Some of Western Pennsylvania's most talented artists are featured at the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art at Loretto.
Starting today, "Biennial 2010," a juried exhibition featuring local artwork, will be open to the public with a special reception and awards celebration on Saturday.
One of SAMA's most popular events, "Biennial 2010" features photography, watercolor, wood, oil, clay, steel, bronze, pastel, pencil, acrylic fiber art and mixed media.
Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec
Chuck Olson of?Indiana is shown with his painting “The?Land: Exploitation,” which won the Best in Show award at the “Biennial 2010”?exhibit at the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art in Loretto.
"This exhibition is special because it celebrates the talents and visions of the artists in our region. Pennsylvania is rich with gifted artists, both self-taught and educated in their fields. The Biennial appeals to everyone," Bobby Moore, collections manager for SAMA, said.
Michael Strueber, SAMA's founding director and juror for the show, chose 90 outstanding pieces of artwork from 350 submissions.
Strueber spent four days this summer studying the pieces before choosing the selections for the exhibit.
If you go
What: "Biennial 2010," a juried exhibition featuring local artwork
Where: Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art at Loretto
When: Today through Feb. 19, hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and 1 to 5 p.m. Saturdays
For more information: Call the museum at 472-3920
"I'm looking for the best. I look for work that's well-crafted, beautifully executed, highly personal, artistically interesting - work that has a wonderful impact," Strueber said.
The regional art exhibition began 35 years ago as a triennial, and eventually evolved into a biennial. Strueber, who started the art exhibitions, said the format has changed, but the mission hasn't: "To promote an appreciation of the rich and diverse artistic heritage of our locality."
"Biennial 2010" achieves this goal by featuring artists from all over western Pennsylvania.
"I think the exhibition speaks well of the region and the botanical beauty of the area. It's one of the most beautiful places on earth and that beauty is reflected in the art," Strueber said.
Strueber chose Chuck Olson's acrylic painting "The Land: Exploitation" as the best in show because of Olson's "sophisticated knowledge of contemporary art synthesized into a highly personal style and world vision of our endangered environment."
The painting is one in a series of four large canvasses that show the landscape and how it is affected by exploitation.
"It shows how the land is approached and taking things out of it. It does have some regional significance and about the relationship human beings have with land in general," Olson said.
Olson of Indiana, who was a former juror for the Biennial, said he was pleased to have his work chosen and he enjoys seeing work from local artists.
"You've got all these artists that encompass this whole area. They work in isolation," he said. "When you go to the regional Biennial, you see how the artists are reacting to the region. I also think it really sets in honest terms the intellectual property of the region and energy of the region."
Another local artist, John Hovenstine of Hollidaysburg won an award for his photograph of a Civil War re-enactor from an encampment at Idlewild Amusement Park this summer.
"For years I've done pen-and-ink drawings and they've won awards at different shows. I just recently have been trying a lot of different mediums," Hovenstine said.
"It's nice to win an award. It's confirmation you're doing something right. I don't enter to win. It gives me something to shoot for when I know there's a show coming up. Being my stuff is something different, it's nice to get accepted, let alone win a prize
Like Olson, Hovenstine also enjoys the Biennial shows to see the local artwork.
"I think it's a great example of Pennsylvania artists," he said. "People need to look at their work. It's an impressive show. It's people from your hometown."