BUCKHANNON – On July 16, the M.I.B. Gallery at the Colonial Arts Center unearthed its newest exhibit, “Buried Barriers” by painter Evan Boggess.
A native West Virginian, Boggess’s collection, presented by ART26201, will be on display each Friday and Saturday from 4 to 8 p.m. through Aug. 7.
Boggess’s paintings draw heavily from the people, cultures and geographic features of the region and he maintains a home studio in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia, where he resides with his wife, Kayla, and two children. His work has been widely shown and more recent exhibitions include Taos, New Mexico; Miami, Florida; Baltimore, Maryland; Chicago, Illinois; Arlington, Virginia; Asheville, North Carolina; Cincinnati, Ohio; Raleigh, North Carolina; Scranton, Pennsylvania; and throughout West Virginia.
He is currently the director at Phaze 2 Gallery at Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, where he is a full-time lecturer for the Department of Contemporary Art and Theater.
Boggess was on hand for the exhibition’s opening last Friday. He said when visitors to the M.I.B. Gallery at the Colonial Arts Center view his paintings, he wants them to know his work is “intentionally specific and vague at the same time.”
“This opens each piece up to a lot of different interpretations,” Boggess said Friday during the artist’s reception. “Probably, some of the interpretations that viewers arrive at are much more interesting than what I have considered. I am not a good storyteller – but I am good a posing a question, and that is what I see as my function.”
Boggess said he has ideas about where the works come from, adding, “but it is so anecdotal that I would not ever expect anyone to get all of that.”
The way he arrives at his final creation is by sifting through a story or experience and pulling out some of the visual information.
“I kind of smash all that together in a way that I think forms an interesting image,” Boggess said. “I do not worry if there is a tangible, recognizable thing that happens.”
Boggess said in his “Buried Barriers” exhibit, some of the paintings differ.
“Especially with these three paintings … the message is a little bit different,” Boggess said. “They were all painted during COVID, and these are of nurses who took selfies after really brutal shifts. I got permission to use their images and I obscured them in some way – put a visual barrier on top or beside them. The one on the end is my wife waiting for an ultrasound of our second child.”
He said whatever conclusion visitors come to when viewing his work, know that conclusion is correct.
“Whatever they arrive at is a good interpretation. I tried to set the stage – they are not completely free form – but I am shaping the perimeter for them to draw their own conclusions,” Boggess said.
Carrie Perry, with ART26201, said the decision to ask Boggess to display his art at the Colonial Arts Center’s M.I.B. Gallery was made when the organization encountered some of his work.
“He is from Shepherdstown, West Virginia and he is a multi-media painter, and his work is just fabulous,” Perry said. “We are just glad to bring another exhibit to Buckhannon. We try to keep it mixed up, and I do not think most people have ever seen something like this before. We are just happy to bring another exhibit to the community. Every time we do one, it just keeps [increasing] involvement. People are coming out to see the exhibit, and that is great and what we want.”
Perry said she wanted to remind everyone the “Buried Barriers” display is free and open to the public.
“We will be open Fridays and Saturdays from 4 to 8 p.m. through Saturday, August. 7, 2021,” Perry said. “Come and enjoy!”
Sarah Campbell and her niece Teagan Eddy, from Middlebourne, came out to see Boggess’s work Friday evening. Campbell said they have been checking out art all over the Upshur County area during Teagan’s visit, and she was glad to introduce different types of art to her niece.
Teagan said she really enjoyed seeing the different paintings.
“I think they are really cool,” Teagan said.
Campbell said her favorite piece in the exhibit was the portrait of the woman with the broken barrier.
“The detail in her face is very lifelike,” Campbell said. “It made me think of shattering the glass ceiling.”
Boggess received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Marywood University in Scranton, Pennsylvania. As a junior, he founded the Test Pattern Art Space and managed the space until 2007. In 2009, he attended the Hoffberger School of Painting at the Maryland Institute College of Art and received his Master of Fine Arts degree. Boggess is also an alumnus of the 2011 Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture.
The M.I.B. Gallery of the Colonial Arts Center is located at 48 East Main St. in Buckhannon.