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“Legends of the Moon” Presented By Era Contemporary Gallery + Interview

We shoot for the moon, promise the moon, and are occasionally even over the moon, yet our selenophilia – from the Greek terms selēnē (moon) and philos (loving) – extends well beyond idiomatic expressions and deep into the cultural fiber of humanity. Earth’s only natural satellite has long been our guiding light, an enduring source of magic and mystery, and a scintillating symbol of our hopes and dreams. In that spirit, Era Contemporary’s Lunar Codex-inspired group exhibition Legends of the Moon – curated by Jessica Libor – draws upon la luna’s transfixing allure with an intriguing assortment of mixed media pieces that encapsulate the emotional and aesthetic ambiance of the very same celestial body that our ancestors also held in great reverence.

Moonlight incites dark passions like a cold flame, making hearts burn with the intensity of phosphorus.

~Rampo Edogawa
Jessica-Libor-The-Night-Keeper
 Jessica Libor: “The Night Keeper”, Pastel Chalk On Black Paper, 20” x 25” (Unframed)

Universally admired, worshipped and romanced, the moon’s celestial glory has inspired Paleolithic lunar calendars, mythologies, religious beliefs, and the lyrical love letters of countless creatives throughout the ages. It occurred to Era Contemporary’s founder/curator Jessica Libor that such a resplendent nighttime muse is worthy of an equally magnificent visual ode to her charms, which is how Legends of the Moon, which opens on Friday, December 2, 2022 at Media, Pennsylvania’s Tyler Arboretum, came into being. We bring you our inspiring conversation with the impassioned art champion, whose six year old gallery prioritizes creative empowerment and…well…helping the artist community reach for the moon. Ever upward, indeed!

I still get chills thinking about how the art in this show is part of a historical canon of work that includes some of the first female artists’ work on the moon. Knowing that certainly puts this exhibit on a different level.

Era-Contemporary-Promotion-Legends-Of-The-Moon

“Legends of the Moon” Exhibition Presented By Era Contemporary Gallery

Opening Reception: Friday, December 2, 2022 | 5–8 pm

Location: Tyler Arboretum In Their Garden Barn Loft

Tyler Arboretum | 515 Painter Road | Media, PA 19063 | (610) 566-9134

Virtual Show: Legends of the Moon

Joanne-Chase-Photo-Collage
Joanne Chase-Mattillo: “Red Moon Over Sand”, Digital Photo Collage On Canvas, 16” x 24” (Unframed)

About Era Contemporary Gallery // 

In 2016, Era Contemporary began curating small pop up-style art exhibitions at unique venues such as country clubs, department stores, parks, mansions, abandoned spaces, and warehouses. Their events – which often showcase magical realism, landscape and botanical-themed works of art – have been so well-received that they now offer a mixture of online and in person solo/group shows, the latter of which tend to be held in much larger Philadelphia and New York City-based gathering spaces. Era Contemporary’s most prestigious group show to date, Legends of the Moon – which features hand selected pieces that are included in Dr. Samuel Peralta’s Lunar Codex cultural time capsule (Polaris Collection) – will be opening Friday, December 2rd at Tyler Arboretum in Media, Pennsylvania. Free tickets for that special event are available here.

Exclusive Interview With Jessica Libor, Founder of Era Contemporary

It’s hard to believe that no one thought of creating a Lunar Codex-themed group exhibition before now. What inspired you to pursue this great concept?

I’m always thinking of new and creative exhibition ideas for Era Contemporary. As I perused the group exhibitions included in the Lunar Codex time capsule, I realized that there was no moon-specific show, which seemed like a natural and obvious concept to me. Curating a collection of works that would forever live in space really sparked my imagination.

Among the various brainstormed names that you came up with for Era Contemporary’s Lunar Codex-themed group exhibition, why did Legends of the Moon end up winning your top vote?

The moon – which has been around for billions of years – is a shared experience that links everyone who lives on earth across time. I imagined humans at the dawn of civilization looking up at the same moon and finding meaning in it as well as reasons for its existence, creating legends that were ultimately passed down throughout the ages. Both the storytelling aspect of this theme and its timelessness really appealed to me.

If a future race of beings discover Legends of the Moon in the Lunar Codex time capsule, I hope they’ll feel a sense of riveted connection with the human spirits depicted in the paintings and appreciate how we’ve portrayed the moon’s beauty with honor, reverence, and playful curiosity.

Did you pitch your concept directly to Lunar Codex founder, Dr. Samuel Peralta?

Yes, but it felt more like a collaboration. I was initially introduced to Samuel because my personal art was included in a Poets Artists online exhibition that was added to the Lunar Codex. We were already discussing his participation in episode 84 of my podcast The Inspired Painter, so my exhibition idea was a natural extension of some of the conversations that we were having.

Danielle-Rackowski-Dream-Aura
Danielle Rackowski: “Dream Aura”, Digital Photo Art, 17” x 21” (Framed)

What does it feel like to be a Lunar Codex-included artist of four personal works of art as well as the curator of Era Contemporary’s entire Lunar Codex-themed group exhibition?

It’s something that I’m really proud of. Since all the pieces included in Legends of the Moon will be a permanent part of the Lunar Codex time capsule sent to the moon, in a sense it’s even bigger than the artist. It feels like a historic accomplishment, actually! It’s a defining achievement for Era Contemporary thus far, plus I’m really excited for the many artists in this show whose work will exist on the moon indefinitely!

J-Adam-Davis-Rhythm
J. Adam Davis: “Rhythm”, Charcoal Chalk & Gold Leaf On Paper Mounted On Panel, 34” x 34” 

I think that creating things that give people hope, connection and wonder – whether through making art, curating, or teaching – is incredibly meaningful. Quite honestly, all of those things give me purpose each day.

Compared to the many open calls for art that you’ve sent out in the past, did this one feel a bit more emotionally charged?

I still get chills thinking about how the art in this show is part of a historical canon of work that includes some of the first female artists’ work on the moon. Knowing that certainly puts this exhibit on a different level.

Did you feel compelled to hold Legends of the Moon submissions up to a higher standard due to the historical and cultural relevance of this show?

It was a little more stressful, so I definitely did feel a bit of that pressure. Fortunately, so many artists interpreted the exhibition theme quite creatively and with a great deal of intention.

For a legacy-making show such as this one, it must have been particularly difficult to notify the artists whose submissions didn’t make the cut. Has your experience as a professor of art helped you to be more constructive about delivering unwelcome news?

Absolutely – it’s never fun to be the bearer of disappointing news. I remember having the confidence to stretch myself creatively thanks to the teachers who endlessly encouraged my creative freedom. My goal as an educator is to challenge yet reassure students, which carries over to my work with Era Contemporary. Even if an artist’s creative output isn’t right for a particular exhibition, I always let them know what unique and positive things I appreciate in the pieces that they’ve submitted.

I love the concept of a rising tide lifting all ships. Together, we can create something larger and stronger, an artistic community to lift each other up and inspire the world.

April-Edwards-Earth-Acrylic-Painting
April Edwards: “Earth Study #2”, Acrylic On Panel, 20” x 20” (Framed)

What made your spidey senses just know that Witching Hour by Paul D. Fuentes had to be the face of Legends of the Moon?

I loved the technical execution of Witching Hour, plus its mysterious undertone and narrative elements drew me right in!

When you peruse the dozens of works of art included in Legends of the Moon, what overarching vibe lingers in your heart? And what do you hope future moon dwellers who lay their eyes on your selections will feel?

Personally, I experience a feeling of mystery and enchantment, a celebration of the night and starry landscapes, and of wonder. If a future race of beings discover this collection in the Lunar Codex time capsule, I hope they’ll feel a sense of riveted connection with the human spirits depicted in the paintings and appreciate how we’ve portrayed the moon’s beauty with honor, reverence, and playful curiosity.

What can attendees of Era Contemporary’s Legends of the Moon opening event at Tyler Arboretum on December 2, 2022 expect to experience?

Whether guests enjoy the art exhibition – which is housed in a beautiful refurbished barn – or they choose to wander outside in the gardens, the moon will be nearly full that evening, so the magic will be palpable. During the show, we’ll also be serving refreshments plus there will be quite a few other surprises, so it should be a fabulous time for everyone!

In my personal experience, you can gather all the personal achievements in the world, but they’re not nearly as fulfilling unless you’re connected to other people and creating something meaningful to share with them.

It seems like Era Contemporary’s pop up events throughout the years have been very successful, however are you seeking a fixed location in Pennsylvania?

Era Contemporary has established a robust online gallery presence – which was necessary during the pandemic! – and our pop up gallery events have been well received, as well. At some point we may have a brick and mortar, but part of me loves the ephemeral, changing nature of the pop up locations since they’re always so different and exciting.

Fred-Wessel-Egg-Tempera
Fred Wessel: “Night Blooming Cereus”, Egg Tempera and 23 Karat Gold Leaf, 7.5″ x 7.5″ (Framed)

What can fans of Era Contemporary expect in 2023?

In the Spring, we’ll unveil Julian Tejera’s solo show, and then a group exhibition – which hasn’t been officially announced – is in the works for later that year.

Please share Era Contemporary’s artwork submission policy and address the key things that artists can do to ensure that their work won’t get lost in the shuffle.

Artists interested in showing with Era Contemporary should e-mail five images of their best works to eracontemporary@gmail.com along with an artist statement. This is a great way just to introduce yourself – I read every submission and keep them all on file. Sometimes I even reach out to artists whose work might fit with future shows! If you’re submitting to a specific open call, just be sure to follow the instructions for that call and always be polite.

As an artist and gallerist, do you believe that the art world wants to help cool ideas see the light of day? Is the key to mainly just be tenacious and shake the right trees?

Dream big and don’t be afraid to ask for what you want! If you have an idea that you are passionate about, fearlessly share it with people who could help you. More often than not, they will be inspired by your vision, too, and be willing to help you in some way. Just be sure to follow through and execute your plans!

Since all the pieces included in Legends of the Moon will be a permanent part of the Lunar Codex time capsule sent to the moon, in a sense it’s even bigger than the artist. It feels like a historic accomplishment, actually!

The vast majority of your art world endeavors – such as being an art professor at Harcum College, host of the Inspired Painter Podcast, designer of the Luminary Artist Academy, and founder/curator of Era Contemporary – seem to be motivated by the desire to help people make their dreams come true. Why is this so important to you?

This makes my heart feel warm – yes, you are absolutely right. In my personal experience, you can gather all the personal achievements in the world, but they’re not nearly as fulfilling unless you’re connected to other people and creating something meaningful to share with them. I love the concept of a rising tide lifting all ships. Together, we can create something larger and stronger, an artistic community to lift each other up and inspire the world. I think that creating things that give people hope, connection and wonder – whether through making art, curating, or teaching – is incredibly meaningful. Quite honestly, all of those things give me purpose each day.

Era Contemporary Gallery Social Media Accounts

Website | Instagram | Facebook

Jessica Libor Social Media Accounts

Website | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | The Visionary Artist’s Salon | Podcast

About Author

Longtime eco-journalist, art wordsmith and creativity connoisseur. Anything that hovers in the right-brained spectrum or is born out of unbridled imagination elevates my spirit. I probably revere mother nature's ever-changing shazaamy brush strokes more than the average humanoid. Technicolor art supplies make me weak in the knees, as do wet-nosed luvvies.

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