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Latrobe Art Center plans colorful anniversary celebration

| Tuesday, June 12, 2012, 9:55 a.m.

The Latrobe Art Center on Ligonier Street, which has served as a showcase for area artists and an art educational site for students, is celebrating its 10th anniversary with two days of fun, music, painting, food and artwork on display this weekend.

"What a great way to celebrate art in the community. The Latrobe Art Center has been providing wonderful, creative activities for youth and adults for 10 years," said Georgia Teppert, president of the Latrobe Art Center, whose daughter has participated in artistic summer camps.

Gabrielle K. Nastuck of Latrobe, the center director for the past two years and an artist who exhibited her work at the gallery, said the center is part of a vibrant downtown.

"We bring people into downtown Latrobe. We're here to keep art alive and educate people," about art, she said.

The festivities will kickoff at 6 p.m. Friday and a ribbon-cutting ceremony is set for 6:30 p.m. Tickets to the evening gala are $40 per person and those attending can doodle on a large canvas that will be displayed in one of the windows when it is finished.

During the gala, the founders of the Latrobe Art Center, Nancy Rogers Crozier and the late Elizabeth Hazlett, will be honored for their contributions.

The women had envisioned the art center developing into a place where local artists can exhibit their work. That has happened, as more than 90 artists exhibit their work at the gallery, Nastuck said. The center exhibits paintings, photography, stained glass, photography, jewelry and pottery.

Twenty artists who have been displaying their work at the art center since it opened, will be recognized as well, Nastuck said. The art center will showcase their work in its Ten Year Artists Show, which will run through August, Nastuck said.

"It's a great place for people to let out their creativity. I love it," said Kathy Rafferty of Latrobe, who is one of the 20 artists who will be honored for their longevity at the center.

The facility is more than just an art center to the community, said Rafferty, who works in acrylic and oil doing a variety of portraits, animals and still life.

"It's a great place to meet people. It is the life of Latrobe," said Rafferty, vice president of the art center board.

That 'life of Latrobe' will feature a Beatles tribute band, the Abbey Roadsters from the Pittsburgh area, playing music in the street at 8 p.m.

On Saturday, the doors will open at 10 a.m. Four different performers will play music in the street during the festivities from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Youngsters will be able to have their faces painted for free by artists, paint a birthday cupcake, decorate a birthday sugar cookie and paint a picture with their pets.

Those attending Saturday's celebration will need to purchase tickets to participate in the art activities.

A Chinese auction that began June 1 will conclude at 3 p.m. Saturday, when the winners will be announced. Participants have an opportunity to win a free birthday party rental at the art center, kids camp sessions throughout the summer and four pieces of jewelry designed by four artists.

The art center began as a vision shared by Crozier and Hazlett, who wanted to create an art center where local talent could exhibit their work. Crozier could not be reached for comment.

The center has grown to where it now has space for about 300 pieces of artwork, thanks to its expansion into the former Volkwein's Music storefront. By creating an opening in a wall that had separated the two storefronts, the gallery has doubled its space, Nastuck said.

The McFeely-Rogers Foundation owns the building, which had been a Kamp's shoe store before it was converted into an art center, Nastuck said.

In addition to giving local artists a place to exhibit their talents, the center serves as a facility for art education, Nastuck said. Students at Christ the Divine Teacher in Latrobe and the Greater Latrobe High School use the center during the school year, adding 1,600 visitors to the facility. Youngsters also are using the facility through various summer art camps, Nastuck said.

A cafe also draws visitors, Nastuck said.

"Business keeps picking up," said cafe manager Amanda Nelson. The cafe has added a local catering service, Nelson said.

The local support for the center has impressed David Opalinski, a Greensburg architectural designer who has done interior design work at the center.

"The greatest thing I see is the activity in this art center. It's amazing the amount of interest and cooperation they have," Opalinski said.