Editor’s note: Anne Hazlett Foreman — as humble as she is talented — mentions in her story below an Artworks Around Town member who “came forward” with “a list of ideas to upgrade” Artworks. She failed to mention that it was she who came up with the ideas!
After occupying a place for 15 years, one day it occurs to you that it’s time to move the furniture around and paint the walls. It happened at Artworks last September.
We had been in the historic north building of the Centre Market complex for most of the years of our existence without significantly changing the look of the space. During our first decade, we installed a small kitchen, two store rooms and updated the main desk area.
In September, a member came forward with “food for thought,” which was a list of ideas to upgrade and freshen up the areas we had inhabited happily for many years. The board assigned a committee to study the proposed changes. The group met every week for about a month and came up with a streamlined plan to present to the board. Approval came quickly and unanimously, and the “game was afoot” — to borrow from Sherlock Holmes.
Priorities were enumerated, and members were recruited for various tasks, which included heavy lifting, carpentry, painting and just plain old moral support. Jeff Mamone’s floor plan was a work in progress as committee members carefully studied various ways to reconfigure our space. The guest space, known as the Studio Gallery, was moved to the north end. The student space was expanded and assigned to the opposite side of the north end. Member artists will fill in the former guest space.
Paint chips were carefully studied for the best color to enhance everyone’s artwork. After much discussion, the committee chose a beautiful gray tone with hints of sage. All the background panels were painted in this tone, and every kind of artwork seems to benefit by this color change. The tri-fold panels that peppered one whole side of the gallery are gone, as are the panels mounted on the columns running down the center of the building.
The result is a stunning open feeling.
The median age of the work group, (totally in-house, by the way) is 70. Our goals from the beginning were to spend as little money as possible and do all the work ourselves.
We accomplished both things but not without many breaks in the action, circling our chairs, eating cookies, drinking coffee and commenting on how we hadn’t been that stiff and sore for years. Throughout the four-week project, members came and went as schedules permitted, most spending three to five hours at a time.
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Ken Cox was in charge of the overall project. His carpentry crew included Mike Turbanic, Larry Travis, Jeff Mamone and Eric Dye. In the beginning, I’m sure he felt as though he were herding cats but, in time, everyone knew his job and did it well. Tearing down old pegboard tri-fold panels was the first step in a well-orchestrated process that started in the north end and moved toward the south end.
Stationary walls were erected in well-planned spots to accommodate the work of artists who were displaced from the free-standing panels. Priming and painting came next and was successfully done by almost all the other members of the Artworks community. All were impressed with the quality of the paint saying that if it stayed on the walls as well as it did on them, it would be a good thing.
If a successful venture is defined by no trips to the ER because of severed fingers, no heart attacks, no fist fights … we made it! President Howard Gamble (a fantastic trim painter, btw) was thankful for the participation from the group as was Ken Cox. Jeff Mamone added that the comments he had heard from visitors were very favorable.
We’re not completely finished. There is some “fluffing up of the throw pillows” to be done, floors to be cleaned and general cleanup chores, but all in all, in less than a month, much has been accomplished.
May 3 will usher in the first Gallery Hop after the renovation. Using the jargon of current HGTV shows, the “reveal” will take place on this first Friday with a free reception from 5:30-8 p.m.
Bob Dombroski from St, Clairsville will be featured as guest artist in the newly designated space. We appreciate all those members who have helped with the new look as well as our guests, some treasured regulars and some who were simply on their way to Coleman’s fish market. Thank you for coming in and thank you for forgiving our mess!
• Anne Hazlett Foreman, an award-winning artist, has been a member of Artworks Around Town for 20 years, having been on the board for the first four years. She also has served as chairman of the Oglebay Institute Mansion Museum Committee; served two terms and was vice president of the West Virginia Independence Hall Foundation; served on the Oglebay Institute Board of Directors, the board of Fort Henry Days and the Wheeling Hall of Fame board; and is a member of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution. Foreman is a graduate of Mount de Chantal Visitation Academy and attended Wheeling College and Chatham College. She is married to Robert Noel Foreman, and they have six children and several grandchildren.