The Arts Festival promotes itself with a collectible poster that is a work of art in its own right. For the past thirty years, the poster has been created by Lanny Sommese, a Penn State graphic design professor and an internationally known poster artist.
Here area some of Lanny’s past Arts Festival posters:
And some other examples of his award winning posters:
Coexistence: A Bridge To Understanding
Coexistence is an annual traveling exhibition started in Jerusalem dedicated to spreading the message of diversity and acceptance. Lanny is one of only three artist to have more than one poster in the exhibition. Here is his other one:
Click on the photos for the poems that go with the artwork.
Romeo and Juliet
Romeo and Juliet won first prize in the International Triennial of Stage Poster in Sofia Hungary in 1995.
No! is part of the Library of Congress’s Witness and Response collection of materials related to the tragic events of 9/11.
HELP is Lanny’s contribution to the Hurricane Poster Relief Project, an effort dedicated to raising funds for Hurricane Katrina victims.
By now it should be evident that social consciousness plays a big role in Lanny’s art. Lanny teaches his students that their art should first and foremost have a message to convey. In this article about design heroes, one of Lanny’s former students says
The approach to graphic design was conceptual, always about communication, and always with an idea.
Why this sudden interest in poster art you might ask?
Because, in addition to being a famed artist, Lanny is also my partner in the Toftrees Men’s Golf League. While my knee probles have severely limited the amount of golf that I play (I’m down to a round and a half a week), I still make sure I get my 9 holes in on Wednesday nights. So far, Lanny and I have managed to have a decent season in spite of my injury. Halfway through the season, we currently sit in 7th place out of 24 teams.
Lanny has had an interesting life. He went to college on an athletic scholarship to play basketball at the University of Florida, last year’s national champions. I first met Lanny in the early 70s here at Penn State. At the time, Lanny had quite a reputation as a lady’s man and most certainly did not fit the image of a staid college professor. Quite the contrary. He was recently divorced and was often seen with a beautiful girl on his arm.
That’s all changed now. He’s quite settled down, happily married, albeit for the third time, and raising two cute young kids. Here’s a photo of Lanny (he’s in the red tie) and his wife Kristen (she’s the blond). Of course, the fact that she’s a former student of his and younger than his first daughter only adds to the Lanny legend. That age disparity also leads to his grandchildren actually having an aunt and uncle younger than them.
Lanny’s first wife, Donna Gibbons, actually appeared in one of my all time favorite movies “About Last Night” starring Rob Lowe and Demi Moore (pre boob job when she was a cute youngster). “About Last Night” really captured the Chicago singles bar scene in the early 80s. Several scenes in the movie took place in Mothers on Division Street just across from my favorite Chicago haunt, the Lodge. If you remember the movie, Donna Gibbons played Alex, the older women who seduces Rob Lowe.
This seems like a good place to end this post before I start telling Lodge stories. I will make sure to update everyone on Lanny and my’s performance coming down the stretch in our league.