By Erin Cleavenger
For decades, the Morgantown Art Association has given local artists a place to share, display and sell their art.
Located in the Mountaineer Mall, the association’s gallery — run strictly by volunteers — displays an array of artwork every month created and for sale by association members and also houses a technologically advanced classroom for ongoing art classes and workshops.
“Our focus is education. We are trying to be an education center,” said Susan Witt, co-chair of gallery and exhibitions and longtime association member. “There is no place else in Morgantown like this, where you can come as a group and go to classes. I’ve been to classes all over the eastern United States and have never been to a facility that has the luxury of having what we have right now.”
The association uses its classroom, which is fully loaded with overhead TVs to closely watch instructors, to offer weekly classes led by members in a variety of fine arts from basket weaving to oils, acrylics, and watercolor, along with workshops presented by well-known instructors from across the country. Workshops are typically three- to four-day events available first to association members and then anyone else interested in attending.
Artwork at the gallery is typically displayed for a one- to two-month period, with one local artist featured monthly. Those interested in learning about or purchasing fine art are encouraged to visit the gallery for not only wall art but other artistries, such as pottery and jewelry.
“We have some phenomenal photographers. We have people who do printing. We are not just a paint and brush gallery,” Witt said. “We try to have a lot of different things going on.”
This year, the art association has partnered with the Morgantown Municipal Airport Authority and the City of Morgantown to put local art on display in the airport terminal.
Susan Dotson, co-chair of gallery and exhibitions, is overseeing the airport shows and realizes the opportunity this provides to local artists. Since July, the artwork of roughly 20 association members with around 50 individual pieces has been on display and for sale at the airport.
“It’s a lot of space. The airport is open from 5:30 a.m. to midnight, so there’s lots of time for people to come look and people who are traveling,” Dotson said. “I’ve gone to the airport several times and have seen TSA agents looking at the paintings and people who come to eat at the restaurant looking at them.”
Several paintings have also been sold to people just traveling through the airport.
Dotson said the association plans on doing four shows a year with the art displayed for three months at a time. The airport shows are open to members of the art association to display hanging wall art as well as sculpture, stand-alone and other visual arts.
Starting in October, the association will hold an all-member show at the airport that will be judged for cash prizes.
“The theme of the show is Autumn in West Virginia, with a special category prize for Balloons Over Morgantown and the best representation of that theme,” Dotson said.
All entries will be from local members of the art association.
“What we are trying to do is say, ‘Hey, art is for everyone,’ ” Witt said. “There is art everywhere.
“We are trying to open people’s vision of the world as a piece of art. You can afford original art.”
For more information on the Morgantown Art Association’s shows and membership, you can visit the gallery inside the Mountaineer Mall on Green Bag Road, call the gallery at 304-291-5900, or visit its website at www.morgantownartassociation.com. You can also follow the association on its Facebook page by seaching Morgantown Art Association and on Instagram at Morgantown Art.