West Virginia University’s new Art Museum is still a couple years away from completion, but some of the dazzling works that will be housed there will be on display starting Tuesday, Feb. 23 at the West Virginia Culture Center.
Citizens from the region can get a first glimpse of the art Tuesday evening at a program called PreView: The Art Museum of West Virginia University, Selections from the Collection. The art preview will follow a reception for WVU First Lady Beth Clements. WVU alumni and friends of the University have been invited. The exhibit will remain on display at the Center this spring.
Guests at the event will be entertained by a WVU Steel Drum ensemble. Also, Dr. John Cuthbert, manuscripts bibliographer director and curator of the West Virginia and Regional History Collection and Special Collections at WVU, will present a copy of the WVU Land Grant charter to the West Virginia State Museum.
“It’s an honor for the Division of Culture and History to host this exhibit from the West Virginia University art collection and to have First Lady Beth Clements open the exhibit,” said Randall Reid-Smith commissioner of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History. “With the upcoming opening of the university’s Art Museum, this is a great opportunity for us to collaborate and connect with a new major art museum in northern West Virginia.”
PreView presents around 50 highlights – mostly paintings, prints and drawings—from the University’s holdings of more than 2,500 works of art. This exhibition represents only a small selection from one of the finest art collections in the region, one that spans many cultures, time periods, and styles. The heart of the collection is a diverse group of 19th and 20th century paintings, prints, and drawings, including works by Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, and Roy Lichtenstein, as well as by leading West Virginia artists James Edward Davis, William Robinson Leigh, David Hunter Strother, Grace Martin Taylor, and American Modernist Blanche Lazzell.
Curator Bob Bridges said nearly half the sampling is from native artists and many of the pieces have been donated by Charleston alumni.
“What I noticed about the work when I was sorting through it and grouping pieces is that the West Virginia artists really stand up to the more nationally- and internationally-known artists,” Bridges said. “You can see the connections and influences of styles and techniques are there but these artists have put their own personal stamp on their work.”
WVU’s collection has been developed over the past 40 years through private gifts, alumni donations and special acquisitions. Generous donors have made major contributions to the collection that will enrich the cultural life of West Virginia for many generations to come.
WVU’s new Art Museum, scheduled to open in 2012, will preserve the artistic heritage represented by this important collection, and make it more accessible through exhibitions and educational programs for the University and the public.
Joyce Ice, director of the Art Museum, said the partnership with the Culture Center will give wide exposure to beautiful and thought-provoking works of art to individuals in the Kanawha County region who might not otherwise see them.
“We’re hoping that a wide cross section of people will be able to see this collection, from school-age kids on tours to families and individuals. Art elicits individual responses but also helps us form connections and relationships with others. People can enjoy art on many levels—it’s stimulating on both a sensory and intellectual level. People look at art and it evokes stories, and their own meanings or interpretations of the work or comments about the experience of the artist. That’s the power of art.”
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Deputy Commissioner, WV Division of Culture and History
304-293-4841, ext. 3210