‘Crosscurrents’ Showcases Regional Artistic Talent

A staple of Oglebay Institute’s art exhibition season, Crosscurrents is now open at OI’s Stifel Fine Arts Center. For more than 30 years, this annual exhibition has attracted some of the finest artwork from the tri-state region.

The multi-media exhibition features 65 pieces from dozens of artists and can be viewed free of charge through Aug. 18.

Each year artists, who reside within an 80-mile radius of Wheeling or throughout the state of West Virginia, submit hundreds of works and vie for a chance to exhibit in this show. A guest juror chooses the works for the exhibit, and cash prizes are awarded to winning artists.

Winners for Crosscurrents 2018 are: Thomas Wharton of Wheeling, Best of Show, for his painting “Adam”; Leslie Drake of Morgantown, second place, for her painting “Geodes”; and Jonathan Walsh of St. Vienna, W.Va., third place, for his sculpture “Bleeding Appalachia.”

Leslie Drake of Morgantown with “Geodes”

Two artists received honorable mention ribbons for this year’s exhibition: Robert Villamagna of Wheeling for his mixed-media piece, “Space Girl”; and Rachel Grace Goodman of St. Clairsville for her drawing, “Palm Crazy.”

Robert Villamagna with “Space Girl” and Rachel Goodman with “Palm Crazy”

Oglebay Institute director of exhibitions Michael McKowen curated the exhibit, and Alison Helm, director of the School of Art and Design in the College of Creative Arts at West Virginia University, served as juror.

An award-winning artist, Helm has exhibited her work extensively at many galleries, museums and sculpture parks throughout the U.S., Japan, Taiwan and Mexico. She has completed numerous sculpture commissions, including “Splendor of the Seas” for the deck of one of the largest cruise ships in the world owned by Caribbean Cruise Lines, two commissions for the Clarksburg Veterans Memorial Hospital and a commission for the Civic Center in Charleston. Her work is represented in numerous private and public collections.

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Helm said it was an honor to serve as juror and shows like Crosscurrents “serve regional artists by exposing them to a broader public, as well as encouraging private and public patronage. This is a crucial element in the Stifel Fine Art Center’s mission.”

When making her final selections, Helm based her decisions on her perception of an artist’s ability to successfully communicate ideas, materials and meaning in to a cohesive statement.

“I looked at how well the artist was able to communicate their personal vision regardless of materials used. I review everything with an open mind, but I like to be surprised by fresh new ideas. These creative works reflect today’s multiple aesthetic and cross-section of contemporary trends. The artist plays a significant role in defining our culture and is a reflection of it,” she said.

Crosscurrents 2018, which is sponsored by United Bank, can be seen free of charge from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays through Aug. 18. Evening hours are dependent on classes and special events. Call 304-242-7700 for more information. Many of the works on display can be purchased.

Located at 1330 National Road in Wheeling, Oglebay Institute’s Stifel Fine Arts Center is located just off exit 2B of Interstate 70. Also a teaching facility, the Stifel welcomes students of all ages to its ongoing classes in art, crafts, dance, fitness and more.

Part of the Helen B. Gaither Exhibition Season, Crosscurrents 2018 also was made possible through the generous support of the members of the Institute as well as with financial assistance from the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History, and the National Endowment for the Arts, with approval from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts.

From left: Stifel Fine Arts Center director Rick Morgan, director of exhibitions Michael McKowen, best of show winner Thomas Wharton, second place winner Leslie Drake, honorable mention Rachel Grace Goodman, honorable mention Robert Villamagna, Oglebay Institute president Danielle McCracken