Whether their work is abstract or realist, the artists whose work hangs in the latest Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art exhibit in Loretto say some might think their paintings are just like those they see in their neighborhood bank or lawyer's office, but they'd be wrong.
The exhibit, dubbed "Seeing the Big Picture: Larger than Life Work from the Permanent Collection,'' showcases 22 large-scale paintings. The average work is 60 to 80 inches across and 5 to 6 feet tall, said museum Visual Arts Curator Scott Dimond. Usually many such paintings are commissioned to hang in places like corporate offices and bank lobbies, he said.
Once in a while, a homeowner with a big house might buy one of the paintings to decorate a large space, Dimond said.
Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski
Seen here is a shot of the exhibit “Seeing the Big Picture: Larger than Life Work from the Permanent Collection” as it appears at the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art at Loretto. Hanging in the center is the painting “On Fire” (1988), by Anna Marie Schnur.
"The chief thing with the big paintings is that they're hard to show alongside other paintings,'' he said, which is why the museum decided to showcase the large paintings in a special exhibit that started in April and will run through June 15.
"They do have a presence,'' Dimond said, "It's more for the visual appeal.''
But some of the artists who have paintings in the show said they want people who view their work to know that their paintings are much more than something to fill up space on the wall of a business or a big house.
If you go
What: "Seeing the Big Picture: Larger than Life Work from the Permanent Collection''
When: Through June 15; Museum open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art at Loretto, on the campus of St. Francis University
For more information, visit the museum's website at www.sama-art.org or call the museum at 472-3920
Kevin Kutz of Bedford, who has a painting called "Altoona'' in the exhibit, said he has always liked the outdoors and has looked for inspiration not only in nature but in architectural landmarks for his work.
"Altoona'' is actually a series of paintings of sites that Kutz joined together to make one large painting. The result is a sort of collage of scenes of the city, including the city's K-4 steam locomotive and the Leap the Dips roller coaster at Lakemont Park. He also included a lesser-known and now-destroyed drive-in restaurant that Kutz said once stood near the Logan Valley Mall close to where the Eat 'n Park Restaurant is now located.
"I have always been interested in roadside architecture, so I'd had my eye on that for years,'' Kutz said.
Kutz describes his style as somewhat abstract, following in the footsteps of the famous abstract painter Jackson Pollock, although he does think his work has some realistic overtones because he also tries to represent what he sees in life. He has been commissioned to paint works for several office buildings in Pittsburgh and closer to home. He has also been asked to paint portraits of many local residents.
Another local artist who has a painting in the large-scale exhibit has also painted several portraits of local figures, including Bishop Emeritus Joseph Adamec of the Altoona-Johnstown Catholic Diocese.
Allen Capriotti of Altoona, who described his style of painting as definitely in the realist category, said he needs a large canvas to fit in all the details of the people in his paintings.
The painting he has in the SAMA exhibit is reminiscent of the famous work, "American Gothic','' by Grant Wood, which depicts an American farmer and his daughter looking stoically at the viewer with a Gothic-style house in the background. Capriotti's work, entitled ""Pennsylvania Victorian Restoration," depicts a family from St. John's Church in Lakemont that Capriotti knew and asked to pose for the painting. The family's Victorian-style house is in the background.
"It just represented a rural family to me and all that goes with that,'' he said. "To me, it's just all there in their faces, their expressions, the tension in their faces, especially. It just says how they interact as a family.''
Capriotti said most of his paintings are about 3 feet by 4 feet and he has always liked to paint on large canvases. He most recently had one of his works, "Treasures from Hawaii,'' chosen for exhibition at the State Museum in Harrisburg as part of a statewide competition in which 190 works were chosen from 2,000 entries, he said.
"I have certain ideas of what I want to get across,'' he said. "I like to represent who the people are. If you leave out details that sort of detracts from the painting.''
Dimond said the largest painting in the exhibit is 10 feet across and 6 feet high. All of the works are from the museum's permanent collection. The exhibit is actually a repeat showing of a similar exhibit shown a few years ago that proved popular with the public, he said.
The large-scale paintings are at the museum's Loretto site because with its higher ceilings, it's a better choice for this exhibit than the Altoona location, Dimond said.
"Some things fit in Altoona, but others would look awkward,'' he said. "With the ceilings the way they are in Altoona you could have it there but the viewing experience would be stunted.''