The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

August 28, 2013

Art exhibit honors inspirational teacher

Ruth Rice

JOHNSTOWN — An inspirational art teacher will be honored at an exhibit opening this weekend.

Paul G. Whinnie Memorial Gallery Art Show will be on display from Friday through Sept. 28 at the Venue of Merging Arts, 305 Chestnut St. in the Cambria City section of Johnstown.

An opening reception will be held at 7 p.m. Sunday.

The exhibit will feature Whinnie’s work, along with work by his former students and memorabilia, said Karen (Kessler) Blaisdell, one of his former students who is now an art teacher.

Whinnie was a commercial art teacher at Greater Johnstown Career & Technology Center who died in July 2012.

Blaisdell began planning for the show the day of the funeral with Karen Mesaros, another former student of Whinnie’s.

Blaisdell wrote a letter to the Readers’ Forum of the The Tribune-Democrat to make the public aware of the memorial show.

“He did acrylic, prints, silk screen, watercolors and a lot of different mixed media,” Blaisdell said. “There also will be memorabilia from his earlier shows.”

Whinnie also taught adult edu-cation at the vo-tech and drawing and painting classes at Pitt-Johns­town.

He was a supervisor for vo-tech education teachers who were working on their certification at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Whinnie was a member of Allied Artists of Johnstown.

He was named outstanding educator by the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and inducted into the Art Institute of Pittsburgh Hall of Fame by the National Association of Trade & Technical Schools.

“He is why I got into teaching art,” Blaisdell said.

“He inspired a lot of people. This will be a fitting tribute.”

Mesaros, who provides marketing and public relations for VOMA, created a Facebook page as a remembrance of Whinnie and a catalyst to gather thoughts for the show.

She knew Labor Day weekend in Cambria City is a big time for homecomings and reunions.

“We have a good representation of students spanning the years who will be attending,” Mesaros said. “Some of Paul’s family will be available Sunday evening.”

Mesaros expects there will be 16 pieces of Whinnie’s work, plus his students’ works.

“This is his inspiration and legacy,” she said. “I remember he had us submit our work to Allied Artists when we were still in high school.”

Mesaros said Whinnie was the type of teacher who kept in touch with students after they graduated.

“He was not just an educator or mentor, he stayed a friend,” said Mesaros, who received cards and emails from Whinnie more than

20 years after high school.

“I equate him to Mr. Holland in ‘Mr Holland’s Opus.’ That’s what Paul was to the art students,” she said.

“He influenced young people to use their creative side. He loved art.”

The show is free and open to the public during VOMA event hours.

Show hours for the weekend are

6 to 11 p.m. Friday, 1 to 10 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 11 p.m. Sunday, with wine tasting by B&L Wine Cellars at 7 p.m. each evening.

The exhibit will be closed on Labor Day.

Vo-tech alumni Diane Myers and Scott Way will perform on the VOMA Third Avenue Stage.

There will be pastry and gob sales, vendors and prize raffles throughout the weekend.

Ruth Rice covers Features for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter at


On stage

Performers on the VOMA Third Avenue Stage for the 2013 Cambria City Ethnic Festival will be:


4 to 4:45 p.m.: Jason Dewitt.

5 to 5:45 p.m.: Jessica Saenz.

6 to 6:45 p.m.: Fine Wives.

7 to 8 p.m.: Anti-Corn League.

8:20 to 9:20 p.m.: Kulani Dance Group.

9:40 to 11 p.m.: Stone Bridge Blues Band.


3 to 3:45 p.m.: Tertium Quid.

4 to 4:45 p.m.: Painted By Millions.

5 to 5:45 p.m.: Justin Garman.

6 to 6:45 p.m.: The Cash Review.

7 to 8 p.m.: Crew of the Half Moon.

8:20 to 9:20 p.m.: One Track Mynd.

9:40 to 11 p.m.: The Groove Gathering.


1 to 1:45 p.m.: AM Squared.

2 to 2:45 p.m.: Melville Walbeck.

3 to 3:45 p.m.: YRS (trio).

4 to 4:45 p.m.: Striped Maple Hollow.

5 to 6 p.m.: Jim Platt.

6:20 to 7:20 p.m.: Rick Cosgrove with Blue Piranha.

7:30 to 8 p.m.: Anna Pihs.

8 to 9 p.m.: Diane Myers and Scott Way (vo-tech alumni).