By KAYLA PONGRAC
Our Town Correspondent
Sue Konvolinka described her friend, local painter Marianne Krizner, as “a dynamic community member who is has an unassuming compassion for not only the arts, but also the people of our region.”
Konvolinka — who has known Krizner since 1998 and served alongside her on the board of directors of the Community Arts Center of Cambria County — is one of many people in the community familiar with Krizner’s passion to not only create art, but also to promote art and to encourage fellow artists to use their talents to the best of their abilities.
Angela Rizzo, Bottle Works executive director, is another one of those people.
“Marianne’s involvement and support of the arts has been nonstop,” Rizzo said. “She is one of those gems who has really kept the arts alive and has helped provide opportunities for all ages.”
Thanks to her ongoing efforts and support of the arts, Krizner will be honored by Bottle Works Ethnic Arts Center on Nov. 5, when she and fellow artists Ron Donoughe and Rachel Allen will be inducted into the nonprofit’s Artists’ Hall of Fame at Sunnehanna Country Club in Westmont.
The Bottle Works Artists’ Hall of Fame was established to commend artists and art advocates for the work they have done to ensure that the arts remain a vital part of the community.
Krizner, Donoughe and Allen will join a legion of other notable inductees, including Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center Executive Director Michael Bodolosky, theater director Rodney Eatman, maestro Istvan Jaray, Johnstown concert ballet artistic director Carla Prucnal and former Bottle Works executive director Rosemary Pawlowski.
Krizner said she feels humbled to be one of this year’s nominees.
“I never thought I’d receive anything like this,” she said. “I’m very honored because I know some of the people who have been inducted, and I think very highly of them.”
Krizner will be surrounded at the upcoming ceremony by her family, including her six children and nearly all of her grandchildren. She has 11 grandchildren in total.
She will also be joined in spirit by her husband, Bob, who died less than three months ago.
Konvolinka said that Krizner’s husband was one of her biggest supporters.
“I most appreciate the fact her husband, Bob, knew of this award before his passing,” Konvolinka said. “Their admiration for each other is a special love story.”
Krizner’s late husband enjoyed woodworking and, as a high school student, he enrolled in drafting classes. Krizner joked that she “dragged him from museum to museum” throughout the years.
It turns out that Krizner’s most widely viewed piece of art is a painting she created for Bob for his birthday. Bob was a Navy Skyraider pilot on the USS Coral Sea 1946-52, and her painting depicts two Douglas AD Skyraiders flying above the USS Coral Sea.
The painting was donated to the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida, and remains in its permanent collection. The National Naval Aviation Museum is the world’s largest naval aviation museum.
“This is just one example of Marianne’s talent as she relates to life experiences and memories in her work,” Konvolinka said. “Her use of a wide variety of medium demonstrates her ability to express her vision of landscape and still life with diversity.”
In addition to the Skyraider painting, more than 100 other works by Krizner — pen, ink, oil and watercolor works — appear in private collections throughout the United States.
Krizner said she enjoys creating still life paintings.
“I’m very much a realist in what I paint,” she said. “And I like the outdoors, so I paint the outdoors a lot.”
Krizner becomes inspired to paint when she has an idea, or sees a beautiful sight such as a sunrise or a sunset. She is also inspired by other artists’ work.
“I think art exhibits are the most encouraging of all,” she said. “You come home and you say, ‘I’m going to try that technique,’ or, ‘I’m going to try to see what I can do with that subject.’”
Krizner said that people owe it to themselves to explore their talents.
“I think we were all given specific talents, and I think it’s our responsibility to use those talents in a positive way,” she said. “You might have to take a class, or find a teacher who will show you how to pursue that talent. Too often, you hear people say, ‘Oh, I can’t draw a straight line.’ Who cares about a straight line? You never really draw straight lines anyhow.”
Krizner is no stranger to working with experienced artists in order to improve her skills. The Bedford, Ohio, native attended Ohio University and graduated with an associate’s in art.
“At that time, teachers were desperately needed,” Krizner said, “so they were allowing people like me to start teaching with an associate degree if they continued to pursue their degree.”
Krizner did just that; she attended Case Western Reserve University and earned a bachelor’s in education with a minor in art. She also took her electives at Cleveland Institute of Art.
In 1954, Krizner began teaching first-grade students. She incorporated art into her classroom, giving students art supplies such as crayons and paints.
Krizner worked as a teacher until she and Bob’s first son, Doug, was born. Five more children followed: Richard, Tom, Ellen, Lauren and Allison.
Krizner resumed her teaching career when Allison entered second grade and, by that time, she and Bob had permanently settled in Johnstown. Bob was a U.S. Steel employee.
Krizner taught seventh- and eighth-grade students at Our Mother of Sorrows and, in the meantime, continued to take lessons and study with various artists in the area. In 1993, she earned her master’s in education from St. Francis University in Loretto.
Krizner said she enjoyed working at Our Mother of Sorrows.
“Teaching art was a great deal of fun because our principal was so cooperative,” she said. “I would request paints and pencils and I even got into calligraphy with the kids.”
Konvolinka said that many of Krizner’s students appreciated the ways in which she shared her expertise.
“A number of my friends have children who were students of Marianne,” Konvolinka said. “The mention of her name evokes a smile and instant memories of their eighth-grade child traveling to NYC Metropolitan Museum of Art to research well-known art masters they had studied in Marianne’s classroom. Students located their master artist with a museum floor plan Marianne provided before the trip.
“She was able to identify the importance of art education as an alternative or supplement to other extracurricular activities for a period of over 15 years as a language arts and art teacher.”
What Krizner also brought to the school was her interest in Shakespeare. Krizner brought to fruition an annual outdoor Shakespeare play, which she both adapted and directed. The productions continued for 17 years after Marianne’s retirement.
“Those plays were very successful,” Krizner said, “and for some students, that was the only time they were ever on stage. What was also good was that it kind of gave them an idea of Shakespeare that wasn’t frightening.”
After retiring from Our Mother of Sorrows, Krizner provided private art tutoring.
Krizner also found the time to contribute illustrations to a few books, including “Johnstown: The Story of a Unique Valley.”
For the past 35 years, Krizner has also been an active member of the Allied Artists of Johnstown. She has served the organization in various capacities, including as president, patron chairman and, currently, as secretary.
Local art teacher, the late Harriet Goff — who is also a fellow Artists’ Hall of Fame inductee — led Krizner to join the Allied Artists. Goff was an instrumental person in Krizner’s life, teaching her how to improve her painting skills whenever they had a chance to get together.
“Allied Artists of Johnstown have expressed their respect of Marianne’s talent, experience and kindness,” Konvolinka said. “Her historical knowledge of Allied Artists of Johnstown blends the older and younger artists together as one.”
Konvolinka, a member of the Garden Club of Johnstown, said that she especially enjoyed working with Krizner when Garden Club of Johnstown and Allied Artists of Johnstown presented a joint show, titled “A Master Piece in Bloom.” Krizner co-chaired the Allied Artists’ participation in what was their first collaborative show with the Garden Club of Johnstown.
“Marianne worked in tandem with our methodical process as we prepared for a unique, joint show at Bottle Works,” Konvolinka said. “It was the first show of its kind in the Johnstown region.”
Krizner said that she has enjoyed her involvement with the Allied Artists of Johnstown.
“We have a wonderful group of people who enjoy getting together and talking about art,” she said. “I haven’t met anybody I didn’t like.
“We all come from different backgrounds and all have different personalities, which makes it interesting. I’ve enjoyed it. I’ve enjoyed the people, the shows, the work. It’s been a good experience.”
In addition to her upcoming induction into the Artists’ Hall of Fame, Krizner has been honored with other awards that Konvolinka said are well-deserved.
In 1994, Krizner received the YWCA Tribute to Women in Education; in 2002, SAMA’s Service to the Arts Award; and in 2007, the YWCA Volunteer Award.
“She is more than an artist,” Konvolinka said. “She is a productive and active member of our community with a history of making a difference in the lives of so many: fellow artists, former students, youth, Tribute to Women honorees, her church and her family.”
For 18 years, Krizner has also served on the YWCA Tribute to Women committee.
“Approximately three months prior to the awards, all honorees begin working with her to prepare a timed speech representing what inspires them to make that difference in our region,” Konvolinka said. “Her language arts education continues to help women.”
Konvolinka described Krizner as “one of the most generous and articulate women I know in the Johnstown area.”
“I am proud to consider her a friend,” Konvolinka said. “She will continue, as she has, at a steady pace with compassion and generosity.
“Marianne leads by example. Many of her students enjoy successful careers as artists and others continue to appreciate art, as a hobby. As a mother of six, Marianne takes pride knowing her children enjoy careers of architectural design, engineering, theater and education.”
When she and her family moved to Johnstown all those years ago, Krizner said she remembers wanting to make friends and champion the already thriving arts scene she found in the city.
“I’m glad I put myself out there,” she said.