Five honorees will have their contributions to the art world recognized as they take their place this year among past recipients of the Blair County Arts Hall of Fame.
An induction ceremony will take place at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 25 at the Mishler Theatre in Altoona. A reception honoring the recipients will follow at the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art at Altoona.
The Allegheny Ridge Corporation, Blair County Arts Foundation and Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art established the hall of fame in 2003 "to celebrate important artistic achievements, and to ultimately create an exhibit that would document and preserve the significant contributions the county's residents have made to the region's cultural fabric," a foundation press release said.
Area artists will contribute to the event through art pieces recognizing the honorees.
Joe Servello will again capture images of the inductees through portraits he created. Helen Gorsuch designed the medallions presented to the recipients, and medallic artist Jeanne Stevens-Sollman lettered them.
Altoona Community Theatre, Altoona Symphony Orchestra, Allegheny Ballet Company and Blair Concert Chorale will also be represented at the event.
The 2013 honorees are Shirley Pechter of Altoona for the Arts Patron honor, Robert Hunt of Altoona for the Visual Arts honor, Steven Sherrill of Hollidaysburg for Literary Arts honor, the late Samuel Charles Cohn, formerly of Altoona, for the Performing Arts honor and the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament for the Public Art/Architecture honor.
"This year's exceptional group of inductees has made significant contributions to the cultural fabric of this region and beyond," Blair County Arts Foundation Executive Director Kate Shaffer said in an email. "The Blair County Arts Hall of Fame affords us a unique opportunity to recognize their accomplishments and to inspire others to follow their lead."
Pechter, an advocate for music and music education who is also a trained classical pianist, has sat on the board of the Altoona Symphony Orchestra for more than 40 years, the release said.
She is an active member of the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art Board of Directors and worked to establish its Altoona facility.
Pechter has also helped fund scholarships for high school students through the ACT's Isaac Awards, and contributed to capital campaigns, theatrical programs and educational outreach initiatives as an advocate of the Mishler Theatre and the foundation.
"I feel extraordinary. It's awesome," Pechter said of the honor. "You know when you do something that you really love and you get a lot of satisfaction for yourself, for your family, for your foundation, for whatever you're doing, and then someone honors you for it, that's just awesome."
Hunt, a professional oil painter who has been painting since high school, said he was "surprised" and "pleased" to receive the honor.
Hunt paints a wide range of subjects, including the Pennsylvania Railroad, areas before the Johnstown Flood of 1889 and Western landscapes, his website said. Hunt's work hangs in the White House and in National Park Service displays.
"I guess what I would have to say is that what I do is mostly historical pieces, whether it be railroad or Civil War or French and Indian War; it's all based on some history, so I guess I'm pleased that I can help bring back our past and put it into a form that's easy to understand," Hunt said.
Sherrill, author and associate professor of English and Integrative Arts at Penn State Altoona, earned his Master of Fine Arts in Poetry from the Iowa Writer's Workshop, his website said.
His first novel, "The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break," earned a 2002 National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship for Fiction and was translanted into eight langauges. It was released on audio by Neil Gaiman Productions.
Also a painter and musician, Sherrill is the author of other works, including "Visits From the Drowned Girl" and "The Locktender's House."
"I feel fortunate to be recognized for doing things that give me such deep core-level satisfaction, and I feel deeply honored to be included among inductees, past and current, of such breadth and caliber," Sherrill said in an email.
Samuel Charles Cohn
Cohn, who died in May 2009, was an Altoona native who worked his way up in the entertainment industry to become one of the most powerful agents in the 1970s and 1980s, the release said.
He was a producer, a lawyer at CBS and business executive at Goodson Artists Corporation, which would become Creative Management Associates or ICM.
He represented such artists as Meryl Streep, Glenn Close, Paul Newman, Lily Tomlin, Whoopi Goldberg, Robin Williams, Bob Fosse and Woody Allen.
He was involved in numerous Broadway productions such as "Nine," Noises Off," and "Sunday in the Park with George" in the '80s. He negotiated for Columbia Pictures for the movie rights to the Broadway musical "Annie."
In a 2009 Mirror article, friend Richard Johnston of Altoona remembered Cohn, who stayed connected with his hometown, as a "well-liked, well-respected man who was very knowledgeable about the entertainment business."
"If you went out on the town with him in New York City, everyone knew him," he had said. "Regardless of how well-to-do he was, for those who knew him, he was always 'Sam.'"
Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament
Bishop Mark Bartchak plans to accept the award for the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament at the ceremony, diocese spokesman Tony DeGol said in an email.
The Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament is Bartchak's Cathedral Church, along with St. John Gualbert Cathedral, Johnstown, DeGol said.
The Most Reverend Richard Guilfoyle and The Most Reverend Howard Carroll were intricate in the completion of the Cathedral, with the latter gathering the funds to complete it, and the former finishing the interior, the release said.
On September 17, 1924, ground was broken to build the 264-feet-long by 120-feet-wide Cathedral, the release said. The Cathedral's height from the street to the dome's top reaches 198 feet. Twelve steel columns weighing 57 tons each, installed in 1927, support the dome.
"The Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament is an architectural gem and one of the most sacred and beloved landmarks in Altoona," DeGol said. "We are so honored that the Blair County Arts Hall of Fame chose to recognize this magnificent structure, and we are so proud that the Mother-Church of our Diocese serves our Catholic faithful and the entire community so well."
Mirror Staff Writer Amanda Gabeletto is at 949-7030.