2 02 0 E D I T I ON
MURALMANIA! TALENTED TOWNIES EDIBLE ART DIY DOS
Art Scene to the SPONSOR E D BY
• Starting with a sonnet a day in April to celebrate the Bard’s birth month, The Rustic Me- chanicals Shakespeare troupe of Clarksburg has put out a non-stop flow of spirited videos and Zoom performances. • Since June, Free Art Friday has planted surprises around town to be kept by the lucky finders. And good post-COVID things are percolating. As explained in the pages of this issue, Main Street Morgantown has several new murals in the works. And the City has invigorated its commit- ment to the arts this year in the form of a new position, filled by an arts administrator with experi- ence in cities of all sizes. As your thoughts turn to holiday shopping, remember our local ar- tisans—it’s our deliberate, ongoing support that’s going to make sure they’re still here making life sparkle when more art-filled days return. Cheers to more art,
M useum and gallery attendance sup- pressed—hand- crafted markets cancelled—live music and theater almost non-existent—this COVID year has been woefully art-deprived. But challenging times call for creative new forms of expression, and we’ve seen a lot of that, too. • Right at the beginning, residents invented neighborhood games of pictures posted in windows to keep life lively for young people during the stay-at-home. Look at that beauty! With all the entry fees I haven’t been able to pay for music and theater during COVID, I’m buying this painting by local sculptor and painter Jamie Lester for my dining room.
PAM KASEY, Editor
Morgantown Arts ORGANIZATIONS
Arts Monongahela artsmon.org Art Museum of West Virginia University artmuseum.wvu.edu Metropolitan Theatre morgantownmet.com
Morgantown Art Association
morgantownartassociation.com Morgantown Theatre Company morgantowntheatrecompany.org M.T. Pockets Theatre mtpocketstheatre.com
Monongalia Arts Center
West Virginia Public Theatre @wvpublictheatre.org WVU Arts and Entertainment events.wvu.edu
monartscenter.com Morgantown Art Party morgantownartparty.com
2 MORGANTOWN • OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2020
volume 10 • issue 1
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In This Issue 5 More Art, Please 2020: the year Morgantown doubled down. 6 Paint the Town With the stroke of a brush, murals can transform Morgantown. 16 Eat This The food stylings of Brittany Furbee. 18 Shop This Some of Morgantown’s best lightbenders. 22 Try This Make and take at these studios. 22 Love This Treat yourself to some local artistry. 24 Jacks of All Shades Morgantown artists think outside the gourd.
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More Art, Please Events are in motion to make art an exuberant, front-and-center part of life inMorgantown. written by PAM KASEY
Really great cities have great art. Sculptures, museums, festivals, concerts— all vibrant, thriving cities have that. — Morgantown Director of Arts
Here’s a question: Can we take it for granted that art just happens —that creative people will make the world sparkle and sing for us because they can’t help themselves? Or is art something we have to nurture if we want it to thrive? Probably some of both. We’ve come a long way with the first approach. Morgantown has a raft of talented 2D and 3D artists and a vibrant entertain- ment scene. Vigorous nonprofits support the arts. Still, for a town of our size and bustle, it has felt like some- thing was missing. We don’t have the critical mass of galleries that draw people to Lewisburg, or Berkeley Springs’ quirky feel, or a premier arts celebration like Charleston’s two-week, citywide FestivALL. In those towns, one gets the feeling that ideas are crackling and surprise is just around the corner. Morgantown wants more art— the lively attendance at 2019’s monthly Arts Walks proved that. And our creative community has the talent and passion to make it happen. What it’s had only piecemeal, though, is the City’s undergirding support. Jenny Selin, a longtime arts supporter on City Council, affirms that. “It just feels like art hasn’t gotten the city push that it could have.” Until now. This year, the City of Morgantown is making the arts a full-on commitment.
The shift started with a new full-time position for arts and cultural development—the second city-based such position in the state, after Charleston’s. Hired in April, Vincent Kitch brings experience from cultural hot spots Austin, Texas, and Seattle, Washington. Then, in Council’s 2020– 2022 Strategic Plan, it named development of arts and culture one of its 10 strategic goals, right up there with fiscal stability and excellent city services. That gives extra oomph to Kitch’s position, and he’s sure Mor- gantown will benefit in quality of life, economic vitality, and tourist draw. “Arts and culture supports all aspects of what a good community is,” he says. The arts can also ease Mor- gantown’s growing pains by con- tributing to the dialogs over tough issues like policing and homeless- ness. “In social change, artists and arts and culture organizations lead the way in those difficult conversations,” Kitch says. “I have been involved in projects where arts and culture were pivotal in bringing communities together that have had long-stand- ing differences.” The role of arts and culture is intangible, but essential to community identity and integrity. “Cities have to be safe, we have to eat and live—but our humanity, that soft side of ourselves and our community, is what arts and culture is for.”
Now Kitch, with Coun- cil’s backing, is preparing an application that would make Morgantown a West Virginia Certified Arts Community. The handful of cities that have earned the designation—Berke- ley Springs and Lewisburg as well as Elkins and Wheeling and just a few others—are leveraging it successfully for both lifestyle and economic benefits, and the potential is growing. “Arts is, I think, the number 5 industry in the state right now, and it’s only going to get stronger, especially after this pandemic,” says West Virginia Director of Arts Lance Schrader. Kitch is collaborating with people all across town to create an application that will wow the state Commission on the Arts. “It’s been a great way for me to learn about the community, and it’s helped me lay the ground- work for future partners,” he says. “I want to make sure that I can represent everyone’s stories so I can do justice to all that came before and Morgantown can receive this designation.” State Certified Arts Commu- nity status would honor what Morgantown’s artists and arts organizations have achieved up to now. Once the status is grant- ed, Kitch says, the value of it depends on all of us. “It’s up to the community to make some- thing of it and use it for a positive.”
and Cultural Development Vincent Kitch
6 MORGANTOWN • OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2020
I magine the whole side of the Warner Theater with color on it,” says Vincent Kitch, Morgantown’s director of arts and cultural development. The scaffolding goes up. The wall is patched, pressure washed, primed, painted a solid color. The artists work until the sun goes down and the street lights cast long shadows onto the building. The next morning, there’s a faint outline, and the next, a discernible shape. Before long, there’s color, and over the next few weeks, the whole wall comes to life with shapes and patterns. People stop to take photos. They tag the mural on Instagram, tell their friends. The once blighted space is bringing the community together. In the past few years, there’s been a groundswell of grassroots efforts to get murals off the ground in Morgantown, and now, those efforts show no signs of stopping. The City has identified arts and culture as one of its strategic goals. How do you bring arts and culture to a community? By painting the town.
wri tten by jordan carter
Murals Mat ter change can come from some thing beau tiful.
People often ask Beth Keener- Flanery, executive director of Arts Monongahela, the Morgantown area's arts council, why one would, why one would spend time, energy, and sometimes limited funding on a public arts initiative. Her answer? “Public art is imperative to our communities,” she says. “It keeps people engaged and creates a dialogue.” The arts are what bring a community to life, says Sally Deskins, exhibits and program coordinator at WVU Libraries. And part of bringing a community to life is crafting its narrative. “Art reflects a moment in time and a culture,” says Keith Jackson, dean of the university’s College of Creative Arts. Take for example the pride crosswalk on Wilson Avenue in Greenmont. Six colorful stripes paint a clear and simple message: All kinds are welcome in the “gayborhood.” Murals can make a difference, says Vincent Kitch, Morgantown’s director of arts and cultural development. Think Princeton, once a rail and coal town, now part of Mercer County’s Certified Arts Community. Lori McKinney- Blankenship, an artist and arts organizer based in Princeton, says she creates public art in hopes that people will go out into the world and create more of it. It’s the broken windows theory, she explains. “If there are a bunch of broken windows and rundown buildings in someone’s space, they’re more likely to
throw a rock and break another window,” she says. Disorder begets disorder. But if a space is exciting and joyous with bright colors and inspiring messages, people are more likely to behave in a way that’s harmonious with that environment. Before McKinney- Blankenship and a group of creatives dreamed up The RiffRaff Arts Collective—the powerhouse behind most of Princeton’s murals—the area was “an economic development engine waiting to be tapped.” The 30-plus professional murals on Mercer Street—now more murals than building vacancies—have helped draw people back downtown. “Princeton is, in my opinion, a model for the whole state,” says Jesse Heady, chair of Arts Mon’s Public Art Committee. “I believe at my core in the power of public art to help unify communities and help with general well-being.” Public art can be almost anything, writes Partners for Livable Communities, a nonprofit mobilizing arts and cultural resources for community development. “But, it must foremost serve the public, be reflective of its sense of place, and representative of the community for which it is created.” The Mount Hope Phoenix Wall on the side of Giuseppe’s Italian Restaurant in Mount Hope, West Virginia is an example. Artists Ian Bode and Brian Pickens painted the mural in 2018 to tell the
story of a town that rose from the ashes of a 1910 fire, along with the town’s present and its future. Soon after the mural was finished, the adjacent parking lot became an event space off Main Street, hosting community gatherings and celebrations. “For a community, a space like that becomes a centerpiece,” says Pickens, “something for people to gather around and be proud of.” Morgantown abounds with opportunities for art— alleyways, backs of businesses, blighted parking lots, empty storefronts—and it’s growing in terms of cohesiveness, collaboration, and patronage and understanding of the arts, Deskins says. It’s just about getting the right people to the table. We’re at just the beginning of the future of art in Morgantown, says Jillian Kelly, founder of Morgantown Art Party, a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing the community together through art. “I strongly feel like Morgantown is about to be put on the map for art,” she says. “We have so many great art organizations, and we’re all working together to help all the talented artists in Morgantown flourish and share their work with the community.” Heady says there are plans and a framework in place to continue to move the needle, bringing thought leaders and artists together from across the state and country, ultimately to bring more vibrant and bigger works to Morgantown.
8 MORGANTOWN • OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2020
perfec t spot for a mural
10 MORGANTOWN • OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2020
Four years ago, Mon River Trails Conservancy and Morgantown Area Paddlers installed a canoe and kayak launch at Van Voorhis Landing north of Star City. Since then, they’ve installed five others along a 40-mile section of the Monongahela River. Two of those launches—Van Voorhis and Star City—have permanent pilings: 40-foot-tall metal pipes that anchor the launches. “We’ve been working to revitalize the riverfront for years,” says Mary Wimmer, flatwater kayaker and orga- nizer of Morgantown Area Paddlers. “When you’re down there surround- ed by beautiful plants and the gor- geous river, the pilings just don’t go with the rest of the surroundings.” So, as a way to reinforce the natural beauty of the riverfront, Wimmer and MRTC executive director Ella Belling launched the Mon River Water Trail Art Challenge to raise $1,500 by December 1. The funds will allow local artists Eddie “Spaghetti” Maier and Eli Pollard to improve the look of pilings. MRTC, using grant funding from Your Community Foundation, will match donations dollar for dollar. In September, Maier installed a Jack and the Beanstalk-esque wild sunflower painting on a piling at the Star City launch. The Morgan- town-area artist told Wimmer it was a creative exercise; it’s sock-like and slips over the top of the piling. He installed another painting at the Van Voorhis launch at the end of Sep- tember. This one depicts the river’s waterbirds—blue herons. RIVERFRONT a group of paddlers and a nonprofit pioneer a piling beau tification projec t. Razzle Dazzle
upcoming plans to pain t the town.
The City of Morgantown has completed its 2020–2022 strategic plan, a road map to make Morgantown a more vibrant and welcoming community over the coming couple years. City Council identified developing arts and culture as one of 10 strategic goals, to enhance quality of life and spur economic development. And let’s be honest: Morgantown needs that now more than ever. Priority number one toward that end: Coordinate and create an avenue for artists to showcase their work throughout the city. And one way City Council plans to make that happen is by developing a mural program. “If you have a program of what murals are and how they work, you can manage it and try to encourage that it’s done in a way that’s col- laborative,” says Vincent Kitch, Morgantown’s director of arts and cultural development. The City plans to develop its mural program next year, but we’ve already seen collaboration through Main Street Morgantown’s (MSM) own mural initiative. Mills Group LLC, an architecture firm in Morgantown, created a mural master plan for the MSM Design Committee. The plan identifies 25 potential locations for murals. “We stepped back as planners and designers and thought about what would have the biggest impact,” says Michael Mills, managing principal of Mills Group and chair of the MSM Design Committee. Mills Group considered existing mural locations and pedestrian and vehicular perspective when selecting potential mural locations. They opted for buildings at gateways, intersections, and traffic signals as places where murals could provide the largest communitywide benefit. The first property owner to give approval was the Morgantown Parking Authority at its Pleasant Street parking garage, says Barbara Watkins, executive director of MSM. This isn’t the first public arts initiative that MSM has gotten behind. Have you seen
the trash receptacles downtown that are wrapped with artwork from five local artists? In April 2019, in partnership with Arts Monongahela, STICK Tattoo Company, and the City of Morgantown, MSM used grant funding from the five-county Your Community Foundation of North Central West Virginia for the project. YCF has also been instrumental in MSM’s mural project. “We have been looking to put murals downtown for years,” she says. In January 2020, MSM applied for The Organizational Arts Grant, made possible through a collaborative effort between YCF and Arts Monongahela, with funding from the City of Morgantown, the Monongalia County Commission, and the Douglas H. Tanner Memorial Fund for the Arts. MSM was awarded $5,000 for its mural project. With funding from YCF, Hops on the Mon, and the West Virginia Birthday Celebration, Main Street Morgantown has designated $12,000 for the mural project. The organization plans to have three murals completed by May 2021. During the last week of September, MSM sent out a call for proposals, and Arts Monongahela shared it with its Creative Network, a coalition of artisans, arts groups, art supporters, and passionate community members. The MSM Design Committee will select the murals’ artists from the proposals they receive. “We are looking to be thoughtful about the decisions we make,” says Beth Keener- Flanery, executive director of Arts Mon. “Public art impacts everyone. We want it to be something that enhances the space, the community.” The mural program is an investment that can allow Morgantown to do more, Watkins says. “It will give the City and organizations like Arts Monongahela good leverage when applying for additional grants. We’ll always be looking to add additional murals.”
What does the View At The Park apartment building have in common with Bartlett House? What about with Andrew White Guitars and the Morgantown Dental Group? Black Bear Burritos and the I.O.O.F. Lodge on High Street? You get the picture—or lack thereof. All of these buildings have big blank walls and were identified by Mills Group as potential locations for murals. Any of them has the potential to become as eye-catching as 123 Pleasant Street, painted with a rainbow mural. “Public art changes a person's perception of a space,” says visual artist Brian Pickens. “It goes from being run-of-the-mill to some- thing that’s magical, inspiring, or thought-provoking.” Where to put them? Location matters. Put public art where it's least expected, Jillian Kelly, founder of Morgantown Art Party, suggests. She loves the wrapped trash receptacles downtown and the colorful crosswalks in Greenmont. “It doesn’t have to be the side of the Warner Theatre,” says City Arts and Cultural Development Director Vincent Kitch of that huge, very visible wall at High and Pleasant. “It could be a little mural on a back alley entrance.” One of our favorites is Eve Faulkes’ split-complementary mural on the Wall Street side of Health Right. It features four local leaders—John W. Garlow, Yasmeen Mustafa, Sara Little, and Charlene Marshall—and their contributions to the community. “I’d love to see the length of Wall Street done artistically so it’s a pathway from the Spruce Street parking garage to High Street,” says Kitch. Murals WE NEED
1 15 Court Street, beside the Morgantown–Westover bridge 2 Independent Order of Odd Fellows building at the corner of High and Walnut streets 3 130–132 Pleasant Street, home to Black Bear Burritos 4 140–142 High Street, home to Iron Horse Tavern and Morgantown Dental Group 5 1110 University Avenue, home to Bartlett House emergency shelter 6 198 Foundry Street, home to Andrew White Guitars.
try our six-s tep toolki t for creating public ar t. Make a Mural
Collaborate It takes motivated people to create public art, says visual artist Brian Pickens. It’s as simple as connecting artists, building owners, and organizations and individuals who want public art, he explains. Collaboration can be disorga- nized. Lori McKinney-Blankenship, an artist and arts organizer based in Princeton, suggests identifying a champion for the project, a person or group who will keep things moving and see the project through to the end. Arts Monongahela, the Mor- gantown area’s arts council, helps facilitate art projects and programs. “We are the medium that brings people togeth- er,” says Executive Director Beth Keener-Flanery. Funding Public art can be funded by private donors, through public fundraisers, by city and county orga- nizations, or through community-based art funds or grants—sometimes it takes all four. Your Community Foundation has awarded $600,000 in art grants in collaboration with Arts Mon on behalf of the City of Morgan- town, the Monongalia County Commission, and the Douglas H. Tanner Memorial Fund for the Arts over the past three years, says President Patty Ryan. Not a nonprofit? Local arts organizers have found success through Facebook fundraisers and crowdfunding platforms like GoFundMe. Get permission Identifying a loca- tion is first about identifying willing participants, says Michael Mills, chair of the Main Street Morgantown Design Committee. Formal permission from the building owner of the chosen location is required. He or she will need to approve every step of the process, from the mural’s design to its timeline for completion. While the City of Morgantown doesn’t currently require formal public approval of mural projects, the leader of any project needs to research whether the community has a local signage code or regulations on building facades that may impact their public art project.
It’s all about location The best spot for a mural is one where it can make a contribution, says Vincent Kitch, Morgan- town’s director of arts and cultural develop- ment—“a place where someone goes and has an interaction with the mural and the mural does what it’s supposed to do: stirs imagina- tion, creates thought or debate.” Keith Jackson,
dean of the College of Creative Arts at West Virginia University, says the location should be easily accessible to the public and part of the community’s everyday landscape. McKinney-Blankenship agrees. “When selecting a location, consider its visibility and meaning to the community.” Choose a design Public art should reflect the culture of its location, in Jackson’s mind. Brian Pickens’ Greenmont mural History is Right Around the Corner depicts Gene’s Beer Gar- den’s original owners, Joe and Frank Perilli, as well as Gene himself and his sister, Katy. The bar’s present owner, Al Bonner, “wanted to pay respect to the legacy of their ownership and stewardship of running a down-to-earth neigh- Create! In 1992, Anthony Colasante had a mural painted at the intersec- tion of University Avenue and Pleasant Street. Nearly 30 years on, it still advertises Colasante’s Ristorante & Pub. The painter recommended a high-quality paint that cost double the average gallon. “He told me if we used this, it would last forever,” Colasante says. Paint quality is some- thing all muralists should consider. “In most cases, you are investing time and resources into a mural so it will last for years to come,” McKinney-Blankenship says. Before painting brick or concrete, she recommends pressure washing and coating with a prep material, then a high-quali- ty exterior masonry seal and primer. borhood bar where everyone was welcome,” Pickens says. The mural features two of the beer garden’s mainstays— chili dogs and cold beer on tap. The right artist will create a work that helps the narrative of the community.
Adapted from the Tamarack Foundation for the Arts’ “Toolkits for the Arts” and the Create Your State program’s “Creating Public Works of Art.
Find these murals around town and be yond.
1 Artist Mike McDevitt designed the Friends of Deckers Creek Mural at mile marker zero on the Deckers Creek Trail in 2016. The 12-by-86-foot mural took more than 70 volunteers two days to complete. It depicts Deckers Creek’s flora and fauna and the effects of acid mine drainage and was funded by Dominion Foundation.
5 Grafton native Amber “Turk” Rogers was a volunteer and internship coordinator for the Taylor County Arts Council, based out of Gallery 62 West in Grafton. In 2016, she painted Violet , a 50-foot-high mural on the side of the Gallery 62 West, with funding from the Arts Council through Turn This Town Around and the Benedum Foundation. 6 Italian heritage and local history animate an Italian Independent Social Club mural in Connellsville, Pennsylvania. Self-taught muralist Jeremy Raymer spray painted the 4,000-square-foot piece in 2019. The Fayette County Cultural Trust funded the mural and chose the location to draw people over the West Crawford Avenue bridge. 7 You’ve likely seen Jesse Corlis’ murals before; he’s painted the White Elephant Saloon murals at each of Pies & Pints’ 13 locations. Today, he’s working on a 28-foot-tall, 125-foot-wide mural representing different eras in glassmaking. You can find it in Weston on the north-facing wall of The Museum of American Glass in West Virginia. 8 Artist Mark Stutzman designed the eye-popping 2016 Oakland, Maryland, mural Our Local Heroes. Stutzman’s design was digitized and printed on panels that were installed on the Oakland Town Hall. The 16-by-35-foot mural was partially funded by the Garrett County Arts Council, Community Legacy funds, and the Town of Oakland.
2 3 4 9
The state bird stands out against the iconic green storefront of the Mountain People’s Co-Op. Malissa Goff
Baker and Keith Strother painted Debbie , named after the red bird in The Good Dinosaur , in 2019. The project was coordinated by Arts Monongahela and funded through a grant from Your Community Foundation.
In the summer of 2015, a group of WVU students painted the mural beneath the Beechurst PRT Station. The
organization WVU Art Movement, led by Cecily Flight and Gerardo Valera, funded the project until Valera was awarded a $1,000 scholarship from the Student Government Association’s “Catalyst of Campus Change.”
Old Town Mural spans one side of the parking lot at Fayette and Chestnut streets. It was painted in the late 1970s by a
group of local teachers with funding from Main Street Morgantown. The mural depicts downtown Morgantown and includes a scene of retail shops, a cafe, and the Metropolitan Theatre.
In November 2020, Mills Group will unveil a mural on the side of its offices at 88 High Street depicting a collage of buildings the company has designed or worked on around the state. Each building in the mural will be laser-cut separately, and spacers behind the custom panels will give the
entire image a sense of depth and relief.
14 MORGANTOWN • OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2020
FOOD AS ART A local cook and food stylist makes food look so good it’s hard to know whether to eat it or just admire it. EAT THIS
variations until she arrives at the final recipe. It’s not unusual for her to spend an entire day cooking one thing—slicing carrots just so, achieving the perfect char on a cut of meat, ensuring the icing on a scone has the perfect drip. Then come the pictures. It takes hours for Furbee to get all the shots she wants. She arranges the background, switches out plates, highlights key ingredients, fusses with lighting, all to create an image worthy of a magazine and your drool. She offers insights to other aspiring food photographers out there: It’s imperative to invest in good equipment, she says. And trust your natural eye when you compose your dishes. “A lot of people can cook delicious dishes,” Furbee says, “but being able to make it look beautiful, too, is next-level.” She says it takes patience, discipline, and passion. Furbee’s day job is as an employer relations specialist for West Virginia University’s Career Services Center, but she longs for the day that her work as a professional food stylist and photographer becomes her main gig. She got connected with Walmart after her high showing at the World Food Championships. The retail giant approached her about developing recipes, creating video content, and submitting food photography that Walmart would use company-wide. She jumped at the chance. “My dream is absolutely to do this full- time. I think this is my talent and calling in life,” she says. “Food is 100 percent my creative outlet. When you think of art, people don’t often think of food and photography. But the composition of the colors and textures and how to pull them together and present them in a way that makes people want to eat what I make is definitely an art form for me.”
➼ MORGANTOWN’S BRITTANY FURBEE loves to play with her food. She’s an artist, but not a typical one. She creates works of art with kitchen ingredients as her medium, both by developing exciting taste combinations and by making her dishes look out of this world in photographs. Furbee is a self-taught cook who found a path all the way to the World Food Championships—an international competition that draws more than 1,500 chefs and home cooks. She’s competed a few times and came in ninth place last year, an astounding feat considering the crowded field. Her meritorious dish was a soft-shelled crab eggs Benedict that wowed the judges in flavor and presentation. She plans to compete again this year. Furbee also made an appearance on the Food Network show Cooks vs Cons in 2015. The show pits professional chefs against amateur cooks, and the judges don’t know which are responsible for the dishes they try. Furbee was declared the winner after judges sampled her Asian catfish po boy and her steak and eggs Benedict topped with blue cheese. The key to winning food competitions, she says, is the presentation, and her background in photography—she studied in college—comes in handy. She doesn’t use additives to make meat look juicier or plates more appealing the way food photographers often do. “I think you don’t need to use tricks to fool people into eating food,” Furbee says. “It just comes down to being creative with the presentation so the dish screams to them ‘You have to eat this.’” Furbee says it takes weeks for a dish to go from inception to photo shoot. She starts by formulating the recipe in her head. Many times she practices multiple times with slight
written by HOLLY LELEUX-THUBRON
16 MORGANTOWN • OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2020
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SHOP THIS LOOKIN’ GLASSY
Three Morgantown artisans express their creative sides in this lustrous medium. written by holly leleux - thubron
➼ MORGANTOWN HAS A LONG HISTORY etched in glass. Its roots run back to 1896, when Ohio-based Seneca Glass Company moved into a facility along the Monongahela River now known as the Seneca Center. The glass factory employed more than 250 in its heyday and produced some of the finest decorative stemware made anywhere in the world. More than 400 glass factories called the Mountain State home at one point or another, and a legacy of working with glass remains, especially for three residents who dabble daily in the medium, creating stained glass pieces with stunning effect.
Aldona Bird Aldona Bird’s interest in stained glass was piqued years ago when she purchased a stained glass window hanging at the New Deal Festival in Ar- thurdale. She met the maker that day, and their conversation motivated her to learn the craft. Bird draws inspiration from glass itself, the colors and textures and the ways it manipulates light. She most enjoys creating lifelike things like 3D flowers. Her favorite piece so far is the largest and most complex one she’s completed. It’s a depiction of the solar system meant to hang in a window, where it can reflect and refract light throughout the day. She used opaque black glass for space, a variety of colored glass for the planets, white glass gems for moons, and clear gems to show the asteroid belt. The piece was a gift for an astrophysicist friend, and Bird says the asteroids glow in a certain light. Bird is currently working on glass insects, like 3D cicadas, and jewelry and ornaments for the upcoming holiday season. Pictured is one of her charming glass orchids. You can find Bird’s smaller pieces at Hoot and Howl in Morgantown. She also welcomes commissions. @downinthehollow on Facebook
Eric Palfrey Eric Palfrey says he’s always admired stained glass. When he stopped guiding whitewater rafting groups full-time in 2018 and found himself with time on his hands, he bought a few tools and some glass and hit the internet to learn from YouTube. “After lots of trial and error, a few broken pieces of glass, and a ton of remaking pieces to fit better, I think I’m getting the hang of it,” he says. Palfrey’s inspiration is usually an outdoor setting that’s left a mark on him, more often than not water-related. His favorite piece so far was inspired by memories of times when, floating down the New River on a raft, a sum- mertime thunderstorm would roll in and pour sheets of warm rain straight down. The sun beamed from behind the dark clouds, and the rain shattered the dark water. Those moments felt intimate to him, experiences to savor rath- er than run for shelter. Palfrey enjoys commissions, with creative license. “I try to stay away from making things that are supposed to look like some- thing specifically,” he says. “Like any other creative outlet, it’s more stressful when you don’t just let it flow.” @glassholewv on Facebook
Penelyn VanOrange When you think about the art in Morgantown, you’d be remiss if Penelyn VanOrange’s name didn’t pop into your head. She is the fairy godmother of artisans, selling her own and others’ creations in the shop that she co-owns— Appalachian Gallery—with Laurie Nugent. VanOrange has amassed a lifetime of experience creating her own art and in fine art custom framing. She began working in stained glass six years ago and creates one masterpiece after the next. She learned by reading, watching YouTube videos, and experimenting. Inspiration isn’t something VanOrange has to look for. “It really is just language. A dialogue between the object and viewer, and another between artists and their art.” She says she’s always been an artist. “It used to mean dragging my coloring book and crayons under the magic light of the Christmas tree. Now it means drawing, painting, drafting patterns for puppets, or creating beautiful stained glass.” VanOrange says choosing a favorite piece is impossible—every piece she works on becomes her most prized in that moment. She considers commission work, and you can find her pieces @appgallery on Facebook.
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Mid-century Masterpiece A Philippi couple breathes new life into a new-to-them home with the help of Wells Home Furnishings.
written by holly leleux - thubron photographed by nikki bowman mills
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Step inside this Philippi mid- century masterpiece created by homeowner Cheryl Bowers and interior designer Caitlin Furbee of Wells Home Furnishings. Earth tones were used throughout, and almost everything in the house was custom-made for the space— from the textiles to the show-stopping chandeliers.
W hen Cheryl and Bill Bowers bought a 1970s-era home in envisioned a mid-century modern masterpiece full of earth tones and unexpected angles. They also knew exactly where to go to turn their vision into reality—the interior design team at Wells Home Furnishings. Caitlin Furbee—a graduate of West Virginia University’s interior design program and 5-year staff member at Wells—was the designer on the project and says it was rewarding. “It’s kind of a misconception that an interior designer will just come in and tell you how to make your house Philippi, they saw beyond the tired interior and beautiful. We can certainly do that if that’s what our clients want, but the best and most rewarding projects are a give and take between the designer and client. Cheryl has a great creative eye and had a vision for this home. I just helped her to pull it together and make sure it made sense,” Furbee says. Bowers loves building and renovating homes. The couple has had a rustic cabin on
the river, a colonial house in the heart of Philippi, a farmhouse on the outskirts of town, and, now, a 3,000-square-foot modern ranch-style house made for entertaining. The home was completely gutted and renovated from top to bottom. The carport was enclosed, and the home’s existing footprint got a few additions. Bowers and her husband didn’t want to change the style of the home completely; they just wanted to put their own personal stamp on the place. And she really got to do whatever she wanted, as long as he got his giant TVs, she adds with a chuckle. They went bold, and earth tones became the common thread carried throughout. Sophisticated neutral fabrics on upholstered pieces became the backdrop for incorporating hues of orange, blue, green, brown, and gold in everything from the art to the custom-designed rugs to the unique accent pieces. No detail was spared—like the impetus for the whole design aesthetic. It’s the master bedroom headboard, a stunning, bold, and exciting pebble-shaped design richly steeped in contemporary living, from designer Christopher Guy. “Cheryl wanted
wellshome . com
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Bowers came to Wells with a vision, and Furbee helped make it into a reality. The entire design aesthetic was inspired by the first piece that Bowers chose—the statement headboard in the master bedroom. The pair aimed to give the home an organic feel and chose natural tones and unique raw materials for use throughout. Furbee says the homeowners have an incredible eye for design, and working closely with them made the project a rewarding one.
something unique in the master bedroom,” Caitlin says. “The spectacular bed is what catches your eye when you walk into the room. Hand-carved and fully upholstered, this bed really makes a statement.” Bowers clipped an image of the piece from a magazine, and Furbee sourced the piece directly from the designer. The bedding is custom-made and carries the bold orange hues that are dominant in many of the rooms. Unique chandeliers hanging in the main floor living room—one 12-light, and one nine-light—feature textured slabs of cognac glass and copper bands, giving the lighting an organic look reminiscent of winter icicles. The chandelier hanging over the dining room table was made by Century Furniture, a manufacturer known for its infinite possibilities and attention to detail, as part of its Omi Collection, which includes sophisticated pieces created from spectacular raw materials. “I find the older I get, the more I gravitate to the colors of the mid-century modern period that remind me of growing up—the golds and greens, and the oranges,” Bowers says. “That was the vision I had for this place, but with a modern interpretation, and Caitlin really went above and beyond to bring it to life.” Furbee says customers can go in with a vision in mind for their space, like Bowers did, or start the process with no idea of what to do with their space. The Wells In-Home Design Program allows customers, regardless of the size of the project or the budget, to work with a Wells designer to make their dreams come true.
“ Come with a vision, or a blank canvas, and no matter the budget you’ll get the Wells experience.” — wells home furnishings interior designer caitlin furbee
wellshome . com
DIY Greater Morgantown offers plenty of opportunities for creative people to get in there and try their hand at something new. The WOW! Factory in Star City offers wine and design classes, glass fusing, and more. 3453 University Avenue, Star City, 304.599.2969, thewowfactoryonline.com Browse the bevy of fabrics at Stitch Morgantown , or pop in for one of their classes. 22 Commerce Drive, Westover, 304.943.7137, stitchmorgantown.com Country Roads Quilt Shop classes cater to everyone from beginners to advanced quilters. 709 Beechurst Avenue, Morgantown, 304.241.5645, countryroadsquilts.com Head to Zenclay for multi-week courses in handbuilding or wheel throwing. Register in advance. 2862 University Avenue, Mor- gantown, 304.599.7687, zenclaypottery.com Choose your experience at Mountain Creative in Fairmont and enjoy an afternoon of paint therapy. 1200 Speedway Avenue, Fairmont, 304.612.6425, mountaincreativewv.com West Fork Pottery offers pottery classes at Joe-N-Throw in Fairmont several days each week. 323 1/2 Adams Street, Fairmont, 304.518.4769, westforkpottery.com TRY THIS CLOSE BY
MORGANTOWN’S GOT TALENT If you love art, you’ll want to check out Morgantown’s local talent and add a piece or two of theirs to your collection.
Handcrafted Cooperative founder Megan Ursic introduces some of her favorite ar tists.
Photographer and storyteller Lauren Webster documents mundane, messy, and exhausting family moments with her camera. She believes our lives aren’t
Potter Jen Allen honors homelife and special mo- ments through her wheel-thrown and hand-built piec-
made of magical lights, awkward
poses, and match- ing sweaters. Instead, life is licking cake batter from a spoon or
es. Whether through a vessel for display- ing your favorite flowers or a table setting of hand-stamped brown stoneware dishes, she’s determined to keep “handmade” an essential part of every home. jenniferallenceramics.com
taking care of eve- ning chores on the farm. Webster captures
the real essence of the memories we want to share and preserve through her images. laurenwebsterphotography.com
Printmaker Leslie Norris creates nostal- gic art with the perfect combination of childhood, family, and
The vibrant nature of Lauren Adams’
work is bold, immersive, and fluid like a body of water, and her creative process in- volves a balance of “control and abandon.” The result is a testament to her artistic abilities and the influence of her natural surroundings in the hills of West Virginia. Her talent has landed her features on blogs like West Elm, HGTV, The Elements of Style, and Kelly Market as well as collab- orations with brands like Crate & Barrel and public and private creations for clients. laurenadamsart.com
small-town cul- tural influences. Her nieces—Olive and Mae—inspire her portfolio of
characters and concepts, and she credits her Uncle Dave for the name Sugar Pop Press. Diving into one of her prints feels comfortable. They’re filled with memo- ries, present moments, kind people, and treasures. They feel like home. sugarpoppress.com
22 MORGANTOWN • OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2020
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Pumpkinsareirresistible. Thecheerycolor—andthat shape! Just beggingtohaveitscheekspinched! They’reirresistibleasacreativemedium, too. What other art forminvitesus towieldknives, get slimy, andplaywithfire, all right at our ownkitchentables?Or stayonthesurface—scrapeit. Paint it. Stickthings toit. Wecanall usesomewackyporchrotundity thisyear. Sassy, menacing, kitsch, bizarre—literallyanythinggoes. Needinspira- tion?WeaskedsevenMorgantownartists toplant someideas. pumpkins are irresistible
think a head Heads of all kinds can inspire your artwork. “This is a big cat face jack-o’- lantern,” says Francisco Amaya , an artist, art teacher, and musician from Wheeling. “I carved it with oversized features and simple outlines. The style is inspired by pre-Columbian Aztec jaguar images.” Amaya’s work has been spotted in town in group shows at 123 Pleasant Street and at the Blue Moose, and you can see some of his more recent work on Instagram at @frnamaya.
embrace the sphere Digital illustrator and designer Elisha Rush approached her pumpkin as a spherical canvas. “I chose to use a combination of illustration and papercrafting to decorate this pumpkin, combining the strengths of both to make a three-dimensional design that really leaps forward into space.” She loves the orange hues of fall, she says, so she carried the pumpkin’s color through in the leaves and fox. Rush’s work can be seen on the compactor trash can across from Massullo’s Dry Cleaners on High Street. She also participates in lots of pop-up events downtown and displays often at the Monongalia Arts Center. See her work also at @pixel_sunshine on Instagram.
go eclectic The pumpkin can easily accommodate your infatuations and passions. “This pumpkin is one of my ‘Oshkas’—a series of paintings of whimsical characters that are a combination of matryoshka dolls, quilting, and jewelry, all things that I love,” says Patricia Loy-Colebank . “She and her cat obviously LOVE Halloween!” Loy-Colebank is an irrepressible tattoo artist, painter, and silversmith. She’s well-known in town as the owner of the Sabraton and downtown tattoo and piercing studios PattysArtspot, and you can see more of her work at the Sabraton shop. She also shows at Black Bear Burritos in Evansdale, Hoot and Howl, the Morgantown Art Association gallery, and Tamarack.
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mine the media Whatever slice of media you enjoy, work it—favorite paintings, graphic novels, music videos, films, and even advertisements are a wealth of visual inspiration. “I really like the movie Beetlejuice and, when I thought of making this pumpkin, it immediately came to mind,” says Morgantown High School sophomore Darby Shaub . “What better to make a pumpkin into than a sandworm?” Shaub is a sophomore at Morgantown High School and an aspiring tattoo artist.
feel the force Try surrendering to the moment—you never know what will happen. “On the eve of Halloween, a creature channeled itself through me and into this pumpkin,” says Eli Pollard . Pollard is a visual artist, a musician with The Furr and ROLRGOSTR, and a short filmmaker / animator who runs education abroad programs overseas for WVU. Find designs from his business Mountain Nerds at Hoot and Howl and @mountain_nerds on Instagram, his visual art at @eli_pollard on Instagram, and his animation series at Green Garden Sessions on Facebook. His local public art can be seen on the trash cans of High Street, on the Faerie Trail at Mason Dixon Park, and soon at the Edith Barill River front Park in Star City. “I liked the idea of responding to the form of the existing pumpkin to create a character,” says mixed media sculptor Brittany Weekley . “When I looked at this particular pumpkin, this cute and spooky scare- crow is who I saw.” Weekley earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from WVU and is now pursuing a Master of Fine Arts in sculpture at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. See her best work at brittanyweekley.com and @brittanyweekley on Instagram.
go wild Combine techniques to bring multi- dimensional characters to life. Penelyn VanOrange carved some features and added a small gourd for for the nose, scraped the flesh thin to create contrast by day and flickering layers by night, and even pierced the eyes with chopsticks to hover them in place and suggest a mischievous mind. VanOrange is a lifelong artist working in a broad and eclectic range that includes designing and sewing puppets and crafting stained glass. She’s an active supporter of the arts downtown; she’s also co-owner of Appalachian Gallery on Walnut Street, and you can see a continually changing selection of her work there—visit wvcraft.com for details.
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