I moved to Morgantown a little over three years ago, after having spent most of my life in the bustling but underrated arts town of Omaha. Believe it or not, the arts are really nurtured in the biggest city in Nebraska, encouraging of experimentation and supportive from monetary and volunteer supporters to various grassroots galleries, musical and performance theatres with internationally renowned programs in their multiple other local nonprofit organizations. I really can’t say enough about the arts in Omaha, where I curated several provocative exhibitions, kept an arts column at the local newsweekly, and collaborated with artists and organizations to promote creative community.

So I came here with my family, graduated with an MA in art history this spring, and have been getting to know the more subdued arts scene of Morgantown. It’s an exciting time now for Morgantown arts! There are so many working artists in the hills and pockets of the county—visual, musical, performing and otherwise—and there is great support in organizations like the Monongalia Art Center, MT Pockets Theatre, Morgantown Theatre Company, Morgantown History Museum, Spark! Imagination Center, Morgantown Public Libraries, Watts Museum, the Art Museum of WVU. There is a stellar potential for greatness in the community if we come together, collaborate, encourage experimentation and activity not just among artists and arts organizations, but among other nonprofits and groups!

I am just getting to know the organizations and community, as a recent new board member of Arts Monongahela, whose mission is to advance the arts and community.  The arts are absolutely vital to fostering a strong and vibrant community. I am excited about the potential of what Arts Monongahela will be doing over the next months and years to bring what is already in Morgantown arts into the light.

Right now, Arts Mon is exemplifying their goal for collaboration with their Bears, Chairs and Derriers Art Auction November 11 at Clarion Hotel Morgantown. After a transitional year, Arts Mon is putting up for auction some of their amazing art they have gathered over the years with their visual exhibitions, and invited local nonprofits to donate art or books as well. Arts Mon takes care of marketing, event planning and the organizations will get 100% of the sales for their donated items. Artists who donate work also get a donation receipt.

As the name suggests, one of Arts Mon’s projects, the 2016 Bear Trail project, featuring seven life-sized West Virginia state animal, black bear, statues painted by WVU and local artists Ricki Holmes, Kelly Keifer, Liuqing Kang, Michael McDevitt, Mike Kulina, Emily Walsh and Tiera Floyd. With a map sponsored by Jackson and Kelly PLLC, the bears were placed in front of sponsoring organizations throughout the area and will now be up for grabs at the auction! A unique garden décor!


MT Pockets Theatre and Morgantown Theatre Company both donated work and are excited about celebrating the arts in Morgantown with this community-wide event.

Local artists, too, are happy to donate and support the arts in Morgantown; the proceeds from Arts Mon art sales will help Arts Mon grow with programming and resources for local artists and organizations and further promote the arts in Morgantown.

Morgantown-based artist John Michael Barone donated several relief prints and a hand wood carved relief painting, “West Virginia State Seal.” Barone is a West Virginia University graduate of the fine arts program, and co-founder and President of the Artist Collective of West Virginia, providing a platform for local artists to grow, while giving art enthusiasts, fans and collectors, access to original art that has been produced locally.

Said Barone, “It’s important to support the arts in Morgantown because supporting the arts is supporting our culture. We really have some of the most talented hard working artists in one area that I have met in my career. By supporting the arts in our community now, we ensure a future for our children to choose that path as a life option.” 

Jenny Wilson agrees about the importance of supporting the arts. The New York native, now Morgantown-based musician (The Jenny Wilson Trio) and abstract painter donated a painting to the auction.

Said Wilson, “The arts unlock the profound ability to connect the dots in creative ways, non-linear thinking that creates better design and better communities. Children need the arts to spark their imagination, to give them a chance to express themselves in a meaningful way. Communities need art and artists to make a thriving economic area and to balance the focus on pop culture and sports.”

I have to agree myself, as my writing exemplifies. I donated one of my collaborative poetry books, Leaves of Absence, and one of my anthologies of art and writing by women, Les Femmes Folles, including work by West Virginia creatives. Small books, but with hundreds of hours of creation and intention that I hope people see and appreciate along with all of the other amazing work available.

It is an opportunity to support the arts, get some stellar art, but also have a great time. Get your tickets at The Convention and Visitor’s Bureau Downtown, 201 High Street. I also have tickets! Get in touch with me and I’ll deliver!

I hope this is just the beginning of what is to come for Arts Mon, and continuing to foster all of the arts in Morgantown.  I am excited to be a part of this exciting time, as a board member, active in the local arts, and as a writer for Zackquill, this stellar new alternative source for all things Morgantown, my writing focusing on all of the arts! If you have story ideas send them along!

Sally Deskins obtained a Master in Arts in art history from West Virginia University in 2016. She held an arts column in Omaha’s The Reader for six years and continues to write independently, while curating, creating her own art and encouraging exploration as an assistant librarian with Morgantown Public Library. She edits Les Femmes Folles, an organization for women in art, is mom to two and wife to one.  Contact her at sallydeskins@yahoo.com.

3 Responses

  1. Andrew Tarley

    Hi! I am the Media and advertising coordinator at MAC! Would it be okay for me to add you to our press list so we can send our articles about events to you? We love your site and would greatly appreciate any coverage of our events!

    Andrew Tarley
    Media and Advertising Coordinator
    Monongalia Arts Center

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