Monthly Archives: February 2014

My painting in the Greater Latrobe School District Special Collection

While I was at the Center for Creativity at the Greater Latrobe High School (Latrobe, PA) doing the Third Grade Art Symposium (see last post), I took the opportunity to wander the halls and view their famous art collection.

This student-selected, student+community purchased collection has been acquiring artworks almost every year since it was founded in 1936. The collection has been an inspiration to many other school districts, including the Derry Area School District that purchased my painting last November.

Walking the halls, you can’t help being awed by the presence of the artworks (which are, by the way, protected by plexiglass). The noise level when the students are pouring out of classrooms seems much lower than in other schools.

Eventually I found my way to my own painting, Restart, which was acquired by the collection in 2006. This purchase was actually a key event for me, as I explain in My Art Story:

My turning point as an abstract artist came in 2006, when I won a Purchase Award from the Greater Latrobe School District Special Collection, which is selected by the students. I was aware that people loved my abstracts as much as my landscapes, but this was a wake-up call. Not only did real, regular high-school kids pick my abstract painting over my realistic ones, but this was the first abstract painting they had picked for their collection since the 1960s. In the meantime, I had discovered how to create space in abstract paintings. I finally decided to throw myself behind my belief that abstract painting is my gift. Mine are the abstracts that don’t need theories to explain themselves to people’s hearts.¬†

Here is my painting in the hallway, after hours.

My painting in the hallway of the Greater Latrobe High School

My painting in the hallway of the Greater Latrobe High School


“Restart,” by Julie Bernstein Engelmann, acrylic on canvas, 24″H x 18″W, acquired 2006 by Greater Latrobe School District Special Collection.

As Barbara H. Nakles says in her introduction to A Unique Vision of Art, The Special Collection of the Greater Latrobe School District, second edition (2008), “The collection is…one of the finest collections of 20th and 21st century regional art on permanent display.”

Her book includes all the artworks in the collection purchased through 2007. My painting can be found on page 191. I love that!