For her first time ever selling her artwork at a show, Heidi Walsh was doing quite well.
“In fact, I’m at the point now where I’m thinking, oh my gosh. I need some more things to hang on the wall,” she said. “Luckily, I’m local, so I can replenish everything tonight.”
She joined dozens of other talented individuals who were selected for the two-day Mt. Lebanon Artists Market. The event opened on a sunny Saturday, with plenty of participants reporting brisk sales heading into Sunday.
Walsh, a Mt. Lebanon resident, recently started a business called Inkprint Studio. She works in a variety of media, including watercolor and acrylic painting, and was selected by the Community Redevelopment Authority of Hollywood, Fla., to transform nearly 600 feet of sidewalk into an interactive community art piece.
“I saw the call for artists for the mural, and I thought, what the heck. I’ll throw my name into the ring,” she said. “And lo and behold, I got it.”
A lifelong artist who attended the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, Walsh has put an emphasis during the past few years on returning to that type of pursuit.
“I had a wide variety of careers,” she said. “But any time I was creative was when I was happiest, so I thought, I need to keep going for it.”
Her selection for the seventh annual Artists Market meant impressing the three jurors – Mt. Lebanon residents Harold Behar and James Mellett, and award-winning illustrator Mark Bender – who chose the field of participants. This year’s event included a remembrance of Elaine Rosenfield, who founded Mt. Lebanon’s annual Art in the Park event, the forerunner of the Artists Market.
Since 2014, the market has been conducted by the Mt. Lebanon Partnership, a nonprofit volunteer group that works toward maintaining a vibrant community by promoting growth in local commercial districts on behalf of business owners, property owners and residents.
During the event, raffle tickets were sold to benefit the Mt. Lebanon Arts Initiative, a Partnership program that awards scholarships to Mt. Lebanon High School graduates who are studying art. The 2021 winner is Julia Hagins, who is studying at the Maryland Institute College of Art.
September proved to be a banner month for South Fayette Township in terms of bringing in money to benefit the community.
The municipality was awarded a $25,000 grant from T-Mobile toward improvements at Fairview Park – including pavilions, walking paths, a dog park and splash pad – as part of the redevelopment of the former Mayview State Hospital site.
A Sept. 30 Beer for Books benefit for South Fayette Township Library raised $9,000 to support programs and services, marking the best year ever for the annual event, which returned to Helicon Brewing in Oakdale for 2021.
T-Mobile announced South Fayette is one of the 25 communities in the initial round of recipients for the cellphone carrier’s Hometown Grants program.
“These funds will be used towards the construction of new baseball fields in Fairview Park which will provide recreational opportunities for years to come,” Gwen Rodi, president of the South Fayette Township Board of Commissioners, said. “Thank you to T-Mobile for choosing to invest in the South Fayette community.”
Beer for Books was held during Allegheny County’s Love Your Library Month, with a portion of all donations matched by the Jack Buncher Foundation.
“This year, the library raised over $19,000 to be matched, confirming how important the library is to the community,” said Leslie Riker, fundraising and community development coordinator for the institution.
Hosting the event was Helicon owner Chris Brunetti, a South Fayette resident and supporter of the library. Featured were local food trucks and a performance by the Dave Iglar Band on Oakdale Borough’s stage, which was donated for the evening.
Five years ago this month, the Bethel Park Historical Society embarked on raising money to renovate the building on South Park Road that originally was constructed as a high school in 1905.
“We set a goal of a million dollars,” Tim Moury, historical society president, said. “People looked at us – even we looked at each other – saying, what do you think the chances are? Can we do it?”
During an Oct. 3 open house at the building, he announced the historical society has received a $10,000 grant from the Bethel Park Community Foundation.
“Between donations, fundraising and in-kind services, our total dollar amount is one million, eight thousand dollars,” he said. “It’s really, truly amazing how well the community has come out in support of our project.”
Local residents certainly supported the open house, nearly filling the refurbished former upstairs classroom that was dedicated during the event as the Community Foundation Auditorium.
Historical society secretary Bill Haberthur provided an update of further improvements that have occurred in the past two years.
“We didn’t let a little pandemic stop our progress,” he said with a laugh.
For example, the original bell has been placed in a cupola atop the roof of what now is known as the Schoolhouse Arts and History Center. In fact, the ringing of the bell marked the start of the open house, just as it would a school day.
The historical society received a $170,000 grant for upgrading the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system, and work is in the process of wrapping up, Haberthur said. The electrical system has been converted from fuses to circuit breakers, and more restroom facilities now are available for visitors.
All 11 exterior doors have been replaced, and within the next few weeks, the building will receive new gutters and downspouts.
“Not only did we do renovations, but we significantly added to our collection,” Haberthur said, as donations of items continue to increase the historical society’s presentation of local memorabilia related to education, the military, coal mining and other areas of interest.
The project being funded by the Community Foundation grant, “Raise the Flag,” involves relocating the former St. Valentine School’s flagpole, which was dedicated by the Veterans of Foreign Wars in 1961, to the arts and history center.
“It’s probably more cost-effective to buy a new one versus move the old one, but we’re here to preserve the history,” Moury said.
Another fundraising effort, coordinated by society members Jim and Lisa Jenkins, was the sale of trees to be planted along the Park Avenue side of the building.
“We did that to really return it to where it was when this building was originally built,” Moury said. “If you go back and look at the early pictures, it was a tree-lined street.”
During the open house, those who made the purchases were presented with engraved plaques to be placed in front of their designated trees.
Attending the event were South Side Slopes artists Johno Prascak and his wife, Maria DeSimone Prascak, longtime supporters of the historical society’s efforts.
Johno exhibited his 32-foot painting “Carnegie Steel – Homestead Works, 1926” and Maria her watercolor of the Schoolhouse Arts and History Center, with prints available for sale to benefit the society.
Also in attendance was state Rep. Natalie Mihalek, R-Peters Township, whose district includes part of the Bethel Park. Moury acknowledged her efforts in helping to secure grant money on behalf of the Schoolhouse Arts and History Center.
“It’s such an asset to the community. I can’t communicate that enough. And what small role that I can play in helping divert some of the state funds that are available,” Mihalek said, “I’m happy to do it. I think this is just a treasure for Bethel Park.”