Category Archives: Local News

Finkle family art on display at the Mount

By OUR TOWN

Artists Bob, Joanne and Jason Finkle have an eclectic collection of more than 50 pieces on display through May 19 at the Wolf-Kuhn Art Gallery at Mount Aloysius College.

The Finkle Exhibit features unique wood and stone sculptures created by Bob Finkle, paintings by his wife, Joanne, and wooden bowls created by their son, Jason.

“What I try to do is present (the piece) in such a way as to bring the surface of the beauty that lives within it,” Bob Finkle wrote in a statement to the college. “It is my intent to use the lines and colors that have surfaced due to all the forces of nature that have been inflicted upon them.”

Joanne Finkle uses a mixed media technique that draws audiences in to her colorful, textured artworks.

“The collection here at Mount Aloysius is what I refer to as an eclectic assortment,” Joanne Finkle said. “There is quite a variety, but that’s just me! I really enjoy the experimental part of art. You never quite know how it will develop.”

Their son, Jason, works on a lathe and created his 100th bowl in 2015.

“Carving on the lathe is a very Zen sort of process for me,” he said. “It allows me to escape the pressures of the workday and I feel really good at the end of the day if I manage to create something that even surprises me.”

Bob Finkle believes the exhibit completes a circle of sorts, bringing their family’s collection back to where their artistic creativity all began.

“It is a true honor for the Finkle family to be coming home to Mount Aloysius College and we hope you enjoy our art,” he said. “The Mount has been an important influence on its creation and on all of our lives.”

The Wolf-Kuhn Art Gallery is located on the first floor of the main building, and is open daily. To inquire about the gallery’s hours or about pieces for sale, call 814-886-6470 or email dtalbot@mtaloy.edu.

Resident artists’ work exhibited at Bottle Works

By KAYLA PONGRAC
Our Town Correspondent

Bottle Works Arts on Third’s nine resident artists will have their work on display in the Bottle Works galleries through Feb. 25.
The exhibit, dubbed “Studio Works,” opened to the public Jan. 27.

“This is an opportunity for us to showcase and share with the community the talent of our resident artists who are here quietly creating all year long while exhibits, events and classes go on around them,” said Laura Argenbright, Bottle Works’ newly appointed executive director. “It is also a chance for the public to discover and support the arts movement that is thriving in Cambria City.”

Bottle Works’ resident artists, all of whom have studios either in the Bottle Works building or the neighboring Art Works building, are Josh Ensley, Marcene Glover, Jaime Helbig, Brandon Hirt, Holly Lees, Joanne Mekis, Todd Stiffler, Christopher Tower and Laura Williamson.

Argenbright said this exhibit is as unique as the artists themselves.

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Marcene Glover — a former congressional portrait artist and courtroom artist who is active with national arts advocacy organizations — is having her art displayed at Bottle Works.

“Each artist brings his or her own style and statement to this exhibit,” Argenbright said. “I think that people will delight in the diversity of this exhibit, realizing how each of our artists brings his or her own perspective to the collective show. Together, they form an impressive collaboration of work ranging from impasto brushstrokes of realism to dynamic contemporary expressions.”

Ensley said that his artwork is inspired by “the way (his) art impacts people and the way that they interact with the finished piece.”

“My job as an artist is to fill the world with more virtuosity,” Ensley said. “I work in a lot of different styles using a wide variety of materials. Each new medium, motif or material sharpens both my critical thinking and physical skills so that my work improves across the board with each new project.”

Glover enjoys painting subtleties that hint at subject matter, coax viewers to define the details and inspire viewers to engage in the conversation with the painting. Glover is a former congressional portrait artist and courtroom artist who is active with national arts advocacy organizations, commuting weekly to New York City to exhibit her work and help curate shows.

Helbig, an oil painter, has honed her skills as a contemporary figurative painter. Her latest work features a series of local cityscapes. 

Helbig has a bachelor’s in art education and a master’s in painting and drawing. She also serves as an adjunct professor at Pennsylvania Highlands Community College.

Hirt, a photographer, described his art by saying: “My photography is a box of chocolates that is full of variety image-making. My sweet tooth really is long exposure photography. Using these techniques, I am able to create luminous landscapes that reveal a peacefulness or chaos to a scene.”

Lees, also a photographer, recently became an art and mindfulness teacher. She is particularly interested in the role of art as a tool for self-discovery and acceptance. Her portraits share stories of individuals and communities around the world.

Award-winning graphic designer Mekis has created logos and symbols for a wide variety of clients around the country. She also enjoys acrylic painting, plus teaching art and art history to both children and adults.

Stiffler’s mixed media work is created from action figures and collaged comic book images. He aims to attract viewers’ attention through vivid shapes and patterns.

Tower also uses patterns in his work; the artist creates a wide-ranging color combination of marker and black pen outlines on paper. In his patterns, described as “caveman meets comic book,” he strives to create art that is “crazy, cool and fun.”

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Chris Tower is shown above at a former Bottle Works exhibit. The artist Tower uses patterns in his work to create wide-ranging color combination of marker and black pen outlines on paper. 

Williamson is a piano teacher who opened her Bottle Works studio, “Piano for Pleasure,” to the public in 2014. She teaches recreational piano classes to adults of all ages and abilities. Her career as a music-teaching artist includes solo and collaborative piano performing, editorial consulting, mentoring, and teaching private and group lessons.

Argenbright said that each resident artist is, in his or her own unique way, making a positive impact on the community.

“Each artist feels passionately about his/her work and projects it through teaching, community/public art projects such as the Pillar Project and exhibiting,” Argenbright said.

In celebration of the exhibit, Bottle Works will host an “Art Bites” luncheon Feb. 11 beginning at noon. The luncheon is to give attendees an opportunity to meet and talk to the artists, as well as participate in a panel discussion.

Bottle Works—Arts on Third Avenue is located at 411 Third Ave. in Johnstown’s Cambria City neighborhood. For more information about the exhibit or the upcoming “Art Bites” luncheon, visit www.bottleworks.org online or call a staff member at 814-535-2020 or 814-536-5399.

Gallery hours are Tuesdays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Argenbright said she’s thrilled about this exhibit, and viewers might even walk away from it with a unique gift for someone special.

“The artistic aptitude that is evident in this show is a testament to the talent Bottle Works fosters here in Johnstown,” Argenbright said. “The majority of the pieces in this exhibit will be for sale, and it does lend itself to a very meaningful, locally crafted gift for Valenitne’s Day or any special occasion.”

Symphony seeks to rebound, expand programming

By BRUCE SIWY
bruces@ourtownjohnstown.com

JOHNSTOWN — Maestro James Blachly and board members of the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra aim to add some innovative new events in 2017.

Goals include new partnerships with young entreprenuers, with area schools and universities, and a “Mozart on the Lawn” summer series in downtown Johnstown. They hope to also bring back the July 4 Point Stadium show, a tradition that was cancelled last year.

But to do this, organizers said during a fund drive press conference at the downtown Johnstown Holiday Inn on Jan. 25, increased financial support is necessary.

“When Johnstown does well, the symphony does well,” Blachly told the audience. “And when the symphony does well, Johnstown does well.
“Let’s go forward together.”

The symphony, according to fund drive Chairwoman Karen Azer, is a year removed from a campaign that raised less than $50,000 under different leadership. The goal for 2017 is to hit $100,000 — a feat that, she said, has been done in the past.

“We are confident we can reach it and, hopefully, exceed it,” she said, adding that trustees have kicked things off with a joint $15,000 contribution.

Azer also emphasized the costs associated with hosting world-class talent. The July 4 show at the Point Stadium, she said, costs more than $20,000 when the sound system is factored in.

“We believe making a commitment to the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra is making a commitment to the community at large. It takes a village to make a campaign like this successful,” she said.

Bill Locher — Azer’s co-chair of the fund drive and an executive with Somerset Trust Co. — agreed.

“I see the importance of having a symphony orchestra here as part of the culturual fiber of the community,” he said.

Financial forms filed with the Internal Revenue Service show significant fluctuations in program service revenue in recent years for the symphony. The nonprofit generated $143,376 in this category in 2011-12, but just $93,349 in 2012-13.

That figure rebounded to $118,699 in 2013-14, only to fall again to $95,924 in 2014-15. No filings were listed online for 2015-16.

In his opening for the press event, local television anchor Marty Radovanic recalled the first time he saw Johnstown Symphony Orchestra many years ago.

“I was blown away that day,” he said. “And I feel that same way every time I see this (symphony).”

To help reach the $100,000 goal, the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra is receiving the help this year of all board members and nearly 60 volunteers to solicit contributions. The plan is to mail information brochures to previous donors, those who buy tickets and members of groups that perform with the symphony.

Proceeds from the fund drive are to help the symphony support its overall operating budget, its youth orchestra and Inclined to Sing Children’s Chorus programs. Board members also hope to continue the symphony’s annual Mother’s Day show in Somerset.

Those with questions are asked to contact the symphony office at 814-535-6738. Donations are tax-deductible, and can be made online at www.johnstownsymphony.org.

Crittenden creates ‘lights-out’ exhibit

Submitted photo

By KAYLA PONGRAC
Our Town Correspondent

Community Arts Center of Cambria County’s first exhibit of 2017 is titled “Art in the Dark.” The exhibit, which opens to the public Jan. 28, features work by local artist Malcolm Crittenden, whose artwork focuses on black light pictures.

“My study and observation of the heavens has inspired me to become an artist by means of black light pictures,” Crittenden said. 
“I have chosen black light pencils as a medium to capture the details of the night sky. It is my desire to recreate the awe and wonder that falls upon those who stand out under the night sky.”

Crittenden signs each piece of his work with “Psalm 19:1.”

“The setting of David’s Psalm is familiar to my artwork: a nightscape, with both the earthly landscape of the Judean hills and the vastness of a starry night sky,” he said.

Crittenden, who served as a Pennsylvania state mine inspector, spent much of his career in the outdoors appreciating the vast landscapes. 

He has always been interested in astrology, too.

When the comet Hale Bopp appeared in the late 1990s, for instance, he purchased a large telescope and, several years later, painted his first black light poster titled “In the Beginning.” The poster was used as a teaching tool for a high school astronomy class.
Over the years, Crittenden developed an artistic approach that involved the use of fluorescent paints and pencils to capture nightscape-visions.

Angela Godin, the arts center’s executive director, said she admires Crittenden’s art, and is thrilled to display his paintings in the Goldhaber-Fend Fine Arts Center gallery.

“The opportunity for the community arts center to hold a uniquely diverse exhibition is a true honor,” Godin said. “We are excited to constantly offer new experiences and mediums for our members and the general public.”

Godin described the exhibit as being true to its name: The art will be experienced in the dark, as each piece will be displayed inside its own individually lit shadowbox.

“This exhibit is going to be a total experience,” she said. “The room will be, for the most part, completely black, and there are so many pieces that it will illuminate the room. This is something that hasn’t even been done in the area before.”

An opening reception for “Art in the Dark” is scheduled for Feb. 4 from 1 to 3 p.m. inside the arts center’s historic Goldhaber-Fend Fine Arts Center. 

During the reception, Crittenden is to present a gallery talk, which will give him the opportunity to discuss his creative process. Crittenden is also sharing a finished piece plus a work-in-progress.

Local musician Dan Becker is set to perform during the opening reception.

“Art in the Dark” is scheduled to continue through Feb. 28. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays.

“We’re trying to do more diverse and unique things and offer all different forms of art to really capture the essence of every type of medium,” Godin said. “There’s no doubt that this exhibit provides a great start to 2017.”

In addition to viewing the exhibit, people are also invited to vote on their favorite paintings. Those who do will receive a free raffle chance, and the winner of the raffle will receive a black light piece of his or her choice. 

The raffle drawing is scheduled to take place Feb. 22 at 7 p.m. Additional raffle tickets can be purchased from a staff member of the arts center.

Crittenden said he hopes that his work will inspire others to take a longer look at the night sky.

“The Goldhaber-Fend Fine Arts Center has a unique gallery in that the grounds surrounding the arts center lend a scenic quality to the normally plain gallery room,” he said. “Viewers, upon seeing my black light nightscapes exhibit, will likely want to step outside and peer at the night sky.”

Russian ballet to perform ‘Cinderella’

By KAYLA PONGRAC
Our Town Correspondent

The latter half of the Pasquerilla Performing Art Center’s 25th anniversary season commences with a full-scale production of “Cinderella” by The State Ballet Theater of Russia.

“Cinderella,” one of the most popular fables of all time, is to be presented at the arts center Jan. 25 beginning at 7:30 p.m.
“It’s going to be a beautiful, family-friendly evening,” arts center Executive Director Michael Bodolosky said. “Anybody who is interested in dance should plan to see this.”

Fifty-five dancers from The State Ballet Theater of Russia bring “Cinderella” to life through their dancing talents, wearing elaborate costumes and moving to a score composed by Sergei Prokofiev.

“I love Prokofiev’s music,” Bodolosky said. “It’s beautiful. Plus, the cast is great.”

Choreographed by Vladimir Vasiliev, former principal dancer with the Bolshoi Theater Ballet, “Cinderella” is suitable for all ages.
Bodolosky mentioned that The State Ballet Theater of Russia has performed at the arts center several times over the past few years. Most recently, they’ve presented “Swan Lake” and “Romeo and Juliet” there.

“We get a solid crowd because people in the area really like and appreciate ballet,” he said.

Tickets for “Cinderella” are on sale and can be purchased online by visiting www.upjarts.org or by calling 814-269-7200.
“It’s going to be really nice to see a good Russian ballet,” Bodolosky said. “This is going to be your classic rags-to-riches fairy tale, and I don’t think anyone is going to be disappointed.”

Upcoming play

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“Love, Loss and What I Wore” is to be performed Feb. 2 through Feb. 4 by the theater group at Mount Aloysius College in Cresson. Written by sisters Nora and Delia Ephron, the 80-minute play explores memories of joy, heartache and hope through monologues and ensemble pieces provoked to memory by the clothing the characters wore. Curtain time is at 7:30 p.m. each night in the college’s Alumni Hall, and the recommended audience is those 17 years of age and older. For more information, contact the box office at 814-886-6684. Shown preparing for the performance are, from left to right: (front row) Courtney Moyer and Rachel Mackrell; (second row) Ashley Stough, Brianna Ports, Rachel Haywood and Kylee Chuhran; (back row) Victoria Johnson, Amanda Loscar, Shyleigh Ulery, Kristy Magee, Anne Volk, Dr. Elizabeth Mansley, Michele Foley, Sami Aurandt, Claire Kirsch and Corrine Wollet.  Absent when the photo was taken were Dr. Jessica Jost Constanzo, Dr. Julie Smith and Eiler Stickley.

Bandshell group readies for Fat Friday fundraiser

By KATIE SMOLEN
Our Town Correspondent

Members of the Roxbury Bandshell Preservation Alliance are getting ready to host Fat Friday, the group’s biggest annual fundraiser.

This year’s event is to be held Feb. 24 at the St. Francis Activity Center in the West End with doors opening at 6 p.m. Flood City Brass is scheduled to provide entertainment for the night, which includes a meal catered by Anthony’s Restaurant, numerous items for Chinese Auction, a 50/50 drawing and numerous chances.

Tickets are being sold with the chance to be entered to win $10,000 or for just a meal. Each section of tickets is limited to 250.

According to the group’s president, Mary P. Borkow, the event is perfect for this time of year.

“It’s just a great event for people who are looking for a great night out after the holidays,” she said.

The event benefits the preservation of the Roxbury Bandshell, which has been ongoing since the group formed 11 years ago.

According to Borkow, $500,000 has been raised for the restoration thus far, but the effort is not completed.

“It’s an ongoing effort. We have a lot of ongoing projects,” she said. “The exterior is pretty much completed with the exception of the exterior lighting, and it’s just the interior that needs finished.”

Those looking for information or to purchase tickets can contact Sue Heller at 814-509-6623.

Walther hired by Johnstown Symphony Orchestra

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By OUR TOWN

After a six-month national search, retired Johnstown attorney and federal executive Mike Walther has been selected as the new executive director of the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra, according to a Jan. 10 announcement by the symphony’s board of trustees.
 
John Coyle, board president, described Walther as “exactly the kind of dynamic leader we had been hoping to find. His creative energy, business acumen and financial management experience will be a perfect complement to the artistic vision of our new music director, Maestro James Blachly.”

Walther served as director of the National Drug Intelligence Center in Johnstown from 2007 until it closed in 2012. He has operated a boutique legal practice with offices in Johnstown and New Orleans since his retirement from the Department of Justice.

Walther is also a retired U.S. Army Reserve military judge whose assignments included a deployment to Iraq in 2006 and 2007 on the staff of Gen. David Petraeus, where he served as director of the Law and Order Task Force in Baghdad.

“Michael Walther has, over the past decade or more, proven himself to be a strong leader and respected member of the Johnstown community,” Blachly said. “He is also a military veteran and he is passionate about the role that this orchestra can play in furthering the growth of Johnstown. We are fortunate that he has chosen to dedicate his abundant talent and prodigious energy to the future of our orchestra, and I am excited for what we can accomplish together.”

The Johnstown Symphony Orchestra is midway through its 88th season, with upcoming performances scheduled for March 11, April 1 and May 13. 

The concert scheduled March 11 features the music of American composer John Williams, with selections from his work in the blockbuster movies “ET,” “Star Wars,” “Jurassic Park” and “Harry Potter.” An April 1, a “French Brilliance” concert is to feature the music of Debussy, Saint-Saëns and Berlioz. The symphony season concludes on May 13 with two of the most recognizable pieces in classical music, Wagner’s “Overture to Tannhäuser” and Beethoven’s “Ninth Symphony.”

In addition to its six-concert subscription season, the orchestra is scheduled to perform a Mother’s Day Concert on May 14 in Somerset and a free concert, with fireworks, July 4 at Johnstown’s Point Stadium.

Symphony tickets are available online at www.upjarts.org or by calling 814-269-7200.

New mystery awaits at Westmont arts center

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BY KAYLA PONGRAC
Our Town Correspondent

The Community Arts Center of Cambria County, in conjunction with Mystery Theatre Pittsburgh, will present a murder mystery dinner theater event at Sunnehanna Country Club on Jan. 21 beginning at 5:30 p.m.

Arts center Executive Director Angela Godin said that the nonprofit’s first murder mystery dinner theater took place last year and was such a success that she and her staff decided to host another.

“Last year was the premier of our murder mystery dinner theater fundraiser, and it was an astounding success,” Godin said. “Those who attended were extremely pleased with the interactive experience.”

This year’s performance, titled “Diamonds to Die For,” will once again be fully interactive. A few lucky audience members will even have an opportunity to perform alongside the cast.

During the performance, audience members will be introduced to mega-celebrity and stylist to the stars Philippe Le Fleur. Le Fleur will debut his brand-new jewelry collection, and those in the audience will include world-famous supermodels, ex-lovers and Minnesota housewives. 

Rumor has it that the launch of this collection will be his final.

“This year’s show, ‘Diamonds to Die For,’ was written specifically for the center’s 2017 murder mystery dinner theater,” Godin said. “As the Community Arts Center grows through its new ventures in the performing arts, we are continuing to develop ourselves by branching into new areas. We are overwhelmed by the positive response of the community and attendees from last year’s dinner theater. 

“We are also excited to continue growing the future of the performing arts here at the community arts center.”

To coincide with the performance’s “jewelry” theme, arts center staff members have invited jewelry vendors to sell their jewelry during the duration of the event. Vendors are to offer a wide selection of jewelry for purchase.

“We’re hoping to get a good response to the jewelry vendor idea,” Godin said, “and we’re excited to promote their items because it definitely goes with the theme of ‘Diamonds to Die For.’”

The evening’s dinner menu features flank steak and chicken caprese, plus green beans, carrots, herbed potatoes, salad, rolls and refreshments. A dessert trio rounds out the menu; desserts include diamond-shaped cookies, mini crème brulee and salted chocolate caramel pie. The food is to be prepared by the chefs at Sunnehanna Country Club.

Godin added that a themed drink will be available for purchase that evening; the specialty drink will be a sugar cubed champagne garnished with mint. A portion of the proceeds from these drinks will be donated directly to the arts center.

“Sunnehanna does this to help us as a nonprofit,” Godin said.

This year’s murder mystery dinner theater corporate sponsor is Stifel. For more information about the show or to purchase tickets (table sponsorships are available as well), call an arts center staff member at 814-255-6515 or visit www.caccc.org.

The deadline to purchase tickets is Jan. 17. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Community Arts Center of Cambria County.

“I’m very pleased with Mystery Theatre Pittsburgh overall,” Godin said. “This is going to be a great experience, and I think everyone’s going to have a wonderful time.”

Brass show opens Grand Halle’s 17 schedule

By KAYLA PONGRAC
Our Town Correspondent

Local students and five music educators will perform at The Grand Halle on Broad Street on Jan. 6, marking the venue’s first live entertainment event of 2017.

The brass quintet known as BrassWorks is set to entertain audiences with a variety of classical and contemporary musical selections beginning at 7 p.m. that evening.

“The Johnstown BrassWorks got its start at The Grand Halle four years ago,” said Kim Rauch, The Grand Halle’s program director.

This is to be BrassWorks’ fourth appearance at The Grand Halle. The group formed in 2014 specifically to perform at the historic former church. They’ve since shared their talents inside other venues in the region.

BrassWorks members include Eric Pfeil and Tom Hiravi on trumpet; Jerrod Cannistraci on French horn; Josh Brumbaugh on trombone; and Jason June on tuba.

“These are all music teachers who, of course, also are musicians who don’t get much chance to perform,” Grand Halle Manager Dave Hurst said. “We’re pleased that The Grand Halle gives them that opportunity — and that they want to come back year after year. Their brass instruments sound brilliant there.”

The students accompanying Pfeil, Hiravi, Cannistraci, Brumbaugh and June will represent the following school districts: Greater Johnstown, Penn Cambria, Richland, Somerset and Westmont Hilltop.

“We’d like to think that by providing students with the opportunity to perform here, perhaps these students will be inspired to pursue a career in music,” Rauch said.

This concert is part of The Grand Halle Performance Series, which is underwritten in part by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.

The Grand Halle on Broad Street is located at 306 Broad St., on the corner of Broad and Third Avenue, in Johnstown’s Cambria City neighborhood.

Tickets for the BrassWorks show can be purchased at www.GrandHalle.com and also will be sold at the door. For more information about the concert or The Grand Halle Performance Series, call 814-536-7986.

Hurst said that this will be the first of many concerts to look forward to inside The Grand Halle this year.

“We have some great choral programs scheduled, including Duquesne University’s choir in March and the annual Broadway show in April,” Hurst said.

As for this show, Hurst labeled it as one not to be missed.

“Instrumental music sounds spectacular in The Grand Halle,” Hurst said. “The Gothic space is beautiful, and the Halle is still decorated for the holidays. 

“There aren’t that many opportunities to hear good classical and contemporary music played by brass alone. So this should be a very satisfying evening.”

Dancers invited to annual Beginnings Inc. event

By OUR TOWN

Those willing to dance for a good cause are invited to join in the seventh annual Dancing Like a Star for Autism, to be held Feb. 4 at the Pasquerilla Conference Center in downtown Johnstown. The annual event raises funds for autism support programs offered to the community by Beginnings Inc. 

Those with skills in the visual arts are also invited to donate pieces for the Art for Autism Auction, held in conjunction with the dancing competition. Beginnings Inc. is to accept art donations in various mediums until Jan. 13 to auction at the February event.

To participate in the dance competition or the art auction, contact Beginnings Inc. at 814-539-1919 or email dduncan@beginningsinc.org for more information.