Berry Breene paints. If you are interested in beautifying your space with interior or exterior murals, hand-painted furniture, portraits or other commissions on canvas, please contact her for a free consultation.
Growing up in the shadow of big oil's departure from Oil City, PA, Berry Breene sees the post-industrial landscape as a blank canvas upon which the future can be painted. The idea of a creatively driven 'Rust Belt Renaissance' is motivating. While industry built our region, it also left scars. Helping citizens envision a fresh start for their communities through murals that highlight current strengths and natural beauty is inspiring for Breene, who has spearheaded projects and aided in other initiatives to give Western Pennsylvania towns a new, brighter facade.
As a native Pennsylvanian, Breene is entrenched in the local economy and dedicated to the beautification of our region. Community beautification should include community engagement and development, which are key elements to Berry's approach to public art. Breene respects past accomplishments without dwelling on the glory days of industrialization; visions of a colorful, hopeful future are paramount to the success of a community, and her artwork embraces this hopeful progression. Exposure to the arts is often class based, as costly museums create exclusive patron demographics. Public art brings the vibrancy of visual culture to the streets in an organized fashion, generating a sense of pride for local communities and a desire to reinvest both energy and money into community centers. Community building initiatives are important for the future of Western, PA.
While studying Studio Art and International Studies at Allegheny College, Berry interned with Professor Amara Geffen's Signs and Flowers: Read Between the Signs project, reigniting an interest in public art. Alongside five other Allegheny interns, Breene repurposed old, used PennDot road signs into a sculptural 3-D mural along Route 322 in Meadville, PA.
Breene seized the opportunity to design and plan a mural for the town she lived and attended school in, Meadville, Pennsylvania, as partial fulfillment of her degree in Studio art. Supported by Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful and made possible by Allegheny College's Center for Economic and Environmental Development (CEED), Breene was able to take her mural idea from the drawing boards to the streets, beautifying and revitalizing an otherwise plain building on Park Avenue. Entitled "Converging Streams: Meadville at the Crossroads", her 12' X 72' mural stands as a proud symbol of Meadville's rich history and optimistic future. In summer 2009 Breene painted a mural celebrating Titusville, Pennsylvania's history depicting a time-line from before the discovery of oil to the present. Commissioned by the Titusville Arts Council, with funding from the Pennsylvania Humanities Council, the Oil 150 Mural was painted with the help of intern Erin McCandless. This project totaled 288 square feet with 4 separate 6 x 12 ft arched panels on the side of the Blue Canoe Brewery in downtown Titusville.
In 2009 Breene was commissioned to draft and paint a mural that captures the history of a former theater in downtown Meadville. "Park Theatre Memories" presents theatergoers in the heyday of Meadville's prominence, and celebrates the memory of this bygone era. This mural spans 17' X 80' and was installed October 20th 2009 and was completed with the help of Pete Maruska, with whom Breene partnered for the piece.
Currently living in Pittsburgh, Berry completed a mural for Avenue B bistro, on the corner of Centre Ave and S. Graham St in Shadyside/Friendship in 2009 with the help of friend Steve Hirt, a graduate of Edinboro University. October 2010 marked the completion of Berry's work with the Sprout Fund. At nearly 2000 sq ft, "Windows to the future, Portals from the Past" in Trafford, PA is a welcoming addition to those entering town on route 31. The Sprout Fund's Public Art Program and assistant/intern Laurie Shapiro made the piece possible. Breene's latest endeavor in the realm of public art is found in Greenville, PA. At 36 x 50 ft, the 'parachute cloth' mural was commissioned by the Women's Action Group of Greenville and was installed in November 2011. In 2012 Breene painted a mural in Cleveland for the Black Dog Kitchen and Bar downtown, while 2013 marked the season that she worked with the Moving the Lives of Kids (MLK) mural arts program on a mural in Pittsburgh's Strip District. The mural is on Art's Tavern on 29th and Penn Ave and depicts a history of Jazz in Pittsburgh. Designed by Breene and her collegues the mural was executed with the assistance of Pittsburgh teens.
Berry received several awards for her excellence in painting while pursuing her degree at Allegheny, including runner-up for the Foster B. Doane prize for excellence in painting and Best in Show for the annual juried student art show. Breene also debuted a series of paintings in a NYC gallery show entitled Clash of the Artists. Set up by the organization Art for Progress, Breene took home second place in this international competition. Her art has been well documented by the press over the years as well, covered in a feature on Channel 24 Action News in Erie, PA, and reviewed in print by the Erie Times News, Meadville Tribune, Pittsburgh Post Gazette and the Allegheny College Magazine. Breene exhibits her illustrations and oil paintings in the Pittsburgh region when not entrenched in the mural making process.
All exterior murals use 100% acrylic paint from NovaColor paints. This paint is extremely durable and UV resistant. Used by the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, the nations largest mural arts program, as well as by Pittsburgh's Sprout Public Art Program, Nova Color Paints come highly recommended. There are two methods for exterior murals: painting directly onto walls or painting onto a special cloth dubbed "parachute cloth" in a studio and upon completion gluing it to the site wall like wallpaper. This latter method allows work to be done in the winter and in inclement weather and limits the need for scaffolding, reducing liability. Philadelphia Mural Arts Program artists trained Breene in the use and application of parachute cloth murals during her Keep PA Beautiful internship.
As a runner and cyclist, Berry enjoys getting to know communities by supporting local businesses on foot and on two wheels.