The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

April 13, 2014

Very special art

Exhibit on display through Wednesday

By Monica Pryts
Allied News Staff Writer

GROVE CITY — Grove City College and the Midwestern Intermediate Unit IV have teamed up again for the Very Special Arts Exhibit, which is on display at the college through Wednesday.

“It’s been a great experience working with the staff from the IU and seeing all the exciting artwork from the students,” said Kathy Rhoades, assistant professor of art at Grove City College who has also been the director of the gallery at the Pew Fine Arts Center on campus since 2009.

This is the exhibit’s 25th year and Monday was the first day of the display, which is sponsored by the MIU and hosted by the college. It is free and open to the public. Gallery hours are: 2 to 4 p.m. today with an opening reception; and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and the Wednesday.

The Very Special Arts Exhibit was originally held at Penn State University and first hosted by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, featuring artwork from 10 kids per region, said Jill Manczka, director of communications at Grove City-based MIU, which has participated every year.

When the state discontinued the program, the MIU in 1989 decided to host a regional Very Special Arts Exhibit with students from school districts in Butler, Lawrence and Mercer counties.

That first year featured 45 entries, and this year’s exhibit includes more than 650 pieces of artwork from 20 school districts in kindergarten through 12th grade, including career centers and MIU’s special education classes/community schools, she said.

“This show allows students to express themselves through the arts. At the same time, students learn different techniques to create beautiful pieces,” Manczka said. “The pieces of artwork that were selected this year are as creative, colorful, and diverse as the artists who created them. All participating artists receive a certificate and a T-shirt.”

The MIU collects, labels, hangs and catalogs the artwork and creates publicity materials, and they have received monetary support from the Midwestern Arts & Humanities Foundation, the Midwestern Region of Pennsylvania Education Association and the MIU IV Education Association.

GCC has hosted 23 of the 25 Very Special Arts Exhibits, and Manczka said they are a very important partner.

“They have been an outstanding, valued partner for so many reasons,” she said.

The Pew Fine Arts Center has a beautiful and professional gallery and the staff at the college is generous with their time and support, especially Rhoades, who makes sure everything runs smoothly, Manczka said.

Rhoades has seen the exhibit grow over the last five years and recalls that more than 400 students and their family members attended the reception in 2013.

“It is an exciting day and the artists are so proud of their work, as they should be,” she said, adding gallery student workers help her organize the reception.

Both women urge folks to visit the gallery.

“I’m always amazed at how good I feel when I go in the gallery when this exhibition is up. It’s worth a visit to see it,” Rhoades said.

There’s something for everyone to check out --- abstract pieces, still-life, pottery, 3-D artwork, water colors, pencil drawings, creative re-use items, and more, Manczka said. “There is a tremendous variety of high-quality, creative artwork,” she said.

The reception includes light refreshments and a visit from the Cat in the Hat, who will pose for photos with children.