Lewisburg artist displays oversized work at academy

Jan. 27—MILTON — When 10-year-old Porter Durden-Spiro got her first glimpse of the oversized, colorful art Wednesday at the Art Academy of Milton, her first thought was she could do that when she grows up.

That is exactly what Lewisburg artist Benjamin Stieler wanted to hear.

Steiler's BOJO's Dream show is the first art gallery exhibit at the burgeoning academy at 38 S. Front St. in Milton. Steiler's abstract art is big, colorful and all done on large pieces of cardboard, which he said opens avenues for young artists.

"I want kids to see this and do an art class with kids here down the line," Steiler said. "I like to work really big. It will be great to give a little kid of piece of cardboard that's bigger than them and then turn it into something. It's empowering."

That was the feeling Durden-Spiro had visiting the gallery with her classmates from the Fern Hill School in Milton on Wednesday.

"I think it's really cool, how it's different," she said. "It looks abstract. I like that it doesn't look like real life. I like how it's bigger. It would be really cool if I did that when I grew up."

"It's very important to open their eyes up to all different types of art in our community, especially when it's a local artist," Fern Hill teacher Ashley Boschart said.

Steiler said the COVID pandemic has been a "good time for me to work on my craft." He is one of a dozen resident artists in residence at the academy located at the former Eagles Lodge.

"This is my first show and it feels like now I have art I want to show," he said. "There's a lot of humor in it. In some ways, the world is a grotesque place and can be absurd and terrifying. It's great to celebrate the size, with this jumbo art in a place, with the colorful and bright contrasting the darkness."

For Steve Gibson, owner of the Art Academy, this week's show is the next step for the emerging location.

"I'm glad the first official show here is one of our resident artists," Gibson said. "It's a dynamic show and a great way to introduce the public to what the capabilities of this location are. The show fits very well in the room and shows the scope of the art."

Gibson said he is looking forward to more shows from the artists in residence as work continues at the property. He was glad to host students for the first show this week as well.

"I love when kids get to experience art," he said. "It will be interesting to see their reaction to what Ben is doing."