Hershey Area Art Association

Promoting, encouraging and perpetuating the fine arts and fine arts education in the region

Since 1995.

Hershey Area Art Association - A Brief History

Dr. Robert E. Brown

Bob Brown served in the US Air Force during WWII, stationed in Italy.

After being discharged from the service in 1945, Bob started college courses at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ.  He received 3 degrees at that University: Bachelor, Master and Doctor's.  He was a career Psychologist at Penn State University, until retirement in 1986.

Bob studied art at the Wyomissing Institute, Wyomissing, PA, under Jack Coggins, Merri Wooley and Earl Hinz.  While living in New Bern, NC, Bob studied art with Kathy Pickett.  Upon moving to York, PA, he joined the Art Association of York and studied with Reuben Gambrel and Nancy Wiseman, and volunteered at the association.

While oil painting was Bob's primary interest, he also worked with pastels painting country landscapes, water scenes, boats and ships.

Upon moving to Palmyra, PA, he discovered that Hershey did not have an art association.  He met Janet Best and suggested they organize one in Hershey.

On January 1994, Bob and Janet Best met in Bob's kitchen to begin discussing the formation of an art association.  Bob Nisley and Glen Koons also attended to help planning for the art group.

The first meeting of the Hershey Area Art Association took place on March 20, 1995, at the Hershey Public Library with 15 people present


Dr. Brown passed away on December 2, 1998, in his home in Hershey.


Hershey Area Art Association founders and '98 Officers as shown here in a photo from the 4-2-98 Hershey Chronicle.

Front row, from left:  Glen Koons, Robert E. Brown and Janet M. Best (all founders).

Back row, from left:  Robert M. Nisley (founder), Barbara James, Karen Sheipline and Peral Gornik. 

The Hershey Area Art Association was founded in 1995 by four regional artists - Robert E. Brown, Janet M. Best, Glenn Koons and Robert M. Nisley - who were called to gather around Bob Brown's kitchen table and come up with a way for local artists to get together. They felt the area needed an arts group to complement its many attractions. The goal was to develop a forum to exchange ideas, enjoy fellowship and promote fine arts and fine arts education.

  • Robert E. Brown of Palmyra, became the group's first secretary and historian.
  • Janet M. Best of Hershey, was the first association president.
  • Robert M. Nisley of Hummelstown, was the first recording secretary.
  • Glenn Koons of Hershey, was the first vice president and coordinated the group's contributions to the annual WITF art auction.

These four founders launched an organization that has grown to 100 members and continues to grow today. Such dramatic membership growth, at a time when many community organizations struggle to attract members, demonstrates that the association addresses and fills a community need.