Past

For thousands of years before the arrival of European explorers, indigenous civilizations developed along the banks of the Ohio River. Derived from a Senecan word, ohiːyoːh, meaning “good river,” this 981-mile-long waterway was a significant transportation and trading route, connecting far-flung settlements of prehistoric and historic cultures. Hand-carved artifacts from this ancient past continue to emerge from the fertile soil of the river valley, and mysterious earthworks dot the landscape to this day.

French colonists, who began arriving in North America in earnest during the 1600s, were the first Europeans to behold the Ohio River’s majesty. Described as La Belle Riviere or “the beautiful river,” this great river artery proved strategically important as both French and English interests fought for control of the North American interior. When the American colonies waged war for independence from Great Britain, the Ohio River Valley again became a picturesque battleground as each side raided settlements and shed blood to win the military support of the region’s native inhabitants. Its westward-flowing waters facilitated migration as European- American and African-American pioneers pushed into the Northwest Territory and beyond. While this cross-continental expansion ultimately concluded with One Nation, spanning sea to shining sea, it also precipitated the virtual erasure of this land’s native people.

From its origins at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers until its waters empty into the Mississippi River, major industrial cities burgeoned from colonial outposts and forts along the Ohio River’s course. The success of Pittsburgh, PA; Cincinnati, OH; Louisville, KY; Evansville, IN; and three of the five largest cities in West Virginia – Huntington, Parkersburg, and Wheeling – not to mention hundreds of smaller population centers, attests to the importance of this navigable waterway as a conduit for transporting goods, mobilizing people, and sharing ideas downstream. The Ohio River marks the southern border of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, and thus formed part of the boundary between free states and slaveholding states before the American Civil War. Exalted as the “River Jordan” by enslaved people who crossed its waters on the dangerous journey to freedom, it is estimated that thousands escaped slavery by reaching the comparative safety of the northern banks of the Ohio River.

Using a variety of artworks and objects from the Huntington Museum of Art’s permanent collection, La Belle Riviere will evoke an appreciation for the sublime geologic beauty of one of North America’s mighty rivers, its vast watershed and many tributaries, and the deep undercurrents of history that swirl just beneath the water’s surface.

This exhibit is presented by the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce.

This program is presented with financial assistance from the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History, and the National Endowment for the Arts, with approval from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts.

Woodblock printing describes a relief process in which sharpened carving tools are used to carefully incise text or images into the flat surface of a wooden block. The uncarved areas of the design that now stand in relief are methodically inked and, with pressure, transferred; the recessed areas that were gouged away do not receive ink and remain blank in the printed composition.

Revolutionary contributions to the advancement of printing – together with the compass, gunpowder and papermaking – comprise the Four Great Inventions that emerged from ancient China. For centuries, numerous cultures had used hand-carved wooden blocks to ink patterns onto textiles or stamp symbolic marks and decoration into clay or wax. However, during the Tang dynasty (618-906 A.D.), a golden age of Chinese culture, woodblock printing techniques were first developed, perfected and applied to paper. Initially used to reproduce Buddhist religious texts and monochromatic manuscripts, the printmaking process became more complex, and the palette more expansive as multiple carved blocks were employed in a single pictorial image, each inked with a separate color.

An idea whose time had come, woodblock printing rapidly diffused throughout East Asia where it would remain the primary method for printing books and images until the 19th century. Across the Sea of Japan, mass-produced woodblock prints in the ukiyo-e genre flourished from the 17th to 19th centuries and became an iconic Japanese artform with enduring appeal. These scenes depicted “the floating world” of everyday Japan, characterized by bold compositions with dynamic lines, graphic shapes, flattened perspective and rich color.

Printing innovations also spread far and wide on the cross-cultural currents beginning to connect East Asia and Europe. As paper became increasingly available in the West, Europeans explored the creative possibilities of hand-carved, block-printed images and text. Movable type technology – invented in China and further mechanized in Korea – was revolutionized in Germany by Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press in the mid-15th century, which radically increased the demand for woodcut illustrations. When Japan’s isolationist foreign policy ended in the mid-19th century, Japanese art and culture, particularly ukiyo-e, captured the attention of many European artists. This influence extended to the Provincetown Printers, a Massachusetts seaside artist colony. There, early 20th century American modernists such as Edith Lake Wilkinson and Blanche Lazzell – both West Virginia natives – refined and popularized the single-block white-line color woodcut.

The omnipresence of our modern global print culture can obscure the chain of historical events that gave rise to the interconnected world of mass-printed materials that we know today. With an emphasis on modern and contemporary artistic woodcuts, Woodblock Printing from the Permanent Collection will illuminate pages from this rich history and demonstrate the ways artists continue to use this time-honored process as a vehicle for personal expression.

This exhibit is presented with support from The Isabelle Gwynn and Robert Daine Exhibition Endowment.

This program is presented with financial assistance from the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History, and the National Endowment for the Arts, with approval from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts.

Adaptations: Marshall University Faculty Exhibit

November 13 - February 27, 2022

An opening reception for this exhibit is planned for November 19, 2021, at 5:30 p.m.

For many, unforeseen events in the past year and a half prompted dramatic changes in the way we live. In the face of significant collective tragedy, we were challenged to reevaluate deeply entrenched human behavior and reconsider our responsibilities to one another. As individuals operating within complex, interwoven networks, we were reminded to think critically about our actions and imagine their effects – often unpredictable, sometimes exponential – on our local and global communities. Institutions, like the people they comprise, were not immune from disruption, and the impact on our nation’s schools and centers of higher learning has been particularly acute. Artists and art educators, including the professionals at Huntington’s own hometown university, continue to adapt in their own unique ways as they grapple with what it means to be a maker and a teacher in uncertain times.

This fall, the Huntington Museum of Art and the visual arts faculty from Marshall University’s School of Art & Design will present Adaptations, an exhibition of artworks created in a variety of media by full-time and adjunct professors, including: Miyuki Akai-Cook, Frederick Bartolovic, Allison Broome, John Cartwright, Ian Hagarty, Danny Kaufmann, Hanna Kozlowski, G.W. Lanham, Melissa McCloud, Allora McCullough, Sarah McDermott, Jamie Platt, Sandra Reed, Matt Smith, and Caroline Turner.

This exhibit is presented with support from The Isabelle Gwynn and Robert Daine Exhibition Endowment.

This program is presented with financial assistance from the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History, and the National Endowment for the Arts, with approval from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts.

Latin American Roots

October 16 - January 9, 2022

Generally understood as the North, Central and South American and Caribbean nations where languages derived from Latin – such as Spanish, Portuguese and French – are predominantly spoken, the concept of Latin America reflects the region’s shared colonial heritage.

Spanning two continents, the amalgam of geographic regions described as Latin America were wellsprings of sophisticated indigenous culture long before seafaring European explorers crossed the Atlantic Ocean. Pre-Columbian civilizations such as the Maya, Aztec, Inca, and others developed vibrant artistic practices over millennia. In the late 15th and early 16th centuries, Europeans arrived seeking new land and trading opportunities. For the next three centuries, Spanish, Portuguese and French interests colonized large parts of the Western Hemisphere and imposed European artistic conventions onto existing visual traditions. Millions of native inhabitants in Latin America were conquered or killed during this territorial expansion, succumbed to newly introduced diseases, or were brutally subjugated in the pursuit of natural resources. As this human toll inevitably dwindled the indigenous workforce, colonial powers satisfied the demand for free labor by forcibly importing millions of enslaved Africans to participate in military expeditions and work in the fields and mines. The men and women of this diaspora introduced their own unique visual language and contributed African cultural elements to the New World melting pot.

A revolutionary fire swept the region during the late 18th and early 19th centuries – stoked in part by the American and French revolutions – and the people of Latin America began fighting for independence from colonial rule. The Haitian Revolution, led by enslaved people and free people of color, saw France’s wealthiest colony, “The Pearl of the Antilles,” force the abolition of slavery and become the world’s first Black-led republic in 1804. This reverberated throughout the Americas. While many Latin American nations were decolonized within those first tumultuous decades of the 19th century, others did not gain independence until the 20th century, and some remain non-sovereign territories.

Although much of post-colonial Latin America has often been defined by inequality, internal strife and external intervention, a hopeful human spirit persists.

From the museum’s permanent collection, Latin American Roots will feature modern and contemporary artworks by a variety of artists whose Latin American heritage has allowed them a unique vantage point from which to interpret this history. From abstraction to political activism, the works express a range of aesthetic and personal concerns. This exhibit will examine overarching themes and highlight individual stories, reminding us that both measures are important in order to form a more complete understanding of those who hail from this complex, diverse region.

This exhibit is presented with support from The Katherine & Herman Pugh Exhibitions Endowment.

This program is presented with financial assistance from the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History, and the National Endowment for the Arts, with approval from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts.

The Huntington Museum of Art will welcome Jessica Drenk as a Walter Gropius Master Artist in July and will present an exhibit of her work from May 8 through Aug. 1, 2021.

Drenk will discuss her work in a free public presentation at HMA on July 22, 2021, at 7 p.m. Drenk will present a workshop titled “The Altered Book: Repurposing Old Books as a Catalyst for Creativity” from July 23-25. Call (304) 529-2701 for fee information. To allow for social distancing, the number of workshop participants is limited.

Raised in Montana, Drenk developed an appreciation for the natural world that inspires her artwork. Drenk’s sculptures, which are tactile and textural, highlight the chaos and beauty found in simple materials.

Drenk earned an MFA in 3D Art from the University of Arizona and a bachelor’s degree from Pomona College. Drenk’s work can be found internationally in private collections, as well as corporate and university collections in America. Drenk’s awards include an Artist Project Grant from the Arizona Commission on the Arts, and the International Sculpture Center’s Outstanding Student Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award. Her work has been pictured in Sculpture, Interior Design, and Curve magazines, as well as The Workshop Guide to Ceramics. Recently, her work has become part of the Fidelity art collection and the Yale University Art Gallery. A working artist since 2007, her home and studio are near Rochester, New York.

The Walter Gropius Master Artist Program is funded through the generosity of the Estate of Roxanna Y. Booth, who wished to assist in the development of an art education program in accordance with the proposals of Walter Gropius, who designed the Museum’s Gropius Addition, as well as the Gropius Studios. The Museum is indebted to Roxanna Y. Booth’s son, the late Alex Booth, Jr., for his participation in the concept development of the Gropius Master Artists Workshops.

This program is presented with financial assistance from the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History, and the National Endowment for the Arts, with approval from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts.


The Huntington Museum of Art will participate in the City of Huntington’s yearlong celebration of its 150th birthday with a special exhibit and publication of a new art reference book that both feature the work of Huntington artists.

The Huntington Sesquicentennial Exhibit will be on view at the Huntington Museum of Art from September 18, 2021, through January 16, 2022.

Beginning with a bronze portrait of city founder Collis P. Huntington by famed sculptor Anna Hyatt Huntington, the exhibit will include early landscape paintings that depict the genesis of the built environment in Huntington and move forward to more contemporary representations by artists such as former Marshall University professor Stan Sporny. A selection of decorative objects that were made in Huntington will also be included, such as pottery from the Wyllie China Company and glass from manufacturers such as Huntington Tumbler Company and Rainbow Glass Company. 

The primary focus includes artists who have lived and worked in the city, ranging from familiar names such as Chuck Ripper and Adele Thornton Lewis, to former Huntington barber Billy Scott, whose paintings depict the lives of the city’s African-American residents in bygone days. Covering the entire timespan of the city’s existence, the show will also highlight work in a variety of media from the late 19th century to contemporary artworks by June Kilgore, Theresa Polley-Shellcroft, Vernon Howell, Klaus Ihlenfeld, Tina Williams Brewer, and Don Pendleton.

HMA is pleased to announce that a new biographical dictionary on artists who have lived in Huntington will be released during the city’s anniversary year. Titled “Eclectic Rhythms: The Artists of Huntington, West Virginia 1871-Present,” the book is dedicated to noted art historian Chris Petteys (1927-2006), who authored the groundbreaking work titled “Dictionary of Women Artists: An International Dictionary of Women Artists Born Before 1900.”

The new book contains nearly 600 biographies of artists of every type who made their home in the city at some point during their careers. “Editing a book about the artists of Huntington, West Virginia, was both a daunting and rewarding task,” said HMA Executive Director Geoffrey K. Fleming. “Huntington has been blessed with a number of talented artists and I believe this book highlights the talents of each one of them while providing a valuable research tool for anyone interested in the city’s artistic past.” 

This exhibit is presented by City of Huntington and the 150th Anniversary Committee.

This exhibit is sponsored in part by Truist WV Foundation.

This exhibit has been made possible in part by a grant from the West Virginia Humanities Council. This project is presented with financial assistance from the West Virginia Humanities Council, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations do not necessarily represent those of the West Virginia Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

This program is presented with financial assistance from the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History, and the National Endowment for the Arts, with approval from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts.

Huntington 150





American Paintings

September 4 - February 27, 2022

Outstanding works from the Huntington Museum of Art’s permanent collection make up the American Paintings exhibition.

“For close to seven decades, the Huntington Museum of Art has been curating a significant collection of American paintings,” said John Farley, HMA Senior Curator and Exhibition Designer. “This exhibit will provide an overview of American paintings beginning with an early work by Sala Bosworth and extending to a contemporary work by Robert Motherwell.”

While each artist responds to his or her moment in history, a pattern of shared cultural experience can reveal itself. Beginning with examples from the American colonial period and culminating with contemporary paintings, this exhibition illustrates an evolution in style and approach to subject matter as American painters look to establish and redefine their craft.

Other artists whose work will be featured in the exhibition include Childe Hassam, William Edouard Scott, William Hawkins, Tula Telfair, and Hung Liu. “We are happy to present a newly acquired work by Frank Duveneck in this exhibition as well,” Farley said. “The subject in this painting by Duveneck is the artist’s younger brother. We are grateful to HMA’s collector’s group The Fitzpatrick Society and the Donald B. Harper Endowment for purchasing this important work and bringing it into HMA’s permanent collection.”

This program is presented with financial assistance from the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History, and the National Endowment for the Arts, with approval from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts.

While most prominent art collections grow from an abundance of personal wealth, Dorothy and Herbert Vogel proved that even ordinary citizens can make their mark on the art world and build a noteworthy collection. Early in their life together, the couple decided to use Dorothy’s pay as a librarian at the Brooklyn Public Library for their living expenses and Herbert’s salary from his work at the United States Postal Service to purchase art. With an initial focus upon drawings, the couple slowly amassed a stunning group of artworks.

Beginning in the 1960s, they spent their free time attending gallery openings and getting to know young artists whose work was of interest. They would typically buy directly from the artists themselves and would form lasting friendships with them – relationships that continued even as many of the artists rose to fame. As time went by, they accumulated more than 4,000 objects with a focus upon minimalist and conceptual art, including work by luminaries such as Sol Lewitt, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Richard Tuttle, Chuck Close, Lynda Benglis, and Robert and Sylvia Mangold.

As the collection grew, it began to strain the bounds of their one-bedroom Manhattan apartment. The solution to their lack of storage space came when they agreed to donate their entire collection to the National Gallery of Art. The transfer of the work took five full-size trucks to move the work to Washington, D.C. Even the National Gallery found the size of the collection to be overwhelming, so eventually a plan was hatched by one of its curators, Ruth Fine, (with approval from the Vogels) to gift fifty of the works to one museum in each of the fifty states as part of a program known as Fifty Works for Fifty States. In West Virginia, the Huntington Museum of Art was chosen to receive one of the distributions of what Fine called a “mini-Vogel collection.” Included in the HMA selection are drawings by Richard Tuttle and Robert Mangold, sculpture by Lynda Benglis and Donald Sultan, and a selection of paintings by a diverse group of artists that present a snapshot of the Vogels’ remarkable collection.

This exhibit is presented by Community Trust Bank.

This program is presented with financial assistance from the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History, and the National Endowment for the Arts, with approval from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts.

Blanche Lazzell (1878-1956) is arguably the most noteworthy artist that West Virginia has produced. She was an accomplished painter and teacher, and her works are highly sought after today by collectors and museums. An independent and free-spirited woman, she moved seamlessly between the hills of her native state of West Virginia, the Salons of Europe, and her adopted home and studio in Provincetown, Massachusetts.

Lazzell was among the first Americans to produce abstract prints, expressing the ideas of the Cubists and other European modernists in a series of color woodblock prints that was created in the mid-1920s. She joined with her colleagues in the Provincetown Printers Group to help pioneer the “one block” method of printing, a process that allowed the artist a great deal of freedom in the use of color, tone and texture. The subjects of her work include images of her home state of West Virginia and the bustling seaside environment of Provincetown, as well as the brightly colored flowers that adorned her garden. Her body of work, with its bold forms and strong colors, demonstrates her successful commitment to the modernist aesthetic and serves as a fitting expression of the exuberance and vitality of her own life.

For this exhibition, the Huntington Museum of Art is excited to partner with members of the extended family of Blanche Lazzell to showcase works from their private collections, including several of her renowned woodblock prints as well as paintings. These works will be accompanied by objects from the HMA collection.

This exhibit is presented by Doug and Lynn McCorkle.

This exhibit is presented with support from The Isabelle Gwynn and Robert Daine Exhibition Endowment.

This program is presented with financial assistance from the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History, and the National Endowment for the Arts, with approval from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts.

The Huntington Museum of Art has enjoyed a rich history during its lifespan of nearly seven decades, thanks in large part to the wide support it has received from the local community. In addition to the generous gifts of land and art that were made by museum founder Herbert Fitzpatrick before its opening in 1952, there have been a multitude of supporters who have stepped up to provide financial assistance and make gifts of artwork to the museum. One of the most impactful gifts in terms of the museum’s collection has been the Sarah Wheeler Charitable Trust, which provides funds for art purchases in memory of Sarah Slack Wheeler and her husband, Steve Wheeler.

Sarah Wheeler was born in Huntington in 1917, the daughter of Elizabeth and Frank Slack. She led an adventurous life, especially after her marriage to Steve Wheeler, whose work as a mining engineer took the couple on travels around the world. They lived overseas for lengthy periods of time, with extended residential stays in Paris, Venice, Monaco and Beirut. Her travels gave her access to a wide range of cultural experiences, including visits to some of the world’s most important museums.

Both Steve and Sarah were practicing artists as well, so the arts were deeply ingrained in their lives. The couple lived out their retirement years in Huntington, where members of Sarah’s extended family still resided. Following Steve’s passing, Sarah made plans to establish a trust to support three institutions that she felt were vital to the well-being of Huntington: Marshall University, the Cabell County Public Library, and the Huntington Museum of Art. The museum’s funds are dedicated to the purchase of paintings that were created in the year 1940 and earlier.

Among the key works that have been purchased with the funds include paintings by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Thomas Doughty, Henry Ossawa Tanner, Guy Wiggins, Edith Wilkinson, Blanche Lazzell, Thomas Hart Benton, and John Frederick Peto. A selection of the works purchased with funds from the Wheeler bequest will be showcased in the Museum’s Switzer Gallery, a space that was named in honor of former Huntington Mayor Rufus Switzer, whose own trust has provided key funds for the operation of the Museum since its founding.

This exhibit is presented with support from The Katherine & Herman Pugh Exhibitions Endowment.

This exhibit is presented with support from The Isabelle Gwynn and Robert Daine Exhibition Endowment.

This program is presented with financial assistance from the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History, and the National Endowment for the Arts, with approval from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts.

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