not raking all of the leaves in your yard can improve the soil, creating healthier plant communities and greater biodiversity. —Stephanie Koller

Baltimore Checkerspot Butterfly

This piece was part of a fundraising calendar created for Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation in 2021. Each of the featured wildlife species are considered endangered in Pennsylvania. The Baltimore Checkerspot (Euphydryas phaeton) is a handsome black butterfly checked with orange and white spots. Its common name honors the American colonist George Calvert, who was the first Lord of Baltimore and whose family crest bears the colors of black and gold. Forested and open wetlands and any moist fallow meadow can provide essential breeding and nectaring habitat for the species. Deer browse on white turtlehead is a threat to the Baltimore checkerspot. Deer like to eat the buds, flowers and leaves at the top of the plant, which reduces the plants’ ability to spread by seed and removes the tender parts of the plants where the caterpillars feed. —Stephanie Koller


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