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Artists kick off Westmoreland Arts & Heritage Festival with ‘Paints the Town’

Mary Pickels

As downtown workers and passersby strolled along Main Street in Greensburg on Thursday, many were drawn to a tent on the lawn of the Westmoreland County Courthouse Square.

Jeff Donato and half a dozen of his Westmoreland County Community College art students set up easels and began painting, kicking off the third Westmoreland Arts & Heritage Festival’ s “Paints the Town” event.

Running through July 7, the event serves as both reminder of the upcoming July 5 through 8 festival in Twin Lakes Park and brings a bit of its celebration of culture and history to those who may be unable to attend.

“We want people to come here, take a lunch break, sit down and enjoy themselves,” said Diane Shrader, festival executive director.

“Paints the Town” will continue noon to 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday and Monday through next Saturday.

It will move to Twin Lakes Park from noon to 3 p.m. on July 8, the festival’s final day, where the paintings will be available for purchase.

Visitors can stop by the tent to meet the artists and get information about the popular summer festival, Shrader said.

Artists Ray Kuchinka and Donato will take turns working on paintings at Couthouse Square, as well as painting at the Westmoreland Cultural Trust’s TGIS series on June 28 and July 5, and at the Maple Avenue entrance to SummerSounds concerts in St. Clair Park on June 29 and July 6.

“People who are unable to get to the festival, for whatever reason, we brought the festival to them. They can come here and see art come to life,” Shrader said.

“This is the first year (Donato) brought his students to this,” she said.

Bringing art to the public

“It’s an excuse to get outdoors and paint. I paint at Twin Lakes almost every day in summer,” Donato said of his participation.

He and Kuchinka have been involved with the festival in previous years, including drawing caricatures and murals at the park.

“It plants that seed in people’s heads. It’s coming up,” Kuchinka said.

Mary Ellen Raneri of Latrobe, a retired Ligonier Valley School District teacher and art student, worked on a painting she called “Sunday Morning.”

It shows Latrobe’s downtown business section and, on the sidewalk, her husband, Phil, walking their dog, Alfredo.

Raneri said she enjoys adding “values” — the lights and darks — to her paintings.

“I like to do vehicles, too,” she said, noting several cars parked on the painting’s street.

“I sketched it first, then I worked on the shading. Eventually I will color it,” she said.

Student Peyton Starenchak of Greensburg said she decided to participate in “Paints the Town” to help bring her out of her shell a bit and to promote the festival.

She worked on a sunset landscape featuring a mermaid.

“It’s a good experience, and it helps get the art out there,” she said.

Details: 724-834-7474 or artsandheritage.com

Mary Pickels is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-836-5401 or [email protected] or via Twitter @MaryPickels.


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Mary Pickels | Tribune-Review
Art student Peyton Starenchak of Greensburg joins other painters setting up easels in Courthouse Square on Friday. 'Paints the Town,' an introduction to and reminder of the upcoming Westmoreland Arts & Heritage Festival, will run daily through July 7. It will move to the festival site for its final day July 8.
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Mary Pickels | Tribune-Review
Mary Ellen Raneri of Latrobe is among the artists participating in Friday's kickoff of 'Paints the Town' at Greensburg's Courthouse Square.
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Mary Pickels
Jeff Donato works with some of his Westmoreland County Community College art students at the Westmoreland Arts & Heritage Festival's 'Paints the Town' event at Courthouse Square in Greensburg.
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