Parkersburg Art Center exhibits feature photography, Blenko glass

Photo Provided Barry Wade, left, with Blenko Glass artist Wayne Husted signing a platter for Wade. The piece and 60 others will be featured in an exhibit, “Blenko—Vivid Glass from the Collection of Barry Wade,” which will open at a reception 2-4 p.m. Sunday at the Parkersburg Art Center. Two shows will open on Sunday. The other is “Praxis—A Fine Art Approach: Photography by Garen DiBartolomeo.”

PARKERSBURG — Two new exhibits will open at a reception 2-4 p.m. Sunday at the Parkersburg Art Center, “Praxis–A Fine Art Approach: Photography by Garen DiBartolomeo” and “Blenko–Vivid Glass from the Collection of Barry Wade.”

Weirton, W.Va., native and professional photographer DiBartolomeo’s solo show will include more than 50 of his favorite images, chosen from a collection of personal work spanning five decades.

“After years of taking pictures, I had a lot of images to choose from, both film and digital. It was quite a satisfying undertaking, like running into old friends who have never really strayed far from your mind,” said DiBartolomeo.

Self-taught, DiBartolomeo made photography his profession, working in Washington, D.C., Phoenix, Pittsburgh and Weirton. On assignment, he’s photographed presidents and corporate leaders, famous actors and ironworkers, gritty industrial sites and pristine laboratories.

Throughout his career, he’s been an active member of the American Society of Media Photographers, sharing his skills with many new photographers. He’s also exhibited his personal work in various national and local competitions and was recently included in the “American Photographic Artists 2018 Awards Book” for his “Portrait of a Geisha,” which will be on display as part of the Art Center exhibit.

Photo Provided “Metal Chair” by Garen DiBartolomeo, one of the photos in his show, “Praxis – A Fine Art Approach: Photo by Garen DiBartolomeo.” The exhibit and an exhibit of Blenko art glass from the collection of Barry Wade will open Sunday in a reception 2-4 p.m. at the Art Center.

Art glass collector Barry Wade estimates that the 60-plus pieces of hand-blown glass on display at the Art Center represent about half of his collection.

“I’ve always collected glass, and have always been drawn to glass pieces in bright colors. One day I started to count, and realized that I had much more Blenko Glass than any other maker. So I decided to start concentrating on Blenko,” Wade said. “I find new and old pieces at yard sales, at auctions, from dealers, on-line, and buy many directly from the company.”

Blenko Glass Factory of Milton, W.Va., is among the last survivors of West Virginia’s many art glass companies, which had their heyday in the late 19th to early 20th centuries. Blenko is still operated by members of the Blenko family and is renown for its modern designs in brilliant colors.

The two exhibits will be displayed together in the Art Center, Art Center Artistic Director Abby Hayhurst said.

“Barry’s glass and Garen’s photographs are a natural visual match, obviously in the colors, but also in the design aesthetic. Garen’s show is titled ‘Praxis’ because his photographs represent equal parts of art, science and skill,” Hayhurst said.

Photo Provided “Gossamer” by photographer Garen DiBartolomeo is among the prints in his exhibit, “Praxis—A Fine Art Approach: Photography by Garen DiBartolomeo,” opening Sunday at the Parkersburg Art Center on Market Street. Also opening is “Blenko – Vivid Glass from the Collection of Barry Wade.” A public reception will be held for both exhibits 2-4 p.m. Sunday at the Art Center.

Sunday’s opening reception is open to the public with an admission fee of $10 for non-Art Center members. The exhibit continues Tuesdays through Saturdays through May 10 with a daily admission of $2 for non-members.