New Kensington’s ‘Off the Wall pARTy’ to celebrate art and culture on June 16

Proceeds benefit campus scholarships and cultural programs

The oil-on-canvas painting by Bud Gibbons, professor emeritus of visual arts, features four multi-colored faces of the Nittany Lion. Gibbons’ work was based on the “Four Marilyns” painting by Andy Warhol. 

Credit: Penn State New Kensington

NEW KENSINGTON, Pa. — Creative skill, imagination and intellectual achievement — the humanities — will be in the limelight at Penn Sate New Kensington’s first “Off the Wall pARTy,” from 6 to 10:30 p.m. Friday, June 16, at venues across the campus.

Focusing on arts and culture, the pARTy is an evening with regionally and nationally acclaimed visual and performing artists who will showcase their talents through demonstrations, a theatrical production, music and dancing. Complementing the maestros will be live and silent auctions, food stations and tastings in the Administration Building lobbies and Café 780 courtyard.

“This event promises to be a multifaceted art experience,” said Karl Salatka, a retired general surgeon and member of the pARTy’s planning committee. “I believe this will be a memorable experience for residents of the Alle Kiski Valley.”

Guests can enhance the pARTy atmosphere by opting for the VIP Experience. This “Red Carpet” event provides guests the opportunity to interact with featured artist Baron Batch and featured performer Erin Burkett.

Batch, a former Pittsburgh Steelers running back, brings his nationally acclaimed large murals to the event. The founder of Studio A.M. in Homestead, Batch retired in 2013 to focus on his art.

Burkett will perform original songs from her two albums. The Pittsburgh native is well-known on the northeastern United States corridor.

Caricaturist Vince Ornato will add levity to the pARTy by drawing complimentary exaggerated portraits. An accomplished artist, Ornato’s celebrity subjects run the gamut from the Three Stooges to Marilyn Monroe, the Beatles, the cast of Seinfeld and Evgeni Malkin. His caricatures drew national attention when he appeared on ESPN in 1993. Ornato was hired to draw the anchors live on “Sportsnight,” then a new show on ESPN2.

James Baker, a 2012 Penn State alumnus who graduated from the New Kensington campus, is back in the director’s chair for a performance of “Art” in the Forum Theatre. Written by Yasmina Reza, the Tony Award-winning comedy raises questions about art and friendship. Baker, who directed the campus’ fall theatre productions for the past two years, will direct “Chicago” in the fall.

In the courtyard, Eddie and the Rollers, a classic rock band, will share their love of music with pARTy guests. The Pittsburgh-based group covers songs from the '60s and '70s.

“The idea was to bring together local artists to show their work, network, meet local art enthusiasts, and share their talents and art,” said Kim Ryan, a member of the planning committee. “We wanted to create a festive atmosphere for the community to enjoy.”

In addition to the featured artists, there will be dancing, libation stations, and an “Artist Palate” of hors d’oeuvres and desserts. A silent auction will run throughout the pARTy.

The highlight of the evening is a live art auction of the works of local and regional artists. The auction starts at 7:15 p.m. in the campus Art Gallery.

“As an art enthusiast, I have been so excited to see Pittsburgh's growing art culture,” Ryan said. “The local talent in our area is very rich and vibrant. The local art community is supportive and connected to each other, and continues to grow and thrive in Pittsburgh.”

Prior to the event, Chancellor Kevin Snider will honor the achievements of four Penn State New Kensington alumni: Barbara Arnold, Gregory Garth, Raymond Mastre and Lisa Veitch. The four Distinguished Alumni will be guests of honor at the pARTy.

Tickets for the VIP Experience and pARTy are $125. Tickets for the pARTy are $75. Tickets for pARTy Crashers, those who arrive at 9 p.m. to enjoy the music, art and merriment, are $25.

All proceeds benefit cultural art initiatives and student scholarships at Penn State New Kensington. The campus places an importance on integrating the arts and culture in a meaningful way on campus in order to enhance the student experience and foster an atmosphere of appreciation. Cultural arts experiences are life-changing, and career-changing, helping campus students to view themselves, and the future, in new ways.

“Hopefully, the pARTy will serve as the foundation in creating a broad arts-based program at Penn State New Kensington,” said Salatka, who established the Dr. Karl and Mrs. Jennifer Salatka Family Trustee Scholarship at the campus three years ago. “I am looking forward to great support for this worthwhile event.”

For more information or to purchase tickets, call 724-334-6056 or email Tina Sluss.


Bill Woodard

Alumni and Public Relations Specialist

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