It is an event that represents a chance for enthusiasts of the local arts scene to gain an insider perspective of a dozen Wheeling area artists.
On April 29, 12 different painters, writers, jewelry crafters, potters, and printmakers will open their doors to those wishing to visit with artists like Bob Villamagna and Marc Harshman, the Poet Laureate of the state of West Virginia.
“Originally, it was Bob’s idea because he noticed such tours in other areas where he exhibits,” explained Cheryl Ryan Harshman, one of several members of the Wheeling Arts and Cultural Commission. “The most recent one he experienced took place in the Lawrenceville area of Pittsburgh, so he brought the idea to the commission, and everyone really liked the idea.
“And we’re very lucky that so many of our local artists have agreed to allow the people who are buying tickets to visit them where they do the bulk of their creating,” she continued. “And the people who choose to visit with us here at our home will have the chance to see where two artists do their work, and the same opportunity will be available with Jeff and Lynn Mamone in Martins Ferry.”
The complete list of artists follows:
- Jennifer Hastings-Schunn – Fiber & more
- Stephanie Wilson – Jewelry and Stained Glass
- Greg Sgroi – Woodworking
- Jeff & Lynn Mamone – Fiber, Painting, & Mixed Media
- Martyna Matusiak – Printmaking
- Lambros Tsuhlares –Pottery
- Betsy Cox – Pottery
- Sandi Ziolkowski – Jewelry & Pottery
- Janet Hart – Painting
- Robert Villamagna — Assemblage, Mixed Media
- Marc Harshman – Writer
- Cheryl Ryan Harshman – Painting & Printmaking
The inaugural Greater Wheeling Artists Studio Tour is a ticketed event that will be a self-directed driving tour complete with a map and directions showing the locations of the dozen open studios. The tour runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The tour tickets can be purchased for $10 at the following “arts hot spot” locations:
- Stifel Fine Arts Center
- Later Alligator
- Wheeling Artisan Center
- ArtWorks Around Town
- Cat’s Paw
“The arts are playing a big role with what is taking place in the Wheeling area right now, and that’s because the people in this community get it,” Harshman explained. “For the first time the arts community in the Wheeling area doesn’t just include the artists themselves, but also those who are enjoying the creativity and just want to be very supportive.
“This event is not a fundraiser because it’s only $10 per ticket, and those dollars are only for the incidentals and things like that,” she said. “But the tour will be a chance to explore the studios of working area artists to learn about their processes. You’ll be able to watch them create, and that may just inspire you to make something yourself. You’ll also have the chance to buy something beautiful directly from the artist and begin your own art collection.”
Since its creation in 2009, the mission of the Wheeling Arts & Cultural Commission has been to promote and develop artistic and cultural activities and initiatives that stimulate economic development and advance the quality of life and vibrancy of the greater Wheeling area. One example of that goal being accomplished has been the project involving the parking meters that surround the two market houses at Centre Market.
The commission possesses several different committees that concentrate on the visual arts, performance arts, literature/history, and marketing/development.
“And if someone has a new idea they are more than welcome to attend one of our meetings and explain it,” Harshman said. “That’s how the annual Arts and Cultural Fest began several years ago, and that event is now a two-day festival thanks to the partnership we formed with the Wheeling YWCA.
“Our meetings take place the second Tuesday of each month in the City Manager’s Conference Room on the third floor of the City-County Building on Chapline Street,” she said. “And all are welcome to attend because you really never know where the next best idea will come from.”
For more information about the inaugural Greater Wheeling Artists Studio Tour, visit the Facebook page, or call Bob Villamagna at 304-639-0957 or Harshman at 304-280-3030.
“We’re not sure at this point how many people will buy the tickets and participate, but I know all of the participating artists are very much looking forward to it,” Harshman said. “And I can tell you anyone choosing to visit with my husband, Marc, will immediately be amazed with the number of books he’s collected through the years. They are everywhere you look.
“These types of tours are very successful in the community where they take place, and I believe the Wheeling arts community is ready for this because it’s such a unique opportunity,” she added. “I am hopeful this is something we’ll be doing each year because of its popularity.”
(Photos provided by Cheryl Ryan Harshman)