Steel sculptures grace
Greensburg Art Center
By Michele Stewardson
Published: Thursday, November 22, 2012, 8:51 p.m. Updated: Tuesday, February 12, 2013
For Rita Reese, the new home for her two outdoor sculptures is exactly as it should be.
The 8-foot-tall welded steel sculptures are permanently displayed in the outdoor sculpture garden at the Greensburg Art Center and Rowe Gallery in Hempfield, which recently honored Reese. The sculptures were designed by the late Josefa Filkosky, an artist and Seton Hill College professor who died of a brain tumor in 1999.
She was born Patricia Filkosky in 1933 in Westmoreland City, but changed her name when she became a Sister of Charity in 1956. Filkosky’s work is represented in private and corporate collections throughout the Northeast. Filkosky, who taught at Seton Hill for 44 years, loved bright colors and was known for her use of red, orange and yellow on painted steel figures. Her “Pipe Dream IV,” created for the 1970 Three Rivers Arts Festival, graces the median strip between Gateway Three and Gateway Four in Pittsburgh.
Filkosky’s last piece, “Soaring From in Reds,” can be viewed at the Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park in Hamilton, Ohio. Reese bought her pieces from Filkosky. Reese’s late husband, John Reese, was chairman of the board and the couple had a fondness for Seton Hill, which is now a university. “I admired the school and everything it stood for,” said Reese, a resident of Greensburg. “I admired her sculptures that were suitable for the outdoors. Most of her works are uplifting and of a spiritual nature. I have two because I couldn’t choose. I liked them both.”
Filkosky and Reese examined the property around Reese’s former home at the time to find the perfect place for the sculptures and they did. One was easily visible from the road. “After I knew I had to sell because the house became a burden, I thought about the sculptures,” said Reese. “Not everyone shared our admiration for the spiritual and uplifting aspects of Josefa’s work. For my husband and I, it satisfied the need for beauty and blended in with the atmosphere where it was located.” Reese hoped to find the sculptures a home where it would fill the same need. She spoke to Sue Pollins about the Greensburg Art Center’s outdoor sculpture garden.
Now the general public, as well as those driving by on Route 30, are enjoying the pieces that mean so much to Reese. “I think it’s wonderful. It is such a great tribute to Josefa and her work,” Reese said. “Josefa’s creations were uplifting. Sometimes today religious is a bad word …. .
People are less spiritual than they have been in the past. “Anything that draws your spirit to a higher level is to be appreciated,” she said. Pollins said the sculptures are joined by a piece created by the late Virgil Cantini in the outdoor sculpture garden on Todd School Road. Additional pieces in the permanent collection are inside the building.
Reese’s donation “helps develop our mission to have art available to the public,” said Pollins, a volunteer at the center. “Our mission is to gather and share with people of the area current and significant past art, although we’re not a museum.” Many volunteers of the center helped to install the sculptures and plant surrounding flowers, including president Renie Pollock, Sue White, Bob Piper, Jerome Yandrick, Joe Schildkamp, Pat Majcher and Rose Sovyak.
The Greensburg Art Club was incorporated in 1952 as a nonprofit educational organization dedicated to painting and helping others gain an appreciation for art. In 1955, it bought the historic public school on Todd School Road. Classes include traditional drawing and painting, plein air, sculpture in various media, ceramics, crafts and children’s activities.
An endowment from past member William B. Rowe Jr., helped build a new addition housing the Rowe Gallery on the main level and a three -dimensional studio on the lower level. Pollins said the center teaches everyone from hobbyists to professionals. The goal is to be a place for artists to congregate and exchange ideas. “It’s about enriching our lives,” she said. Susan Kiren, vice president of the center, said the Filkosky sculptures are a wonderful addition. ”
“It’s a reminder to the public and Route 30 drivers that the arts are alive and well at the Greensburg Art Center and in the community,” she said. “I’m happy that so many people will have the opportunity to see that art can enhance your life,” Reese said. “And when you pass by and see something beautiful, maybe it will lift your spirits once you see it,” she said. Michele Stewardson is a freelance writer.