Some of the region’s most talented artists are showing off their compelling and inspiring works of art in the 87th annual juried exhibition of the Allied Artists of Johnstown.
The exhibit is on display through Dec. 19 at Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art at Johnstown, located at Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center on the Pitt-Johnstown campus in Richland Township.
The display features 48 pieces by 31 artists, including works in acrylic, charcoal, clay, mixed media, oil, photography, pencil, watercolor, metal sculpture and collage.
‘Really good show’
“This is a really good show, and we received a lot of compliments at the opening, with people saying they think this is one of our better ones,” said Kathleen Kase Burk, president of the Allied Artists of Johnstown.
“The juror was excellent this year, and he seemed to be open to everybody’s ideas.”
Entries were submitted by artists in Cambria, Somerset, Indiana and Westmoreland counties.
“There’s an enormous variety in the show,” Kase Burk said.
“People are pushing the limits and trying new things, and that’s exactly what we want.”
Jessica Campbell, SAMA’s education coordinator, said it’s important for SAMA to give local artists a venue to share their talents with the community.
“We’re lucky to have such an amazing group of talented artists to collaborate with on such an exhibition,” she said.
Variety of artworks
She said visitors will see a variety of pieces from 3D works of art to photography to paintings.
“These artists have such a way of sharing their visions with us, and I hope that guests can appreciate the wide array of talent we have in the region,” Campbell said.
Clayton Merrill, the Dorothy L. Stubnitz professor of art at Carnegie Mellon University, served as the juror for the show.
He grew up in Pittsburgh and Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela, and earned a master’s degree at Yale School of Art in 1995.
He was awarded a Fulbright grant for research and creative work in Oaxaca, Mexico, in 1996 and 1997.
Merrill’s work is included in the collections of the American Embassy in Belmopan, Belize; the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C.; the U.S. Department of the Interior; and many other public and private collections.
He said what impressed him the most among the collection of artworks is an embrace of complexity and a willingness to tangle with intricate and multifaceted subjects.
“Whether it’s the subtle play of light over a tangle of flowers in a corner of the garden, the jumble of objects and images in a store window, a welter of delicate gestural marks, a fully realized fractal universe or a model of string theory made out of string and bits of cardboard, these artists are showing us how to gracefully and beautifully find the order within chaos,” he said.
He added that all of this ordering of chaos takes hard work, which is another striking aspect of the artworks.
“They are evidence of artists who care enough to do that hard work – to take the time to look hard at their subjects, to get that perfect shot, to build a portal into another world,” Merrill said. “Thank you to all of them for that.”
Award winners are:
• The Somerset Trust Company Award was presented to “The Bench,” ink dry brush on paper, by Larry Mallory, of Glen Campbell.
• The Dan Helsel and Jean Beecher Award went to “Side Garden,” oil on canvas, by Mary Wiley-Lewis, of Central City.
• The Kenneth Cotlar and Judi Kabler Award was given to “Creator and Watcher,” 3D fractal, by Zone Patcher, of East Conemaugh.
• The AmeriServ Bank Award was presented to “Bugs on a Farmhouse Window,” acrylic, mixed media on canvas, vintage window, by Kim Williams, of Johnstown.
• The Evelyn Picking Memorial Award went to “Ornithology,” watercolor on paper, by Susan Novak, of Johnstown.
• The Dr. Magdi and Karen Azer Award was given to “It’s All About Light,” oil on linen, by Diana Williams, of New Florence.
• The 1st Summit Bank Award was presented to “String Theory #4,” pencil drawing on paper, by Kase Burk, of Ebensburg.
• The Dorothy and Camille Maravalli Award went to “Diamond Beach,” photograph, by Brandon Hirt, of Ebensburg.
• The Jim and Chris Richey Award was given to “Cyclone,” marker on Bristol board, by Cathy Sampson, of Johnstown.
• The Anna Anteman Award was presented to “#409,” acrylic on canvas, by Ken Cotlar, of Ebensburg.
• The Mr. Kamal and Dr. Jyothi Gella Award went to “Dino,” acrylic on canvas, by Alan Rauch, of Johnstown.
• The Robert E. Thomas Award was given to “Trimmer Bird,” metal sculpture, by Al Lichtenfels, of Johnstown.
• The Slovenian Savings and Loan Association Award was presented to “Fly Me to the Moon,” digital photograph, by Bill Dembowski, of Windber.
A total of more than $1,550 in cash awards were presented to this year’s winners.
Many of the pieces will be available for purchase at the close of the exhibition, with prices ranging from $50 to $3,600.
As in years past, the Allied Artists of Johnstown will offer its Friends of Art donation, which provides a chosen organization with a piece of art from the show paid for by the Allied Artists.
“People can donate to the Friends of Art category, and the amount of money we get determines how much we can spend, and we usually choose a nonprofit or community organization,” Kase Burk said.
She added, that with the exhibition celebrating its 87th year, its longevity speaks to the continued community support of the Allied Artists of Johnstown.
“The group is fulfilling its mission,” Kase Burk said. “We have many older members, but we’re starting to get a few younger members. Some of them are self-taught and some are very highly educated, but there’s no stigma in being an amateur because many of them win awards.”
Allied Artists of Johnstown has more than 100 members of amateur, semiprofessional and professional status from around the region.
The group hosts three art exhibitions each year and offers scholarships to area students entering the art fields.
For more information, visit www.johnstownart.com.