Art is Personal and Professional for Mechanicsburg Business Partners

The Borough of Mechanicsburg continues to burnish its growing reputation as a local destination for those who practice and patronize the visual arts. The latest confirmation is Brath & Hughes Fine Art, LLC. Opened in November 2011, the West Main Street gallery is owned and managed by Mary Beth Brath and Brownyn Jean Hughes.

After working at Mechanicsburg’s Second Floor Gallery and Gallery 13, the pair pooled resources and experience to begin their enterprise in a 154-year-old building that once housed a bank. Its stately interior, which includes a large vault, adds to the gallery’s ambience.

Both women are artists. Brath, who hails from the western Pennsylvania town of Greenville, started work as a paralegal in a Pittsburgh law firm. “When my last child was out of diapers, I purchased painting supplies, set up a studio and gained my first gallery representation,” she says. “My early work consisted of fantasy landscapes of Tuscany and the French Riviera. Later, I began to do plein air pieces along with studio work. Over the past few years, I have added still lifes of food.”

Acrylic is Brath’s medium of choice. “Never liked oils, with the odor and clean-up,” she says. “And with small children around the house, acrylics were better.” She prefers Liquitex and Chroma brands, applying them on stretched canvas and Masonite.

“I was always making things at my home,” says Hughes, who is a long-time Mechanicsburg resident. “For example, at Halloween I fabricated the costumes that my daughters wore. One Christmas, I received a set of oil paints, and that got me started. My early compositions were large images of flowers, similar to Georgia O’Keeffe paintings.”

Hughes’ work has since moved toward the non-objective, with some resembling that of abstract-expressionist icon Jackson Pollock. She has taken to painting on glass, including stemware. Employing bottled acrylics, Hughes allows the paint to flow down and over the forms, mixing and mingling as it does. The results can be unexpected and striking, enough to have attracted a group of collectors.

The gallery’s display space is filled with work from over 50 artists, including landscape and still life oil painter Claire Beadon Carnell, watercolorist Deb Tritt Kreiger, jewelry artist Librada Vagnozzi and Joan Lenker, who paints on a variety of porcelain objects.

Brath & Hughes will feature six exhibits this year, each one two months in duration. The March-April show includes Staten Island artists Fritz Weiss and Lenny Khimishman. Joining them is local artist Rebecca Lesny, whose work is displayed in the vault. “We have a reception the first Friday of each exhibit,” says Brath. “Then on the first Friday of the show’s second month, we invite the artists to conduct demonstrations.”

“Returning in the spring, the gallery will host music nights,” says Hughes. “For the months of May, June, July and August, we will have live music on the first Fridays. We have a stage in the backyard, and the public is welcome to bring lawn chairs and enjoy the music.”

Two years before launching the gallery with her partner, Brath started the Daily Painters of Pennsylvania (DPP). It is an online blog group of professional visual artists who are juried into its ranks. “The artists discuss techniques and materials, announce awards and exhibits and share experiences,” she says. “Every year, we exhibit at the East Wing Rotunda of the State Capitol. The 2014 exhibition is scheduled for the month of July.”

For more information about Brath & Hughes, visit the gallery website at and follow on Facebook.