Art lovers drawn to Point Park

PARKERSBURG – Art lovers from around the Mid-Ohio Valley attended a free show featuring dozens of pieces made of different materials set up in Point Park on Monday.

“This is a great show,” said Marietta resident Shelley Khatib. “The pieces are beautiful and the weather is great.”

The first half of the event, which was scheduled to run from noon to 8 p.m. Monday, experienced sunny skies and warm temperatures in the 80s. The skies darkened and clouds opened up for the last few hours on Monday evening.

“Sun or rain, it’s all good,” said participating artist Mamerto “Lagitan” Tindongan. “You can’t go wrong with art in the park.”

Norm Payne, owner of Fidel’s Fine Art Studio on Rosemar Road in Parkersburg, organized the outdoor art show to showcase local artists and their work.

“I’m hoping to get the local artists’ names out in the community,” Payne said Monday. “There are a lot of closet artists in this area and I want to help them become more known.”

Monday’s first-time event included 11 different area artists who work in several different mediums, including acrylics, oils, wood sculptures and knife making. Three musical acts also took to the amphitheater to show their talents.

Payne said he got the idea to have the event in Point Park near the amphitheater after reading a news piece about two of Tindongan’s latest pieces being displayed in the water near Athens.

“I thought that if he could launch his canoes there, he could do it here,” Payne said. “Besides, we have this beautiful park and the river is a perfect backdrop and setting for art.”

Wood sculptor Tindongan, a native of the Philippines and current resident of the Athens area, had several of his pieces on display throughout the show area. His artworks included abstract and semi-abstract tables, chairs and circles.

The two pieces that received the most attention during the event were a pair of Tindongan’s hand-carved canoes.

“I started carving the first (canoe) June 2012 and finished the second in May this year,” Tindongan said. “They were just something I’ve wanted to try for a long time.”

Each boat is carved from a single log of cottonwood, which Tindongan said is heavy when wet, but light and buoyant when dry.

“When carving, cottonwood doesn’t split easily and it has no lumber value, so it is perfect for this carving,” he said.

The artist was inspired to try his hand at canoe carving by a book written about President Theodore Roosevelt’s adventures in and along the Amazon River in hand-carved boats.

“I’m a wood carver, so I already had the tools and the knowledge and, really, it’s all about the basic design,” Tindongan said. “I’m also an aeronautical engineer and I know the basic principles of aerodynamics – how planes fly in the air – and figured it wouldn’t be that different from how boats move in the water.”

Dragon heads are carved into one end of each boat, which Tindongan calls “ngna-buwaya,” which translates to “snake crocodile.”

“In Western cultures, dragons have wings and are more like birds, but in Asia, dragons are more snake-like and I took that image for my canoes,” he said. “I have always had a strong spiritual connection to dragons and thought they would be good for these pieces.”

While he is proud of the finished products and enjoys that they are both river-worthy, Tindongan said his favorite part of the canoes is the making of them.

“I enjoy the process even more than the finished product,” he said. “There is just something about the creation and carving I really connected with.”

Although the early evening rain on Monday dampened this year’s outdoor art show, Payne said he plans to make “Labor of Love” an annual event.

“I hope to do this every year and include new and different artists each time,” he added.