BUCKHANNON – You’ve seen the name “Meeka” signed beneath bright pictures of robust red strawberries and other seasonal window paintings.
But exactly how much do you know about the woman behind the colorful mini-murals on the windows of so many businesses in Buckhannon?
“Meeka” is the art name – much like a pen name – for local resident Linda Hicks.
Hicks was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and graduated from Potomac State College of WVU.
She recently retired following 27 years at West Virginia Wesleyan College and is married to Mike Hicks. The couple has two adult children – Brent of Morgantown, West Virginia, and Sherry of Atlanta, Georgia.
So, how did Hicks get her start?
About 15 years ago, a shop owner on Main Street wanted to add some color to her store front windows, so Hicks decided to paint a few blossoms and added some strawberries.
The trend caught on quickly! This year alone, Hicks painted strawberries on a total of 20 business windows.
She says the reward is in people’s enthusiastic reactions to her art.
“Passersby are so grateful for the decorating, and kids are adorable,” Hicks said. “This keeps me going!”
Hicks’ artwork didn’t develop through classroom teachings.
“It was a very special gift to me, one which I cherish dearly, and I remain grateful for each and every day in a prayer,” she said.
Over the years, her artistic talents have flourished in a wide range of mediums, including oils, acrylics, enamels, pen and ink, and charcoal.
A question frequently asked of Linda is where the name ‘Meeka’ originated from.
“It is simply the name my granddaughter, Lexus, gave to me when she was first learning to talk. The name easily stuck, and it is very special to me,” she said.
Hand-painted glassware supports the majority of Meeka’s art. These items can include wine glasses, vases, centerpieces, cake plates, etc. Wooden items include seasonal yard stakes and handmade trays (constructed by the Buckhannon-Usphur Work Adjustment Center), and old farm windows painted with beautiful scenes and sayings.
All these items are available for purchase at Tateep Unique Boutique on Main Street in Buckhannon.
Does Meeka have a favorite moment over her years of artistry?
“Of course,” she said. “Several years ago, when I was painting, an elderly gentleman wearing a Veteran’s hat stopped by and thanked me for making Buckhannon so beautiful for the Strawberry Festival.
“I thanked him. I then said, ‘sir, you have given several years of your life in military service to our country to secure freedom, so that cities and small towns like Buckhannon can enjoy a free life. So, I thank you.’ We looked at each other with tears in our eyes, then gave each other a big hug one early morning on Main Street.”
“That was a special moment,” she said, “and that is why I do what I do.”