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Saggese debuts Mexican ‘Day of the Dead’ paintings at Tyrone Hospital Art Gallery

New series of paintings
Benjamin Saggese is debuting his new series of paintings depicting scenes from the Mexican celebration of the Day of the Dead at the Tyrone Hospital Art Gallery. The celebration is November 1 and 2 on All Souls Day and All Saints Day and involves prayer and remembrance of deceased loved ones. Families build altars in their home at the grave sites of loved ones which includes their favorite foods, beverages and mementos. Pictured is a candlelit cemetery which shows graves adorned with marigolds and gifts to honor the dead. Other paintings in the series include the broom sweeper, an altar, and women in field gathering flowers for the graves. The exhibit also includes a variety of other Saggese paintings. The Saggese exhibit may be viewed at Tyrone Hospital from October 15 through December. (Courtesy photo)

The Tyrone Hospital Art Gallery is now featuring the work of professional artist Mr. Benjamin Saggese.
Saggese is a native of Munson in Clearfield County. He is an alumnus of the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. His work has been recognized with more than 150 awards and has been exhibited widely throughout Pennsylvania and featured in exhibits in Washington, D.C. and Mexico.
Saggese’s work has been described as stirring, spiritual and ethereal. He started painting when he was in his teens. His early work was mostly with pastels, painting landscape and scenery. In his early twenties, he began experimenting with other mediums and art styles including watercolors, acrylics, and a self designed recipe of food coloring and varnish. One of his signatures is to “hide” something in his paintings that viewers may or may not easily detect.
Saggese is known for creating series around a particular theme. His series include the stations of the cross, zodiac, churches, flowers, and a Bible series, where the artist translates Bible verses into images and colors. The artist has 99 collectors of his Bible series. His exhibits generally include pieces from each of the series.
Those who visit Tyrone’s art gallery will be the first to see Saggese’s newest series, which captures images of the traditional Mexican holiday known as Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead). In Mexico, this unique holiday is celebrated November 1 and 2 on All Saints Day and All Souls Day. The celebration focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember deceased loved ones. The celebrations include building altars, and using items such as sugared skulls, marigolds, and favorite foods and beverages of deceased loved ones and placing them at their gravesites. The celebration is believed to be a tradition that dates back thousands of years to a festival celebrated by the Aztecs.
“I hope my work provokes immediate reaction, thought, and contemplation. With that bringing reconciliation and hope within our individual temperaments,” said Saggese. “My work may appear reserved on the surface, but I hope there is a sense of continuing disclosure upon repeated viewing.”
Saggese’s recognition includes the Susquehana River Art Center’s Juries Shows as well as Best of Show at the Blair County Arts Festival. His work was also accepted in the Ancient Images/Modern Expressions at the Saint Vincent Kennedy Hall Gallery in Latrobe, the Juried Images Exhibition at the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts, annually at the Laurel Festival in Brookeville, the Fourth of July Exhibit in Brockway, and the Autumn Leaf Festival in Clarion.
He has also exhibited in Erie, at Mt. Aloysius College, Juried Southern Allegheny Museum of Art in Altoona, and several locations in the State College area. His work has also been exhibited in Mexico at the Acapulco Convention Center, Cuernavac University, and at various art galleries. Locally, Saggese’s work is featured in an ongoing exhibit at the Gaslight restaurant in Philipsburg.
The artist serves as the superintendent of the Clearfield County Fair board where over 1,300 pieces of art are shown annually. He has also served on the Board of Directors of the Clearfield Art Studio and has also shared his talents as an art teacher for more than 15 years. Saggese also instructs privately at the Guardian Angel Art Studio, a 107-year old church in Munson, Pennsylvania that is also his home and studio.
The public is welcome to visit the hospital and enjoy Saggese’s exhibit which will be on display on the first floor at Tyrone Hospital from October 16 through December 2008.
Saggese welcomes comments from those who view his artwork; he can be contacted at minervasaggese@yahoo.com.
For more information about the Tyrone Hospital Art Gallery, contact 684-6348.