Greater Latrobe Art Gala 2019

A New Vision of Creativity


Sydney Quinn

Joseph Ryznar, creator of “Wordsearch”(left) and “Dawn Nite Lite” (right)

As the students and members of the community walk through the halls of Greater Latrobe, they are transported into a world of art unlike any other. With pieces ranging from a painting depicting a November morning in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania, to a little boy with his dog, to a whimsical image with shades of green that make it pop off the wall, anyone and everyone can find something to admire in Greater Latrobe’s Art Collection. 

Every year, Greater Latrobe Senior High School hosts the Art Gala to celebrate the unique works that the student body has been selecting to hang in the halls since 1936. Sponsored and organized by the Greater Latrobe Art Conservation Trust, Chairwoman Mrs. Barbara Nakles recognizes the impact that this art collection has on the school district. “The art collection itself keeps all of the arts in school. Some schools are cutting the arts and I honestly don’t think this community would stand for it. They’re so proud and they recognize the value of all the creative works,” said Nakles.

The Art Gala is decorated with a certain theme based off one of the paintings in the school. This year, the theme was “A New Vision of Creativity” derived from the painting Blue Center, by Richard Crist, acquired in 1951. Between the pops of gold, green, red, and of course blue throughout the commons area, the abstract interpretation of Blue Center hanging from the ceiling as a centerpiece, and the window paintings depicting the parts that make up Blue Center, it was as if the guests were transported into the painting that was purchased 68 years ago. 

With the main focus of Greater Latrobe’s art collection being student picked, several students from the high school, junior high, and all three elementary schools were selected to be docents at the Gala to talk about the pieces up for purchase at their respective building. The 22 pieces that were presented by the senior high students varied greatly in size, shape, color, and texture, making for a unique presentation by the students. Senior, Sophia Hoch presented two pieces, What Makes a Blue Whale, by Michelle Boerio and Dreams in Bloom, by Stacey Pydynkowski. Both of these works had three dimensional elements pressed into the paintings; for example, Dreams in Bloom had pressed flowers, adding a unique textural element that was unlike any of the other creations in the show. Hoch said, “Our collection is unique because it has been around for so many years, but as we have continued the tradition over time, the art continues to grow with the times and represents each class and the events happening in their time period. This art collection tells the story of our school and I am honored to get to tell the narrative of some of these pieces as a docent over the  past two years.”

Because the Art Gala is such a community event, every year the Art Trust recognizes an important member(s) of the Greater Latrobe community who go above and beyond to give back. This year, the Art Gala Honorees were Pamela and Scott Kroh who were recognized for their outwaging support of the school’s arts programs and the local community. Deeply humbled for being recognized, Mrs. Kroh stated, “It’s because of the strong community and all of you that make it [the art collection] all possible and it’s Scott and I being recognized, but you are all part of this.”

In the end, the high school student body voted on which of the 22 pieces up for purchase was their favorite, and by an overwhelming response, Word Search, by Joseph Ryznar won and will become a permanent part of the Greater Latrobe Art Collection. This piece is unlike any other in the collection because as stated in the title, it is a word search with hues of brown, white, and navy blue that make up the face of jazz music legend, Louis Armstrong. Greater Latrobe is beyond proud to welcome this piece to the collection and add “a new vision of creativity” to the halls.