The artists that contributed their time and talent to the auction are extraordinary. We are going to profile them for you one by one leading up to the auction so you can get to know them leading up to April 16th. 

1. Rita Montrosse  
Rita Montrosse is a native to West Virginia and has taught art for 34 years at Princeton Senior High School in Mercer County. Presently, she is an adjunct instructor of watercolor and metalsmithing at Concord University.

Her paintings reflect a personal relationship with her environment either at home in the mountains of West Virginia or in her travels. Her many sketches and photographs provide material for her watercolors/mixed media paintings, and have even influenced her jewelry designs. Whichever media she uses,she works in a series starting with a representational theme and pushing it as far as she can in developing the concepts. She doesn't set a limit to the number in a series, just working it until it seems complete. Often a series will be revisited because she can’t release it or has had an insight into a new compositional arrangement.  

She feels fortunate that she lives in the beautiful state of West Virginia and has been able to work at what she loves, both as an art teacher and an artist/artisan."         

On her auction contributions…

After the tiles from the theater were cleaned, Rita loved their natural state. Not wanting to diminish the metal’s appearance, she chose to paint only the centers of the tiles. Rita looked to flowers for her inspiration, which echoes the spirit of the Princeton Renaissance Project: renewed life and revived beauty from the forsaken.

2. Gary Bowling
Gary Bowling is a prolific and dynamic artist from Bluefield, WV. He is nationally and internationally recognized. He spent years in the service and several years in California, then returned home in 1972 and ran art galleries for years at a few locations: the “Upper Left” art gallery above an antique store, Gary Bowling’s gallery in his home on Bluefield Avenue, and the Bluefield Area Arts & Science Center. During this time he was doing art shows all around the country. His wife Debbie, a photographer and graphic artist, and he took turns watching the shop and doing shows. He has been featured in numerous prestigious shows: Cherry Creek Art Festival in Denver, CO, Las Olas, Virginia Beach Art Festival, The Boardwalk Show and Williamsburg just to name a few. 

Gary is very well known and has enjoyed a great deal of press attention and many honors. He was selected to create a Millennium Design and his was chosen for the cover of Sunshine Artists. He was invited to design an ornament for the White House. He has a distinct storytelling style called Garyglyphics; he created a special one for Tamarack which is currently hanging in their conference area.  

He created Gary Bowling’s House of Art in 2008 with a dream and vision of promoting the cultural diversity of Southern West Virginia, giving local and emerging artists a venue to display their work, and provide educational workshops and seminars to disadvantaged children and children with special needs. Since the inception, GBHOA has hosted over 500 children with free art classes, provides over 18 artists a home to display their wonderful works of art, and has provided many events for the community. 


His story continues in Princeton with the next incarnation of Gary Bowling’s House of Art. Stay tuned!

3. Crystal Atwell

Crystal grew up in the small coastal town of Wells, Maine and moved to West Virginia in 2011. From a young age Crystal was engrossed in the visual arts. She has always loved nature and enjoys numerous hobbies. With the help of her friends and support of her family, Crystal created 
Bare Bones Beauty, a line of natural home and skin care products. Atwell is part of The RiffRaff Gallery Co-Op and was one of 22 artists involved in the creation of Artists' Alley in downtown Princeton.

On her auction contribution…   
In keeping with Crystal’s love of nature, her painted speaker from Anita’s Drive-In depicts the rainbow that results after a storm. Often a metaphor for life, it also echoes the renewal of downtown Princeton.

4. Christopher Clark 

Christopher Clark was born on a sunny day in the middle of March in Charleston, WV. He has drawn as long as he can remember. He has always kept notebooks, and his art travels with him. He loves to create things for others to enjoy. 

Chris loves the theater and has been active in it all his life. His first play was in first grade; he played the evil troll in Billy Goat Gruff and has been active in acting, designing sets and costumes ever since. 
While he was in high school he discovered the architecture drawings of Gaudi and was inspired to create buildings. Soon after, he traveled to Spain where he was further inspired. Upon graduation from high school he had the opportunity for college scholarships in illustration, acting and architecture, and he chose to accept a scholarship to University of Kentucky in architecture where he had a fruitful academic career. While there he also managed to stay active in theater and earn degrees in both disciplines. He was active in a Shakespeare in the Park group during this time. He also spent a semester in Berlin where he explored and was filled with even more inspiration.
His senior year, he entered a set design competition with his original play “The Glass Eye.” It was selected as the winner and was produced by the theater department, a major honor. After graduation, he had many options, and chose to return to Charleston, WV to be near family. Shortly after, he accepted a position with ETB Architects, and has since found a creative home here in Princeton, WV where he is involved in a myriad of activities and groups of creative activists such as Gary Bowling’s House of Art, Ars Creo, Princeton Renaissance Project and All Together Arts to name a few. 
His creations have become iconic to the creative movement in Mercer County, namely his collaborations with John Trail on a life sized paper mache elephant and book shelf mural next to Princeton Public Library.

5. Craig Worrell 

Craig Worrell grew up in Princeton, WV, son of Mason and Shirley Worrell. He graduated from Princeton Senior High School in '93 and from there went to Cleveland Institute of Art. Graduating with honors in '98 with a BFA in Illustration, Craig then went to work for a subsidiary of Hallmark Cards as an Industrial Designer, Graphic Designer, and ConceptDesigner for children's toy
s and games working on such properties as Star Wars, Batman, Winnie the Pooh, Toy Story, etc. 
Since '02 Craig has been working as a freelancer, designing logos and characters and illustrating books, posters, and shirts for clients nationally and internationally. In 2012 he co-founded the Rust Belt Monster Collective, a group of talented artists who collaborate on improvised murals that are displayed in and around the Cleveland area as well as internationally. The Collective is a multi-award winning group, including recent winners of the NASA Centaur challenge who will soon have a mural on display at the NASA Glenn Research Center.
Craig currently lives outside of Cleveland, OH with his wife Mandi, daughter Lily, and dog Zoe with frequent trips down I-77 to visit family and Princeton.

On his auction contribution…
Craig called on the movie connection for inspiration. In thinking of movies that would have played at the Lavon/Royale Theatre, he chose Bride of Frankenstein to complement the finish of the natural metal. Find more from him here:

6. Nathan Skeens

Nathan Skeens is a 1993 graduate of Princeton Senior High School and has been a professional graphic artist in advertising since 1996. He is both a sign painter and muralist. A beautiful example of his work can be seen in Artists’ Alley in downtown Princeton.

Nathan is a passionate person and a man of faith; this is evident in his work. Having artists in his family, art comes naturally to him. He had some outstanding art teachers in Roanoke at a magnet school for creativity he attended.

He spent a short time at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh but it wasn’t his cup of tea. He took an apprenticeship in NC in screen printing and graphic arts where he developed his skills and printed for companies such as Nike & Adidas. He has worked locally for Bluefield Daily Telegraph and he now works independently.

He has 2 daughters, ages 12 and 13, who are also very creative; Nathan hopes they will follow in his artistic footsteps.

On his auction contribution…
Nate’s depiction of a church serves as a reminder of the faith that has always been a strong part of our Princeton community.

7. Patch Whisky 

Princeton native Patch Whisky is an American muralist and fine artist based in Charleston, South Carolina. His primary medium is aerosol and acrylic paint. Patch's murals can be seen on walls up and down the east coast, throughout the mid-west, and at the Community Garden in downtown Princeton.  

Patch’s work has been featured in numerous galleries and publications including the Museum of Sex in NY, The New York Times, Museum of Art in Columbia, SC and recently in Paris, France. Some of his clients include Absolut Vodka, Mellow Mushroom, and Warner Brothers motion pictures.

His auction contribution…In keeping with his whimsical muralist style, Patch merged old and new with a group of tiles from the Lavon/Royale theater.

8. Richard Shrewsberry

Born in Southern West Virginia, Richard Shrewsbury always knew he was going to be an artist. Richard cannot remember a time that he did not draw or want to draw. Through hisexperiences growing up in rural Appalachia, he developed ideas and emotions that still fuel his figurative work. His mother encouraged him and his high school a
rt teacher, Rita Montrosse, pushed himto experiment with his work and his creativity. 

After graduating from Princeton Senior High School, Richard attended the Cleveland Institute of Art where he earned his BFA with honors in Drawing. He then attended Arizona State University’s reputable School of Art graduating with honors and his MFA in Ceramics. 
Richard moved back to West Virginia in 2006 and resides with his wife in Princeton.

9. Victoria Santiago 

Born in Fort Worth, Texas, Victoria Santiago moved to Southern WV at a very young age and considers WV her home.

She became interested in art early on through the example set by her older brother who is an accomplished artist. After graduating from Pineville High School, she  went on to get a bachelors degree in Art Education from Concord University. She currently works as a visual art teacher for Raleigh County Schools.  
Although she love creating art, she says her heart lies with teaching. Her students have won best of show for Raleigh county middle students for the last 4 years. She was selected by her school as 2015 teacher of the year. About her art, she says 
"As a painter and sculptor, I tend to gravitate toward artwork promoting movement and texture while exploring Buddhist themes and nature- finding beauty in darker, more solemn imagery." 

Referring to the ceiling tile piece in the auction, she says, 
"I wanted to convey the past and the future for the tile. I left some of the green in remembrance of the first life of the tile. I added copper foil and paint to bring new life into the tile while adding the Buddha to remind us nothing is permanent and our life continues on despite tragedy."
And referring to the speaker: "I am a huge Sci-fi movie fan and I wanted to pay homage to that by featuring the first Science fiction movie made-a silent hand-cranked film by French Filmmaker Georges Mèliès called "Le Voyage dans la Lune" -"A Trip to the Moon" ."



10. Michael Sizemore

Michael Sizemore is a multi-medium artist; working in copper, bronze, resins, wood, clay and paint.

Sizemore grew up in Fayette County WV, where he demonstrated an early talent in painting and drawing. He pursued his passion throughout high school and then for two years in college (Concord College, Athens, WV). Following his blossoming curiosity, Sizemore left West Virginia in the summer of 1989 for the Southwest. 
Mr. Sizemore landed in Santa Fe New Mexico were he continued to expand his creative education. While in NM, Mike worked with a master mason designing and building kiva fireplaces, worked as the chief copper patina artist under the direction of Dell Weston from Dell Weston Studio Foundry and as an apprentice to copper artist Frank Andrews. While at the Weston Foundry, Sizemore learned the entire process of bronze castings from lost wax mold making, to metal pouring, to chasing and finally patina.
Sizemore returned to his home state of West Virginia in the winter of 1996 and has since become an established metal artist. In addition to commission work with the Town of Athens, Concord University, the Play on Foundation, City of Princeton and several local businesses and patrons, Sizemore continues to create pieces that are sold at local galleries and the Tamarack Center in Beckley, West Virginia.
Sizemore’s sculpture is inspired by the landscapes he loves so much; the sparse, spare, linear high deserts of Northern New Mexico and the lush, dark, river landscapes of southern West Virginia.
11. Jamie Ryan Powers (The Outlaw Illustrator) 

Born in the dark hollars of Southwest Virginia in the late 70’s Jamie, a coalminer’s son, spent most of his childhood trying to forget he was living in the coalfields of the poorest county in West Virginia.  He constantly consumed every monster and horror movie he was allowed to watch.  Lots of comic books were also absorbed, especially Swampthing and Manthing.  These major influences would stay with him to the present day and until the day he dies.

After high school Jamie attended the Columbus College of Art and Design.  Studying illustration and painting, he graduated in 2001 with a BFA degree which led to freelance illustration work including work for Cemetery Dance Publishing, White Wolf/Arthaus, Eden Press, Fantasy Flight Games, and CD art for the heavy rock band ONE.POINT.THREE.

Jamie is currently still creeping around the coalfields, inspired by all the real monsters of the area.  Surviving on bacon and Old Milwaukee, with his mutant dog Gonzo.