Quality reigns as hallmark of annual Friends of Mercyhurst Art Show

Friends of Mercyhurst Art Show
The seventh annual Friends of Mercyhurst Art Show transforms the first-floor corridor of Old Main into a vibrant hub of color and creativity starting Monday, Nov. 5.

The show features 103 pieces by 60 artists that exhibit-goers can enjoy through March 31. A number of the featured artists are Mercyhurst employees, including art and graphic design faculty Dan Burke, Tom Hubert, Gary Cardot, Robert Tavani and Jodi Staniunas Hopper. Woodcarver Dan Barricklow, who performs maintenance work at Mercyhurst, makes his ‘Friends’ debut. Keiko Miller, assistant professor of world languages and cultures, is exhibiting her brush painting, “Year of the Dragon,” to commemorate both the Chinese/Mongolian calendar year as well as Mercyhurst’s “Year of the University.” Rick Sadlier, the university’s fire and life safety officer, is also exhibiting.

This year’s show exudes the ultimate in quality, says curator Mary Gamble, wife of Mercyhurst University President Dr. Tom Gamble. She noted that many of the featured artists have earned advanced or terminal art degrees in their areas of expertise.

Susan Hale Kemenyffy, a world-renowned artist who recently received the Pennsylvania Governor’s “Artist of the Year” Award, is this year’s featured “alcove artist.” Her career spans four decades and multiple media, including a notable series of raku gardens that blend the art of landscaping, gardening and ceramics.

Her mixed media installation, “Raku Place: The Bamboo Rock,” invites the viewer into a fertile grove of bamboo and other greenery surrounding a photographic reproduction of a rock from one of Kemenyffy’s actual gardens.

“It elongates the alcove and, because the installation is situated down the hall from the chapel, it creates an atmosphere of peace and contemplation just as she had intended,” said Mrs. Gamble.

Three Mercyhurst alumni and good friends, Jay Scalise, Jonilee Monola Hlusko and Janel Potraz Levin, who Mrs. Gamble affectionately calls “The Three Js,” collaborated for the first time on the mixed media piece “November by Gone.” Julia Horan, director of the Young Artists Conservatory after-school arts program, worked with her kindergarten through eighth-grade students to create “The Red Concert,” a large-format acrylic work inspired by impressionist paintings.

“It’s a fun piece,” Mrs. Gamble said. “The theory behind it is what Julia learned here at Mercyhurst.”

Deborah Sementelli’s “1830’s Packing Material Couture,” a dress made entirely of brown Kraft paper and bubble wrap, showcases intricate details like handcrafted lace and folded pleating at the hem. Sementelli balled up the stiff Kraft paper and massaged it until it became pliable like fabric, then formed the dress and began to sew.

The Friends of Mercyhurst Art Show is not without an ample dose of whimsy, perhaps most notable in Abigail Adams Greenway’s mixed media portrait of John Vanco, director of the Erie Art Museum. The playful portrait, titled “May your Reign be as Long as your Beard,” features a prominent, bristly fiber beard extending from the frame to the floor. It’s been a conversation piece for many passers-by, Mrs. Gamble said.

“They comment on it, they laugh – it’s fun,” she said.

Though the exhibit runs each year through the winter term, its effect is felt all year by inspiring an increased number of art donations. Since the show’s inception seven years ago, the permanent art collection at Mercyhurst University has grown to include 300 pieces. Impressively, 100 of those were donated in the past year alone. Half of this year’s 60 exhibiting artists have opted to donate their work from the show to Mercyhurst, Mrs. Gamble said.

The Friends of Mercyhurst Art Show is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. while school is in session. Group tours are welcome; please call 824-2311 to make arrangements.
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