Pro artists display talents at ‘The River’

PARKERSBURG – For bronze sculptor Randy Heavner, of Vienna, the opportunity to show one of his pieces in a show in Parkersburg was a special distinction for him.

Heavner, a local family practice physician, was one of 60 artists currently featured in “The River” exhibit at the Parkersburg Art Center.

The show, which opened Sunday during a well attended reception, showcases the work of professional artists from West Virginia and Ohio.

Heavner’s sculpture, a golf-themed piece entitled “Approach Shot,” is one of 108 pieces in the juried show which will be on display through Aug. 9 at the art center at the corner of Eighth and Market streets in downtown Parkersburg.

“It was a great honor,” Heavner said. “I am from here in Vienna.”

Heavner has only been doing sculpture work for two years.

“I have always had some interest in art,” he said.

Looking at different things he was considering for his office, his interest in doing sculpture work was peaked.

“I took a three-day workshop in Nashville three years ago,” Heavner said. “I have been learning on my own ever since.”

Each one of his pieces can take 100-120 hours to complete in order to get the detail he wants to accentuate. He has finished a total of eight pieces.

In addition to the piece being featured at the art center, he has three pieces on display at Tamarack in the Best of West Virginia Art Exhibit there, and two pieces at the Art Colony Gallery at the Greenbrier.

“It was an honor for me to have something here in a local exhibit,” Heavner said.

People will be able to see a variety of different art disciplines on display during “The River” exhibit, said Abby Hayhurst, director of the Parkersburg Art Center.

“The show is absolutely fabulous,” she said. “Everything here is good.”

Pieces include everything from photography to oil painting to pottery to wood-turning to collages to textiles to bronze sculpture and more.

“Everything you can think of is here,” Hayhurst said. “It was difficult to hang this exhibit because the pieces were so varied.

“There are so many good artists.”

Artists featured in the show come from places like Cleveland, Dayton, Columbus, Athens, Marietta and elsewhere in Ohio as well as Charleston, Huntington, Princeton, Vienna and elsewhere in West Virginia.

Jurors for the exhibit were Marilyn Hughey Phillis of St. Clairsville, Ohio, and Gary Pettigrew of Athens, Ohio.

Pictures of 198 pieces by 79 artists were submitted for consideration to be in the show.

“We don’t see any names,” said Pettigrew, an award-winning painter and retired art professor at Ohio University. “Everyone was identified by number.”

As jurors, Phillis and Pettigrew picked out the ones they knew would not go into the show immediately, then they went to the ones they definitely wanted to see in the show and then got it down to a number of pieces that could be accommodated by the gallery.

It was the ones that were “in-between” and “on the edge” that were the hardest to pick, Pettigrew said.

“That always means you throw out some that you really wanted in there,” he said.

Due to the quality of work, organizers split up prize allotments in order to honor more artists.

“There were so many that we thought were excellent and deserved acknowledgment,” Pettigrew said.

For people coming to the show, Hayhurst said they can expect to see many different styles of artwork.

“It would be a good show to bring a young person who is interested in art, because they can experience all of these different styles, many of which they probably have never seen before,” she said.

Cathy Wilkin, of Harpers Ferry, had three pieces in the show featuring collages of paper, paints and inks.

“If I see an image I like and I am drawn to it, I paint into them and then layer them,” she said. “My little details I like to get with ink pens.

“I layer many layers in gloss. Once I started building those layers, it just gets deeper and deeper.”

Wilkin is also honored to be included in such a show.

“It is awesome,” she said. “I am honored to be a part of this with the quality of the art on display and professional artists involved.

“I am thrilled.”