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Artistic efforts continue to grow in our area

The completion of a long-time public art display was celebrated Friday, and I hope all of our residents take time to visit it, enjoy it and possibly even learn from it.

The mosaic now located along one of the inside walls of Cove Commons was officially unveiled with a picnic-style reception at the public space. The artwork was designed by resident Elaine Klar, who led a revolving team of friends, family and community volunteers in carefully preparing and placing each piece of Homer Laughlin’s famous Fiestaware china into the design we now see.

This mosaic serves a dual purpose, being both a public piece of artwork which can help beautify our community, but also provides a history lesson for residents old and new.

In speaking with Elaine Friday, she noted how some of the youth who came to help with the project were not familiar with Holliday’s Cove. I’m sure there are many residents, whether they were born here or not, who are not all that familiar with Weirton’s history.

They may not necessarily know that the city as we know it today only began in 1947. There were other towns here before, including Holliday’s Cove, which grew out of the establishment of a small frontier fort and a farming community.

For those who might be interested to learn more, you can always visit the Weirton Area Museum and Cultural Center.

Elaine’s mosaic is just the latest of public art which has been springing up in and around Weirton in the last few years.

There are many pieces designed by Ken Sinsel, of New Cumberland, including in front of Overbrook Towers, at the Weirton Event Center and at Weir High outside the Carl R. Hamill Fieldhouse. These are all interesting pieces, made primarily of metal and thus also reflecting our area’s history.

You may have also noticed the horse sculpture now located by the “Weirton” sign at the city’s southern end where you turn onto Freedom Way.

This is the sculpture created last year, during the Gate 5 Festival, by a group of artists from Pittsburgh and incorporating pieces of scrap from the Weirton steel mill.

The festival itself showcases artistic expression, while celebrating our history. Many of last year’s vendors sold art pieces, sculptures, jewelry and more, all incorporating some bit of our area’s industrial past.

This is all a long time coming, but it definitely feels as if there has been a sudden explosion of artistic expression in the area.

For years, we had the annual Robert Haworth Memorial Art Exhibition, hosted by the museum. Anyone who has attended any of those shows understands the kind of talent that exists in our area. Whether you were taught by Haworth, have learned from any of the more recent art teachers at our schools, or perhaps were self-taught, there are numerous people out there who have picked up some artistic medium to express their thoughts.

Some of those artists have been selected to have their work put on display at the Summit Art Gallery, located just across from Cove Commons. A reception is actually scheduled for this Thursday night at the Summit gallery to showcase its latest exhibit of locally connected artists.

We must also remember there have been murals in Weirton, although some have since been destroyed. Steubenville made it into a tourism draw, but several of our communities have had these paintings on the exterior of our buildings.

Art has been a part of our area for many years. It simply now is making its way fully into the public eye instead of hanging in our homes or sitting in a sketchbook in a closet.

It should be celebrated and encouraged, and I’m glad to see that taking place.

(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at chowell@weirtondailytimes.com or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)

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