Greater Latrobe Plans Annual Art Gala

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In 1936, through the vision of two imaginative teachers, the first two pieces of art were purchased, thus Greater Latrobe Senior High’s art collection began. Mary Martha Himler, a passionate art teacher at the time, realized that art appreciation grew from frequent exposure to fine works. However, during the Great Depression, the cost of transporting students to museums in Pittsburgh was high. Instead, she convinced two museums from Pittsburgh to bring their works to the school to share with her students. James R. Beatty, also a passionate teacher at Latrobe and Student Council advisor, suggested that Student Council vote for their favorite paintings and raise money to purchase one for the school. Student Council invited members of the Latrobe community to join the One Hundred Friends of Art, a community group organized in 1938 to promote the art collection and help students purchase their selections. This group still exists today, continuing to give students the opportunity to be surrounded by art.

Another organization, The Art Conservation Trust, founded in 1991, oversees the art collection and raises funds for its conservation, maintenance, and for other special projects. The Trust is a comprised of community members, teachers and administrators. The upcoming Art Gala, one of the major fundraisers for The Art Conservation Trust, is just one of the many ways the special art collection at Latrobe is preserved. “The first Gala was held in the early 1990s at Latrobe Country Club with about sixty attending,” said Center for Student Creativity director Mrs. Golden. “Now, over 400 attend the annual event.”

The ticket price has stayed the same since the first event at $25.00 per guest.  Students and the community are welcome to attend the Gala on Thursday, November 4, 2010, which begins at 6:00p.m. with an hors d’oeuvre buffet and refreshments in the Commons Area, followed by a preview of the art in the CSC and a presentation of each piece from student art docents. Those who want to attend should R.S.V.P to the Center for Student Creativity by October 29, 2010.

Golden noted, “This year, twenty pieces are under consideration for students to choose from to add to the over two-hundred piece collection.” The Pittsburgh Public School District has a similar collection, but it is not on display in the school halls, which makes Latrobe’s collection unique. “The published art catalogue also demonstrates the unique collection we have,” added Golden.

In addition to students choosing another piece, the Gala also honors a special group each year. This year, the Art Conservation Trust will honor the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh, who are celebrating their 100th anniversary. “It is the longest running juried art show in the United States,” commented Golden. “Many of the early pieces of art in our collection were purchased from this group.”  

Student Council also has an important role in the annual Art Gala, as each year they purchase the number-one student selected piece to add to the collection. “The Student Council goes to four shows around the area to select pieces for the students to choose from,” commented Student Council co-advisor Mrs. Lear. These shows include the Westmoreland Museum of Art Juried Biennial, the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh 100th Annual Exhibition, Latrobe Art Center’s Mr. Fred Rodgers Fine Art Juried Exhibition, and the South Western Pennsylvania Council for the Arts Juried show at The Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art.

The students usually bring back about twenty pieces for the student body to consider. “They don’t just get what fits their taste,” commented Lear. “They think about what the whole student body would like to look at.”

Once these pieces are chosen, art teacher Mrs. Ross selects students from the upper-level art classes offered at Latrobe. These students pick two to three pieces of the twenty selected by the Student Council and write a one-minute speech on the piece and the artist. The artists are asked to fill out a questionnaire about the piece and themselves for students to include in their speech. After the speeches are written, English teacher Mrs. Snyder helps with performing the speeches, editing and giving pointers to the students on speaking in front of a large group. “It’s a tough task to fit all of the pertinent information into well-written minute,” commented Ross.

With all of these preparations being made, this year’s Gala is sure to be a success. “It’s really neat that it has gone on for so long and we can still be part of it,” commented Lear on the art collection. “It’s one of the things that make Latrobe unique.”   

For more information about the Art Gala and other happenings, see Mrs. Golden in the Center for Student Creativity or search ‘GLSD Special Art Collection’ and ‘Center for Student Creativity’ on Facebook.