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Art Alliance to celebrate 50 years

by on September 06, 2018 11:16 AM

PETERSBURG — Shaver's Creek Environmental Center will host the Art Alliance of Central PA's 50th anniversary celebration on the evening of Sunday, Sept. 23.

The event will commemorate the Art Alliance's dedication to art and artists by incorporating art with history, nature and, of course, music, food and drink.

Art Alliance executive director Marie Doll said she can remember the birth of the organization, which grew from conversations with local business people and individuals from PSU’s College of Arts and Architecture. With a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts grant and support from the State College Chamber of Commerce and the College of Arts and Architecture, the first Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts originated from this group.

But the art supporters still had more ideas for the community.

"A number of us felt we should have something that goes on all year long," said Doll.

The group created the Art Alliance of Central PA in response to a growing community's interest in art and learning.

"We bought the Lemont Band Hall and did lots of renovation with lots of volunteers."

With this new space, the group could offer art classes to adults.

"People were also interested in ceramics," said Doll, "and eventually that led to the Potters' Guild, an affiliate of the Art Alliance."

To this day, the organization carries the tradition of open model sessions on Thursday evenings where anyone can stop in.
"A coordinator accepts a $10 donation," said Doll. "A nonprofit has to keep raising funds."

Currently, the Art Alliance coordinates with local groups on local issues and has become a prominent part of Centre County culture.
Doll said one group they are affiliated with is the Farmland Preservation Artists. "Visual artists help spread the word about the importance of keeping open lands."

The Alliance's community outreach involves rotating exhibits in retirement communities, businesses, banks and restaurants.
Additionally, the Art Alliance Gallery Downtown opened two years ago, expanding the opportunity for local artists to present their works. It also brings art to locals who may not make it to Lemont.

But, exhibits, spaces, marketing and everything that keeps the arts viable come with a cost.

"We're fortunate to have grants from PA Council for the Arts and the Central PA Convention and Visitor's Bureau," Doll said, "in addition to local business leaders and 'rent angels.'"

Rent angels, she explained, "donate $500 to cover the downtown space's rent for a month.”

The event at Shaver's Creek has sponsors and donors as well. Wegman's will supply snacks, while Big Springs Distillery and Mount Nittany Winery will provide beverages. Attendees can purchase birdhouses, hand-built by Alliance board member Chris Bitner and painted by various Alliance artists. Leah Mueller and Her Rhythm will perform swing music for anyone wanting to dance.

"Plein air artists will work in various spots and people can watch them paint," said Doll. "Plus, we asked longtime members to provide photos taken over the years, and we'll display them as a continuing video."

She emphasized that nothing could happen without sponsorships from individuals and corporations, and mentioned supporters of the evening include Dante's, M&T Bank, McQuaide Blasko Law Offices and REMAX agent Tom Cali.

"I want people to know how much we appreciate the help and support," she said. "We wouldn't be where we are without local government, businesses and individuals, and I want to take the opportunity to thank all of them."



Ann is an Arts and Entertainment correspondent for the Gazette.
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