Basket exhibit to be held at Art Center


PARKERSBURG — An award-winning basket exhibit will be on display through September and early October at the Parkersburg Art Center.

Judith Saunders, an artist from Norfolk, Va., will bring her plaited basketry to the art center for an exhibit opening Friday and running through Oct. 4. The opening reception for the presentation will be 5-7 p.m. Friday and is open to the public.

The exhibit is entitled “One Over One,” a reference to the weaving technique used by Saunders. The art center is open Wednesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Daily admission is $2 for adults, with no charge for art center members or for children under 12 years of age.

Art center director Abby Hayhurst said Saunders uses. hand-tinted watercolor papers, beads and copper to create baskets that are more like sculpture than functional baskets.

“I’ve never seen anything quite like these baskets. We’ve all stared and stared at them, and no one can figure out how she does it. There’s no obvious beginning or end point for the weaving, and the insides are as beautiful as the outsides. People will love these works of art,” she said.

Saunders, a graduate of Old Dominion University with a BS in Art Education, didn’t take up basketry until late in her teaching career, but began working full-time at her art form upon her retirement from the Norfolk public school system.

She attended a class in plaiting baskets, and learned the “foundation” techniques. Saunders soon began to experiment and developed the twists and turns that make her baskets unique.

Her work has been displayed in the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, in several publications, and her skills have been awarded numerous prizes.

Art center managing director Jessie Siefert said Friday’s opening reception for the Saunders exhibit will coincide with the Market Street Merchants and Artists Walk.

“We are delighted to have the opportunity to welcome guests to the reception at no charge. Hopefully lots of people will come through, get to talk to Ms. Saunders and see her amazing baskets.”

Siefert said the art center also wanted to thank Hayhurst and area artist Carol Bidstrup who spent a week painting a series of ‘backgrounds’ on thin plywood designed to show off the baskets.

“It’s a stunning and unusual exhibit,” she said.