Crosscurrents Exhibit Showcases Regional Artistic Talent

A staple of Oglebay Institute’s art exhibition season, Crosscurrents is now open at OI’s Stifel Fine Arts Center. Now in its 40th year, this annual exhibition attracts some of the finest artwork from the tri-state region.

The multi-media exhibition features more than 80 pieces from dozens of artists and can be viewed free of charge through June 28.

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 2019 are: Thomas Wharton of Wheeling, Best of Show, for his oil painting “Recognition”; Robert Villamagna of Wheeling, second place, for his mixed-media piece “Hard and Soft Coal”; and Sandy Miller of Painesville, Ohio, third place, for her ceramic work “Tall Porcelain Canister.” Artist Christine Rhodes of Parkersburg, West Virginia received an honorable mention ribbon for her acrylic painting “Under Pressure.”

Thomas Wharton of Wheeling received Best of Show for his oil painting “Recognition.”

Oglebay Institute director of exhibitions Michael McKowen curated the exhibit, and artist Frederick H. Carlson served as juror.

Carlson has been a self-employed freelancer for 38 years and is one of the most well-known artists/illustrators in the mid-Atlantic market. His awards include two acceptances into the New York Society of Illustrators Annual Exhibition. In 2017, he was the first recipient of a certificate for achievement from the Pittsburgh Society of Illustrators board of directors for 20 years of service. Recently, he has received nationally recognized assignments including a DVD cover series of famous delta blues guitarists. Carlson also runs a retail poster business of his images, which has attracted buyers and commissions from the United States, France, Australia and the Netherlands.

Carlson said he was impressed with the volume and quality of entries. “I discovered tiny gems located in mysterious places and giant statements of physical weight demanding attention face-to-face,” he said in his juror’s statement.

He encouraged everyone who entered Crosscurrents to keep making art and praised the artists’ visions. “The artists’ visions were all on eternal truths. Focused, not distracted. This is very positive. This is living your art.”

Subscribe to Weelunk
Robert Villamagna of Wheeling won second place for his mixed-media piece “Hard and Soft Coal.”

McKowen said curating the annual Crosscurrents exhibition is one of his favorite experiences each year.

Sandy Miller of Painesville, Ohio, won third place for her ceramic work “Tall Porcelain Canister.”

“I love the history of the show and its relationship to the region. The Crosscurrents exhibition, as its name suggests, is a place where various artists working across all mediums gather to share their differing thoughts, beliefs and experiences,” he commented.

“Each year, the Stifel Fine Arts Center welcomes new artists to the show while embracing artists that have been a part of the show since its inception.”

This year’s show is dedicated to the memory of artist and educator Bernie Peace. Peace, a professor emeritus at West Liberty University, accomplished artist and longtime Crosscurrents exhibitor, passed away in January.

Crosscurrents 2019, 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. on Saturdays through June 28. Evening hours are dependent on classes and special events. Many of the works on display can be purchased. Call 304-242-7700 for more information.

Part of the Helen B. Gaither Exhibition Season, Crosscurrents 2019 was also 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, Thomas Wharton (Best in Show), Robert Villamagna (second place), Fred Carlson (juror), Michael McKowen (Oglebay Institute director of exhibitions).