Parkersburg High School graduates displaying artwork at church

Photo by Wayne Towner Alison Barlow, a 1981 Parkersburg High School graduate now living in Ashland, Ky., has several pieces of artwork on display at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Parkersburg for the next six weeks.

PARKERSBURG — A number of former Parkersburg High School graduates — all students of retired art teacher Ken Gilbert — will be showing off their artistic skills in a series of exhibits at Emmanuel Baptist Church at 1710 23rd Street in Parkersburg.

The current exhibit, which opened Sunday, features 15 pieces by Alison Barlow, of Ashland, Ky., a 1981 graduate of PHS who was born and raised in Vienna.

Barlow said when she was in fourth grade, her parents gifted her with art lessons from longtime local artist Dorothy Decker, who taught her about painting through high school. She began with oils and now also works in acrylics, watercolor, pencil, colored pencil and others. She said Gilbert was also a big influence on her work and taught her a number of styles. She also studied art and graphic design in college at Morehead State University in Kentucky.

She spent 25 years working in the advertising department of Ashland’s newspaper, The Daily Independent, doing graphic design work. She currently works in the Boyd County Clerk’s Office in Ashland on election issues.

She remains active in art as a hobby, although “I’m not as active as I should be or want to be.”

Photo by Wayne Towner A total of 15 works by Parkersburg High School graduate Alison Barlow are on display at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Parkersburg.

Barlow participated in the exhibit at the Parkersburg Art Center which focused on former PHS students as part of the school’s 100th anniversary celebration. She got her job at the newspaper after the editor saw her paintings on display at a former hospital in Lawrence County and hired her for the ad department based on her work.

“It’s a great opportunity and I’m very flattered that he asked,” Barlow said of the Emmanuel show

Gilbert, a member of the Emmanuel congregation, said he came up with the idea for the exhibits to brighten up one of the long hallways leading from the main doors off the church’s parking lot.

“We’re doing a series of my former students’ work here, one man shows,” he said.

He said Barlow’s exhibit is the third one to go up and he has about 40 former students he has been in touch with about displaying at the church.

“It’s a long hallway and kind of boring and I thought my students would make a good showing there,” he said.

Barlow’s exhibit will run for six weeks before the next former student hangs their work for another six-week period. The exhibits can be viewed by appointment by contacting the church and during regular business hours of 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday through Friday, he said.

Gilbert said the church’s members have been very receptive since the exhibits began.

“There have been a lot of positive comments,” he said.

Most of the planned exhibits will be much like Barlow’s, with wall-hanging pieces like paintings, drawings and prints although there may be some tables set out for pottery pieces if any are submitted, he said.