PARKERSBURG - Restaurateur Tere Clegg and artist Jorge Tecunolmos see the potential for revitalization and fun in downtown Parkersburg.
On Nov. 16, the two brought their vision for a lively, entertaining downtown scene to Clegg's Mango Latin Bistro, at 701 Market St., with great results.
About 100 people crowded into the Parkersburg restaurant at various times to sample art, Latin wine and food and music during the evening.
Chelsea Laswell, local musician, performs at the #IMLIVING event at Mango Latin Bistro in Parkersburg. (Photo Provided)
Clegg, owner/chef, said she felt sad that people had to be turned away at the door because Mango's was filled with patrons. Many of those attending learned of the event through social media.
Tecunolmos and photographer/mixed-media artist Michelle Waters supplied the artwork on display and for sale, Chelsea Laswell sang and played the guitar while Clegg prepared the Latin Tapas food.
The restaurant was filled with conversation and excitement during the #IMLIVING event.
"It was a social event for the community," said Clegg, a native of Puerto Rico who opened the restaurant in 2009.
The turnout shows the potential for downtown Parkersburg and that people are "starving" for something different, Clegg said.
Patrons asked Clegg when her next special events night would be held at Mango. She isn't sure when but future nights of art, Latin food, wine tasting and music are a distinct possibility, she said.
Clegg said 12 pieces of artwork by Tecunolmos and Waters were sold that night out of the 20-22 art selections on display. Some of the artwork will be displayed at Mango's through next week.
To Clegg, the #IMLIVING event highlights the importance of living life to the max and enjoying ourselves. Every second of life counts, she said.
For Tecunolmos, founder of the #IMLIVING movement, "art is my voice." Tecunolmos, a native of Guatemala who has lived in Parkersburg for seven years, said his mission is to touch lives for the good through his vivid paintings and community work.
Tecunolmos has been involved in Parkersburg's ON TRAC program as a volunteer for two years, working to revitalize the downtown area and "make a difference here." His paintings were featured in an exhibit at the Parkersburg Art Center earlier this year.
He was pleased by the response to the first #IMLIVING event and believes it raised awareness of the good things happening in Parkersburg.
Tecunolmos said he learned to paint a few summers ago and now people are becoming excited about his artwork. He hopes others also find their passions in life.
The local artist says the mission of #IMLIVING is "to inspire a revival of identity by realizing the valuable moments of life."
Parkersburg Mayor Bob Newell said he enjoyed the #IMLIVING event and was happy to see it brought so many young people downtown.
It proved that people will attend evening events in downtown Parkersburg, he said.