Casino picks Wilkes-Barre art instructor

Visitors to the brand new Mount Airy Casino and Resort in the Poconos can now check out the work of William Chickillo, an award-winning artist from Fleetville, Pa. Chickillo, who was competing with a select pool of artists from Northeast Pennsylvania, was chosen by Heather Kubic-Skapyak, an interior designer with Hemmler and Camayd of Scranton. You can see his paintings inside every room on the third and fourth floors of the resort. Chickillo, who is also a Penn State Wilkes-Barre art instructor, said, "The architectural firm was looking regionally for artists to have their works displayed inside the casino. After four or five visits to my gallery, they picked out several large oil-based seasonal paintings from my portfolio."

Chickillo's love for art began in high school. "Between playing baseball and drawing, I was really passionate about becoming an artist, and during the seventies I was also a lifeguard at the original Mount Airy Lodge," said Chickillo. After graduation, Chickillo took off to one of the best art schools in country, and quickly became influenced by such masters as Albert Bierstadt and George Inness. A proclaimed plein-air painter and colorist, Chickillo attended the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore. His inspiration comes from American realism and traditional landscape painting. It was his contemporary American style that sealed the deal with the Pocono casino. According to Chickillo, who has over 160 prints throughout the resort, "My images and themes were a complete match with what the owners were looking for. Actually, the hardest part was trying to work around the construction crews, while trying to hang all the pictures before the casino opened."

A long-time artist who was born and raised in Scranton, Chickillo began his teaching career in 1988. He holds an MFA degree from the Maryland Institute College of Art, and is currently an adjunct instructor at Penn State Wilkes-Barre. Outside the classroom, he owns the Skylake Gallery, which is located inside the 110-year-old former Fleetville United Methodist Church. Chickillo's paintings have been seen throughout the country in such places as the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown and the Wildenstein Gallery in New York.