By Robert Stoneback
The Danville News
DANVILLE — Before it has officially opened, Pi-Art Squared Art Training Center has become a popular community gathering spot.
The center, located at the rear of 14 East Mahoning Street, just off Mill Street, won’t hold its grand opening until Dec. 14, but until then the space is available for art lessons and for local groups to use to meet and hold events.
The first two weekends of September, Pi-Art Squared played host to the Danville Arts Council’s inaugural exhibit, “Beginnings.”
“The feedback’s been good, everybody likes the space,” said Holly Hollada, founder of Pi-Art Squared. “We had tons of support from the community and from the arts council,” she said of the event.
Hollada is currently using the center to teach students age 15 and up. She teaches multiple mediums, including water colors and oils. If a student wants to branch out to another form of expression that she can cover, she will do so at no extra charge.
However, wants the Pi-Art Squared’s use to expand beyond her. The purpose of the center is to be “the hub of the arts for Danville,” she said.
Any group that wants to use the center before or after its grand opening simply needs to contact Hollada at email@example.com and pay a minimal cost to cover electricity expenses.
“We’ve had interest form every area, from the people painting the mural downtown to little kids … excited about showing their art, to the state hospital to the professional artists in town,” she said.
Suzanne Walzer, of Mill Street’s The Music Box, hopes to use the space for student music recitals and the Danville State Hospital wants to hold plays there, with one scheduled for Dec. 13.
The center can also be used as an art gallery, like it was with the arts commission show. The center will collect no commission on any pieces sold, Hollada said.
Before the Dec. 14 grand opening, Hollada still needs to finish painting the building, install heat, refinish some decorative sculptures and install the oven and dishwasher for the transition students.
The name, Pi-Art Squared, comes from another planned use of the building in conjunction with the Danville school district’s transition program.
Hollada has been speaking with the directors of that program to use the training center as a resource for their students. Hollada will teach them how to bake pie, which the students can then serve along with coffee to guests at art exhibits.
The “Art Squared” part of the center’s name comes from Hollada’s desire for the facility to focus on more than painting and drawing. She is currently looking for any community members who might be interested in teaching other artistic courses, such as photography, dance and poetry. “I’m really interested in people who want to teach,” she said.
Hollada, who recently obtained her master’s degree in art from Bloomsburg University, has been a counselor at Northcentral Secure Treatment Unit’s girls program for 14 years and also spent several years in Williamsport as a private art teacher. Her private students went on to careers that include furniture design, lighting director, California-based film critic and a graphic designer for JC Penney clothing.
Starting her own art center is “something I personally always wanted to do,” Hollada said. The building she has on East Mahoning Street is perfect for her, she said, due to its large, open space, parking, loading dock and location just off Mill Street.
When she heard of it going up for sale, “I could not walk away from it. It’s the perfect place,” she said.
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