When the Lawrence Hall Gallery hosted its first exhibit in 2009, two names were at the forefront: artist Frank Mason and art patron Jack Tomayko. Now the gallery is home to a permanent exhibit, and those two names are a permanent part of Point Park University’s artistic legacy.
On Oct. 25, 2016, Point Park hosted the opening reception for the exhibit of Mason’s works—a gift from the Frank Mason estate—in the newly christened Tomayko Gallery. Their connection goes back decades.
“I was in a gallery in Shadyside in the mid-1980s and I saw a still life that [Mason] did,” recalls Tomayko, a past member of the Point Park board of trustees. “It was an exceptional painting and I couldn’t afford it, but I worked out terms to pay for it over time.” Later, Tomayko met Mason while attending an art convention in New York, and struck up a friendship.
Embracing the Arts
Tomayko’s relationship with Point Park also goes back decades, to when he was pursuing a doctorate in health and physical education from the University of Pittsburgh in the early 1980s. “At the time, Point Park wanted to bring in a professional to look over health and recreation services, so they worked out an arrangement with Pitt,” Tomayko says. “I was here for almost my entire Ph.D. program and stayed on for a year after as assistant dean of student development.”
Impressed with the energy of Point Park, Tomayko wanted to continue his involvement with the University. “Point Park is unlike any place I had been to. It was easy to embrace the arts there, and during my initial collecting phase, I was able to make an impact,” he says.
In addition to coordinating many of the exhibits in the gallery over the years, Tomayko commissioned the bronze sculpture Freedom Bound by artist Paige Bradley, which has graced the Lawrence Hall lobby since 2008. He also served on the committee that selected the mural created by Pittsburgh artist Philip Salvato that brightens the landing of the stone steps in that building.
Mason’s Art at Point Park
Since the first exhibit in 2009, the gallery has hosted a diverse array of art. “We try to balance out the exhibitions to give students a different flavor and also involve the community,” Tomayko says.
Some of Tomayko’s favorite exhibits were 2011’s Rivers of Steel, with works borrowed from the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area and the Duquesne Club; the 2013 exhibit of Joyce Werwie Perry’s paintings of dancers; three shows that featured works by members of the National Association of Women Artists; three shows that were co-sponsored by the Andy Warhol Museum and featured emerging artists; and a 2010 show of works that all related to Point Park or Downtown Pittsburgh, called Point Park Frame of Mind.
Of his role in bringing Mason’s art to Point Park, Tomayko notes, “Frank taught at the Art Students League [in New York City] for 57 years. I think he’d be very happy to see his work in an academic institution.”
Text by Linda Fletcher
Photo by Christopher Rolinson
The Point is the magazine of Point Park University