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7 Ligonier galleries partner to present early holiday shopping opportunity

| Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

After the great success of the inaugural Ligonier Art Walk in May, local galleries are coming together once again for the Affordable Art Stroll — an event that promises to be an enjoyable, educational event for all.

Participating art galleries and the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art will simultaneously play host to the Affordable Art Stroll in Ligonier on Nov. 1.

The event will begin at 10 a.m. to noon at SAMA with a marbling technique demonstration (reservations required) and will continue throughout the afternoon at six Ligonier art galleries: Allegory Gallery, Conte Design-Lifestyle Gallery, Dovecote Ligonier, G Squared Gallery, Jaime Cooper Gallery & Studio and Main Exhibit Gallery.

“With the Ligonier Art Walk, we are able to spotlight Ligonier as a creative destination,” said Andrew Thornton, local artist and co-owner of Allegory Gallery. “Nearly all of the galleries and art venues have come together to recognize and promote Ligonier as a place to experience artwork. Individually, I believe we achieve a lot, but together, our impact is multiplied and we're able to reach out to a much larger audience.”

Guests who visit the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art at Ligonier Valley, located at One Boucher Lane, will have the opportunity to view exhibits by local artist William Hoffman Jr.

Additionally, artist Jean Coursey Beaufort will demonstrate a marbling technique.

Participants will paint the inside of glass ball ornaments. They may bring items from home to decorate the balls and may create up to a dozen balls.

Cost for the demonstration is $25 and reservations must by made by Friday. Reservations can be making by contacting the museum at 724-238-6015.

Starting the event at SAMA in the morning will provide an opportunity for visitors to see the exhibits ongoing at the museum and participate in a craft before going into Ligonier to dine and visit the shops before the galleries open their exhibits.

“The Ligonier Art Walk is a great new addition to Ligonier's ever increasing basket of fun things to do,” said H Childs, a local artist who owns G Squared Gallery with wife, Pat.

The public is encouraged to tour the galleries to browse, learn about various art and photography techniques, and possibly seek out some unique holiday gifts.

“One of the things trending right now in the art world is the ‘affordable art fairs',” Thornton said. “The shift puts more of an emphasis on finding things you love instead of finding investment pieces. What we're doing with the Affordable Art Stroll is capturing this spirit and opening up the ability to collect and live with art to all levels of art appreciators and enthusiasts.”

With individual art receptions taking place at each of the participating galleries beginning between 4 and 6 p.m., guests will have an opportunity to enjoy all that Ligonier has to offer in the way of eateries and merchants.

Allegory Gallery, located at 215 East Main, will feature the fantastical world of Todd Beisel. The Johnstown based artist will feature original small-scale paintings.

Beads, finished jewelry and unique jewelry making items will be available for sale.

“We were very happy with the turn out,” Thornton said of the inaugural Art Walk. “It was the opening day of our new location and we were overwhelmed with the show of support. Shirleah Kelly's work was well received and we were happy to connect several pieces with collectors.”

Thornton said he thinks the Ligonier Art Walk is an event beneficial to the community.

“The work that we do enriches the everyday experience, tapping into beauty and creativity,” he said. “Not only does it emphasize Ligonier as a place to experience art, but it also spotlights our local arts-oriented merchant community. As small businesses, we provide job opportunities, pay taxes and several of the participants volunteer and sit on boards that enhance the community.”

A reception is slated for 5 – 7 p.m. at Allegory Gallery.

Several activities are planned to take place at Conte Design-Lifestyle Gallery, located at 113 East Main Street.

“On the main floor will be various art pieces that would make great accents for a variety of living spaces,” said Elizabeth Fuchs, a representative from the gallery.

On the second floor, gallery owners George and Olive Conte are playing host to the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh, who will bring several works created by Pittsburgh area artists for the exhibition, juried by American post pop artist, John Ritter.

All of the artwork will be available to view throughout the day and the public is welcome to attend an artist's reception between 6 and 8 p.m., where they are invited to meet the artists and participate in the juried exhibit.

“The inaugural art walk was an energetic experience for Conte Design Lifestyle Gallery,” Fuchs said. “It allowed us to meet potential customers and introduce the art and artists we believe are creating an impact in the art world. We are excited to collaborate once again with other creative shop owners of Ligonier. We enjoy the opportunity to share a cultural experience which will potentially bring new faces to the area.”

Dovecoat Ligonier, at 136 West Main, is the home gallery of PJ Zimmerlink, a contemporary artist of richly layered symbolic works. The shop offers a variety of splendid estate jewelry, antique sterling silver wares and upscale home consignment finds.

“We're looking forward to another great Artwalk with P J Zimmerlink and, in keeping with our affordable theme, original framed watercolors by Latrobe artist Kathy Sobota will be available for purchase as well,” owner Elizabeth Whitlock said.

G Squared Gallery, at 138 East Main, will be presenting a photography show called ‘Lenstastic.' The general theme is based on gentle photo manipulation of everyday scenes — architecture, landscapes, portraiture and animals.

‘Lenstastic' will feature photographs by Abie Gates Lively of Boxwood Photography, who will showcase photos that have been manipulated using different iPhone photography apps; Joshua C. Whetzel, whose images will be of a technique called focus stacking where multiple images are taken so the entire image is very sharp at all focal ranges; and H Childs, whose photos will be comprised of a technique called HDR photography — a technique where several shots taken at different exposures are combined to get a full dynamic range of light.

“It should be a fun evening,” said Childs. “We've never had a photography show before and I love talking about photography so I'm hoping for a big turnout with interesting conversations.”

Jaime Cooper, an artist nationally known for her portraiture and figurative work, will present a Student Art Show at the Jaime Cooper Gallery & Studio located at 212 West Main.

“At the inaugural event I had a successful show with lots of beautiful and varied work done by my private art students,” Cooper said. “I did an alla prima oil portrait painting demonstration with a live model. It was a full house in my studio.”

Cooper will be doing an oil painting demonstration, beginning at 4 p.m.

“This time I will be focusing on the figure, color mixing for skin tones, and adjustments necessary when painting from a photographic reference,” Cooper said. “It will be cool for the general public to watch the progression of the painting and very informative for any art students. All are welcome to attend.”

Cooper will be available to discuss painting commissions and private art lessons.

Paul and Mandy Sirofchuck, owners of Main Exhibit Gallery at 301 West Main Street, are looking forward to playing host to guests in their newly-expanded gallery space.

“We'll be highlighting fine craft and art that is $200 and less, in keeping with the “affordable” theme for gift giving,” Mandy Sirofchuck said.

Items available will include ceramics by Ron Korczynski, boxes by Paul Sirofchuck, wood collages by George Wazenegger, framed and unframed 2-D work by Jan Heath, Mary Hamilton and David Clark; lots of jewelry and many other beautiful pieces made in the USA.

“This will be a great opportunity for visitors to check off some of those special people on their gift lists; we'll be ready to wrap for Christmas and Hanukkah,” Sirofchuck said.

Light refreshments will be available from 5-7 p.m.

“The first art walk was a great success,” said Sommer Toffle, coordinator at the Ligonier Valley museum. “We had a great response from the community. It brought a lot of people to our museum who had not been here before.”

Toffle said the galleries collectively decided to conduct the second Ligonier Art Walk before the holiday season.

“Handmade art is a fabulous gift to buy for someone,” Toffle said.

Gallery owners have decided to make the Art Walk a bi-annual event, occurring every May and November.

“The great thing about the Ligonier Art Walk is that we're doing it democratically,” said Thornton. “It's really exciting and I feel really good about the group we have together. Everyone has a vested interest in the community and seeing the arts promoted.”

Cami DiBattista is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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