Pete Winklbauer and Jesse Gradl

Gallery 29 contributor and former art teacher Pete Winklbauer and Owner Jesse Gradl are pictured in the South St. Marys Street venue.

ST. MARYS — A retired Elk County Catholic art teacher and his former student have joined forces to open “Gallery 29” at 50 S. St. Marys St., offering a place for local artists to showcase their work.

The gallery, which officially opened Dec. 16, is a partnership effort between Owner Jesse Gradl and Pete Winklbauer, who retired in May after 47 years of teaching. Both men say there was a need for this gallery in the area.

Hence the name Gallery 29, Gradl was Winklbauer's 29th student who went on to pursue teaching art.

Winklbauer still paints every single day, and has already sold some of those paintings at Gallery 29, he said.

Gradl said the gallery hosted more than 200 children during Light Up Night in November, hosting ornament painting activities.

Gradl and Winklbauer said the gallery’s purpose is to give local artists a place to showcase their work, as well as former students who went on to do great things in the art world.

“I have people sending me pieces from all over the country,” Gradl said. “We are going to be an avenue for people to showcase their work. They didn’t have that here.”

The gallery is located in a former law office, and it only took two months to open, Gradl said. His father built the tables and benches out front while his mother helped paint.

Gradl is also good at graphics and marketing, creating Gallery 29’s logo himself.

The gallery is filled with both Winklbauer's painting creations and Gradl’s, too.

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The two men plan to teach art lessons at the venue and painting events for both children and adults.

“We can still teach art and give kids somewhere to have a creative outlet,” Gradl said. “They can come here and get detailed lessons.”

Another aspect of Gallery 29 is fine-art framing, something the St. Marys area very much needed, Winklbauer adds. Gradl studied fine arts at Slippery Rock University before moving to Pittsburgh, where he was the lead frame builder for a supply company for six years, building more than 200 frames a day.

The gallery will be displaying a wide variety of fine art that meets a certain standard, based on juried selection, Gradl said. Interested artists or those wanting to sign up for the newsletter can contact 814-594-8954 or Gradl at jesse.gradl@gmail.com. Visit Gallery 29 on Facebook.

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