MOUNT CARMEL — Mark Sassani retired six years ago after 32 years as an art teacher at Mount Carmel Area School District.
His lifelong passion for art continues, however, as does recognition of his talents.
Sassani was chosen by a new art gallery in Lewisburg for its first one-man show next month, while one of his acrylic paintings is currently on display at the State Museum of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg in an exhibit that features artists from around the world.
Sassani, who graduated from MCA in 1970 and earned a bachelor’s degree in art education from Mansfield State University in 1974, has focused on his St. Joseph’s Fine Art Studio, 101 S. Chestnut St., since his retirement. He and his wife of 31 years, Donna Rose, live next door to the studio, a property he purchased from his grandparents and renovated after he graduated from college.
He teaches classes Monday through Thursday, including 10-week courses on drawing, water colors, acrylic and open art. He also restores sculptures and other art work for clients.
Sassani, 61, said he knew he would have a career in art by the time he reached fifth grade.
“I wanted to do it, too. I was already better in art than any other subject,” he said.
No matter what kind of creative outlet he utilizes — painting, sculpting — he said he  strives for excellence.
Gallery opening
Full Spectrum Art Studio, 216 Market St., Lewisburg, will showcase three dozen of Sassani’s pieces in an exhibit called “Pennsylvania Landscapes” starting Dec. 1. The show is expected to continue for three months.
Sassani’s show will be the first one the art studio will present to the public.
“The studio will work to promote local talents, and Mark was the perfect guy for our first show,” said gallery owner Joseph Thompson. “He is super talented.”
Sassani met Thompson at an art store in Selinsgrove in July. He helped Thompson pick out supplies for his new business.
“It was kind of fate that it all came together,” Thompson said. “As we were getting ready, Mark stopped by with some samples of his work, and we offered him the opportunity to do a show here.”
The Union County borough has three other galleries and is home to Bucknell University, which is known for its promotion of the arts.
Much of the display will involve landscapes but he’ll have a few other pieces, too. And his work will be available for purchase.
An opening night reception is scheduled for 5 to 10 p.m. with wine and cheese.
Sassani’s acrylic painting titled “Fishing from Old Elm” was one of 118 entries out of 600 submitted pieces from artists all over the world chosen for the 2012 Pennsylvania Watercolor Society’s 33rd International Juried Exhibition. A display of the works began Nov. 2 and continues through Feb. 3 in the State Museum of Pennsylvania.
Work in churches
Sassani has restored sculptures, art work and stained glass from across the state, and is known for his work in local churches.
At Our Lady of Mount Carmel in his hometown, he restored a stained-glass window, six statues and a nativity set; at the St. Pauline Center in Kulpmont— the former St. Casimir Roman Catholic Church — he restored large paintings of St. Pauline and St. Maria Goretti; at Transfiguration Ukrainian Catholic Church in Shamokin, he restored the stained-glass windows, altars, angel statues and murals; and in the front of the sanctuary at Divine Redeemer in Mount Carmel, he painted a mural of Jesus in the clouds with two 10-foot angels.
Sassani also transported religious icons from a church in Mahanoy City to St. Josaphat Ukrainian Catholic Seminary in Washington, D.C., and restored them inside the sanctuary.
For now, he’s looking forward to his new exposure in Lewisburg.
“Lewisburg is the best place I’ve ever been locally for a one-man show,” Sassani said.
“I suspect opening night will have a lot of activity.”