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SAMA plans ‘Arabian Nights’ gala

Courtesy photo Planning for the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art’s 2019 gala are (from left): Jess Campbell, education coordinator for SAMA Loretto and Johnstown; Dana Sky; Vanessa Houser, SAMA executive director; Michelle Passarello, gala chair; Robin Patel; Kit Benzel; and Barbara Hollander, coordinator for SAMA Altoona.

LORETTO — The Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art is soaring through the Arabian Nights to the 41st annual gala hosted by SAMA Loretto on June 29.

This year’s chair, Michelle Passarello, and the rest of the gala committee have been working diligently to create one of the best galas yet.

The museum invites the public to “jump on their magic carpets” for this year’s event.

Held on the campus of Saint Francis University in Loretto, the gala has become one of the most sophisticated and complex outdoor social events in Pennsylvania.

The gala will begin at 6 p.m. with a champagne reception in the museum, followed by an evening of fine art, gourmet cuisine, live music by the Bachelor Boys Band and a variety of games of chance.

Immerse yourself in the evening with henna artists, palm reading, veiled dancers and a genie with his magic lamp. Live and silent auctions feature items such as artwork, vacation packages, antiques and sports items.

“It is gala season! One of my favorite times of year. I have been a gala attendee for years; however, now I have the honor of being part of the planning of this 41-year-old SAMA tradition,” said Vanessa Houser, SAMA executive director.

This year’s gala exhibition is “Robin Grass: All That You See.”

Grass creates paintings without conception, usually depicting the universally known figures of clowns, jesters and scarecrows.

He creates his art based on viewer participation.

“So, when people ask, I tell them they must bring something to the party,” Grass said. “I merely brought the image. They can bring the story. Participate. That’s what art is all about.”

Grass is a graduate of the Pennsyl-vania Academy of Fine Arts and received his bachelor of fine arts degree from the University of Penn-sylvania and his master of fine arts degree from the University of Dela-ware.

In 1976, Grass and his wife opened the Foundry Art Studio in Everett, where he currently resides and creates his art.

“Arabian Nights” Chair Michelle Passarello is a lifelong resident of Altoona.

She has been married to Attorney Steven P. Passarello since 2011 and they have one son, Dominic.

Passarello works as a paralegal and office manager in her husband’s law firm, the Law Offices of Steven P. Passarello, Esq., P.C.

Passarello said, “I am so honored to be named as chair of the 2019 SAMA Gala. I love my SAMA family and the passion we all share for the arts. I look forward to being able to continue to help SAMA provide charitable, literary, cultural and educational programs to our region for years to come and hope to help bring some new faces into our SAMA community.”

The gala is sponsored by Kooman & Associates, LLC.

The funds raised from this year’s gala support the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art.

Contributions allow all five museums in Altoona, Bedford, Johnstown, Ligonier Valley and Loretto to remain open to the public.

This helps to sustain the museum’s Art in Education programs and Healthcare partnership throughout its six-county service area.

Tickets are $175 per person. Of each ticket, $100 is tax-deductible.

RSVPs are required by June 21. Sponsorship opportunities are available.

To purchase tickets, sponsorships or for more information, visit www

.sama-art.org or call the museum at 472-3920.

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