Artists near and far ‘Spring into Art’ at juried show on Main Street

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Brenda Pinnell of HepCatz Design from Charleston discusses how her eclectic pen-and-ink kitty drawings came to be.

BUCKHANNON – Multi-medium artist Merideth Young should really be a jeweler.

After all, she has a bachelor’s degree in metalsmithing in jewelry.

But instead, when you stop by her booth at Artistry on Main’s Spring into Art show – which wraps up at 5 p.m. today, Saturday – you see a collection of colorful, carved tiles that come to life with oil pastel painting.

Merideth Young displays an example of what patrons can create.

Some say “dream, love and hope” and others encourage you to “bloom where you’re planted.”

Young, a lifelong artist who previously made jewelry out of upcycled aluminum cans, now specializes in unique wall art.

“The reason why I did this, honestly … is the world is so polarized right now,” the Lewisburg native said Friday night during Spring into Art’s opening reception from 5-8 p.m. “It is awful, awful, between politics, religion, you know name it, [you can bring up anything], and someone is going to argue with you.

“But when you stop and you look at my booth, you literally pause and you read in your head ‘inspire, hope, joy, love, dream, celebrate, grow, wise’ so I am literally changing people’s mental states for a whopping 30 seconds, but it still stops whatever is going on, good, bad or indifferent, and you pause and you read.”

Young’s favorite tile depicts a bumblebee with the word “humble” beneath it” – the message being to “be humble.”

“I think we all could try to do that,” she said.

What’s unique about Young’s creations is that they’re interactive. Art show patrons can actually create their own, one-of-a-kind artistic message by connecting the eye-catching tiles.

“I wanted to do something that was interactive, so instead of it just being like a piece of art that was going to match your couch, you can pick and choose,” she said. “Someone can create their own little story using words or imagery. Each one’s unique instead of it being like everybody else’s.”

Artistry on Main is hosting its Spring Into Art show at the Opera House on Main Street for the first time ever this year, and dozens of West Virginia artists specializing in jewelry, woodcraft, pottery, photography, fiber art, fine art and more have their wares on display.

Young, who got word of the show through one of her best friends, Christine Keller, of Chrizart said her fellow artists have become like family, especially Keller, who she met in C.J. Maggie’s Restaurant in 2013.

“We do a lot of shows together, so when we’re in my neck of the woods, she stays with me,” she said. “When we’re in her neck of the woods, I stay with her. I met her through the Tamarack Foundation.

“Now, I’ve met all these people over the years, and it turns into a family, even though I’m not part of Artistry on Main only because I live too far away. You get to see your family, and this is the first show of the season so it’s like, ‘Yeah, I get to see you!’”

Brenda Pinnell, a longtime graphic designer who markets eclectic pen-and-ink sketches of cats, actually launched her line, HepCatz Design, after she became sober and began drawing during Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

“I don’t always draw cats,” said Pinnell, who, on Friday, was sporting cat ears while surround by pictures of cats engaging in various antics and adventures. “I am an alcoholic, and when I first got sober, I started taking notebooks like this to meetings because I’m not very good at sitting still. So, every meeting I went to, I would draw a drawing, and I would work the number of days I was sober into the drawing.”

“This one has a 75,” she said, motioning to one picture. “That’s how I started, then I got into Tamarack.”

Although Pinnell has seven cats and describes herself as “cat ladyish,” cats aren’t all she draws; they’re just what she markets.

“They aren’t the only thing I draw. They’re the only thing I market because some of my stuff is weird. They’re monsters and other stuff,” she said.

Most of the completed pieces – at least the black-and-white basics – were drawn in less than 60 minutes, she said.

“Most of them are done in under an hour because AA meetings only last an hour,” she said. Later, Pinnell fills out the drawings with dyes and inks that make the sometimes endearing, sometimes cantankerous cats come to life.

Today is the last day of the Spring into Art show, so pop on down to the Buckhannon Opera House prior to 5 p.m.