PITTSBURGH - Beginning Wednesday, May 4th, fans of the provocative labor artist Maxo Vanka, and those interested in the preservation of local landmarks, will have an opportunity to see the results of an ongoing restoration of the artist's best known local works.
The Society to Preserve the Millvale Murals of Maxo Vanka will present a benefit of "Gift to America," a dramatic one-hour interpretation of the creation of the murals, which provide a backdrop for the performers.
Vanka, a Croatian immigrant, completed his "Gift to America" murals on the walls of the sanctuary of St. Nicholas Croatian Catholic Church in Millvale in two eight-week sessions in 1937 and 1941. They depict Vanka's unflinching social and cultural commentary on war, social justice and the immigrant experience in America.
The live stage performance was originally staged at the church in 1981 and then again in 2008.
The restaging is part of an ongoing campaign to raise money to clean, restore and light the 22 murals that cover 11,000 square feet of the interior of the church. Already more than $275,000 has been raised, allowing restoration work on seven of the murals most in need of attention and on a portion of the lighting. Work began in September. Fundraising for an additional $400,000 to complete restoration of all the panels and finish updating the lighting is underway. Tickets are $75 for the special-benefit performance Thursday that begins at 6:30 p.m. with a cocktail reception followed by the 8 p.m. performance. General admission seating is available for $20 for performances at 8 p.m. Wednesday and Friday and 8:30 p.m. Saturday. Seating begins one-half hour prior to the performance. Details: 412-394-3353, www.proartstickets.com or www.vankamurals.org.