Riverside Artists Gallery marks 20th year

Photo by Janelle Patterson Volunteer Etta Stull searches through paintings from Ginny Killian, a charter member of the Riverside Artists Gallery.

MARIETTA — What started as a twinkle in the collective eyes of some area artists has become a staple of the downtown Marietta cultural scene.

Now Riverside Artists Gallery is celebrating 20 years in the community and remembering some highs and lows over the last two decades.

In 1997, the idea to form an artists’ cooperative was tossed around among painters, woodworkers, crafters, photographers and other like-minded creative people.

“I was one of the charter members, went through all the meetings to get started; it’s always been a labor of love,” said Ginny Killian, a Parkersburg-based artist and retired Wood County art teacher.

The idea behind the cooperative was to allow artists a venue and a means to keep the creativity flowing.

Photo by Janelle Patterson Beaded jewelry made by Nikki Szabo is the newest addition to the Riverside Artists Gallery.

Inside the gallery are a variety of works, in different mediums and available for sale at varying price ranges.

From paintings over dried cucumbers, to textiles, glasswork and iron work, veteran artists of the group are known by their works.

“I love to create. I do it everyday,” Killian said. “If you’re looking to make money, you’re with the wrong group. But we manage to keep the doors open and I think that’s the goal.”

That, and exposing the community to high quality works of art. Each member must go through a jury process, participate in a $300 lifetime buy-in and contribute $35 a month for rent. All art and crafts are handmade by artists within 50 miles of Marietta. The gallery offers workshops, classes and arts activities open to the community.

Other works featured include some whose processes can be learned in such classes, such as the glow-in-the-dark pour over paintings and terrariums.

Photo by Janelle Patterson Gourd carvings are a popular display in the Riverside Artists Gallery as works of Cathy Norosky, of Belpre.

Over the years, the cooperative and gallery have seen some tough times, with flooding at their location at 175 Front St. and a devastating fire in 2010 at 188 Front St. The art was able to be saved from the flooding but much of it was destroyed in the fire.

“We didn’t know if we could reopen but we did and we have a wonderful space. We go up and down with the tourist trade and the economy — art comes at the bottom of the list when you need money for food. But we are very happy that the community has supported us for 20 years,” offered artist Betsy Cook.

Events like First Fridays and community festivals have drawn traffic to the gallery. Right now, works of the oldest members and the newest members are on display.

That display also includes paper foldings, carved gourds and photography.

There are 15 members of the cooperative and new artists are welcome and encouraged to submit work to be juried. Cook said specifically woodworkers and potters and young folks with a passion for creating are asked to consider becoming members.

Photo by Janelle Patterson One new addition to the displays at the Riverside Artists Gallery is glass photo holders made by Janet and Dave Gustafson.

Etta Stull, 21, of Marietta, is a volunteer at the gallery saving money to become a full-fledged member. She first became aware of the site when her art was displayed there during a high school art show.

“Then, when I moved to Marietta, I went there to see if they had a job opening,” she said. “They didn’t but I’ve been volunteering ever since.”

Her art, which includes painting, digital work and ink work, is on display often as part of a smaller semi-permanent area where volunteers and non-member artists can show their pieces.

She’s found her time there inspiring, said Stull.

“Everyone has their own thing and it’s really interesting to see,” she said. “I think it’s extremely important to have something like this. Growing up (in St. Marys) we didn’t have an art center. Whatever art you had in school, that was it..”

Fall classes will start in September for the public to learn stained glass techniques, felting, pour painting, found object sculptures and watercolor.

Upcoming is a recurring event held every two years, Poetry in Art, which connects poets and artists. Mark your calendars for Aug. 25 from 6 to 9 p.m. and look for more information on the group’s Facebook page.

(Kate York contributed to this story.)

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If You Go

* What: 20th anniversary celebration

* When: 5 to 9 p.m. Friday

* Where: Riverside Artists Gallery, 291 Second St., Marietta

* Includes: “Once Upon a Time” features Virginia Killian, a founding member, sharing her latest paintings and Nikki Szabo, the newest member, showing her jewelry. There will be cake and music.

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