After waiting for over six years, Morgantown art lovers flooded the halls of the WVU Art Museum Tuesday to see the university’s diverse collection of modernist and contemporary art.
Robert Bridges, the museum’s chief curator says the WVU Arts Museum is the only art museum between Charleston and Pittsburgh as well as Cleveland and Washington D.C.
“Our job, I feel, is to bring art from the outside areas in here to give not only our students but the people of West Virginia a chance to see what’s happening in the greater art world," says Bridges.
The exhibit is called Visual Conversations – Looking and Listening and it showcases artworks WVU has been collecting since the 1930’s. Over the years some of the works have been temporarily displayed at Stewart Hall, but for many of them, they are being seen by the public for the first time. The collection houses Appalachian, American and even international works.
“With this exhibition, we have paired up some of these artists so you see an artist that was working in the region along with artists that were more nationally known," says Bridges
The museum’s pride and joy is the exhibition of the West Virginia artist, Blanche Lazzell. Born and raised in Monongalia County and a WVU alumna, many of Lazzell’s modernist works showcase West Virginia’s physical and social landscape. One of her most visually striking pieces is her untitled mural of Monongalia County that was painted in 1934 for the courthouse.
“The colors are just so vibrant and with the placement on the back of the gallery wall, people come in to the large gallery, they can see it and walk towards the space," says Bridges.
After spending much of its life in storage, Lazzell’s mural is finally back on display.
Joyce Ice is the director of the WVU Art Museum and she says its opening isn’t just significant for the university but also for the state, “adding to the cultural vitality that makes Morgantown one of the best small cities in America while contributing to its wellbeing and that of our region and our state.
In an effort to make art more accessible, the museum is free and open to the public five days a week.