Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Ruling Date Set on Art Center Subhead Goes Herey Qdm

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Ruling Date Set on Art Center Subhead Goes Herey Qdm

Article excerpt

A nonprofit center dedicated to promoting the arts and natural medicine in Richland soon may be limited in the activities that can be held on the 10-acre campus on Dickey Road.

Peter Shefler, the owner and director of the facility, Four Directions: A Center for the Arts and Healing, will have to wait until Aug. 19 to learn the decision of the Zoning Hearing Board, which held a hearing on the center Tuesday night.

The facility is a new (501)(c)(3) nonprofit housed on the homestead of the deCoux family. Mr. Shefler's late aunt, Eliza Miller, lived there with her late partner, Janet deCoux. Mr. Shefler created the center promoting the arts and natural medicine. Miss Miller and Miss deCoux were well-known artists and created their work on site.

When Mr. Shefler decided to create the nonprofit, he visited the Richland zoning officer, Jeff Walzer, with his attorney, Christina Malkin. Mr. Shefler said he understood that because the two late artists practiced their work on the property, he would be allowed to welcome others to the site to do the same.

"I thought we were more or less grandfathered in based on the art that Aunt Eliza and Janet used to do," he said prior to the meeting.

Instead, when a township supervisor learned that Four Directions had opened in May, Mr. Shefler was informed that he could not host music or other gatherings not officially considered "art."

"It seems that there is a difference in the definition of what 'art' is. They don't want us to house music, dance or things like tai chi, and [they] consider art things like the sculptures that Aunt Eliza and Janet made. In fact, they used to host gatherings all of the time," Mr. Shefler said.

Mr. Shefler brought a petition with 100 signatures and several letters when he appeared at the zoning meeting and told board members the history of the property, including the fact that the two women entertained such guests as Anne Morrow Lindberg, Rachel Carson and Frank Lloyd Wright at their home and often hosted large gatherings. …

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