Oakmont gallery owners give new life to unlikely objects
The truth is: Oakmont is a pretty creative neighborhood.
One of its inspirations is Truthful Art, a gallery offering laid-back painting workshops, funky furniture makeovers and cool customized sneakers.
Owner Michelle du Toit Nortier, 25, of Fox Chapel focuses on keeping things green through creative reuse. In her Cedar Way studio, she focuses on transforming old or unlikely objects into art.
Nortier's work ranges from colorfully painted Converse All-Star sneakers — water lilies, Elvis portraits and Pittsburgh Penguins — to wine bottles that are “dressed” in fanciful clothing and accessories.
According to Rachel Dawn Renaudin, 25, of Forest Hills, who collaborates with Nortier at Truthful Art, the studio's approach is an extension and an expression of their personal creative philosophy.
“Michelle and I want to share our unique and function standpoint with art,” Renaudin says. “For us, art is far more than a visual description of something. Art communicates, touches and changes people's perspective on reality where words fall short.”
A painter and fellow Edinboro University graduate, Renaudin promotes the studio's work and teaches workshops alongside Nortier.
Those workshops share the artists' passion for painting. Relaxed and inviting affairs by design, Truthful Art welcomes participants to BYOB and serves light fare for the afternoon sessions. Acrylic painting workshops run from noon to 3:30 p.m. Sundays. Classes cost $45 and include paint, brushes and canvas. They are open to adults with any level of artistic experience.
The gallery has caught the attention of other Alle-Kiski Valley artists and art studios. Vesna Leibowitz, who runs Lower Burrell's Artform Gallery and Tattoo with her husband, Seth, says Nortier has collaborated with their artistic efforts in the past.
“We love everything that she's doing, and we always have her work in our shows,” Vesna Leibowitz says. She hopes to see more efforts like Nortier's in the area.
Nortier says she believes in finding beauty in simplicity, be it the quality and character of wood, bottle caps or fabric. That extends to items that are discarded. When she salvages them, she does DIY in her own way.
“I look for these things to not only transform them into art, but into the unexpected,” she says.
Among past projects are an old piano, which she sanded, then repainted with a vibrant scene. Another specialty of Nortier's is giving forgotten doors a makeover. These unlikely canvases are bright with landscapes, portraits and a signature scene that gives the viewer a peep through a large keyhole.
Nortier accepts commissions, too, taking a client's long-forgotten furniture and turning it into a one-of-a-kind functional piece.
Doing so proves beneficial in more ways than one, according to the artist.
“Truthful Art strives to work for a new response from the audience, to reach the people, not just the artists, in a functional, environmental and innovative way,” Nortier says.
To Renaudin, their mission is about not only giving new life to repurposed pieces, but also, she says, redefining what fine art means.
“The core of what this creative center stands for is the openness to approach any surface necessary with artistic intention,” she says. “Whether the concept is more adequately described on canvas, an old window shutter, an abandoned piano or a lampshade, there are no bounds or limits that should ever set an artist back.”
Julie Martin is a contributing writer for TribTotal Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Ross brothers ordered to pay fine, remove debris from Christmas display
- Nearing season’s midpoint, Steelers still have issues to sort out
- Testing legs, giving backup goalie a chance are Penguins’ priorities
- Police seize phones of some Norwin High School students
- Rossi: Fleury is, and will remain, Penguins’ soul
- 7 in custody after New Kensington drug raid
- Calgon Carbon poised for explosive growth
- Steelers film session: Watt kept under control
- Greater Latrobe teachers, school board approve 5-year contract
- 2 stores robbed in Alle-Kiski Valley
- Injured Pitt center Rowell plays well-rounded role on campus