The Manos Gallery in Taranto features student and professional art; receives free hospital care

A Taranto art house has partnered with UPMC Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh for a month-long fundraiser to benefit the Free Care Fund.

The Manos Gallery presents “Artist of Tomorrow”, an exhibition featuring pieces by 65 student artists from across western Pennsylvania.

Paintings, drawings, mixed media and other artistic creations by young people ages 8 to 18 are on display at 320 E. Fifth Ave. until May 28.

They are exhibited on the walls and on stands next to works by local professionals. This is the second year of the exhibition, which opened on Saturday afternoon.

“I feel like artistry and talent have no age limit,” said art director Ernesto Camacho Jr. of Harrison. “Growing up, I had neither the resources nor the capacity to present my works in a real gallery. Everything was always linked to school. Giving children the opportunity to exhibit their works in a real gallery is above all giving them a little light and visibility.

This is the first time the exhibit has been part of a UPMC fundraiser. The Free Care Fund helps cover the cost of child health care for families in need.

Commissions on sales, as well as money from an art raffle and other donations will help in this effort.

Camacho said he wanted to hold such an event following a Howard Hanna Real Estate fundraiser for Free Care Fund in November in the Lawrenceville neighborhood of Pittsburgh.

“We asked artists to donate artwork for this specific exhibition and we raised over $10,000 for this fundraiser,” he said. “The bottom line is that children are our future. … Anyone who does any type of fundraising for children should be noticed. You are giving back to a child who really needs help.

The inaugural Artist of Tomorrow event featured the work of 50 students out of 120 submissions.

Over 200 submissions were sent this year.

The exhibits were selected by Pittsburgh artists Debbie Killar and Donna Weckerly.

Sydney Stanislawski, 16, of Chippewa Township, won the Best in Show award for her multimedia article titled “Gorgo”.

It’s a take on Medusa, a beautiful monster from Greek mythology who had hair snakes that turned anyone who looked into her eyes to stone.

The artist said she used charcoal, graphite and colored pencils to draw Sophia Loren’s face and the Northern Viper Serpents, and was inspired by her mother, Jody.

“When I wake up in the morning my hair is crazy and it calls me Medusa,” mom said. “She thought it would be fun to do Medusa.”

Jody said the nickname stings a little less now.

“I’m super proud of her,” Jody said. “She has a great work ethic and she put a lot of time and effort into the piece. … It’s a God-given talent, that’s what it is, for her to be able to do it without any training.

Sydney submitted a portrait to the gallery last year. She said doing art relaxes her and she is happy to be part of the fundraiser.

“People will be willing to pay more for artwork that serves a good cause,” Sydney said. “That way it brings in more money for people who really need it.”

Shivy Shrivastava, 9, of Upper St. Clair won Best in Show for her acrylic painting “Little House on the Prairie,” based on the book of the same name.

“It makes me proud and it makes me happy, yes, very happy,” Shivy said. “I love nature, and it’s very calm when you look at it. It makes me very calm and I feel safe.

The Eisenhower Elementary School student said she was thrilled that her piece was selected and displayed alongside teen and professional pieces.

“It makes me proud to have done this at such a young age,” Shivy said. “I was also happy for the others who could accomplish this at their age too.”

Her father, Shishir Shrivastava, said helping others through art fits his daughter’s nature.

“She was always looking for some kind of charity work,” he said. “Shivy is very compassionate and kind for this kind of work. Last year, they exhibited at UPMC for senior residences. It kind of motivates her to do more.

Diya Thirumurugan, 10, from South Fayette, won an honorable mention for her acrylic painting of a dancing woman titled ‘No One’s Watching’.

“I did it last year and got an honorable mention. So I wanted to try again and make better paintings,” Diya said. “I just like to create things. I like to draw animals and plants and sometimes people.

Her mother, Jency Manoharan, said making art with Diya has been a family affair for years.

“Every year we try to do a painting as an activity (for) both of us,” she said. “It’s something we’ve been doing since she was little.”

Manoharan said seeing Diya’s hard work and talent on display with other artists is heartwarming.

“This time she really wanted to win, so she put in a lot of extra work this time,” Manoharan said. “I really didn’t want to give it away. I wanted to keep it. It turned out so good. I hope she can sell the painting this time. I’m so proud of her.

Joan Bohnet from Taranto took art lessons at the Manos Gallery.

She was one of hundreds of people who came to witness the opening of the exhibition and was impressed by what she saw.

“I’m amazed at the talent of these kids,” Bohnet said. “Who can say anything else? It’s amazing and it’s so nice to see them encouraged. I think it’s great that (Camacho) is doing this for the community (and) supporting these kids. It’s such an important thing.

People can also donate to UPMC at the gallery.

More information about the Free Care Fund is available at

Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Tribune-Review. You can contact Michael at 412-871-2367, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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