Opposites Attract: Kathleen Mulcahy and Sylvester Damianos

This exhibition features the work of Kathleen Mulcahy and Syl Damianos, two Pittsburgh artists who were both selected as Westmoreland Museum of American Art Exhibition Award Winners from Associated Artists of Pittsburgh Annual Exhibitions in 2010 and 2011 respectively.

Kathleen Mulcahy has been creating works of art from glass and mixed media for five decades. Having a Masters of Fine Arts in glass sculpture and three-dimensional design from Alfred University, she directed glass studio programs at Bowling Green State University in Ohio and Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh then went on to develop the Pittsburgh Glass Center with her husband and partner, artist Ron Desmett. During this time, her own work — installation pieces, cast glass, blown glass objects — evolved into unique and poignant statements. Kathleen received Fellowship Awards from the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, The Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, The Creative Glass Center of America, The Lusk Memorial Award through the Fulbright Foundation, The Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. In 1992, she was selected as Artist of the Year by the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. She was an artist in residence of the Cité des Arts in Paris in 1997. She went on to found the Pittsburgh Glass Center with her husband Ron. They devoted 15 years of their lives and careers to developing Pittsburgh’s premier public access glass studios raising more than 3 million dollars and developing the design, gallery exhibitions, and curriculum. In 2007 they returned to their studios, always their intention, after hosting the International Glass Society Conference and making Pittsburgh a glass town for a year bringing in more than 20 million dollars to the Pittsburgh economy through all the city wide programming. In 2013, Kathleen was named Artist of the Year in Pennsylvania by the Governor. Her work is in many public and private collections. She lives and works in Oakdale, Pennsylvania.

Syl Damianos, who lives in Edgewood, has had a dual career in art and architecture for nearly a half century. He received a bachelor’s in architecture, with honors, from Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University) and was a Fulbright Scholar at the Technological Institute of Delft, the Netherlands. Following his internship and association with Celli-Flynn, Architects and Engineers, he co-founded his first firm, Damianos+Pedone, in 1967. It transitioned, over the years, to become Damianosgroup.

Past president of the American Institute of Architects, chairman of the American Architectural Foundation and chancellor of the AIA College of Fellows, his most unique area of involvement had been with “Architecture and the Human Dimension,” a study that deals with the impact of the environment on the human being and one on which the late Dr. Jonas Salk collaborated.

Damianos is also an artist. He works in a range of materials—canvas, concrete, metal, wood—and his expertly crafted works of art reflect his attention to detail and focus on precision, both of which are significant features of his architecture.

With his art he has won numerous awards and commissions for both private and public patrons — most notably, a piece for the Westinghouse Nuclear Energy Center in Monroeville. At 85 feet long, his largest piece to date, it is a vertical landscape of aluminum and steel that reflects the rigid design structure of the building that contains it and transitions into natural forms, responding to the changing light source of the skylight above.

Damianos credits Constantin Brancusi, Buckminster Fuller and Leonardo Pisano as influences, as well as furniture maker extraordinaire George Nakashima, who was a friend. “Their theories and natural expressions captured my attention early on; they have become more meaningful in recent years.”

The exhibition is supported by Anonymous and the Hillman Exhibition Fund of The Westmoreland Museum of American Art.