Artist selected for mural at new Thomas Jefferson High School
TJ Arts, the nonprofit that supports the arts for 30,000 West Jefferson Hills students, has selected Pittsburgh artist Dennis Stocke to paint a large-scale portrait of Thomas Jefferson for the new$95 million district high school.
Stocke, an art teacher at Boyce Middle School in the Upper St. Clair School District, was chosen from a field of 27 artists, all living within a 150-mile radius of the high school.
“His work spoke to us from a distance,” said Karen Suszynski, chairperson and founder of TJ Arts, when asked why Stocke was selected.
As the winning artist, Stocke will receive a $10,000 commission and $2,000 for supplies.
He has been asked to paint a large-scale piece — 42-feet-8-inches wide and 6 feet tall — that will be installed on the interior atrium wall of the new high school. The atrium will serve as the main conduit to all areas of the high school.
Suszynski declined to go into details of Stock’s project. She said the mural will be unveiled when the new school opens.
“We’re saving it until then,” she said.
It had been hoped that the high school, which is being constructed on 161 acres off Old Clairton Road in Jefferson Hills, would open in time for the upcoming school year. Because of construction delays, the opening of the 300,000-square-foot building was pushed back to at least November.
Now, the school will be opened in phases, according to a June 4 letter to parents from Superintendent Michael Ghilani.
“Since the project is out of sequence, it has now become a phased project,” he said.
“Most of the classrooms are dry-walled, painted, and receiving casework. However, the theatre and arts classrooms just had their cement slabs poured at the end of May.
“While getting into the new building for the start of the 2018-19 school year would have been ideal, the most important thing is the building is constructed with quality and that we continue to keep additional costs to a minimum,” he said.