The Manos Gallery in Tarentum showcases student, professional artwork; benefits free hospital care

A Tarentum art house has partnered with UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh for a monthlong fundraiser benefiting the Free Care Fund.

The Manos Gallery is presenting “Artist of Tomorrow,” an exhibit featuring pieces from 65 student artists from across Western Pennsylvania.

Paintings, drawings, mixed media and other artistic creations from youths ages 8 to 18 are on display at 320 E. Fifth Ave. through May 28.

They’re displayed on the walls and on stands next to works from local professionals. It’s the second year for the exhibit, which opened Saturday afternoon.

“I feel like art and talent does not have an age limit,” said art director Ernesto Camacho Jr. of Harrison. “Growing up as a kid, I didn’t have the resources or the ability to showcase my artwork in a real gallery. Everything was always school related. Giving kids the opportunity to show work in a real gallery is, for the most part, to give them some light and some exposure. ”

This is the first time the exhibit is part of a UPMC fundraiser. The Free Care Fund helps cover the cost of child health care for families in need.

Commissions from sales, as well as money from an art raffle and other donations will go towards helping that effort.

Camacho said he wanted to host such an event following a Howard Hanna Real Estate fundraiser for the Free Care Fund in November in Pittsburgh’s Lawrenceville neighborhood.

“We had artists donate artwork for that specific exhibit and we raised over $ 10,000 for that fundraiser,” he said. “The main thing is, kids are our future. … Anyone who does any type of fundraiser for kids should be noticed. You’re giving back to a kid who really needs the help. ”

The inaugural Artist of Tomorrow event featured work from 50 students out of 120 submissions.

More than 200 submissions were sent in this year.

Pieces on display were selected by Pittsburgh artists Debbie Killar and Donna Weckerly.

Sydney Stanislawski, 16, of Chippewa Township earned Best in Show for her mixed media piece entitled “Gorgo.”

It’s a take on Medusa, a beautiful monster in Greek mythology who had with snakes for hair who would turn to stone anyone who made eye contact with her.

The artist said she used charcoal, graphite and colored pencils to draw Sophia Loren’s face and northern viper snakes, and was inspired by her mother, Jody.

“When I wake up in the morning, my hair is crazy and they call me Medusa,” Mom said. “She thought it would be funny to do Medusa.”

Jody said the nickname stings a little less now.

“I am super proud of her,” Jody said. “She has a great work ethic and she put a lot of time and effort into the piece. … It’s a God-given talent, is what it is, for her to be able to do that without any training. ”

Sydney submitted a portrait to the gallery last year. She said doing art relaxes her and is happy to be a part of the fundraiser.

“People will be willing to pay more for artwork that has stuff that goes towards a good cause,” Sydney said. “That way it raises more money to people that would actually need it.”

Shivy Shrivastava, 9, of Upper St. Clair earned Best in Show for her acrylic painting “Little House on the Prairie,” which was based on the book of the same name.

“It makes me feel proud and it makes me feel happy, yes, very happy,” Shivy said. “I love nature, and it feels very calm when you look at it. It makes me feel all calm and I feel safe. ”

The Eisenhower Elementary School student said she was excited her piece got selected and seeing it displayed next to teen and professional pieces.

“It makes me feel proud that I did this at such a young age,” Shivy said. “I was also happy for the others who could accomplish this at their age, too.”

Her father, Shishir Shrivastava, said helping others through art fits with his daughter’s nature.

“She has always been looking for some kind of charity work,” he said. “Shivy’s very compassionate and kind for such kind of work. Last year, they had an exhibit in UPMC for senior living. It kind of motivates her to do more. ”

Diya Thirumurugan, 10, of South Fayette earned an honorable mention for her acrylic painting of a dancing woman called “No One’s Watching.”

“I did it last year and got an honorable mention. So I wanted to try again and do better paintings, ”Diya said. “I just like creating things. I like to draw animals and plants and sometimes people. ”

Her mother, Jency Manoharan, said making art with Diya has been a family activity for years.

“Every year we try and do one painting as an activity (for) the two of us,” she said. “It’s something we’ve been doing since she was little.”

Manoharan said seeing Diya hardwork and talent on display with other artists is heartwarming.

“This time she really wanted to win, so she put in a lot of extra work this time,” Manoharan said. “I really didn’t want to give it away. I wanted to keep it. This turned out so good. I hope she gets to sell the painting this time. I’m so proud of her. ”

Joan Bohnet of Tarentum takes art classes at The Manos Gallery.

She was among the hundreds who came out for the opening of the exhibit and was impressed with what she saw.

“I am amazed at the talent of these kids,” Bohnet said. “Who can say anything different? It’s incredible and it’s so nice to see them being encouraged. I think it’s great that (Camacho’s) doing this for the community (and) supporting these kids. It’s such an important thing. ”

People can also make donations to UPMC at the gallery.

More information about the Free Care Fund is available at givetochildrens.org.

Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at 412-871-2367, mdivittorio@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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