‘Exhibit 60’ celebrates six decades

MORGANTOWN — Step back from this story, just for the moment, and type “quotes about art” in the search field of whatever Internet browser you’re using.

It’s OK. We’ll wait.

This won’t take long.

See? Told you.

Some heavy hitters in there.

Pablo Picasso: “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”

Edgar Degas: “Painting is easy when you don’t know how, but very difficult when you do.”

Thomas Merton: “Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”

Bob Ross: “We don’t make mistakes. Just happy little accidents.”

If you were at the annual “Exhibit 60” juried art show the afternoon of April 15, you saw artistic evidence of all the above.

The quotes were swirled in the watercolors, acrylics, prints, photographs and other mixed-media works up for judging.

Sunday’s was the 60th, in fact, for “Exhibit 60,” which has been around as long as its host, the Morgantown Art Association.

The association was founded in 1958, when ads for art schools were still printed on matchbook covers.

The idea then was to offer art classes in the evening for high school seniors, and local churches and other businesses soon began displaying their work.

Patrons and participants kept the artistic endeavor going.

Those initial classes were held in a different school every week in the Morgantown area.

After that, more permanent digs were secured, in commercial buildings and private homes. In 2004, the association moved to its current home and gallery, in Morgantown Mall.

Sunday’s show also included the debut of the association’s newly renovated instruction space, so the practice of art can keep going.

Classes are offered there for artists of all levels, from those dabbling to water colors to others wishing to learn the intricacies of stained glass.

If you’re interested in signing up, you may call 304-291-5900, or visit online at morgantownartassocia tion.com.

On Sunday, meanwhile, ribbons and cash awards were handed out — but it wasn’t so much about the competition as it was the community.

Steve Pavlovic, a retired art educator who judged the event, spent three hours the day before going over the entries.

His was almost a Picasso-like deconstruction of the old line, “I don’t know much about art, but I know what I like.”

That’s because Pavlovic does know about art.

He based his judging, though, just as much on the emotion he was feeling when regarded the work, as the technique that went into it.

“You would have made my job a lot easier if you had actually given me some bad art to judge,” the professor emeritus said, while the artists laughed appreciatively.

Fred Baehr was smiling and enjoying himself at the show, but the work he presented was deadly serious.

It depicted a black man in an open casket, presumably murdered, with iconic representations of good and evil gathered on either side.

Baehr is a Chicago native who was active in several community causes in his hometown. He still draws on the urban angst of gangs and drug activity for his art.

He relocated to Morgantown in 1990. His mother moved back years before to care for relatives.

Ms. Baehr was persuasive, her son said, grinning. She talked to his muse, first, about the possibility of a move to the mountains.

“She said I could set up a studio in her basement.”

Previous ArticleNext Article