Wheeling-based artist Robert Villamagna works in mixed media. His exhibit will open Friday, Feb. 26 at the Colonial Theatre Gallery.

ART26201 to present exhibit by Robert Villamagna Feb. 26 at Colonial Theatre Gallery

BUCKHANNON — ART26201 will present an exhibition by Wheeling, West Virginia, mixed media artist Robert Villamagna on Friday, February 26, 2021, at the Colonial Theatre Gallery. There will be a special opening artist’s reception from 4 to 8 p.m., where Villamagna will speak about his body of work.

This fine art exhibition is free and open to the public. Keeping with current COVID-19 safety and social distancing protocols, ART26201 will be offering free masks at the event.

In addition to the opening event on February 26, the Colonial Theatre Gallery will be open February 27, from 4 to 8 p.m., and the following three weekends through March 20, on Fridays and Saturdays, from 4 to 8 p.m.

Significant financial assistance for the Colonial Theatre Rehabilitation project has been provided by the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History.

Artist Robert Villamagna works in repurposed lithographed metal, assemblage, and mixed-media. Villamagna’s work has been exhibited at the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Andy Warhol Museum, the Mattress Factory, Senator John Heinz History Center, Society for Contemporary Craft (Pittsburgh), ARC Gallery (Chicago), Penn State’s Robeson Gallery, Pittsburgh Center of the Arts, the Butler Museum of American Art, Society of Arts & Crafts (Boston), Erie Museum of Art, the Westmoreland Museum of American Art, the Ohio Craft Museum, Huntington Museum of Art, The Clay Center, Tamarack’s David L. Dickirson Fine Arts Gallery, and the West Virginia Culture Center.

“Taking Coal for a Walk” is one of Robert Villamagna’s works that will be on display at the Colonial Theatre Gallery starting February 26, 2021. / Photo courtesy ART26201

Six of Villamagna’s works are in the State of West Virginia Permanent Collection. In 2016, Villamagna was named West Virginia Artist of the Year.

“I create assemblages and metal collages, primarily using found objects, vintage photographs, and repurposed lithographed metal. This printed metal, or ‘tin,’ comes from deconstructed product containers, old signage, and vintage metal toys,” Villamagna said.

“I grew up in Appalachia, primarily the Ohio River rustbelt. From the time I was a preschooler, I have had a mark-making tool in my hand,” he continued. “However, the rustbelt, in general, is not a supportive environment for one who wishes to make art his life’s work. Growing up, almost every adult male in our neighborhood was a steel worker, miner, or similar blue-collar worker. I ended up working in the steel mill myself for thirteen years. The themes or narratives found in my work come from my own life experiences, as well as stories that the found objects or vintage photographs may suggest.

“I am very passionate about working with found materials, especially those items that show use, wear and rust. I love stuff with character. I often find myself wondering about the person who made these materials, who used them, who held them,” Villamagna added. “I like to think that a part or energy of that person is still contained in these things, and now it’s transferred into the artwork. I’m giving that discarded piece of metal, or that old object, a new life, a different life. I am thrilled that I can use this stuff and that it becomes a part of my creative process. These various materials are every bit as much of my palette as is a tray of oils are for a painter. For me, walking through a flea market is like walking through a well-stocked art materials store. The flea market is my palette.”

ART26201 is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to “celebrate and promote the creative and inspirational opportunities in the Buckhannon community.” For more information about ART26201 projects, and for ways to provide financial support, email info@ART26201.com or visit their website at www.ART26201.com.

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