The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

June 27, 2013

Co-chairs hope gala becomes 'premier party'


LORETTO — Organizers of Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art’s 35th annual gala are confident they can top last year’s fundraiser, which was the best in its history.

Last year’s effort resulted in record attendance and one of the most popular galas ever.

“Asian Fusion” will be held at 6 p.m. July 20 on the campus of St. Francis University in Loretto.

Gala co-chairpersons are Jim Cayce, Nancy Sheetz and Michael Strueber, all of Hollidaysburg, and Marian Morgan of Westmont.

Strueber, founding director of SAMA and the person most instrumental in the development of the gala, promised that this year’s gala will be unparalleled in scope and success.

“Our intention is to make the gala the premier party in western Pennsylvania, and I believe this year’s gala will be it,” Strueber said.

“The decorations are only second to God’s, and we have a world premiere of Chinese art.”

Strueber was referring to SAMA’s upcoming exhibition, “Stories Joyfully Embroidered: Shaanxi Folk Textiles from Northern China.”

The exhibition, which opens Friday, will make its American premiere after opening at the National Museum of China in Beijing.

Guests will be greeted by colorful entrance banners and large, hanging paper lights.

Asian art and decorations will adorn the tent, while tables will be decorated with uncommon, handmade ikebana centerpieces.

“There will be a 33-foot-long, hand-painted silk kite suspended from the ceiling,” Morgan said. “Plus, we have decorations and collectibles from a Johns-town-area importer who will have items in the silent auction as well.”

The importers are Michael and Barbara Sincak of Hollsopple, owners of Treasures of the Earth Ltd.

“He is a geologist and an importer who has been generous and supportive of the gala,” Morgan said.

Patrons will find a number of outstanding items available in the live and silent auctions, including never-before-seen hand-carved Asian wood and stone reliefs, a hand-carved stone Chinese Buddha, original and highly collectible decoupage plates, and a variety of handcrafted purses by Sheetz.

The auctions also will feature hand-painted furniture pieces, several handcrafted wooden and stone statues, antique Chinese porcelain vases, and three Chinese cloisonné vases, circa 1900.

Also included will be a champagne brunch for 10 with a private tour at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater and a $6,000 scholarship for St. Francis University.

Other items already receiving interest include a variety of garden sculptures plus an assortment of “tailpipe snakes” painted by students from Hollidaysburg Area Junior High School.

Guests will be entertained by ballet dancers, live music, games of chance and can enjoy a gourmet cuisine with a raw bar.

“Guests will enjoy a sumptuous buffet beneath our tent on the mall,” Morgan said. “It’s a wonderful open-air atmosphere.”

Patrons will be able to enjoy the music of Quintessence, an eight-piece band from State College that boasts a high-energy performance and diverse song list.

Because patrons clamored about extending the evening, the committee has expanded the hours the band will play.

“Oftentimes, some of our guests see each other only at the gala, so they found that they wanted to stay longer to dance and socialize,” Morgan said.

“The band will play from 7:15 to 11:15 p.m.”

Tickets for the gala are $175 per person, and reservations must be received by July 16.

Reservations may be made by calling 472-3920.


What: Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art’s 35th annual gala.

When: July 20.

Where: St. Francis University, Loretto.

Cost: $175 per person.

Reservations: By July 16.

Information: 472-3920 or visit


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