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Art Gallery features Bill Gravatt Memorial Exhibit in October

Lady with stove-paris by Bill Gravatt
10/4/2012 —


Retired Penn Hills Teacher Owns Bulk of Late Artist's Works

The works of the late artist Bill Gravatt are on display throughout October in the Penn State New Kensington Art Gallery. The memorial exhibit features more than 35 paintings from Michael Karkowsky’s collection of Gravatt’s works. A New Kensington native, Gravatt died in 2000 at the age of 81.

“I’ve been collecting Bill’s art for more than 25 years,” said Karkowsky, a retired art teacher and commercial artist from Plum Borough. “His wife Irene wanted me to show his work so others could appreciate what he had done.”

Working mostly with oil on canvas, Gravatt's paintings reflect his neo-impressionist and divisionism techniques and philosophies. Neo-impressionists favor modern urban scenes, landscapes and seashores. Divisionism is characterized by the separation of colors into individual dots or patches which interact optically. Gravatt earned critical praise for his work.

After graduating from high school, where he excelled in art, Gravatt opted for a career in the Army. He was stationed in Europe and enjoyed the European art culture, especially the galleries in Paris. A medical discharge cut short his military service. Drawing upon his experiences, and financially stable with benefits from the G.I. Bill, Gravatt returned to Paris and enrolled in the Frochot Academy. He studied under well-known artist, writer and teacher Jean Metzinger, who was a disciple of the neo-impressionist and divisionism movements.

When he wasn't in school, Gravatt could be found in Pigalle Place, a Parisian neighborhood dotted with painting studios and literary cafes.  Gravatt remained in the City of Lights for two years before returning to New Kensington and marrying. He continued to paint and earn awards and recognition for his art. Although Gravatt painted in no particular style, his eloquent brush strokes added a “haunting atmosphere" to his canvas.

Karkowsky taught at Penn Hills High School for 35 years before retiring in 1990. Forty years ago, he founded General Sign Co. Inc., an advertising and general sign company located on Coxcomb Hill Road in Plum. The business is owned by his son.

The date for a memorial reception will be announced at a later time. The exhibit is free to the public. The gallery is open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays and noon to 5 p.m. weekends.

For more information, call 724-334-6032.

Self-Portrait by Bill Gravatt "Self-Portrait" by Bill Gravatt, oil on canvas

Top Photo: "Lady with Stove-Paris" by Bill Gravatt, oil on canvas

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