The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Features

September 30, 2012

'Marked for success' | Art Works a place to create, exhibit, teach and sell

“Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.”

– ANDY WARHOL.

The quote exemplifies what interim board president Rosemary Pawlowski believes about Art Works in Johnstown!

Pawlowski, who had been vice president on the board of directors before serving as interim president, describes Art Works as art as business.

Pawlowski, who also is executive director of Bottle Works Ethnic Arts Center, has been involved with the process since Art Works was an idea.

“In 2002, we had $30,000 for economic development for an artists’ business,” Pawlowski said.

“We hired a consultant and got together 30 community members as a steering committee. We had to decide what our mission was. Art Works would  be a nonprofit. Bottle Works shepherded Art Works until 2006. Our missions were different, and we had to decide to create a new board.”

The mission of Art Works is to provide a place for artists to create, exhibit, teach and sell art, and to provide a place for the community to gather, learn, and participate in the experience of art.

Four Bottle Works board members, including Pawlowski, are members of the board at Art Works.

“The board members are all genuine and deeply committed,” Pawlowski said.

“We have the essence of what we need, and it’s up to the board to see that it grows. People from out of the area are amazed that there is this kind of facility in Johnstown.”

Pawlowski has been involved since the time of a feasibility study, when the committee was looking for possible models for the potential facility in Johnstown.

A model was found in the Torpedo Factory Art Center in Old Town Alexandria, Va., just outside Washington, D.C.

The present site of an arts center with 82 artists’ studios and six galleries was an actual torpedo factory and has one of the torpedoes manufactured there still on display.

“It was a matter of seeing what would work here,” Pawlowski said.

“I never thought Art Works wouldn’t be.”

Art Works presently has four studios rented in the 18,000-square-foot facility with plans for 20.

“Why wouldn’t an artist want to rent a studio here?” Pawlowski asked.

“There was a national study when we did our feasibility study. We can provide a place for artists with a view of the Laurel Mountains, living costs are reasonable and they would be within 500 miles of New York, Baltimore and Washington, D.C.”

“Art Works has a national significance because it appeals to artists of every discipline.”

Molding concept

Pawlowski gives all the credit of Art Works’ success thus far to the original committee who molded the concept of an art-is-business facility.

“They could see the economic development potential,” she said.

The 17-member board meets every other month, with an executive committee made up of officers and committee chairs meeting the off months.

“I try to go to every meeting of every committee,” said Pawlowski, who already attends monthly board and executive committee meetings.

“It’s an honor to be president. I didn’t expect to be president, but it doesn’t conflict with being director next door. It all works together.”

Committee chairs

The facilities committee, headed by Michael J. Hood, a dean at the College of Fine Arts at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, takes care of matters such as a new elevator about to be installed, a refurbished gallery and a new gallery shop and a planned staging kitchen, which caterers will use to set up food for events that have rented space at Art Works.

The marketing committee, headed by Michael Kane, executive director of Community Foundation for the Alleghenies, is getting Art Works’ identity out to the public.

“There’s no one better,” Pawlowski said.

The development committee is headed by Donato Zucco, past board president and mayor of Johnstown and retired from The Challenge Program.

“He heads us in the right direction, scrutinizing budgets and keeping us in line with projects,” Pawlowski said.

The financial committee is headed by John Saracena, Art Works’ treasurer and managing director of Barnes Saly & Co.

“We all have the same desire to reach our maximum potential,” Pawlowski said.

“I hope to bring world-class artists here to do residency programs. This is a fantastic organization and facility, marked for success.”

‘Struck by art’

Zucco’s interest to serve on the Art Works board stems from when he served as superintendent of Greater Johnstown School District and toured every classroom in every building.

“I was struck by the art classes, and the reason they caught my attention was there wasn’t a whole lot that was right or wrong,” Zucco said.

“Your view of a bird is your creation. Kids were in an environment to do creative things and not have faults found.

“On a different plane, I wanted to do something that was permanent and long lasting and would have an impact.”

Feasibility study

A feasibility study was done for Art Works when Zucco was mayor of the City of Johnstown, and he was able to get the idea jump-started.

Zucco cited all the improvements done in downtown Johnstown – Pasquerilla Conference Center,   the tech park and renovations to the Cambria County War Memorial Arena and Point Stadium – and said the improvements to the center of town have made a vibrant city.

He considers the smaller projects of Art Works, Bottle Works, Heritage Discovery Center, Venue of Merging Arts and the Stone Bridge lighting additions to the overall momentous creation of a 21st century city.

‘Cultural center’

“Cambria City is a cultural center,” said Zucco, who is involved with 1901 Inc., which is working to reuse the local churches.

“This improves the quality of life. Art Works has been a good project, and I want to stay involved until it has the means to sustain itself.”

When  Zucco left the city as mayor, he wanted to give something back and say thank you, so he and his wife, Nancy, purchased the building that would become Art Works in honor of their parents.

After the first board president had to step down, Zucco volunteered to be interim president.

Government connections

Through Zucco’s local and state government connections, he was able to secure funding, and Pawlowski was able to connect to a matching grant from the R.K. Mellon Foundation to create         Art Works for a little less than $2 million.

Two years ago, Zucco had to step down as board president, but he continues to be chairman of the development committee.

“The development committee tries to get ongoing capital funding for completion of the facility,” Zucco said.

“We got an elevator funded that is being installed now, and we have the gallery shop. We’re working on a kitchen, a classroom on the second floor and a green roof.”

Diverse, engaged

Zucco believes the board is diverse and engaged and has a good, solid cross section of members.

“The board’s role is to provide input, help make contacts and get more folks through the doors,” Zucco said.

“We have a common vision – create, teach, sell. I think Art Works is meeting its mission, and I’ve been heavily involved.

“If you sit at the table on any board, you should be prepared to give your talent, resources and energy. Serving on this board has been most enjoyable. It has been a good use of my time. Art Works is a great, new asset in town.”

Mike Kane is chairman of the marketing committee.

“The foundation has supported Art Works from the beginning,” Kane said.

“The reasons are our sustainable energy fund, as Art Works was conceived as a green building, and this is a great project for our grants program.”

Revitalization

On a personal level, Kane likes the reuse of a building in an old neighborhood revitalizing the area.

“We’re encouraging artists to work in the community, and that adds to the vibrancy,” Kane said.

“Plus, it serves an economic development role. There are a lot of wins.”

Kane said the interesting concept of Art Works is coming to life in all its capacities – event space, gallery space, programming and a store.

“They all feed on each other and bring people to the neighborhood,” Kane said.

“This adds to the quality of life.”

Raising awareness

An art raffle called “Fortune Smiles On You, Tombola” is coming up.

“We want to raise awareness and money and celebrate the arts,” Kane said.

“We want to get people in. The idea is to make Art Works a working, living, active space.”

Ongoing marketing will focus on programming, the gallery and the store.

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