Parkersburg Art Center Opens Three New Galleries

Three new exhibits by three artists opened Sunday afternoon at the Parkersburg Art Center, featuring “Thematic Portraits” by Peter Green, “Creating Out Loud” by Virginia Killian, and “Trying to be With You” by Ben Stout.

In the Mezzanine Gallery was the work of Peter Green. Originally from Marietta, OH, Green is back in the area after completing his MFA thesis in Illustration at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco.

“His specialty is beautifully detailed, narrative portraits. At first glance, these portraits are almost too perfect, but one soon sees the humanity behind the skill.  He has posed his three models in a manner that suggests a backstory….an Indian warrior, a Russian spy, a mysterious young woman in a crimson veil. Each encourages the viewer to think about what happened right before and what will happen right after the artist has captured this moment; which is of course the key to a narrative work of art,” Art Center Director, Abby Hayhurst described.

Green’s interest in art began in high school with what he described as street art, he began his education with graphic design at Cleveland State University, but then began taking studio art classes where he began to draw.

It wasn’t until his move to the academy in San Francisco that Green even began oil painting, “I was doing this mixed media stuff in Cleveland, a lot of surrealism, a lot of Salvador Dali style work, acrylic paint, pastels, drawings, all together on canvas. When I got to the academy I just assumed I would be able to do that there, but they were like ‘no, we don’t do that here, you’ve gotta start oil painting’ so I just kind of did it. The learning curve was really tough, learning how to handle the oil paint, which is different than everything I had been doing. Once you start doing this, you kind of become obsessed with it. I’ve been in my studio basically the last two years with my door shut.”

“We’re all influenced by our environments,” Green said describing the difference between working in Ohio and San Francisco, “If I was here I think I would do more landscapes. San Francisco has a lot of nice landscapes and scenery too, but, I don’t have a car, I’m in the city, I’m in my studio. The pace here is more slowed down, it’s more peaceful, I can go out and kind of take everything in.”

“I still love graphic design, I still love skate art, in my notebook I always sketch like little logos and drawings, but this is what I’m going to continue to pursue, portraits and teaching. To make it as an artist I feel that it’s a combination, you’ve gotta teach a little, you’ve gotta show your work in a gallery and maybe your work will sell, maybe not, so that’s not a steady source of income, so you gotta teach, you gotta do something as a steady source of income.”

Green will be teaching a four-week course in figurative art at the Art Center beginning February 9th. The course is for beginners all the way through advanced, 18 and older, and will be working with a live model.

(Artist Pete Green speaks with Art Center patrons.)

The Main Gallery of Art Center featured the ceramic and mixed media works of Ben Stout. Originally from Michigan, he earned his BFA in ceramics at the Kansas City Art Institute, but it wasn’t until he transferred to Ohio University for his master’s degree that he began his current style of work, which Hayhurst describes as, “sparsely elegant and thought-provoking.”

Working in unusual environments, such as highway bypasses and transit sites, Stout describes them as the “municipal experience” located between an environment and the individual’s experience.

“The work is made at those sites, and then removed to show in galleries. I go there to work and I really conceive of those sites as a mold, the same way a slip caster fills a mold, and then that filling gets removed and the item that comes out of that is a registration of that shape. Most of the work in this show is like that.”

Hayhurst describes one of Stouts unique concepts, “One of his most striking works, made entirely out of masking tape, is a 20+ foot long curtain. The tape is woven and pressed against the walls of the old Moonville railroad tunnel in Vinton County, Ohio.  The tape picked up fragments of moss, graffiti, pebbles, tiny atoms of this historic location, preserved in what is quite reminiscent of parchment.”

Ben is currently a Fountainhead Fellow and lecturer in sculpture at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.

(Artist Ben Stout explains his concepts.)

The works of retired Wood County art teacher, Virginia “Ginny” Killian, more than filled the expansive Esbenshade Gallery. A variety of media was used to create works ranging from portraits to abstracts.

Killian says she takes a light hearted approach to art and hopes when people look at her work they have a smile on their face, however, she paints life events and doesn’t always realize what she has painted until it is complete. Sometimes it is not always happy.

“I did this seascape, because my brother wanted to do this piece with me where he would build a giant albatross, like it was flying out from a stormy sea. But he had a stroke and was never able to build the albatross and what’s left is just the seascape. So it’s sad, unlike most of my paintings.”

Hayhurst joked that she enjoys teasing Killian for her “take no prisoners” approach to color and hoped that the overall effect of walking into her gallery will be like, “falling into a huge, comfy, crazy quilt.”

“I think it was Andy Warhol who said the worst thing about becoming famous is that now you have to paint the same thing over and over.  Since I paint for myself and am far from famous, I have the luxury to follow no style and to continually experiment with new materials and new ideas,” Killian said.

Speaking on her experience as a teacher, Killian said she looked to become an artist first but soon discovered a knack for teaching, “I taught art and first grade for about 35 years, and taught art for the last 12 years. I still teach classes in my studio and at Riverside Arts Gallery."

Hayhurst said Killian’s classes at the center are always very popular, that her students respond to her brio and willingness to try anything.

According to Killian she has been an artist forever. Since she was a little girl, she was the artist and when beginning her teaching career she discovered she had an affinity for teaching younger children, “The main thing when I taught art, was to get them to love it and realize their creative potential. I didn’t care what they did, I just wanted them to love what they were doing.”

(Galleries will be displayed at the Art Center from February 3 through March 10, 2013)

(Artist Virginia Killian poses next to her seascape.)

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