Celebrating a decade of the arts

November 30, 2012
Al and Kim Lucchini, at right, talk with artist Hiromi Katayama, middle, and her boyfriend, Paul Landrio, at the WashArts Anniversary GalaFriday. - Karen Mansfield / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

Washington Community Arts and Cultural Center knows how to throw a party.

WashArts celebrated its 10th anniversary with a gala held at its new, contemporary, one-story building on South Street in Washington.

The celebratory evening – a formal affair – included performances by two-time Emmy-winning composer and pianist Jace Vek and jazz and R&B musician, composer and producer Will Brock, a native of Washington.

During the night, guests walked through the new studios, where the works of local artists, potters and sculptors were exhibited and available for purchase, and enjoyed drinks and a gourmet dinner.

Sandee Umbach, WashArts founder and current board president, said its mission – to provide quality arts education for children regardless of their ability to pay – remains the same, even though WashArts moved from the historic, Italian Renaissance building where it first offered classes to its current, urban-styled digs in late summer.

“We can truly say our mission from the beginning, that all children and adults should have access to the arts so that they can grow in ways that could never be imagined, is still true today. And through some miracle, we’ve never had to give up our mission of free classes for those who are low income, because it’s very hard to keep it going,” said Umbach. “That mission has stayed steadfast.”

Proceeds from the gala, which is the WashArts’ largest annual fundraiser, will be used to fund programs for another year. Classes range from the visual arts and poetry to metals, jewelry design, graphic design, digital video and photography.

Al and Kim Lucchini of East Washington, longtime supporters of WashArts, attended the gala.

“It attracts people of such diversity. Children who come from neighborhoods that are low-income and might not have an opportunity to become involved in the arts get the chance to participate,” said Kim Lucchini. “This gives everyone, regardless of income, an opportunity. All are welcome.”

The gala provided an opportunity to reflect on how far WashArts has come – initially, 50 students were enrolled in seven classes – but Umbach said WashArts is looking forward to its next generation of artists.

“We feel like we’re at the beginning of the next generation. We have had 10 years of students, and some have graduated and moved on. Now, we feel our niche is nurturing young talent: the artists you see tonight, but also the new kids in our classes who have a chance to enjoy the arts,” said Umbach.

Vek said WashArts provides the opportunity for artists to discover their talents, which they might not otherwise be able to explore.

“WashArts stands up in the face of a changing world in this digital age and says, ‘Come right here and let us help you make a creation better. Let’s open the door for you.’ The world doesn’t line up to present opportunities like this,” said Vek. “WashArts is necessary and important.”

Artists whose work was displayed included Addison Abbas, Max Cameron, Hiromi Katayama, Tyler Scheidt, and WashArts artists Jennifer Adamson, Adrienne Day and Jeff Katrencik.

Throughout the night, a sculpture by Kim Stocker, “A Seat at the Table,” was moved into different rooms of the arts center, on a journey of its own. The sculpture includes 10 chairs that represent the ten years that WashArts has been in existence and each chair represents an art – poetry, pottery, mixed media and more.

“I hope everyone gets a chance to look at the sculpture,” said Umbach. “It’s beautiful and it represents what WashArts is all about. This arts center belongs to everyone.”

Karen Mansfield is an award-winning journalist and mom of five who has been a staff writer for the Observer-Reporter since 1988. She enjoys reading, the Pittsburgh Steelers, a good glass of wine and nice people.

View More from this Author



blog comments powered by Disqus