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HUB-Robeson Center showcases the art of John Mangan

by on June 17, 2015 4:21 PM

UNIVERSITY PARK — The John Mangan Retrospective exhibit in the HUB-Robeson Center commemorates the life and art of the late John Mangan, a Centre County artist who taught drawing and painting through Penn State Continuing Education for 20 years.

The opening reception on June 12 drew more than 150 people to see Mangan's evocative and powerful drawings, prints and paintings.

I think it’s one of the best shows I’ve seen. Really beautiful and thoughtful,” said Mark Pilato, an artist in residence at the C. Barton McCann School of Art in Petersburg. “I think it captures John’s spirit. We’re able to see a bit of his life, what his studio looked like, and pictures of his family.”

The son of Irish immigrants, Mangan grew up in the Bronx, N.Y., and spent summers on his grandparents’ farm in Ireland. He studied art at the Institute Del Arte in Urbino, Italy, and The State University of New York, Oneonta, then obtained his master's degree in fine arts in printmaking and drawing at Penn State.

Mangan’s Irish heritage and deep interest in the natural world became important elements in his art, which he expressed in landscapes, images of birds and animals and the mythic Celtic image of the Green Man. Other favorite subjects included self-portraits, masks, banners of symbols and graffiti-like inscriptions and religious images.

You can see so many influences from various cultures,” said Bellefonte artist Mary Vollero. “Catholic Art, Celtic, American Indian, African, Mexican. Influences from various artists and styles, from Van Gogh and expressionism to Picasso’s cubism, primitivism and graffiti art.”

Vollero spearheaded the effort to create the exhibit and developed a Web page devoted to Mangan’s work.

Ann Shields, the HUB-Robeson Gallery director, curated the show and spent many long hours examining and assessing his art. “I didn’t know John, but felt I got to know him through all the pieces,” she said. “This is only a third of his work. Obviously he was very prolific.

I always like surprises in the gallery,” Shields said. “A positive surprise, so that when you turn the corner you see something unexpected.”

By using sliding vertical panels within the gallery, Shields and her staff succeeded in creating moments of surprise and discovery, including reconstructed areas of his home studio, which was located in the Julian Woods Community of Centre County.

For an artist, it’s the most beautiful celebration of his life’s work,” said Howard artist Kim Gates Flick. “He was a really wonderful person. I worked with him a lot. He was so good with students, coaching them, everyone’s champion. He always gave it his all.”

The John Mangan Retrospective will continue through Saturday, July 18, in the Robeson Gallery, open Tuesdays through Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. There will be extended hours during the Central PA Arts Festival. The Gallery will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on July 8-11 and from noon to 5 p.m. on July 12.

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