Armstrong County League of Arts a cultural beacon
Tucked into a grassy hollow in Armstrong County sits a log cabin. A log cabin in and of itself is not an unusual sight in this area. Weekend retreats and hunting lodges are frequently constructed of logs and stone. But this particular cabin is different.
Walk by it some evening, and you'll be treated to the sounds of fiddles sparking out a tune while a guitar and banjo keep feet pounding and hands clapping to the bluegrass tempo.
Or maybe you'll stop by some summer afternoon and catch sight of a group of easels at the ready as artists blend and brush their paints against a waiting canvas.
Welcome to the county's best-kept secret — The Armstrong County League of Arts.
Established in 1974 by a group of like-minded artists, musicians, and craftsmen, the League has endeavored to be a cultural light in the area.
Marilyn Rea, the League of Arts' president and one of the founding members, said the League's goal has been to promote arts and music in Armstrong County and the surrounding area.
“It's been a real success,” Rea said. “I don't call it spectacular, but we're here.”
The League's presence in the community has allowed participants from not only the county but as far away as Ohio and West Virginia to take part in art and music classes.
Rea is serious about the level of instruction available through the League.
“Our goal is to have nationally accredited instructors. You try to keep these levels high.”
Indeed, the levels are high — the League attracts nationally known musicians and artists.
This past summer saw classes in watercolors, portrait drawing, pottery, wood carving, and even a class in acrylic painting taught by Rea, herself an internationally known artist.
Musicians from around the nation congregated at the League's music summer camp eager to share their instrumental knowledge to those desiring to improve their skills.
Among the instructors was Cassandra Sotos, a professional violinist and fiddle player who has opened for country music artists such as Rascal Flatts, Brookes and Dunn, and Kenny Chesney. Sotos traces some of her musical roots back to the League, where she had her first paid gig as a fiddle player for the League's square dance band.
Another board member and longtime participant is Thomas McLaughlin.
“I'm a musician. I learned to play and perform with the organization,” he said.
McLaughlin is firmly behind the vision of the League of Arts.
“There's a strong musical influence in Armstrong County, with bluegrass, Old Time and with the arts. We provide an opportunity to learn and for people to express their individual talents.”
Rea's daughter, Sue Bryan, grew up with the League of Arts as a part of her childhood and found her life the richer for it.
“I never thought it was anything different. It was normal,” Bryan said. “I didn't realize a lot of people aren't exposed to that. More people should have that kind of normal.”
Bryan expressed her belief that what the League offers is of great value to families in the community.
“There needs to be a place in the county where families can come together. We are all about family.
“We want kids to learn and be exposed to the arts when they are young,” Bryan continued.
Rea said the League welcomes children and adults to take advantage of the classes offered.
“Students from 10 years old to 90 attend the camps. It's been a nice split.”
To date, the League has approximately 80 members. The cost for membership is $15 per individual, $30 per family, per year. Membership includes discounts for classes and camps.
To founding member Anna Gerheim, the League of Arts represents not only a chance to learn, but a chance to grow.
“I think every community needs a cultural center that enlightens. For me, personally, it's a place where the soul is uplifted by some form of art.”
Because of the vision of a small group of artists 40 years ago, Armstrong County has that place in the League of Arts.
Kathleen Edwards is a correspondent for the Leader Times.
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.
- State agents arrest Ford City man on child porn charges
- Gateway Clipper making 2 Armstrong County cruises in October
- Christian radio station off air while on the market
- Lenape adult learning center in Manor offers free job-readiness classes, job training
- Dog day of summer at East Franklin pool
- Ford City offers 50-year payment plan for its $581,000 federal debt
- Auctioneer expects quick sales at Ford City High School
- Fundraiser planned for Ford Cliff breast cancer patient
- Rally ‘round the River Hawks at bonfires in East Franklin, Kittanning
- Joker and his Batman goat win Dayton Fair contest
- Program in Ford City helps girls build confidence, self-esteem