By TOM LAVIS
“Launch II” is a fitting title for a dual exhibition opening tonight at Art Works of Johnstown.
Organizers are on a mission to open new frontiers of a former bottling plant turned art gallery at 413 Third Ave. in the Cambria City section of Johnstown.
The blast off occurs at 6 tonight with an opening reception, followed by two days of open-door explorations.
The exhibitions will be open from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. From Monday through Sept. 22, viewing will be available by appointment only.
“When we did ‘Launch I’ in 2006, it was a call for artists, and this exhibit is a progression of that endeavor,” said Rosemary Pawlowski, executive director of the adjacent Bottle Works Ethnic Arts Center and spokeswoman for Art Works.
The first exhibition of “Launch II” features the work of this summer’s three artists-in-residence.
Jonathan Rugh, a ceramic artist, is a specialist in sound architecture.
Rugh is supervising the construction of KilnBuild, an outdoor kiln along Third Avenue.
Jason Brown , a student at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, has focused his energy on an installation called “Katrina,” which reflects the sentiments and anguish of those affected by the ravages of water.
“Jason has interviewed people in New Orleans and in Johnstown to demonstrate the spirit that endures from the destruction of water on peoples’ lives,” Pawlowski said.
Sarah Walko, now the artistic/executive director at Triangle Arts in New York, returns this summer.
She serves as the organization’s metropolitan ambassador, recruiting potential artists to lease studios in the finished Art Works.
The first phase of renovations at Art Works is complete, giving the exterior a clean and contemporary look.
The interior has a warehouse appeal with an open floor plan, high ceilings and a loft area.
The second exhibit, a large-format show, was conceived by George Turner Jr., president of Allied Artists.
“We have nearly 5,000 square feet of exhibition space, and it’s all going to be used for this collaborative effort between the Bottle Works and Allied Artists,” Turner said.
Turner emphasized that the large-format show allows artists to “stretch” when it comes to creativity.
“This exhibit is a first for Johnstown, and this incredible space offers an opportunity for artists working within traditional boundaries to think outside the box,” Turner said.
“This is an opportunity to create or display work that is either too large or too unconventional for our normal exhibits.”
Turner is pleased at the interest shown by artists and he is planning something bigger in 2008.
“We have had a lot of enthusiasm for his show and we will be looking at having an exhibition next year that will capitalize on the indoor and outdoor space,” Turner said.
The regional artists in the large-format show are Turner, Janie Leck-Grela, James Richey, Helen Thorne, Kathleen Kase Burke, Marianne Krizner, Brandon Locher, Norman Ed and Kati Fishbein.
“For some artists, this is a leap for them to create such large pieces,” Turner said.
WorldSong, a trio comprised of Rachel Allen, Norman Ed and Reggie Harris, will provide a mix of earthy rhythms, and the Johnstown Concert Ballet will perform “Progressions,” a contemporary dance, at 7:30 tonight.
What: “Launch II,” two exhibitions featuring regional artists.
Where: Art Works of Johnstown, 413 Third Ave. in the Cambria City section of Johnstown.
When: 6 tonight and 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Mondays through Sept. 22 by appointment only.
By TOM LAVIS