The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

What's Happening

February 27, 2013

Loretto museum to launch art history series

LORETTO — Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art at Loretto is launching a new series of lectures to offer insight and appreciation of art history.

“Conversations With the Curator: A Lecture-and-Lunch Series for Art Lovers and Collectors” is a course that will take place quarterly. The first lecture will be March 14.

The program will begin at 12:15 p.m. and will include a 45-minute talk by Scott Dimond, SAMA curator for visual arts, as well as a box lunch.

“These lectures are intended to be informative, yet informal and fun,” Dimond said. “There will be plenty of things to look at as well as some ‘show-and-tell’ and opportunities for conversation.”

An informal question-and-answer period will follow.

“As I envision it, they will be a pleasant way to get a little art history under your belt, whether you are an artist, a collector, a teacher or anyone who has an appreciation for American visual culture,” Dimond said.

The March program is titled “Reading Them Like a Book: The Secret Language of Early American Portraits.”

From colonial times until around the Civil War, painted portraits served as a primary means of conveying visual information about all sorts of people, whether high and mighty or humble and lovable.

Ironically, what those people actually looked like was often less important than showing their particular place in society. Through the use of trappings, poses, gestures and facial expressions, early portrait artists wove stories about their subjects that were easily “read” by their contemporaries.

During the lecture, Dimond will decode this forgotten, secret language and uncover the rich and fascinating world of American portraiture.

“There are many ways to tell what a particular person did for a living or how well-educated he or she may be by just exploring the portrait,” Dimond said.

“Perhaps reading the titles of the books on a bookshelf would say the person could read and write, and that was a rare thing in the 18th century. People were busy carving out a nation by clearing forests, building farms and working hard.”

Cost for the program is $25 per lecture, which includes lunch.

Reservations for the initial lecture must be made by March 11 by calling 472-3920.

Additional lectures are scheduled for June 13, Sept. 12 and Dec. 5.

“This series is meant to be enlightening and entertaining,” Dimond said. “It’s going to be a fun way to learn more about the stories that art can tell.”

The museum, which is located on the campus of St. Francis University, is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and 1 to 5 p.m. Saturdays.

Information: 472-3920 or visit

Visual culture

What: “Conversations With the Curator: A Lecture-and-Lunch Series for Art Lovers and Collectors.”

Where: Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art at Loretto.

When: 12:15 p.m. March 14.

Reservations: Deadline is March 11.

Cost: $25, which includes a box lunch.

Information: 472-3920.


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