The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

May 12, 2013

Annual spring Garden Party will combine art, jazz

Tom Lavis

LIGONIER — Organizers of Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art at Ligonier Valley’s 12th annual spring Garden Party are hoping to strike the right chord and raise some money.

With a theme titled “Art and All that Jazz,” the party kicks off at 5 p.m. June 1 at the facility, located at 1 Boucher Lane, Ligonier.

Peggy Shepler and Joyce Collins, both of Ligonier, are serving as co-chairwomen of the event that has enjoyed a lot of success over the past 11 years.

“We looked at the past events and decided we wanted to offer people something a little different,” said Shepler. “We decided on our theme in January, and the committee has been very busy working out the details.”

Topping the attractions will be live music, gourmet cuisine and an inviting silent auction that will combine to make the party one to remember.

Guests at the Garden Party will be treated to live jazz music by the Rick Struzzi Guitar Duo. Struzzi is renowned for his improvisational jazz guitar work and has taught at numerous guitar seminars at Duquesne University.

Many of the offerings revolve around the “Art and All that Jazz” theme.

The hub of the Grden Party will be a massive white tent placed on the museum grounds.

The party will feature cocktails and hors d’oeuvres provided by Vallozzi’s Restaurant in Greensburg.

“This is a casual event and we want people to feel comfortable as they mingle,” Shepler said. “All of the art beneath the tent will be for sale.”

Shepler said a woman who tells fortunes using Tarot cards is returning for the second time.

“We had her do readings last year and it was such a huge success that we decided to bring her back,” Shepler said. “We also encourage everyone to take time to browse the items in our silent auction, which will be on view from 5 to 8 p.m.”

The silent auction will offer a variety of artwork, jewelry, garden accessories, gift baskets and vacation packages.

“A lot of items are still being obtained for the silent auction, but we have dozens of gift baskets with everything from sports memorabilia to restaurant gift certificates,” Shepler said.

Patrons also can take chances on a lottery ticket tree.

The Garden Party is SAMA-Ligonier’s signature event.

Organizers also are taking time to honor SAMA trustee Mary Weidlein during the event. Weidlein is being recognized for her committment to the museum and to the auxiliary over the years.

Patrons will have an opportunity to view a special exhibition inside the museum.

The exhibit, titled “Highlights from the Permanent Collection: Celebration of the Wolf Family Donations,” features more than 60 of the SAMA permanent collection’s benchmark works.

Featured artists include Thomas Hart Benton, Alexander Calder, Mary Cassatt, Rockwell Kent, Thomas Moran, Norman Rockwell and Andy Warhol.

Proceeds are used to help keep all four SAMA locations – Johnstown, Altoona, Ligonier Valley and Loretto – open to the public free of charge.

Cost is $75 per person.

The event is open to the public, but reservations must be made by May 25.

For reservations or information: 724-238-6015 or visit

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