Main Exhibit in Ligonier, Pennsylvania = WOW.
Whether you’re seeking unique gift ideas, beautiful items for your own home — or you just want to be inspired by some of the most skilled craftspeople in America, this article will be worth your gaze.
Small Town, but Big, Famous Art
Walk with me now through the most remarkable store I’ve seen in years: Main Exhibit Gallery & Art Center, nestled in the small town of Ligonier, Pennyslvania, one hour southeast of Pittsburgh. The collection of art here is world-class, evidenced by the fact that Main Exhibit ships their pieces to buyers around the world!
Over 25 Years in Business for a Reason
Main Exhibit was started in 1994 by Mandy and Paul Sirofchuck: an artistic power couple specializing in stained glass and woodwork, respectively. Fans order Paul’s wooden furniture and decorations because of the brilliant way in which he merges a trunk’s natural curves with the function of the piece. Ogle the clock he created, below.
A Stained Glass Expert and a Leader
I was lucky enough to meet Mandy Sirofchuck during the hours I spent snapping these photos in her gallery, and was deeply impressed by the power and range of her skills: both as a stained glass artist and a businesswoman. Here’s a picture I took of her on a purple metal butterfly bench!
Gallery Decoration by Master Artists
The way Main Exhibit Gallery is organized is akin art in itself. Examine the photo below to see what I mean. Who but an artist could have so expertly paired the azure wall paint with the purple display, with the rainbow pottery pieces?!
American Artists and Craftspeople: Especially Local
All the craftspeople featured in Main Exhibit are American, with a passionate focus on local Pennsylvania and Laurel Highlands artists. Within this focus, however, the creativity of each individual work of art at Main Exhibit stunned me.
A standout was this rack of metal “vine” utensils. I’ve never seen steel twisted in such a plant-like way! It turns out the same artist created the metal gate at the Ligonier hotel where we stayed. (Love ironwork? Check out the blacksmithing classes in nearby Farmington, PA!)
Glass Art in Panes and Ornaments
Let’s turn to the glass art at Main Exhibit. As you may have assessed from my extensive oeuvre on the topic (Seattle’s Chihuly Exhibit, the Corning Museum, etc.), Me + Glass Art = Happiness. At Main Exhibit, Mandy’s stained glass doors — one of which is pictured below — and glass ornament orbs from other American artists make the gallery glow with luminescent color.
American Furniture by an Artisan of Wood
Let’s turn now to the meticulously crafted furniture that Paul Sirofchuck is famous for. Notice how each of the different natural shades of wood are pieced together in creative, triangles rectangles, and curves. These seats are for kings and queens.
Functional Yet Beautiful Household Items
In addition to furniture, paintings, and wall decorations, Main Exhibit has all sorts of functional kitchen tools which also happen to be works of art. Look at the azure glass plate, below: perfect for a silky pat of butter to pass to your awed guests.
Learn Art in the Laurel Highlands of PA
Main Exhibit is not just a gallery. It also hosts frequent art classes and workshops, helping to spread artistic knowledge and joy to the local Laurel Highlands community. I had the pleasure of meeting Alexis Dillon who sometimes teaches pottery in the lower level studio of the gallery. Look at that twinkle in her eyes!
Why This Article Exists:
How did I come to take hundreds of photos in this Ligonier art gallery? Was I paid or coaxed by Main Exhibit? On the contrary! After spending 5 minutes wandering the store during a random stroll by, I BEGGED Mandy to let me come back and take pictures for a subsequent afternoon. All I wanted to do was to stick the nose of my camera into all that COLOR!
My Favorite Article Subject
Mandy kindly agreed to let me photograph the gallery, and I was thrilled! This is the kind of feature I live for: a colorful celebration of a small business whose owners work hard to keep creative crafts alive and thriving. When I create articles like this, I hope to bring new eyes to this phenomenal art.
Other Art Attractions Near Ligonier
Intrigued by this gallery, and looking for more art inspiration in this region of Pennsylvania? Allow me to pair more luscious photos of the creative pieces at Main Exhibit with descriptions of other artistic attractions available just a short drive from Ligonier…
Glass Paperweights and Gardens at SAMA
If you enjoy glass art and gardens as I do, a jiffy quick drive from Main Exhibit brings you to the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art‘s Ligonier branch. This small building houses one of the most extensive and intriguing collections of glass paperweights in the country. It’s also known for its gardens: a riot of flowers, sculptures, winding paths, and butterflies.
Linn Run State Park and Forbes State Forest
Though nature is not technically art — it actually is, and I’d be remiss not to mention the fabulous hiking trails and views right near SAMA in Ligonier. Many of the art pieces at Main Exhibit use natural landscapes and motifs, and since the gallery’s focus is local, Pennsylvania’s flora and fauna are sometimes featured.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater!
45 minutes from Ligonier is never too far to drive to see one of the most famous pieces of architecture in America: the Fallingwater house! Our visit and tour to Wright’s masterpiece far exceeded my expectations — though there was “falling water” pouring from the sky when we were there — and I can affirm that this house lives up to all the hype. See it!
Westmoreland Museum of American Art in Greensburg, PA
If Main Exhibit got you jazzed up for more creativity by U.S. artists, a welcoming and wonderful museum called WMAA awaits you less than 30 minutes away in the delightful town of Greensburg. The Westmoreland Museum has a particularly good children’s wing with hands-on crafts and tasks for all ages.
A Reconstructed 18th Century Village in Donegal, PA
File this under another unexpected type of art, but do you have a secret hankering to tour a hand-rebuilt set of buildings from 300 years ago? 15 minutes from Main Exhibit sits Jimberg Village: part of Oak Lodge, the romantic luxury cabins in which we had the pleasure of staying for a few nights, and highly recommend.
Mister Rogers History in Latrobe, PA
If educational puppets, the Land of Make-Believe, and cardigan sweaters are more your speed for art, take the 15 minute drive from Ligonier to Latrobe, Pennsylvania to follow the Fred Rogers Trail from his birthplace! I was floored by his museum, especially seeing the real Daniel Tiger puppet and Trolley!
The Laurel Highlands is a Hidden Gem
Just as Main Exhibit Gallery has more world-class art than one might expect for a small town, the region of southwestern Pennsylvania known as the Laurel Highlands has far more attractions and fun than a Boston gal like me ever guessed.
Tips for Visiting Main Exhibit Gallery With Kids
As with any fine gallery full of precious art, use care when visiting Main Exhibit with children. Mandy kindly lets children sit on the beautiful purple butterfly bench pictured above because it is durable, but kids shouldn’t be climbing on or grabbing any other pieces of art without permission… and certainly not these knives!
Even the Doors and Windows are Decorative Art
Pay special attention to every detail of Main Exhibit if you’re lucky enough to visit. Just look at the stunning color and pattern of Mandy’s window, below. She paints and kiln-fires the glass assembling it using copper foil and lead techniques. WOW.
How Do Art Galleries Stay in Business?
Main Exhibit just celebrated its quarter-century anniversary, and it has lasted this long — in a difficult field — thanks to the undeniable quality and uniqueness of the art the store offers, paired with its community engagement through classes and events.
A Destination for Fine Woodworking and American Furniture
As we draw this article to a close and zoom out to look at the biggest room in the gallery, below, I’d like to emphasize again why Paul Sirofchuck’s artistry with wood is known and sought-out far and wide: Just look at the beauty of that furniture!
Seeking Gifts for Others, or Yourself?
Now I’m not a gift-giving person, myself, but I’m aware that many people are — especially, ahem, at this time of year — and perhaps some of the items in these photos catch your eye! If so, give Mandy a call or send her an email via the contact information at the very bottom of the Main Exhibit website.
Or Maybe You Just Want to Be Inspired by Art?
Whether or not you plan on purchasing any art after reading this, let us acknowledge the great gift that Mandy and Paul — and all gallery owners — give us. By displaying their gorgeous crafts (arranged alluringly), they help us think through what we find beautiful in the world. The colors and curves bring us happiness, and boost our inspiration for art we may want to create someday, ourselves.
Thank You, Main Exhibit Gallery and Art Center!
I hope you enjoyed these photos and descriptions as much as I loved creating them, and I hope you’ll join me in thanking Mandy for her hospitality in letting me browse and share her gallery. So, what about YOU? Which pieces here do you most love, and why? Do share!
The author, Lillie Marshall, is a 6-foot-tall National Board Certified Teacher of English, fitness fan, and mother of two who has been a public school educator since 2003. She launched Around the World “L” Travel and Life Blog in 2009, and over 4.2 million readers have now visited this site. Lillie also runs TeachingTraveling.com and DrawingsOf.com. Subscribe to her monthly newsletter, and follow @WorldLillie on social media!