Eight art groups to take part in Galleria show

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Since it opened in 1989, the Galleria of Mt. Lebanon has been a venue for exhibits staged by arts organizations throughout the South Hills.

In the fall, general manager Gina Mercorelli came up with a plan to organize a collective exhibit to show works by members of eight art groups from the South Hills. The concept proved so successful it is getting a reprise in a spring art show to be held Friday through March 23.

"I came from the Century III Mall, where we staged group shows that featured the work of several area schools," she said. "When I arrived at the Galleria, I discovered that eight different groups staged separate arts shows twice a year and that there was a lot of setting up and tearing down of the exhibits. When I asked the arts organizations to do a group show, a lot of them were surprised because they had never done anything like it before."

For the Spring Art Show, at least 100 artists will show their work on the first floor between Godiva Chocolatier and Crabtree & Evelyn. The participating groups include the Upper St. Clair League for the Arts, McMurray Art League, South Hills Art League, South Arts, Bethel Art League, Whitehall Arts, Heritage Box and Academy of Science and Art’s photo section of Mt. Lebanon.

"The fall show was wonderful and festival-like," Sue Levy of Scott, chairwoman of the spring show, said. "Each time we do one, we build on our past experiences and learn what the public wants."

All of the represented artists have been juried into the show by their respective art group, and all of the groups have had a professional artist come in to judge the show for first-, second- and third-place winners. Some groups also award best of show and honorary mention ribbons. The winners will be announced at the opening reception from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Saturday at the Galleria.

The inventory of art at the spring show includes paintings, pottery, photographs, jewelry, prints, fabric art, greeting cards, metal work and hand-knit purses. All of the art will be available for purchase, and patrons will be able to take their purchases home with them the same day.

"Many of the artists hope to get future commissions from people attending the show," Mrs. Levy said. "At times, someone visiting the show will want a custom-made piece in a different size, shape or color and phone us to see if we’d be able to create what they want."

At the opening reception, Galleria restaurants will provide complimentary food, and the arts organizations will provide complimentary beverages. Jack Puglisi, Upper St. Clair pen and ink pointillist, will draw patron caricatures, and Pete Percherka of Pittsburgh, winner of the fall show’s poster competition, will sign his posters.

The winner of the spring show poster competition and the winner of the Giant Oak Garden Club’s poster competition for the garden show at the Galleria in June will be announced.

"During the 10-day run of the spring show, we’ll have at least a couple of special events each day," Mrs. Mercorelli said. The Pittsburgh Irish Reelers will dance at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, and the Pittsburgh Civic Orchestra will perform at 2:30 p.m. March 22. "Currently, we’re working with other musical groups to fill in additional slots," she said.

Organizers are asking that each of the arts groups hold two art classes during the run of the show. Class topics may include a class for adults and children in drawing Disney characters or another for children on drawing forsythia blossoms in a vase on black cardboard. David Obidzinski, a member of the Upper St. Clair League for the Arts and a watercolorist, will lead a watercolor class, although a date has not been set yet.

Fifteen percent of all spring show sales by members of the Upper St. Clair League for the Arts will go toward the league’s scholarship fund, which awards a $1,500 scholarship to Upper St. Clair High School students who intend to further their education and pursue a career in art.

The league currently has about 64 members who live in the greater Pittsburgh area and include artists such as painters, quilters, jewelry-makers, potters and more. The league schedules four meetings a year at the Upper St. Clair Library, and dues are $20 a year.

"We’re a very eclectic group and even have one member who lives as far away as Akron, Ohio," Mrs. Levy said.

Details: 412-221-2332.

Dave Zuchowski, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.

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