Artist's favorites draw a crowd to Shamokin gallery
SHAMOKIN - Mary Ann Levins couldn't shake her nerves ahead of Friday's opening reception for her first art gallery showcase.
The Shamokin native only began to paint within the past decade. She wasn't overly confident in her talent, not enough to show it off to a crowd.
"I've been so nervous. I haven't been sleeping," said Levins, 69, of Overlook, at the opening of "A Retrospective of my Favorite Subjects" Friday. "I never thought I was good enough."
Her brother, Joe Labosky, interrupted her. "Does the red dot mean it's sold?" he asked. It did, Levins told him. Labosky said his boss was interested in buying one.
"I sold five already," Levins said softly, showing a bit of pride.
Levins has 36 acrylic paintings hanging in the Fine Arts Gallery at the Northumberland County Career and Arts Center, Arch and Eighth streets.
Most of her works are brightly colored still-life depictions of fruit and floral arrangements.
She is a board member of the Northumberland County Council for the Arts and Humanities, which oversees the gallery.
Carolyn Hall, of Lewisberry, met Levins at St. Stephen's elementary school when the two were in the first-grade together. They've been best friends ever since.
Hall has a painting by Levins of a floral arrangement hanging in her dining room. She said she knew her friend had talent from the very beginning. When Levins continued to battle her nerves in the minutes ahead of the opening, Hall gave some advice.
"I told her to breathe deep," she said.
Levins planned the opening around a family reunion and sent invitations to many of her friends. It worked. Local family and friends were joined by people from as far away as Michigan, New Hampshire, New York and Illinois.
At least 60 people had visited the gallery just 30 minutes into the reception. Gallery Director Claude Harrington was thrilled, saying it was the best turnout she could recall.
Harrington, too, said Levins was a talented painter. As she spoke, Levins walked by.
"Six," Levins said of the number of paintings she sold.
Harrington remarked on Levins' increasing confidence, "She should be, right?"
The Lucky Charms, an acoustic trio featuring Paul Riffon on violin, Brett Mowery on guitar and Lisa Welch Knecht on upright bass, performed traditional, Irish and folk music. They were joined by special musical guests, including 12-year-old bluegrass bassist Zane Mowery. Refreshments were provided by the arts council.
The exhibit will run until Sept. 15 and can be viewed from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m Monday through Friday. The gallery is located on the lower floor. Visitors should use the lower handicapped entrance and follow signs once inside.