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‘No Parking’ by Richard Griffith.

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2000:01:01 00:00:07

“Aretha Franklin” by Erika Gibson-Bertram.

The Kitson Arts Alliance unveiled the works of some 50 artists across five northeastern Pennsylvania locations in a new show, titled ‘North Branch of Heaven.”

Friday there was a reception at the Wyoming County Courthouse Art Gallery and another one Sunday at the Dietrich Theater.

Works are also featured in the Kitson Gallery at Pen Corners in Tunkhannock, at the Community Cup Coffee & Tea House in Towanda, and at the Luzerne County Courthouse in Wilkes-Barre.

The works will be on display until June 28.

Kitson Arts Alliance spokesman Dan Tompkins said KAA has held regular exhibits in the area, but this is the first show limited to Kitson members.

“Other exhibits that we’ve done over the past three years have been some members, some non-members,” he explained.

Kitson members gathered at the Wyoming County Courthouse Friday for an opening reception of one leg of the show, which features works from 30-35 Kitson members in a variety of mediums.

Tompkins said it’s exciting to have the opportunity to showcase their work in the courthouse, which is the very reason he and Patrick Robinson formed the organization three years ago.

“I think we would be a very sad country if we didn’t promote the creative spirit,” he said. “It’s crucial to promote creative endeavors. The arts are having a hard enough time as it is and we need to develop all the programs and all the support we can to keep the arts alive.”

Betsy Green, a Kitson board member and art consultant, said the artists featured are considered the best in northeastern Pennsylvania.

“I would put our artists in this area up against artists in New York or Philly, large cities,” Green said. “I’ve seen them all, I lived in New York for 20 years and I think they’re just as talented.”

In the future, she hopes Kitson could even spread out to other states.

Sue Palackas has been with Kitson since the beginning said it feels “wonderful” to be a part of the first member show.

“They’ve been working really hard to find venues and working on getting artists’ work displayed,” she said.

Palackas considers herself a contemporary abstract artist and primarily paints.

She always dabbled in art, but after she retired, her husband gave her watercolor classes as a gift.

“That was 10 years ago and I’ve been getting more and more involved. It’s become a bit of a passion,” Palackas said.

For Palackas, painting is a way to release her “inner soul.”

“It’s relaxing in a time of stress. It’s a means of expression,” she said. “I’m just glad Kitson Art Alliance exists and is growing.”

Watercolor painters Frank Wengen and Ed Parkinson, old friends who paint in a “hyper-realistic style,” also have artwork on display in the courthouse.

Wengen has a love for the outdoors, and watercolors gave him a way to experience the outdoors vicariously while living in Wilkes-Barre.

“It was an escape for me to be able to do that kind of thing,” he said.

Parkinson began creating at a young age and grew from there to have his art featured in shows.

“I was always drawing from the time I was old enough to pick up anything to draw with, on the walls when I was little,” he said. “I started out with crayons and moving chairs over so my mother wouldn’t see it.”

Wengen said Kitson has been getting its name out in the public and expanding quickly.

“They pretty much have the northern tier covered,” he said. “They have a lot of opportunities to display and I’ve been fortunate enough to sell a few pieces.”

To learn more about the group, visit “Kitson Art Alliance” on Facebook.