Just inside the entrance to the Latrobe Art Center, the wall on the right hangs a watercolor depicting an artist at work in plein air.
Dressed in blue trousers and a yellow shirt, the artist crouches at an easel among benches, flowerbeds, lush trees and fountains.
According to Joe Bellack, assistant director of the LAC, no one knows for sure where it is or who is depicted in the painting. It’s safe to assume that Fred He Rogers Park, located just steps from the Arts Center in downtown Latrobe, is set in the park and the subject is the painter himself.
“I’m not 100 percent sure, but it was probably locally painted,” Bellak says.
The untitled and undated watercolor is the work of Elizabeth Haslett, who co-founded the Center in 2002 with Nancy “Rainie” Rogers Crozier, sister of Latrobe’s favorite son, the aforementioned Fred Rogers. It is paired with a watercolor painting by Crozier.
Hazlett, also known as “Libbie”, lived in Latrobe all her life and was active in many community organizations. She was born in 1926 and died in 2008.
The story goes that Hazlett told Crozier about her desire to develop a community arts center during Sunday services at Latrobe Presbyterian Church, of which both were members.
Hazlett attributes her passion for art to the influence of Mary Martha Himmler, a well-known local artist and art educator who was her high school art teacher. In 1936, Himmler co-founded the Special Art Collection of the Greater Her Latrobe School District. The collection now contains hundreds of works by local artists.
In addition to watercolors, Tusay says Hazlett also painted with acrylics. She has participated in art workshops in the area and exhibited her work in several regional galleries.
Hazlett and Crozier’s painting of the center “seems to represent their skill level pretty well,” said Tusay.
“Laney is more about realism. Libby was more playful,” he said. “She doesn’t just paint what’s in front of her, she decorates it.”
Editor’s Note: Behind the Art is a regular series focused on countywide artwork.
Shirley McMarlin is a staff writer for Tribune-Review. You can reach Shirley by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on her Twitter. .