Mister Rogers and the Latrobe Puzzle Project
By Karen Fetter
The memory of Fred Rogers will continue to live on as many in Latrobe celebrated his life and contribution to the community by installing a marker in the center of town near the Latrobe Art Center on June 11.
The day was one part of a four-event celebration that was eloquently called, “Bringing Home Fred.” Many took part in the festivities that surrounded the unveiling of the marker, which took place at 1:43 p.m. to coincide with Fred’s favorite number 143.
The one stands for the one letter in the word “I”; the four stands for the four letters in the word “love”; and three stands for the three letters in the word “you.”
Fred Rogers, who created, composed, and hosted the PBS television show Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood (1968-2001), was born and raised in Latrobe. His family along with the McFeely-Rogers Foundation, the Latrobe Community Revitalization Program, and the Latrobe Art Center decided that there needed to be a place to honor the life and memory of Rogers. In addition to the marker, there will also be a bronze statue soon to come.
To accompany the celebration was the Latrobe Art Center’s participation in the “Puzzle Art Installation and Collaborative Project.” New York artist Tim Kelly of Brooklyn began what he hopes to be the largest art exhibit in the world. Puzzle pieces that are 24” by 24” are designed and placed together to form a larger exhibit.
Art Center Director Gabrielle Nastuck invited Kelly to Latrobe in January for a week-long workshop where Kelly helped create pieces with the Latrobe community.
Nastuck felt like this project would fit perfectly in with the Fred Rogers celebration. The bond that Mister Rogers had with children and families all over the world is replicated in the Puzzle Art Project because it connects people all over the world as well. There are more than 2,000 pieces from Latrobe to add to the 13,000 made world-wide (30 states and 20 countries). Each puzzle piece is unique and different just as Mister Rogers taught children that they are unique and special in their own way.
Kelly returned to Latrobe in June for the “Bringing Home Fred” event to assemble the pieces and have it ready for the exhibit.
“I’ve worked with communities from across the country and around the world. The response from the Latrobe community was incredible. Everyone had such a positive attitude and the puzzle pieces created were artsolutely amazing!” said Kelly.
The puzzle pieces can be uniquely designed by individuals, families, groups, schools, communities, art groups, and corporations. Anyone could do it! The Latrobe Art Center sells each puzzle piece for $10 with the proceeds benefiting the Latrobe Art Center, the Art Conservation Trust of Greater Latrobe School District, Latrobe Parks and Recreation, Action for Animals, and Adams Memorial Library.
Kelly does not receive any of the proceeds because this project is done solely for his passion for art. Nastuck commented that working on the pieces has brought the Latrobe community together. Before the pieces will be sent to New York to become a part of the larger exhibit, Nastuck hopes to display it more throughout the area.
For more information, contact the Latrobe Art Center at www.latrobeartcenter.org or call 724-537-7011.