Students from Art History classes and AP Studio Art Portfolio classes recently accompanied art teachers Ms. Rebecca Donaghue and Ms. Julie Piotti and on a tour of the gallery and local art restoration of artist John Rita.
Figurative painter, John Rita of Albert Michaels Conservation in Altoona, Pennsylvania, met with the Grier group and kindly guided them through the enormous art conservation facility. Here, students saw restored works of art as well as restorations in progress, a woodshop, a laboratory, and an art studio. Rita, who received specialized training in art conservation and studied abroad in Europe for years, is known for his high quality art and restoration work. He has restored murals and frescos in institutions including the Mishler Theater in Altoona, the Lincoln Fresco in the Lobby of Old Main on Penn State’s University Park Campus, and even the State Capital Building in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He also restores sculpture and showed the students a defaced marble bust he was working to restore.
Ms. Piotti said the girls were surprised at the enormous size of the Albert Michaels space, especially the Egyptian Room which can be rented for special events. The students had expected a small gallery with a few paintings punctuating plain white walls, but this was not at all the case. It was a delight to see working artists and their work displayed in highly public locations like the Mishler Theater. Ms. Donaghue and Ms. Piotti are so grateful the students had this chance to meet John Rita, who, as Ms. Piotti noted, was excellent in patiently answering the students’ questions and sharing some of his knowledge.
What a great trip for our Art History and AP Portfolio art students!