Local Artists Part Of Juried Show In Parkersburg

Five area artists are represented in the West Virginia Juried Exhibition, with two of the Northern Panhandle residents earning major awards in the prestigious competition.

Among the 67 West Virginia artists whose works have been selected for exhibition are Guy Gellner of Wheeling, Cheryl Ryan Harshman of Wheeling, Adriane Schramm of West Liberty, Robert Villamagna of Wheeling and Herb Weaver of Bethany.

Gellner, who is an art instructor at Linsly School, and Villamagna, a member of the art faculty at West Liberty State College, won two of the five $2,000 Awards of Excellence for their entries. These prizes are purchase awards and, as a result, the works become part of the West Virginia State Museum Collection.

Gellner’s winning entry is a pencil drawing titled “On The Wing and a Snare — Romans 1:22-25,” based on a biblical theme. Villamagna’s award winner is a mixed-media work titled “Coal Mine Queen.” It is composed of printed metal, nails, rubber and medium-density fibreboard.

Harshman, who is director of the Paul N. Elbin Library at West Liberty, has one of her clay monoprints on display in the state juried show. Her entry is titled “Crop Circle.”

Weaver, who is the Jennie Steindorf Renner Professor of Fine Arts at Bethany College, has a low-fired ceramics piece called “Under Pressure” on display for the exhibition.

Two of Schramm’s acrylic and ink pen paintings are hung in this show. The paired works are titled “Internal Angst No. 1” and “Internal Angst No. 2.”

The state juried exhibition, which opened in late October, is being displayed at the Parkersburg Art Center through Friday, Feb. 8. The center, located at 725 Market St., Parkersburg, is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and from 1-5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free; donations for the center are accepted.

Offering spacious facilities, the Parkersburg Art Center is situated in a former department store in the city’s downtown area. Two large adjoining buildings have been converted into gallery spaces, offices, studios, classrooms and a gallery shop. The newest portion of the Parkersburg Art Center includes a fully-equipped ceramics studio.

The exhibition, presented biennially by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, had been held at the Cultural Center in the State Capitol Complex in Charleston since its inception in 1979. However, officials of the state division and the West Virginia Commission on the Arts said they decided to move the 2007-08 event to Parkersburg, in order to share “the best in art” with another community in the Mountain State.

The current exhibition features works of painting, sculpture, printmaking, drawing, photography, mixed media and crafts by 67 West Virginia artists.

All 81 pieces in the exhibit, including the award winners, were chosen by jurors Michael Northrop, professor of art and humanities at Glen Oaks Community College in Centreville, Mich., and Jerry Slipman, owner of the Pacini Lubel Gallery in Seattle, Wash. Northrop and Slipman viewed more than 330 submissions to select the show.

Northrop commented, “The art work submitted to this show exhibited a rich diversity in form, subject and style. It was obvious to me from the beginning of the adjudication that West Virginia has a dynamic arts community with national-class artists.”

Slipman remarked, “The citizens of West Virginia should take great pride in both the quality of creation and the expanse of artistic expression submitted by the artisans of West Virginia.”

The top prizes in the artistic competition are the three $5,000 Governor’s Awards. Winners of these awards are Thorney Lieberman of Charleston, for “Coy & Carissa Daniels,” a black-and-white silver print photograph; Michael C. Mendez of Martinsburg, for “Ten Year Chip,” a toned silver gelatin print, and Susan Poffenbarger of Dunbar, for “Autumn Pond,” a pastel on pastel cloth.

Lieberman’s prize is designated as the D. Gene Jordan Memorial Award, honoring a former chairman of the West Virginia Commission on the Arts. Jordan died in 1989.

The awards money is made available through the West Virginia Commission on the Arts of the Division of Culture and History, from funds appropriated by the state Legislature. According to state officials, “the awards constitute one of the largest endowments for any single juried art exhibition in the country.”