94-year-old Artist Shares Her Talent in Gallery Show
Mar 31, 2015 09:54AM ● Published by Veronica Tucker
Bianco was born on March 25, 1921, in Pittsburgh. She first started drawing pictures of famous 1930s actors and actresses as a teenager in high school, but stopped in her first year of college. “I realized I needed to stick to the books,” she laughed. After she made the drawings, she sent them to the celebrities to be autographed, and many of them returned the signed drawings. Over time, her collection grew.
After earning a music degree from Carnegie Tech, Bianco taught music and focused on her family, leaving little time for art. Married for 59-½ years, Bianco has seven living children, eight grandchildren, three great-grandchildren, and another on the way.
“The first time I heard about Angie was around three years ago from one of the gallery’s current artists who lives in the same Zelienople retirement community,” said MJ McCurdy, owner of Bottlebrush Gallery & Center for the Arts in Harmony. “A friend told me the story of her drawings. I was blown away by the exquisite detail—of course I agreed to arrange a joint show for Angie’s work!”
The exhibit, entitled She’s Got Bette Davis Eyes, included drawings of Bette Davis, Jimmy Cagney, Bing Crosby, Irene Dunne, Deanna Durbin, John Garfield, John Howard, Carole Lombard, Jeannette MacDonald, Tyrone Power, Mickey Rooney, Jimmy Stewart and Shirley Temple.
While all the drawings hold special memories for Bianco, two are truly special—Jimmy Stewart and Shirley Temple. “Jimmy Stewart is one of my favorites because he was my favorite actor at the time,” she said. “His was the first time I had tried sending away a picture for an autograph.”
“Bing Crosby was also special,” she reminisced. “He sent me a letter. I had asked him to sing a song for me on his radio program, and he wrote back and said he would try to put that particular song on his radio schedule. He sang the song I requested. I thought that was so nice of him!”
Bianco’s drawings were on display in January and February at the gallery, which specializes in work made by artists living within 50 miles. The response from the community was tremendous. “Angie had a fantastic turnout with an estimated 100 people coming to the opening reception at the Spring Street Café,” said McCurdy. “And despite inclement weather, more than 60 people viewed Angie’s exhibit at the gallery. Many even wanted to purchase her drawings, which is a testament to her talent.”
In recent years, Bianco has picked up the pencil again—this time focusing on family. In 2004 after taking a class, Bianco drew her husband, grandchildren and two of her great-grandchildren. “I enjoy sharing my work; I feel 84 instead of 94,” said Bianco. “Now I have more drawings to do. At present I am working on a picture of my granddaughter on her wedding day; that was almost four years ago, and she’s now pregnant. It will also be a challenge to draw a great-granddaughter born in June and the little one who is coming in August.”
“Imagine creating those drawings at age 17 and then being recognized for them at the age of 94,” said McCurdy. “All her life, Angie took care of her family and now it’s time for her to show off her talent and shine.”
For more information on exhibits at Bottlebrush Gallery & Center for the Arts, visit www.bottlebrusharts.com.