Gallery exhibit focuses on nature and wildlife

Published Mar 5, 2014 at 7:00 am (Updated Feb 28, 2014 at 4:27 pm)

Info Box: The Schoolhouse

The Schoolhouse Arts Center in Bethel Park was founded in 1972 as a nonprofit volunteer organization of local artists and craftsmen, hoping to promote and develop the arts in the South Hills. The Gift Shop showcases handcrafted works of local artisans and the Treasure Room features vintage items. Classes in watercolor, tole painting and pastels are open to adults and children. For details, call 412-835-9898.

Info Box: George Nickol

Born in Altoona, George Nickol’s high school art instructor commended him on his talent. Eager to begin a career in the arts, he was soon called to serve his country in the U.S. Army. Not long after being discharged, George’s love of painting and sculpting led him to study art at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. Unable to find employment in the arts, an opportunity came for George in computer technology, allowing only evenings to continue his passion for art. Retiring after 24 years with the builder Ryan Homes, George then began to fill his days with his chosen career in the arts.

A resident of Bethel Park, George is an award-winning artist whose creativity not only includes watercolors, acrylics, oils and painting using color pencils to create wildlife, mountain, water and foliage scenes, but he is also skilled in working with clay, metal and paper. George is a member of South Arts and the Bethel Artists Guild.

Although spring is just a few weeks away, winter continues to hold a tight grip on Western Pennsylvania. Not allowing the cold to get the best of us, as daylight increases our sites are focusing on fashion shows, card parties, art exhibits and other spring functions that fill our calendars at this time of year.

The Schoolhouse Arts Center in Bethel Park is looking ahead to spring and plans a grand celebration for this year’s opening. On March 8 and running through April 19, the Center’s Gallery will feature artworks of the multi-talented artist George Nickol of Bethel Park.

Oils, woodcarvings, metal sculptures, scratchboard and shadowbox art fill the exhibit, giving him recognition as an accomplished artist. Brilliant colors of a macaw, fine feather detailing of waterfowl and songbirds, adoring looks of household pets, rugged moose and elk in the great northwest are just a few outstanding works in his portfolio.

An accomplished artist, decades of training and experience have rewarded him with honors received in the Ward World Championship Carving Competition in Salisbury, Md. In 2011, George entered six pieces and took home four ribbons.

With his love of nature and wildlife, there seems to be no end to George’s talent and what he can do. Relief carvings are another of George’s talents. By mastering his tools, from just a block of wood, he has completed beautifully-detailed birds and animals.

Miniature shipbuilding is another talent on his never-ending list. Replicas of the Mayflower and British warship Victory show painstaking accuracy as to deck levels, quarters and gun placement.

Intense detail and lifelike creations stem from his patience and ability to tediously work with small handmade parts made from varied materials to mold whatever shapes he needs from wood, paper, metal or any other material.

By sculpting tropical fish in brass, copper, aluminum or acrylic, onlookers of his framed wall art would have difficulty in separating his aquarium-like art from living fish.

“My next projects are a life-size horned owl and ruffed grouse,” said George. “I like being busy and I’m always looking forward to doing something new.”

The Schoolhouse Arts Center and Gallery are open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. For information, call 412-835-9898.

EEN: The 44th Annual Ward World Championship Wildfowl Carving competition and Art Festival in Ocean City, Md., is scheduled for April 25-27.

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