Larry Brandstetter of Monroeville knew he had an artistic gift at a young age.
“I‘ve always had the art ability,” he said. “I’m drawing the same way that I have since I was 8 years old.”
Brandstetter, who specializes in black-and-white pen and pencil drawings and mixed media, will display a collection of his work through mid-December at the Oakmont Carnegie Library, 700 Allegheny River Blvd.
Brandstetter, a native of Pittsburgh’s Morningside neighborhood, said he plans on showing at least 30 pieces in an exhibit called, “Ham n’ Cheese hold the Magoo!”
The show name comes from a line in the movie “His Girl Friday” with Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell. A reception is set for 6 to 8 p.m. Nov. 15.
Brandstetter, 67, credits his mother’s side of the family, particularly his grandfather, Andrea Falconio, with bestowing him with his creative passion.
“He painted with oils — primitive, but he was real creative,” said Brandstetter. “We would take walks in the woods, and he would take a piece of wood and whittle a bird with wings. Then he would put a coat hanger or dowel rod and put them in plants.”
Pieces on display include prints with inspirational messages such as “She needed a hero so she became one” and “Fall down seven times get up eight.”
The Oakmont library has offered its space monthly to local artists, artistic groups and school district art classes for years.
“There are limited places for artists to show their work,” said library assistant Dixie Anderson, who helps with booking. “When they find out libraries have exhibit spaces, they really do jump on it.”
The library does not charge artists for the exhibit, and admission is free.
“Some of them are professionals, and for some, this is a hobby,” Anderson said. “I’ve heard many of them say this is the first time for them to have all their work in a hall together. This is kind of an easy, low-key way to do it. I think it’s nice, and they really appreciated it. We love having artwork on our walls as much as they love showing it.”
Anderson said she doesn’t book a December artist, so those who book in November get a little extra time.
Artists are booked through next year and a few months into 2020 as well.
Brandstetter graduated from the former Ivy School of Professional Art in Pittsburgh in 1972 with an associate’s degree in commercial and graphic art.
“It taught me how to design and to present what I created,” he said.
Brandstetter worked for several years designing stocks, bonds and securities while establishing himself in the Pittsburgh arts community. He was a member of the Pittsburgh Society of Artists and North Hills Arts Center and entered the Three Rivers Arts Festival 11 straight years.
Brandstetter founded Creative Silkscreen, a design and printing business in Penn Hills, in 1982.
For the next 33 years, he dedicated his life to meeting goals and deadlines but lost his personal artistic footing.
He said he retired and gave the business to his nephews in 2015. Shortly after, he decided to pick up the pens and pencils again.
“It’s like Rip Van Winkle,” Brandstetter said. “Like I fell asleep in 1982 and woke up in 2016 and never put the pen down. It’s a great deal of personal satisfaction”
More information about library programs is available at oakmontlibrary.org or by calling 412-828-9532.
Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at 412-871-2367, [email protected] or via Twitter @MikeJdiVittorio.