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Ginny Deneka

Learning and teaching are common threads in the fabric of Ginny Deneka’s life.             And art is always woven in.                                                                                       
Ginny – exhibiting artist, teacher and longtime volunteer – is the recipient of the 2022 Arts Center Artist of the Year award, given annually “to celebrate that combination of artistic talent and active participation that keeps the Arts Center moving forward.”         

“She’s always learning new things and bringing them to us,” says Executive Director Kris Pearson. “Her style changes all the time. She has fun doing art.”

Says Ginny: “Art has been a constant source of pleasure in my life.”

Ginny grew up in Philadelphia and New Jersey and studied art in college but her first job was teaching science and math to fifth-graders – with a bit of art mixed in. She left teaching to start a family. She and her husband Charles, better known as Skip, moved to Corning in 1972, when he began a career with Corning Inc.

As her children grew up, Ginny’s life moved in a new direction. Her involvement as a lay preacher at her church led her to divinity school. In 1997, she earned her degree from Lancaster (PA) Theological Seminary.

She became a part-time pastor at a church in Corning, then accepted a position as Christian education minister for Penn Yan Methodist Church. She did “a little of everything” in that role.

Meanwhile, Skip was building a new home on Keuka Lake. They moved there in 2001, and Skip retired as chief technology officer for Corning.

With the arrival of grandchildren, Ginny retired from her ministry to spend more time with family. She also became active in the Penn Yan Art Guild and the Arts Center in 2003, “when it was still really small.”
Ginny’s involvement has grown right along with the Arts Center and she’s served in many capacities, including board president. She serves on the exhibits committee and as a liaison between the Arts Center and the Penn Yan Art Guild. She organized the holiday card project, from the call for entries, to publishing, printing and packaging. She also came up with the idea for a highly successful auction of daffodil paintings in connection with the 10th anniversary gala. She and Skip live just a few doors south of Sunny Point and they’re on call in case of emergencies.
During COVID, Ginny, like many artists, turned to art as a refuge. She discovered Art2Life, an online program created by artist Nicholas Wilton, and took classes several days a week.
“It was wonderful. It gave me something to focus on, gave me confidence as an artist,” she says.
“I’m still learning.”
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