Early this spring, the Frank L. Melega Art Museum in the historic Flatiron Building, Brownsville announced it was having a juried exhibition Saturday through July 13 as part of this year’s National Road Festival.
Artists from Allegheny, Fayette, Greene, Washington and Westmoreland counties were eligible, and digital images and applications were judged. Of the 71 submitted pieces, 42 paintings, photos, drawing prints and sculptures were chosen. Some of the artists to make the cut will be at an opening reception from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday.
Greene County artists Dave Lesako, Colleen Nelson and Carol Randolph, and Stephany Myers and Charlotte Davidson from Washington County have works in the show.
“Juried art shows go back hundreds of years. Our judges this year were retired art educator Frank R. Melega, son of Frank L. Melega, and Laura DeFazio, professor of art at California University of Pennsylvania,” museum director Patrick Daugherty said.
“It helps to be thick-skinned if you’re an artist. You’re submitting your art to be judged and having it in public makes it open for comment, good and bad. But there’s no substitute for seeing the real thing. The Internet is a good place to start looking if you are interested in art, but a virtual artwork will never replace being in the presence of the actual artwork,” Daugherty said.
“My dad did all kinds of art, all styles and media, and that is what you will see in this show,” Melega said.
The Melega Art Museum is a celebration of the life, times and vast body of work of regional artist Frank L. Melega (1905-1997). It includes a recreation of his actual workspace, complete with tables, sketches, paints, brushes and bottles of ink.
Melega moved from Diamond, Ind., to West Brownsville in 1917. His father was a coal miner and Frank was a self-taught artist who was skilled enough to make a living doing commercial art and sign lettering. But his passion for documenting the coal mines, the coal-patch towns and the miners and their families who were his next-door neighbors began adding up. His first art exhibit was in 1933 and by 1952 his work won him a place in the prestigious Carnegie International at the Carnegie Museum, Oakland. That year’s show also included works by Georgia O’Keefe, Jackson Pollock, Andrew Wyeth and Willem de Kooning.
Melega’s paintings, sculptures, and drawings are in museums and in corporate and private collections nationwide. Locally, there are a number of pieces hanging at the Yablonski Clinic in Centerville, Fayette County. His 1954 mural, The Spirit of Service, is now installed at Penn State Eberly Campus, Fayette County. An artist to the end, Melega did his last major commission for St. Peters Church, Brownsville, when he was in his early nineties.
Six cash awards of excellence, including Best of Show, will be given at 3 p.m. Saturday. A People’s Choice award based on votes cast by visitors will be awarded when the exhibition ends July 13.
All exhibit art is for sale and a percentage of the sales go to the museum. Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays, 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday and by appointment. Call 724-785-9331 or go online melegaartmuseum.org.
Exhibiting artists are Christie Biber, Susan Boyle, Mandy Chesney, Tena Chiarchiaro, Carol Cohen, Hillary Cohen, Rembrandt Coyle, Ellen Daugherty, Charlotte Davidson, Beverly DeMotte, Haley Dunhoff, Joanne Velan Dunn, Beth Frisch, Kate Gaglio, Terrance Hayes, Nora Johnson, Joseph Kent, Diane Kiproff, David Lesako, Joel Lichtenstul, Laurie Longenecker, Stephany Myers, Colleen Nelson, Kenneth Nicholson, Carol Randolph, Leslie Robbins, Judith R. Robinson, Daniel Salitrik, Edward J. Salopek, Rochel Schiffrin, Rochelle Sherman, Kara Ruth Snyder, Maura Taylor, Emily Uhrin, Marjorie Whyel, John I. Williams, Nancy Winkels, Molly Youngling.