LEWISTOWN - For more than 40 years the Mifflin-Juniata Arts Council has been a part of the Lewistown community, striving to promote the arts and creating opportunities for artists to share their work.
Council president Angela Niman joined the council two years ago when one of its biggest events, the arts festival, was canceled.
"I came on board two years ago, when there was no arts festival. I teach art at Sacred Heart (School in Lewistown) and when we as teachers found out there wouldn't be an arts festival, we were upset, so I spearheaded having the student portion of it," she said.
Sentinel photo by MATT STRICKER
Member of the Mifflin-Juniata Arts Council, Staci Van Art, left, and president Angela Niman, spend several hours a week volunteering for the council.
After becoming president, Niman steered the council to becoming more focused on having a year-round presence of art. That included a place where artists could display their work.
"The gallery has been in existence for a full year. Our first show was September a year ago and that was art deco because the building is usually known for its art deco architecture," she said.
The art gallery, Gallery 3 West, is on Monument Square in Lewistown in the former Montgomery Ward building. The gallery started having regular hours this fall on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6 to 8 p.m. The gallery offers classroom space for artists, and admission to the gallery is free, but donations are always accepted.
IF YOU GO
What: Gallery 3 West
When: 6 to 8 p.m. each Tuesday and Thursday.
Where: 3 West Monument Square,?Lewistown (the former Montgomery Ward building)
Niman also decided the council should become more welcoming to more non-traditional art, such as folk art, which led to her long time friend and folk artist, Staci Van Art, joining the council.
"I've been interested in the arts for a long time. I do folk art. I am not a trained artist like (members of the council) are, but I enjoy what I do. It started as a hobby, and if I can make a little money on the side, that's good too," she said.
Once Van Art came on board she started doing publicity for the council, including putting together its website, which lists all their upcoming events.
One event that is receiving a lot of attention is An Evening with Dwight Kirkland, which has the local muralist revealing his new mural that celebrates Lewistown's theater history.
"On Nov. 1, at 5:30 p.m., we are going to meet on the courthouse steps and then do a walking tour of the murals. We will then have the dedication of the new mural and following that we are going to have a reception at the gallery for him and featuring a lot of his other work at the gallery," Van Art said.
The cost of admission to the reception is $15 and only people older than 21 are allowed to attend because alcohol will be served at the event.
In addition to putting together more art-related shows and events, Niman said they want to start putting together art workshops to keep art present in the community.
"I would like to do workshops, but there is a lot to figure out logistically on how we can do that, so eventually we will have classes for all ages, for kids, for adults, and for seniors. We just want to make sure there is an art presence and we are getting into people's ears as much as possible," she said.
As an art teacher at Sacred Heart and as a mother to young children, Niman said she especially wants to keep art present in the community to better the life of the children who grow up in Lewistown.
"I am going to be the change I want to see. I have two young children growing up here and they're lucky enough to go to art museums and to see these things. But I think it's very important that if there is anybody that is interested in any kind of arts that they have the ability to get somewhere and find someone," she said.
The Mifflin Juniata Arts Council meets at 7 p.m. on the second Wednesday of each month at Gallery 3 West.