YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — Jim Pernotto has been called “the dean of Youngstown artists.” It’s an appropriate title. He’s 72 and has been involved with art pretty much his whole life. Friday evening at Youngstown State’s McDonough Museum of Art an exhibit of Pernotto’s work opened to the public.

Pernotto leaned on a cane as people gathered around him at YSU’s McDonough Museum eager to talk about his years in art.

“It’s very much fun. I get to see all my friends coming out. People I haven’t seen in a while,” said Pernotto.

Pernotto was in his 20s when the first steel mill closed and most of the exhibit’s paintings have a steel theme. There’s {7388} Brier Hill — (7392) Coke Plant — {7389} and Jenny. But passion is his most iconic work — the crucifixion laid over the view of the mills that Pernotto had from his bedroom window as a kid.

“Of course, it was about the steel mills closing. It was about Youngstown, the people, and the hard-working,” said Pernotto.

“It has a certain amount of expressionistic quality to it,” said McDonough Director Claudia Berlinski.

Berlinski pointed out Pernotto’s painting titled La Puerta — a series of skeletons mixed with objects seen in a steel mill — cloths, gloves, goggles, and tools.

“He needs a 20-foot ceiling to display and he’s only been able to do it once or two other times and so we were happy to accommodate that,” said Berlinski.

A painting titled “Only those who have drunk from the same cup, know us” has all the qualities of a Pernotto painting.

“I want to make things that are beautiful first of all. But they’re usually something from down inside, and something that goes through your brain,” said Pernotto.

When asked how many pieces of artwork he’s done in his life, Pernotto said he wouldn’t even venture a guess. The Pernotto exhibit at the McDonough runs through July 16.