History museum

History museum celebrates the work of late Taranto artist Rudy Tutka

A late artist from Taranto whose work added style to the pages of the Valley Daily News in the mid-1900s and later to the Valley News Dispatch will be celebrated with an exhibition of his work.

Illustrations by Rudy Tutka, who grew up in a house along Ross Street and worked as a graphic designer for the newspaper from the late 1940s to 1988, will be on display from Wednesday at the Allegheny-Kiski Valley Historical Society Heritage Museum.

Previews will run from noon to 3 p.m. on Wednesdays and Saturdays, during which people are invited to stop by and record their memories of Tutka. These recordings will be included in the official opening of the exhibition at 2 p.m. on September 25.

The museum is located at 224 E. Seventh Ave. in Taranto.

“We like to recognize a local guy,” said Jim Thomas, chairman of the museum’s board of trustees. “He has such an extensive collection and his work should be celebrated.”

Tutka began working for the Valley Daily News in the 1940s, when news illustrations were nothing more than designs engraved on metal plates used to print newspapers, Thomas said.

He held the position of photogravure manager for many years, then switched to lithography when paper technology changed.

The paper changed its name to Valley News Dispatch when it merged with the Tri-Cities-focused Daily Dispatch on November 1, 1971.

Growing up in Taranto, Tutka delivered groceries for her family market. He played guard for three years for the Tarentum High School Red Cats and, as a first-generation American proud of his Slovak heritage, Tutka was a competitive member of the Sokol Gymnastics Union.

After serving in the Navy, Tutka returned home and graduated from the School of Display Art, now the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, in Shadyside.

For much of his tenure, Tutka illustrated advertisements and later created designs for the cover of the weekly television yearbook which featured a rotating roster of popular show business celebrities.

Marie Thomas, a member of the history museum for 40 years, said Tutka is a great example of a native of the Alle-Kiski Valley whose talents are far-reaching.

Its history also highlights changes that have been introduced over the past century, Thomas said.

“Tutka was known to be a meticulous artist, a perfectionist, and a great craftsman in an era before the use of computers, clip art, and Photoshop,” Thomas said.

“I remember him sitting in the back of the newsroom, on a high stool, working on a raised drawing board,” said Rick Monti, former editor and later general manager of Trib’s Valley News Dispatch.

“I don’t think anyone really appreciated what Rudy did back then,” Monti, of Harrison, said. “Having an in-house artist working at a journal of this size was unusual.”

Tawnya Panizzi is editor of Tribune-Review. You can contact Tawnya by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .