I relived one of the most exciting times on my beat while watching Brian Plow's new documentary "A Day in the Sun."

Plow sent me a copy of the movie to screen, unsolicited. I interviewed him in 2009, before his documentary "Home" played at York's

Capitol Theatre. The film showed that downtown revitalization came at a cost for residents displaced by Sovereign Bank Stadium.

As the project hit the screen, Plow, a York resident and film professor at Towson University, was already planning another documentary about underground art in York.

"The creative capital ... was reaching critical mass, and I wanted to be a part of it," Plow said. He added that he'd been itching to talk to local artists after he worked on a series of short web documentaries on aging artists in Columbus, Ohio.

Little did he know, he chose the right subject at the right time. In April 2009, York was chosen to host the Governor's Awards for the Arts. The ceremony, to recognize artistic efforts across the state, was slated for October.

For a York arts reporter, this was a big story. And I set out to cover it from multiple angles.

Plow heard the news that summer.

"I was unable to jump that quickly," he said. "I hadn't really started shooting the documentary."

But he got his hands on footage of the August flash mob on Continental Square to draw attention to the ceremony. Then, a few hours later, state officials in the midst of a budget crunch pushed the event back to spring 2010.

After some tense weeks of budget negotiations, the event was back on track. In February 2010, York found out that the awards would bring famous locals Del McCoury and Jeff Koons back to town.

"It was a narrative thread," Plow said. "There was suspense and resolution and rejoice. That felt like a natural story line (for the


The awards helped give cohesion to the documentary because both served the same purpose - to showcase York's creative sector. Much of the documentary features in-depth interviews with local artists.

"I wanted to take these tangents to explore (their) life and work," Plow said. "I love working with artists. I think that (they're) an untapped well of wisdom. Their lives are just as interesting as their art."

One topic that he doesn't overtly mention is the city's Artist Homestead program, which is designed to draw artists to York with incentives such as loans to buy city properties for living, making and selling art. Funding has been an issue for the program, but during a recent art tour of the city, economic and community development director Kevin Schreiber said he's looking into way to revitalize it.

Plow said that every time he tried to work the Artist Homestead project into the film, it felt too much like a marketing campaign. So, instead he tried to show it in action.

Progress on the documentary moved slowly. Plow worked on it alone, since the travel distance from Towson made it difficult to enlist the help of colleagues and students.

When Plow recently sent out some preview copies, buzz started about the "A Day in the Sun." The film's trailer, which Plow posted on a website he created for the project, generated several comments.

But Plow hasn't been able to secure a local screening date for the film yet.

"Everyone is asking me when they can see it," he said. He posted some outtakes and extended interviews on the film's website.

At the moment, Plow is planning his next project -

a film about the life of René Gimpel, a French Jewish art dealer, who smuggled works of art out of the country so they wouldn't be confiscated by the Nazis. He died in a concentration camp, Plow said.

As he begins the new project, he hopes "A Day in the Sun" sprouts legs. Schreiber talked to him about seeking local filmmakers to create an interactive web-based documentary project that features more York artists.

"It would make people feel part of the story and make it an ongoing story," Plow said.

And if anyone needs inspiration, he suggested they hit the streets.

"I have walked through probably every corner of the city through the past two documentaries," he said. "I can't tell you how many times I tripped over cracks of the sidewalk because I am looking at lines and textures (in the) city. It's a visual, enticing space. I think artists respond to that."

And so it seems that there will be more exciting stories to come on the York arts beat.

PopEye is a bi-weekly column focusing on the ever-changing landscape of popular culture. To reach writer Erin McCracken, call 771-2051 or send an email to emccracken@ydr.com.

At a glance

Places and events in the film:

Highpoint Scenic Vista

First Friday

Central Market

Governor's Awards for the Arts

Yorkfest Fine Arts Festival

Faces and voices in the film:

Pat Thomas

Paul Kicklighter

Ophelia Chambliss

Steven Heffner

Brenda Wintermyer

Carol Oldenburg

Lindsey Keeney

Pete Richards

Gerald Davidson