Greater Latrobe students to select art for gala display

| Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Though Barbara Nakles has headed the Greater Latrobe School District Art Conservation Trust for 14 years, she can't predict what pieces the students will choose each year to add to the collection.

“They never vote for the one I want,” she said jokingly.

Try as she might, only the students have the final say in the paintings, which will be on display at the trust's Annual Art Gala on Nov. 7, an event that raises money for the care and conservation of the 200 pieces of original art that adorn the senior high school hallways.

This week, senior high students will view the 18 pieces chosen at three different regional art shows and vote for their top five favorites to be revealed at the gala.

About 500 people are expected at the event, in its 13th year, held in the Center for Student Creativity and surrounded by the collection begun in 1936.

“It's quite a festive affair,” Nakles said. “It's almost like a big family reunion. ... It really is a symbol of why the art collection works because it belongs to this cross-section of the community.”

Chairwoman Cynthia Busch has planned this year's event with a beach theme, reflected even in the invitations with “The Beach,” a triptych painting by Elizabeth Hazlett, one of the founders of the Latrobe Art Center, acquired in 2004.

The trust will honor the center this year, Nakles said.

“We just felt that the art center has brought so much to our community,” she said, adding that director Gabi Nastuck deserves special recognition. “We're also so impressed with what Gabi has done and the work she has done with children and senior citizens in our community.”

Four caterers will provide hors d'oeuvres as guests mingle while serenaded by student musicians before a program in the auditorium to showcase this year's choices.

The paintings were chosen from the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh 102nd Annual Exhibition in May, the Annual Mr. Fred Rogers Juried Exhibition in August at the Latrobe Art Center and the Southwestern Pennsylvania Council for the Arts 18th Annual Regional Juried Art Exhibition opening in November at the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art in Ligonier.

Junior high students will also have five paintings to choose from to contribute one to their art collection, and a committee of fifth graders from each of Greater Latrobe's three elementary schools will add their input, Nakles said.

“It really is that feeling of ownership that is the foundation for success” of the art collection, which draws Greater Latrobe alumni back to the school year after year to revel in the paintings that they chose, she said.

The gala will benefit conservation of the artwork, the mission of the trust, Nakles said.

“It is a gift that belongs to every single person,” she said.

Stacey Federoff is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6660 or

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