W.Va.: Rich In Arts, Music

With its art, music and other cultural elements, is Wheeling the state’s answer to New York City? That’s what one noted visitor to the Friendly City thinks.

When Jeanne Mozier, author of the popular guidebook, “Way Out in West Virginia,” visited the Ohio County Public Library Tuesday, Oct. 19, to promote her new coffee table book, “West Virginia Beauty: Familiar and Rare,” she complimented Wheeling for its vibrant arts scene.

Mozier and her husband, Jack, live in Berkeley Springs, where they own and operate the Star Theater, a vintage movie house that they bought 33 years ago. She also participates in an arts council in Berkeley Springs.

The guidebook author opined that “there are only two places to eat in West Virginia – Wheeling and Berkeley Springs.” She said Berkeley Springs has “spectacular fine dining,” including a restaurant run by a James Beard-listed chef, and “all kinds of great things” that have developed in recent years.

“The energy was put there and it drew people to come,” she remarked. “Other artists come – they want to be in a place where there are other artists. The arts are the core of a creative economy.”

She and her husband moved to Berkeley Springs from Washington, D.C., in 1977. “West Virginia has been a great place to live,” she commented, but cited “the struggle to deal with a centralized state. Everything runs out of Charleston, but it’s a dying city.

“Charleston may be West Virginia’s Washington, but Wheeling is its New York,” Mozier observed.

Mozier, who also was in town for the Create West Virginia conference, said it was ” fabulous to see the Capitol Theatre redone,” and she commended the way that the Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Greater Wheeling Sports and Entertainment Authority put together plans for the purchase, restoration and operation of the theater. She called the partnership “one of the sanest, best solutions” to saving a historic theater and cultural landmark.

Linda Comins can be reached via e-mail at: