Valerie Moyer doesn’t remember a time when she wasn’t doing artwork.
“It’s like breathing,” she says. “I was called to do it. It’s a gift from God and Kutztown University.”
The Pennsylvania native and proud Kutztown alum lives in Beaver Springs, proudly supporting the Snyder County art scene and preserving the commonwealth’s historic treasures. Valerie is Homeland’s featured artist for summer 2022. Her work is hanging in the Florida Room gallery as part of the Art Association of Harrisburg’s exhibition program.
The quarterly exhibits, selected by the Art Association, bring the beauty of works from local artists. Residents, staff, and visitors often stop to admire a painting and take a moment to choose a favorite.
In Valerie Moyer’s work, there is also a chance to play “Spot the Bunny”—as in, find the rabbit hidden in every painting. They are tiny creatures, often found only through the glimpse of a white tail. The bunnies are always on the ground—never in some un-rabbity spot like the clouds or a tree.
The idea came from the suggestion of her husband that a trademark would further distinguish her work.
“What is most common in central Pennsylvania? Rabbits,” Valerie said as she hung her artwork in the Homeland gallery. “I paint a landscape, and there are rabbits.”
Valerie says she doesn’t have a gift for portraiture, but her landscapes and buildings come alive with their own sense of character. Many may recognize the sites depicted in the paintings, such as the famous Neff Round Barn on the road to State College.
“My paintings are pastoral, peaceful, a nod to what life was like in the good old days,” she says. “There are a lot of barns, mills, and covered bridges.”
Valerie uses her artistic gifts to help preserve those landscapes and historical treasures. A portion of the sales from paintings created with Farmland Preservation Artists, a collaborative of the Art Alliance of Central PA, goes toward the Centre County Farmland Trust. And when organizations and individuals commission her work, they can buy the rights to the final piece and make prints for sale or gift giving.
“Some churches will use it as a fundraiser, and then they can buy new windows or mission trips or whatever they like, which is nice,” says Valerie. “That way, it’s more than one painting on the wall. Because it can be reproduced, many people can enjoy it.”
In Valerie’s world, the scenes sometimes choose her as their portraitist. In the Homeland exhibit, there’s the charming portrait of Bessie and Bossy, two calves in a barn door. Valerie was working at a historic barn with the Farmland Preservation Artists, “and I turned around, and they were sitting there going, ‘Valerie. Valerie.’ They were calling my name.”
The same goes for a pair of sheep named Ethel and Emmet.
“I was at my Amish neighbor’s home, and I walked out the door, and there they were,” she says.
Some of the paintings Valerie chose to bring to Homeland were first-place award winners at art shows. A vivid still life of bottles in a historic mill was another case of the subject choosing her, the beauty taking her breath away when she discovered it during an apple butter festival at Little Buffalo State Park. She says awards “validate that you are doing what you are meant to do.’’
Valerie recently joined the Art Association of Harrisburg at the suggestion of a friend, branching out into southcentral Pennsylvania. At heart, she is Snyder County proud and “local, local, local,” working with and buying from other businesses in the scenic county tucked between Harrisburg and State College. The day before hanging her artwork at Homeland, she took 16 framed prints to Snyder County courthouse.
“Snyder County Courthouse will now be decorated in Snyder County prints by a Snyder County artist,” Valerie says.
“These are our friends and neighbors, and we should support each other. That’s what makes a community,” she says. “Everybody working together makes small towns so great.”