1. Rita Montrosse
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…
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 toys 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.