Events set to remember life, celebrate work of longtime New Kensington-Arnold art teacher - jobs fights tigma
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Events set to remember life, celebrate work of longtime New Kensington-Arnold art teacher


Events set to remember life, celebrate work of longtime New Kensington-Arnold art teacher

Two upcoming events will honor life and celebrate the work of a former New Kensington-Arnold art teacher while helping to create opportunities for future artists.

The New Kensington Art Center, 950 Fifth Ave., will host the Andrea Dorwart Memorial Art Show from 5 to 9 pm on Friday. The event coincides with this year’s second Fridays on Fifth, which is being held on the fourth Friday of each month through September.

Voodoo Brewery New Kensington will host a celebration of Dorwart’s life from 1 to 5 pm on Sunday.

Dorwart was an art teacher in the New Kensington-Arnold School District for more than 30 years and had been a sponsor of the prom, yearbook and majorettes. She taught at the elementary and middle school grade levels and was teaching at the high school before retiring in 2003.

Dorwart, or Lower Burrell, was 77 when she died in February after a long battle with cancer.

Her daughter, Stephanie Dorwart, is creating the Valakron Foundation, named after Valley High School’s yearbook, in memory of her mother. Its nonprofit designation is in progress.

The foundation will offer scholarships for students focused on visual or performing arts, as well as those going into healthcare. Stephanie Dorwart, a former math teacher in the district who now owns Altius Healthcare Consulting Group, said they anticipate awarding the first scholarship in 2023.

She said they want to support those in healthcare as well as art because her mother “would not have made it through her battle with leukemia if not for them and the others who treated her along the way. We want to give back in that manner, too. ”

The show at the art center will include a beer tasting with Inner Groove Brewing from Verona. Andrea Dorwart’s work will be on display – including water colors, Ukrainian Easter eggs and Christmas balls.

Prints, replicas and photos of her work will be sold to raise money for the foundation.

As part of the show, Stephanie Dorwart said they found photos of the dinner dance artwork her mother had done for the last three dinner dances at Ridge Avenue Junior High School from 1981 to 1983. That school on Freeport Road was torn down.

Former students can submit work

Andrea Dorwart’s former students are welcome to display their works at the art center as representations of her influence. Photographs are also being collected to be shown in a slide show at Voodoo.

Submissions for both are due by Wednesday, Stephanie Dorwart said. She can be contacted by email at

A lifelong artist, Andrea Dorwart graduated from Arnold High School and earned a degree in art education at Edinboro University. She was a substitute teacher at New Kensington-Arnold before being hired as a permanent teacher in 1974.

Watercolor was one of her favorite mediums, and she would spend months perfecting a painting.

“She never sold her artwork. She mostly gave it away to friends and family, ”her daughter said. “There are friends who have more eggs than the family does because she gave away so many of them. It was one of the happiest things that brought her joy was making the Easter eggs and Christmas balls and giving them out every year. ”

Joel Gabelli, 36, of New Kensington is among Andrea Dorwart’s former students, when he was in ninth and 10th grades.

“Ms. Dorwart was very disciplined, ”he said. “One thing I learned from her about coloring with colored pencils is, she said that if your hands are hurting you’re doing it right. That was one of my memories of her that really sticks out for me. ”

Among Andrea Dorwart’s works on display is a piece Gabelli said he saw her working on in class. It’s a scene of an Italian villa.

“There was a descending staircase in the picture that she was working from that went straight down in the picture without turning,” he said. “As she was drawing it, she intentionally changed the direction the stairs were going in for the composition of the picture to make it look better. That also really stuck out for me. ”

Gabelli still draws, and sometimes is paid for doing caricatures.

“As I’m looking at her gallery as it stands here today, I’m in awe of her drive and motivation for art,” he said. “If I had 10% of her motivation, I might be in a similar position. Life sometimes gets in the way. ”

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Brian at 724-226-4701, or via Twitter .

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