"How fortunate I have been to live at a time when Pittsburgh was the center of the Industrial Revolution. It's important to me that the admiration and respect for the working man and woman be captured and not forgotten. The men and women of industry laid the foundation for not only my generation, but for our children's future as well. I feel compelled to preserve our past the only way I know--with my brush."
If you live in or around Western Pennsylvania you may be fortunate enough to run into an unassuming woman with a camera and sketch book capturing life as she sees it in Pittsburgh factories, downtown streets, and neighborhoods. Mary Lois Verrilla doesn't look for sensational subjects for her watercolor paintings. She looks for real Pittsburgh places and people living and working on the Northside, in the Strip District, at the Old Homestead Works, or on Campbell's Barge Line on the Ohio River.
Mary Lois Verrilla is a Pittsburgh treasure, and for the past thirty-six years, she has made it her business to document in her watercolor paintings and limited edition lithographs the changing face of the city and its people.
"I stay in touch with change by being a good listener. Everyday people come up to me when I'm sketching in their neighborhoods and tell me about the history of their community church or the family that lived in the corner house or about their fears when change affects their jobs and their lifestyles," she says.
Mary Lois Verrilla's career began when she was a young girl growing up in the East Liberty section of Pittsburgh. It was here that she discovered her "God-given talent" of being able to transform the scenes of everyday life into beautiful, lasting memories.
She refined her talent at both Ad-Art of Pittsburgh and the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, and also studied under Joseph Fitzpatrick and Vincent Nesbert--both noted Pittsburgh artists, themselves.
Since 1973, the Penn Hills resident has participated in the Three Rivers Arts Festival, where she serves on its advisory board. She also designed several T-shirts and a print for this popular yearly event.
Some of the juried shows in which she has participated and won awards are as follows: Aqueous National Watercolor Show, the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art, the Westmoreland Museum of Art, and the Westmoreland County Courthouse Centennial History Through Art Exhibition. She was the only local woman invited to the Art in the Mountains Show by Paramount Press Publishers.
Her watercolors have been purchased by some of Pittsburgh major corporations such as the McCune Foundation, Highmark Blue Shield, Modular International, Comcast, PNC, and USX. Her work has also been collected by the Rooney Family and the Pittsburgh Steeler organization.
In 1995, she was commissioned to paint the poster for the Three Rivers Regatta and the grand-opening for Lazarus Department Store. From 1994 through 1996, she painted the holiday card for the American Heart Association. Since 1997, she has painted the holiday card for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
Mary Lois is a member of the Pittsburgh Watercolor Society, Pittsburgh Center for the Arts and Penn Hills Arts Association and was Grand Marshall of the Columbus Day Parade in 1989 when the Italiams in the Arts were celebrated. Her work can also be seen at Eclectic Art Gallery in Emsworth.
"Why do I paint Pittsburgh?"
All artwork displayed on this website is protected by Title 17 (U.S. Code) and may not be reproduced without written permission of the artist.