"He is what we are' SAMA-Bedford showcasing collection of former director's watercolors, mixed media, drawings

·5 min read

Aug. 6—BEDFORD, Pa. — A retrospective collection of art is spotlighting a regional artist's career.

"Twenty-five Year Survey," an exhibition by Hollidaysburg resident Michael M. Strueber, is on display through Oct. 9 at Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art at Bedford, located in the Anderson House, 137 E. Pitt St.

The show features more than 80 pieces of watercolor paintings, mixed media and drawings created by the plein-air painter.

"This exhibit is a culmination of the time and energy of his life's work," said Christi Draves, SAMA- Bedford site coordinator.

"Each gallery has its own themed work.

"When you come in, you'll see still lifes and florals.

"When you come up the stairway, it's all the nonobjectives, and they're radical and bright. As you get to the top of the stairs and walk into the gallery, there's all these landscape paintings of the world around us here in Pennsylvania. It's such a variety."

The exhibit features Strueber's most recent paintings and the progression of his style and influences by bringing together his varied works from the past 25 years.

He said that when he retired more than 25 years ago, he did so to fully commit to painting.

"Since that decision, I was able to transform a significant part of my artistic endeavors from an evening, nighttime and weekend process to one where I had unlimited time to observe, reflect, interpret and paint the environment in which I live," Strueber, 77, said.

"Most importantly, I could work each day in natural light, spending as many as eight hours a day pursuing one of the loves of my life."

He said a portion of his recent still lifes and florals have been impacted by spending time in Naples, Florida, during the winter.

"Living part-time in Naples has been like residing in a giant and magnificent botanical garden filled with exotic flora and fauna," Strueber said.

"While Pennsylvania will always dominate my artistic vision, the abundance of natural light, brilliant colors and the profusion of plants and birds have been inspiring."

The display also includes a series of abstract and nonobjective pieces.

Strueber said the seven distinct and separate galleries at SAMA-Bedford have afforded him the first opportunity to display his works alongside other painting dimensions.

"I have chosen a series of works which have been inspired by the new millennium, paintings which were impacted by the music of (Igor) Stravinsky's 'The Firebird,' mixed-media pieces influenced by a series of American quilts, a series of French pieces reflecting pure abstractions," he said.

"It is humbling to look back at what has and continues to make my life worth living."

He said nature serves as his inspiration, but he doesn't try to duplicate it.

"I paint what I attempt to understand," Strueber said.

"I try to show how extraordinary nature is, even in your own backyard. A lot of my recent pieces are trying to emphasize the magnificence of nature as almost all of us experience it on a daily basis."

Strueber received a bachelor's degree from the former Clarion University. He pursued graduate work in education and fine arts, earning a master's in education from Duquesne University and a master of arts from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

In addition to his work as a painter, Strueber served for 24 years as director of Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art.

Under his leadership, the museum expanded to include four facilities serving six counties in southwestern and central Pennsylvania.

Strueber's paintings are held in more than 400 private and public collections in 38 states.

In conjunction with the exhibition, three events with Strueber will be offered.

n From 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 20, a Home, Garden and Gallery Tour of Strueber's Hollidaysburg home will be presented.

Guests will be treated to a champagne brunch served in the art gallery, as well as a tour of the home, which is filled with antiques, contemporary accents and furniture in a variety of individual settings.

There will also be a guided tour through the 2.5-acre gardens that contain annuals, perennials, topicals, topiaries, sculptures, ponds, rockeries, arbors and urns.

The afternoon will focus on interior and exterior design.

The tour is limited to 24 people.

Cost is $100 and registration is required by Aug. 15 by calling 814-589-3020 or online at www.sama-art.org.

n A lunch a la art with Strueber will be offered from noon to 2 p.m. Aug. 31 at SAMA-Bedford.

A seated lunch break will be provided midway through the museum walkthrough.

Cost is $15 and space is limited to 25 people.

Registration is required by Aug. 28 by calling 814-589-3020 or online at www.sama-art.org.

n An artist critique with Strueber will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 7 at the museum.

Individuals are invited to bring two pieces of their work to have Strueber critique the pieces.

He will also be looking for regional artists as future exhibiters, workshop instructors and consigning artists in the museum store.

To register, call 814-589-3020 or online at www.sama-art.org.

Draves said the exhibition and events are nice ways to commemorate Strueber's contributions to SAMA.

"He is what we are and he helped build us to these five satellites, so without him, we wouldn't even be here today," she said.

"We want to give him the honor of letting people into his home and showing them what he has there.

"With the guided tour at the museum, people can see a piece, and if they wonder what he was thinking, they'll have the opportunity to ask him. We're bringing the community into an intimate setting, and it allows people to bond with the artist and the art."

Museum hours are noon to 4:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays.

Admission to the exhibit is free.

For more information, call 814-589-3020 or visit www.sama-art.org.