The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

What's Happening

October 5, 2012

Retired teacher's works on display at Westmont arts center

JOHNSTOWN — Artist Sally Stewart had no trouble finding a title for her latest exhibition.

“In All Directions” is a show of 80 pieces on display through Oct. 26 at the Community Arts Center of Cambria County in Westmont.

A collection of wood carvings, watercolors and pencil drawings comprise the bulk of the pieces on exhibit in the Goldhaber-Fend Fine Arts Gallery at 1217 Menoher Blvd.

“I thought it was an appropriate title since it shows such a variety of the things I have done,” Stewart said.

An opening reception will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 tonight. Stewart will discuss the various media exhibited and conduct a gallery tour at 6:30.

“I will explain the different qualities of the media I used and why I chose that particular material,” she said.

Stewart, a retired art instructor from Greater Johnstown School District, spent most of her time at the middle school.

“I’m displaying many of the works in groupings, such as showing a watercolor, a crayon drawing and oil paintings,” she said.

Composition, perspective and style are the hallmarks of Stewart’s works that distinguish her as an important regional artist.

The Richland Township resident has a reputation of being a champion of the arts.

Stewart has received numerous awards for her watercolor and wood-carved artworks.

She is one of the few women artists carving in wood.

“I’m actually going to display the second wood carving I ever did and it’s from the early 1970s,” Stewart said.

A wood shop teacher gave her a piece of walnut and wondered if she could do a wood carving.

Looking at the piece now, Stewart sees it as a crude, yet meaningful piece.

“It depicts deer and some trees,” she said. “I told myself to start on one end to see if I could make it to the other end without giving up,” she said.

Another prized piece in her collection is the carving of an Indian head on a piece of cherry.

“After doing that piece, I would say cherry became my favorite wood to carve,” she said.

As a teacher, Stewart admitted that she often was as bored with study halls as much as her students.

On one such occasion, she tacked a piece of drawing paper to a board and started to sketch a pencil.

“It kept me from going crazy during study hall,” she laughed.

What she ended up with was a work that will be in the show titled “Ain’t Got No Pencil.”

It was a reference to the excuse students gave when given an assignment.

“As I was doing it, students gave me their pencils to use for the drawing,” she said.

“One young man demanded I use his and I did.”

The student was proud when he saw the finished drawing and remarked he knew his pencil was among the grouping.

“He said he knew it was his pencil because he sharpened it with a knife,” Stewart said.  

“As I look at the piece now, I can remember each student who gave me a pencil.”

Rose Mary Hagadus, arts center executive director, said Stewart is recognized as being a stimulating teacher, innovative artist and highly respected professional.

“Sally is an icon in the arts community because of the number of years she has been painting,” Hagadus said.

“She also distances herself from other artists because she does a variety of art forms, which is unusual and evident in this exhibit.”

Stewart is the creator of “Out of the Depths I Cry to Thee,” a freestanding collage of wood and steel. It is the result of Stewart being haunted by the images that many people witnessed on television in the weeks and months after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

She has been busy creating new pieces for the show.

While most of the pieces in the exhibit are on loan from private collectors or Stewart’s own favorites, she has been producing pieces that will be for sale.

“Price ranges from $40 for prints up to $2,000 for a large cross,” she said.

Exhibit

What: “In All Directions” by Sally Stewart.

Where: Community Arts Center of Cambria County, 1217 Menoher Blvd., Westmont.

When: Today through Oct. 26.

Admission: Free.

Information: 255-6515.

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