Dormont pool painting to help raise money for renovations

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The superlatives rolled off John Maggio’s tongue.

“It’s incredible, beautiful, fantastic,” he said, adding, “breathtaking.”

Mr. Maggio, president of the Friends of Dormont Pool, had just taken his first look last week at a painting of the venerable hot-weather spot undertaken by Pittsburgh artist Johno Prascak.

For mostly everyone else, details of the 4-by-5-foot work on canvas will be kept under wrap until August, when the painting will be unveiled, first on local television and then officially during a special Friends of Dormont Pool fundraising event.

To further help the group financially, 900 prints of the painting will be sold: half of them signed and numbered, and half as 8-by-10-inch depictions suitable for framing.

“I told them, the only catch is on your guys. You have to sell the prints,” said Mr. Prascak, who has lent his artistic talents to the organization’s cause several times in the past.

A resident of the South Side Slopes, where his gallery is located, he spent his formative years in Dormont after his parents, Mary and the late Joseph Prascak, moved there from Munhall.

“Dad thought he hit the lottery when he was able to buy a house in Dormont in 1962,” Mr. Prascak said, citing several amenities including the local swimming pool, which had its origins in the 1920s.

“That was a big part of my family summer. We all learned how to swim there,” he recalled. “I have great, wonderful memories.”

Those memories came flooding back when he started working on his painting in the pool’s off-season. Using a few photos for reference, he fashioned a portrait to capture the timeless liveliness of the popular swimming area.

“The painting screams summer and color,” he said. “It could be right now or years ago.”

Mr. Prascak creates each of his paintings by mixing enamels with sand from the Mononghahela River, giving his artwork a distinctive texture. For the pool painting, he added an extra-local touch.

“They got me a chunk of old Dormont Pool concrete. I crushed it up, and it’s in the painting, too,” he explained. “Plus I put in a little surprise, a good surprise.”

Viewers of KDKA-TV’s “Pittsburgh Today Live,” which has Mr. Prascak’s city-themed artwork featured on its set, will get a look at the painting Aug. 7, he said. The official unveiling will be during a reception scheduled from 8 to 10 p.m. Aug. 16 at the James Gallery, 413 S. Main St., West End.

For more information or to buy tickets, call 412 561-7692 or contact Tickets also can be purchased at

Harry Funk, freelance writer:

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