Gallery exhibit runs through April

Published 10:58 pm Saturday, March 4, 2006

By By ANDY HAMILTON / Niles Daily Star
NILES - The Niles District Library has a fresh art display to head into spring with. The new exhibit titled ‘Paint and Stone' portrays the work of Matt Payovich and William C. Cooper at the Eleanor and Mowitt Drew Gallery in the library's rotunda.
Payovich works with watercolor on paper and also with enamel on tile. Many of his pieces are waterscapes of the St. Joseph River and Lake Michigan shoreline where he grew up. Payovich said his work in the area was meant to give a different angle on popular sights that may not exist in the near future.
Payovich also creates religious pieces, mostly of Catholic icons from the 15th century, and has been commissioned to do murals for churches, restaurants and schools. Payovich said the restaurants Brewster's Italian Cafe in New Buffalo and Clementine's in St. Joseph both have his work displayed. He also said he has painted images of the Creation on seven-foot panels at the Congregational Church in St. Joseph.
Maroon is a common color in many of the religious pieces, which Payovich said gives the paintings an older, ancient feel.
Payovich also teaches art at Lake Michigan College.
Cooper, of Cassopolis, earned an art degree as a sculptor at MacMurray College in Illinois and turned his talent into a profession making monuments and memorials.
He now works out of the Benton Harbor area as the co-owner of St. Joe Monuments Works.
The company specializes in custom designed and sculpted cemetery memorials as well as site-specific monuments, including the Veterans' Memorial at River Front Park in Niles.
Monument Works was given a design for the structure and Cooper “just tweaked it a little,” he said.
Cooper has also constructed a monument honoring the victims of 9/11. The structure was created with an eight-foot beam from the World Trade Centers and chunks of limestone from the Pentagon, Cooper said.
Cooper's talent with monuments translates into his artwork as well, he said. “I work on stone for fun and I work on stone for a living,” Cooper said.
Many of Cooper's pieces on display at the library are blocks of marble and granite carved into smooth, flowing structures a couple feet in height. Others are made of different tones of wood and one is constructed with rusted tin and an animal skull. Cooper has displayed his sculptures in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Maine.
The exhibitions of Payovich and Cooper will be on display until April 22 and can be viewed during regular library hours on Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., and on Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.