Valley Art Club's exhibit spotlights Valley
To say the 67th annual juried exhibit of the Valley Art Club was a memorable event might be an understatement of sorts.
Eleven members of the club received awards in recognition of their talents, and the festivities were enhanced by special recognition of the late Mary F. Alvarez, a longtime member, awards winner and past president of the organization, during the program at Mon Valley Community Health Center in Monessen.
"This is truly a special day," Mary Ann Kopach-Laber, president of the club, told the more than 200 people taking part in the opening reception. "One again, the quality of the paintings in the exhibit emphasize the talent and dedication of artists in the Mon Valley. We are deeply grateful to our sponsors and the patrons who are here and we appreciate the City of Monessen for making the health center facilities available for the exhibit."
Complementing the presentation of traditional honors to this year's top artists was the introduction of floral and landscape painting awards in honor and memory of Alvarez, a Carroll Township resident who died July 29, 2007. Those awards, sponsored by Charleroi Chiropractic Pain & Wellness Center, Inc., were presented to Patricia Jones of Fallowfield Township, best floral, and Sabra Clark of Belle Vernon, best landscape.
"We are very pleased to present these awards in memory of our mother," Alvarez's daughter, Laura Emricko of Carroll Township, business manager at Charleroi Chiropractic, said. "She committed so much of her life to art and to others and we feel this is a significant way to honor her and give something back to the community."
In addition to Emricko, Alvarez was represented at the exhibit by her husband, Joseph "Speed" Alvarez of Carroll Township; her daughters, Adella Boord of Carroll, Mary Jo Garbart of Donora and Donna Marie DiBiaso of Youngwood, and her son, Joseph Alvarez III of Fallowfield Township. Clark and Jones said the awards "are very meaningful."
"Mary loved art and was very passionate about her involvement with the Valley Art Club," Clark said. "She was a member of the club for many years and a true leader during her tenure as president. Most important, she was a good friend." Jones agreed.
"She was a delightful woman," Jones said. "It was always a pleasure to be in her company. She was a talented artist who encouraged and inspired us in many ways."
Alvarez, the daughter of the late Anthony and Virginia Vaughn Mancuso of Monessen, was a graduate of Charleroi High School.
In addition to her affiliation with the Valley Art Club, she also was active in the community for many years as a Girl Scout troop leader, a Boy Scouts den mother and a member of the Carroll Township Volunteer Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary. She retired after years of assisting in the business (Alvarez and Mancuso Construction) shared by her husband and her brother, Tom Mancuso.
Top awards in this year's exhibit were presented as follows:
• Christine Gilotty -- best of show, Sparky, watercolor; first place, Spring Fresh Floral, watercolor; best materials, Taste Like Summer, watercolor; best theme, Pastry Art, water color.
• Sabra Clark -- best oil and acrylic, Nussar Barn in Rostraver Township; second place, animals, Pong the Chow at three months old; third place, Floral; honorable mention, oil and acrylic, Colonel Cook's Residence, Rostraver Township.
• John DiBattista -- best other media, J.D.; first place, abstract, Smiling Acrobats; honorable mention, portrait, Bianca, and abstract, Joan's Choice.
• Joyce Gazdick -- second place, floral, Poinsettia; third place, still life, Red Beets and Eggs; honorable mention, still life, Super Season, all in watercolors.
• Patricia Jones -- first place, still life, oil and acrylic, Old Door In Italy; best Valley scene, other media, John's Balcony; honorable mention, abstract, oil and acrylic; Abstract Bottles; floral, Vase of Lilacs, other media.
• Mary Ann Kopach-Laber -- first place, landscape, oil and acrylic, Pond; honorable mention, animal, oil and acrylic, Big John.
• Arabelle Lancaster -- first place, Genre, oil and acrylic, Granada Greeting Band.
• Mary Elaine Lozosky -- first place, portrait, Miner; second, genre, A Proud Miner; third, genre, Coal Mine Blacksmith, and animal, Mariah; honorable mention, genre, A Path to the Sea. All were in the oil and acrylic category.
• Michelle Meneskie -- third place, animal, another media, Jack.
• Clarice Munk -- first place, animal, Chelsey; third, portrait, Baby. Both were in the oil and acrylic category.
• Fay Thomas -- second place, portrait, Sitting in the Sun, and abstract, Untitled, both in watercolors.
Other artists whose works were featured in the exhibit were Rita Bates, Anne T. Cepaitis, Anne R. Finnen, Harriett Peters, Kay Podany and Bonita Tome.
Juried judge for the exhibit was James A. Bove, assistant professor of art and design at California University of Pennsylvania.
Laber said Bove was "very impressed" by the Valley Art Club's show.
"He was highly complimentary of our artists and their work," she said. "That kind of praise means a lot to us as artists, especially coming from someone with the credentials of Mr. Bove," Laber said.
Entertainment for the exhibit was presented by the Laurel Mountain Winds, a talented woodwind quintet comprised of John Martucci, Gayle Cuneo, Dane Shultz, Barbara Mayer and Richard McCoy.
Work spotlighted at the opening reception will continue to be displayed for public viewing on the fourth floor of the health center Monday through Friday from noon until 8 p.m. through October 9. Many of the paintings are for sale.
The Valley Art Club, one of the oldest organizations of its kind in southwestern Pennsylvania, was organized in 1941 under the auspices of the Monessen Women's Club. It was initially known as the Monessen Art Club. The name was changed in 1951 to signify a Valley-wide organization.
Membership is open to anyone interested in art. Additional information is available by calling Laber at 724-684-5534.