Artist Takes Honors

Congratulations are extended to Wheeling artist Robert Villamagna who won the major award (no, not a leg lamp) in the West Virginia Division of Culture and History’s 18th West Virginia Juried Exhibition.

Villamagna and artists from Sutton and Barboursville won the top prizes in the exhibition, which opened Sunday, Nov. 24, at the Dunn Building in Martinsburg.

The Wheeling artist’s work, “Moundsville Prison Break, 1949,” was chosen by the jurors as a winner of the $5,000 Governor’s Award. Also receiving this prize were Sutton resident Tiera Floyd’s “Suzy” and Barboursville resident Vernon F. Howell’s “WV at 150.”

The three top-winning works are among 10 pieces in the exhibit that are being purchased for the West Virginia State Museum’s permanent collection.

The exhibit, which continues until Feb. 21, features 53 paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings, photographs, mixed media and crafts created by 46 West Virginia artists, including Cheryl Ryan Harshman of Wheeling and Jim Haizlett of Wellsburg.

All three of the local entrants – Villamagna, Harshman and Haizlett – are employed by West Liberty University.

Congratulations also are in order for Wheeling historian and all-around community dynamo Margaret Brennan, recipient of the first Jerome B. Schmitt Community Service Award.

Officials of the Community Foundation for the Ohio Valley presented the award to Brennan “for her lifetime commitment to numerous causes over the years.”

The new award was established to remember the late Jerry Schmitt, long-time Community Foundation board member and president of its board of trustees.

As a part of the award, Brennan will direct a $5,000 grant from the Community Foundation to the nonprofit organization of her choice, CFOV Executive Director Susie Nelson explained.

Over the years, Brennan has compiled historical information for Wheeling Hospital, First Presbyterian Church of Wheeling and various other organizations. She has done extensive research on Civil War-related topics. She is an active participant in the Wheeling Civil War 150 Committee.

Brennan served as president of the Wheeling Area Historical Society for many years until that organization disbanded. A former member of the West Virginia Independence Hall Foundation, she has been active in various other groups on the local, regional and state levels.

The presentation took place during the foundation’s annual donor appreciation luncheon Friday, Nov. 22, coinciding with the observance of National Community Foundations Week.

During the luncheon, Nelson announced that in fiscal 2013, the Community Foundation made 348 grants and 113 scholarships totaling $1,547,667. The foundation surpassed $30 million in assets this year with 180 individual funds, she said.

The Community Foundation serves Brooke, Ohio, Marshall, Wetzel and Tyler counties in West Virginia and Belmont and Jefferson counties in Ohio.

Highlights of 2013 included a merger with the Community Foundation of Jefferson County and the growth of the Women’s Giving Circle to 124 members (and making cumulative grants of $61,405), Nelson said. She added that Community Impact Fund grants, offered through a competitive grantmaking process, totaled $68,428 for the year.

Sean Duffy, programming and publicity coordinator for the Ohio County Public Library in Wheeling, dedicated the Lunch With Books session Tuesday, Nov. 19, to the memory of Dr. Stanley Barkin who died in mid-November.

Barkin, a New York City native and scientist who resided in Wheeling in recent years, presented several Lunch With Books programs at the library. He was a regular attendee at Lunch With Books and a supporter of the library.

Meanwhile, because of weather issues between Wheeling and Pittsburgh, a Lunch With Books session was canceled Tuesday, Nov. 26. Duffy said the program, featuring sportswriter Jim O’Brien, who has written new book on the life of Steelers coach Chuck Noll, has been rescheduled for noon Tuesday, April 22.

Linda Comins can be reached via email at: