Artwork comes in many forms and can be on a variety of canvasses. A new display of vinyl artwork called “What We Share” can be found on the street-facing windows of buildings in downtown Buckhannon, and it’s starting a conversation within the community.
“I think it’s so important to put as much public art into our community as possible and to involve the community in that process and have the art reflect our unique place,” said local artist Ellen Mueller.
The city of Buckhannon is known for its displays of public art. In the last few years, community members have helped to “paint the town” – funding and installing numerous murals throughout downtown. So Mueller has created a way to make her mark on the city.
“Recently, we’ve had a lot of negativity in the news and on the political cycle and I thought it would be great to focus on things that we share as a community,” said Mueller.
Mueller, who works as the chair of the art department at West Virginia Wesleyan College, found the the subjects for her work all around campus and beyond.
“We’ve got things like our beautiful bike paths, walking paths, trees, flowers…the natural beauty that surrounds the area. Things we can focus on and appreciate together,” said Mueller.
So Mueller set out to find the perfect canvases and locations.
“I started out by walking around the community. I popped my head into the various businesses and asked if they might be interested in participating. I had a lot of really positive response,” said Mueller.
So if you’re walking down Main Street and aren’t exactly sure what you’re looking for, there’s a map for that! Mueller designed these guides to show where each piece of artwork is located. She’s set up shop at Festival Fridays to distribute those maps.
“There’s one here at the Visitor’s Center, there’s one at the Chase Bank. There’s one at the Stockart Youth Center, Lockwood Law Offices…” said Mueller. “I love the idea of participatory art, so the idea of having to go seek it out, turn it into a little bit of a fun game, so it involves a lot more people who may not otherwise go to a gallery.”
“It’s really neat because whether or not you live in Buckhannon, or you’re just visiting our town, whenever you see something that beautifies our town, something that unexpected, it just adds another element to what we’re trying to do here and really leaves an impression with people,” said Laura Meadows, executive director of the Upshur County Convention and Visitors Bureau
The downtown businesses seem to agree.
“The person who owns and runs the Dairy Queen asked if she could have another one on her window, so that was a really cool reaction to have,” said Mueller.
Although the exhibit is temporary, Mueller hopes to contribute more art to downtown Buckhannon in the future and may even enlist the help of her students.
“It’s such an important skill to have, to be able to reach out to your community and to make art available to as wide of an audience as possible,” said Mueller.
The artwork will be on display until August 19th.