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Peace, Art and Bluegrass

Artworks exhibit features works by Bernie Peace

December 30, 2012
By LINDA COMINS - Life Editor , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

Music and photography are being combined for an artistic exploration of bluegrass at Artworks Around Town in Wheeling during January.

In addition, the gallery will offer a reprise of a reflective exhibition praised by visitors to another local venue a few months ago.

"Bluegrass" is the title for the new main exhibition featuring Wheeling visual artist Bernie Peace, who is a native of the Bluegrass State, and the bluegrass band of Wheeling Park High School. Gallery organizers said the show offers visitors "an inspired and different experience."

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After taking photographs like this one of Wheeling Park High School’s bluegrass band, Wheeling visual artist Bernie Peace cuts those images into tiny slices that he uses to form innovative photo collages. His work, examples of which can be seen at top and bottom, is the subject of a January exhibition, “Bluegrass,” at Artworks Around Town. The lead bluegrass band will perform for the opening reception at the Centre Market venue from 5:30-8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 4.

The art show, accompanied by bluegrass music, will open in the Studio Gallery at Artworks Friday, Jan. 4. The Gallery Hop at the Centre Market site will begin at 5:30 p.m. and will continue until 8 p.m. Refreshments will be served.

The event is free and open to the public. Visitors will be able to meet Peace and hear his inspiration, the lead bluegrass band of WPHS.

As an added attraction for area art lovers, an exhibition titled "Growing Up in Black and White," featuring art by Wheeling residents Robert Peterson and Robert Villamagna, will open in Artworks' North Gallery at the same time. Both shows will remain on display for the month of January.

Peace, who was born, reared and educated in the Bluegrass State of Kentucky, said he has been inspired by "the marvelously well-coached and proficient bluegrass program" of Ohio County's public high school. The show at Artworks features members of the lead bluegrass band in Peace's newest artistic style of photo collages.

As a professor emeritus and a practicing exhibiting artist, Peace has continued his artistic career after his retirement as a professor of art at the former West Liberty State College. He has garnered more than 108 honors and awards from participation in 330 exhibitions. His work is in numerous permanent private and corporate collections throughout the country.

Peace's photo collages are impressionistic, creating a special and unusual way of looking at familiar subject matter. The composition of each collage opens a new venue or window for the viewer to experience the object of the photo.

Through his long history of artistic study and exploration of different media, Peace has developed a style that becomes more direct to the viewer, suggesting an individual experience with each viewer. Within artistic thought is the idea that the person who views artwork actually finishes the composition. "That idea fits this newest style of Peace's work," Artworks officials said.

"His love of bluegrass - the music and the tradition - are readily apparent in this newest work," an Artworks spokeswoman commented. "Going back to his roots in Kentucky, combined with his love of family and his grandson, Ben, Peace has created a very personal and loving show of his newest work."

The bluegrass program at WPHS holds a special place in the professor's heart. His grandson, Ben Peace, is a featured banjo player and vocalist in the lead bluegrass band.

Realizing the marvelous gift that the musical program is to the area, Peace decided to create this art show featuring artistic collages and music with the idea of helping the program and to do some personal fundraising for the bluegrass program. For each piece of artwork sold from the "Bluegrass" show, one-half of the purchase price will be donated to the WPHS bluegrass program for development of the bands, the artist said.

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