Area Artists Join Forces for Exhibition

Five area artists, each with a distinct style and an individual vision of beauty, are collaborating on a joint exhibition for Oglebay Institute’s Stifel Fine Arts Center in Wheeling this summer.

“Beautiful Minds” is the title of the art exhibition that opens at Stifel Center with a free public reception from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Thursday, June 3. The art remains on display in the Stifel’s Hart Galleries through Saturday, Aug. 7.

Artists featured in the summer show are Robert Sako of St. Clairsville; Doris Jones, also of St. Clairsville; Carol Randolph of Waynesburg, Pa., formerly of Wheeling; Betsy Cox of Glen Dale and Bianca Benson of Wheeling. They represent a wide variety of techniques, styles and media including ceramic pottery, Chinese brush paintings, Japanese Sumi-style paintings, pen and ink drawings and oil paintings. Their diverse subject matter includes portraits, landscapes, architectural drawings and still life.

Discussing the group’s characteristics, Brad Johnson, Oglebay Institute’s director of visual arts exhibitions, commented, “They all have diverse styles and they all play off each other’s media. It’s a really nice group to showcase local artists, regional artists.”

The featured works fit well together, “even though each artist has his or her own diverse style,” he observed. The artworks and their creators form “a natural grouping,” he said, adding that “everybody seems really excited” to be featured with the other artists in this show.

“When I approached them about it, they were really pleased,” the curator said, adding, “It’s a really nice show.”

The “Beautiful Minds” title is “kind of a play off the movie,” Johnson explained, referring to “A Beautiful Mind,” the true account of West Virginia native John Nash, who overcame mental problems to win a Nobel Prize.

The exhibition’s title is inspired by “just the imagination of the individual artists in the show. They each have their own unique visions of beauty,” Johnson commented.

With lots of landscapes and floral paintings, it’s “a beautiful show for the summer,” he said.

While not all of the featured artists have had an individual show at Stifel Center, “everybody has either been in ‘Crosscurrents’ or ‘Everyone’s Exhibit’ or the holiday show and sale,” the director of exhibitions said.

“Being a regional gallery mostly, we are always looking for fresh talent and the best talent,” Johnson said. “All (of the featured artists) have been around for a while, but I think it’s the first time they’ve been (shown) together as a group.”

Sponsored by United Bank of West Virginia, “Beautiful Minds” is free and open to the public. Stifel Center, located in a century-old mansion that has been transformed into an arts complex at 1330 National Road, is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Johnson encouraged area residents to attend the opening reception which, he said, will be fun and festive.

Featured Artists

Sako’s paintings are loosely rendered landscapes. The subjects of many of his pieces are scenes that can be found throughout the immediate area.

Sako has received numerous awards and his work has been displayed at the Mac Worthington Gallery in Columbus, at Artworks Around Town in Wheeling and Ohio University Eastern Campus, St. Clairsville. He is a middle school art instructor and an adjunct art instructor at West Virginia Northern Community College.

Born in England, Jones attended Bromley Art College in Kent, England. When she arrived in the United States, she began her career working in large department stores drawing images of merchandise in pen and ink, which remains her favorite medium.

Jones has won numerous art awards and her work is part of many private collections. The St. Clairsville resident loves to teach, conducting classes in locations throughout the area, including Wheeling Jesuit University, Oglebay Institute and Artworks Around Town.

Cox will present a collection of ceramic pottery featuring the use of cut nails from LaBelle Nail Works in Wheeling. Consisting of a variety of vessel shapes and creatures, her collection reflects the valley’s rich steel and manufacturing heritage.

Cox maintains a studio, Echo Valley Pottery, in Glen Dale. Her work is featured at many area galleries and can be found at Tamarack and Mountain Made Gallery. She has won many awards and her work has been featured in international publications.

Another award-winning artist, Randolph was born and reared in Wheeling. She enjoys using a variety of surfaces, media and styles to achieve some of her most interesting works in the subjects of landscapes and seascapes, still life, animals, flowers and portraits. Her pieces in “Beautiful Minds” include work in oils and Chinese brush painting and painting on silk scarves.

Randolph has exhibited and taught in Utah, Oregon, Washington, Ohio, Pennsylvania and in London and Canada. Represented by several galleries in Pennsylvania, she works in her studio in Waynesburg. Her art is held in private collections in the United States, Canada and in Europe.

Benson combines traditional Western oil painting techniques with Japanese Sumi or brush painting. The juxtaposition of these two styles portrays the ability of different technical styles to represent the same object successfully and to highlight clearly the different ways of viewing the same subject matter.

Benson received two “honorable mention” citations in the 2009 “Crosscurrents” exhibition at Stifel Center. She had a solo exhibition at Artworks Around Town and her work was part of a juried exhibition at the Harlan Gallery in Greensburg, Pa. She has taught art at elementary and middle schools and currently works as a creative art therapist.