Exhibit questions roots of Pilato family’s creativity

Grace and Guy Pilato maintain a weekly tradition. Wednesday nights in their State College home, they gather their three local children and grandchildren for dinner.

Now, the close-knit family is sharing something else — an art show.

“The Pilatos: Art Runs Deep,” which opened Thursday at the Green Drake Gallery and Arts Center, in Millheim, brings together three generations of artistic talent under one roof. A public reception at the gallery, including refreshments, a jazz singer and a roundtable discussion, will start at 5 p.m. Dec. 7.

Running until Feb. 3, the exhibit showcases Grace Pilato’s prize-winning ceramics, Guy Pilato’s paintings and the professional works of four of their children: Lisa, of New York; Mark, Michael and Natalia. Tom Pilato, while supportive of his family’s art, runs a title company in Washington, D.C.

In addition, Mark Pilato’s wife, Alyssum Pilato, will have wood block prints and drawings in the show, and five grandchildren will display various artwork.

“For us, family is the most important thing,” Grace Pilato, a well-known cooking instructor and author, said. “So it’s exciting to work together through the process of sharing our art.”

Pilato used to teach ceramics, and her pottery and sculptures have appeared in shows and galleries across the country. Her husband, a former psychologist who drew for a hobby, took up painting in his retirement.

Raised in a household that encouraged art, their children enjoy national and local prominence.

Mark Pilato, an artist in residence at the C. Barton McCann School of Art in Petersburg, has shown his bronze sculptures nationwide. His work “Ascent,” dedicated to Sept. 11, 2001, victims, graced a church at Ground Zero before appearing in front of Schlow Centre Region Library for a while.

An edition of another piece that’s in the library, “Modern Day Thinker,” will be in the Green Drake show, along with several new sculptures, including a 32-piece chess set featuring figures 8 to 14 inches high.

Pilato’s twin, Michael Pilato, the director of the Public Arts Academy in Williamsport, has produced several large public murals, including the famous “Inspiration” along Hiester Street in State College. It depicts scores of prominent local people, past and present. For the show, he’s displaying a large portrait of President Obama.

Partnering with artist Elody Gyekis, Natalia Pilato, an arts educator and community art advocate, created the massive “Dreams Take Flight” mural along Calder Way, the “Colors of Music” mural on South Garner Street and other local public art. Natalia will have ceramics and multimedia assemblies in the show.

Lisa Pilato, a professional dancer who owns the Loco-motion Dance Theater for Children in New York, will be represented at the show by a photo presentation of her students.

The idea for the show came from Mark Pilato after he moved back from Santa Fe, N.M.

Karl Leitzel, the Green Drake director, had asked Mark before about doing a show. They discussed the possibility again, and Mark had a flash.

“It came to me instantly,” he said. “It would be a much greater show if my whole family were involved rather than just my works.”

Over months of Wednesday dinners, the Pilatos planned the show. As part of the reception, at 8:30 p.m., Guy will lead a roundtable discussion about his family’s artistic streak and the early influences on his children.

Leitzel said the discussion will center on “what makes people artists.”

“Is it because someone in the family was an artist and you saw the model of what you could become, or is it genetic?” he said. “Who knows? Perhaps it’s both.”