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Artists Transform Musical Instruments Into Art

May 2, 2010
By LINDA COMINS Life Editor

Nine area artists have transformed instruments of music into works of art for the Wheeling Symphony board of directors' auction this week.

Bidding is expected to be fierce for the chance to own one of nine violins that have been painted and decorated as beautiful, whimsical or poignant pieces of musical art. A highlight of the biennial auction, "The Art of the Violin" is a fund-raising project of the Wheeling Symphony auxiliary.

The auction will take place at Ohio Valley Medical Center's nurses' residence, 2000 Eoff St., Wheeling, Saturday, May 8. A preview of items will be available for inspection beginning at 5 p.m. The auction, starting at 6 p.m., will be conducted by Behm's Auction and Real Estate Service. Tickets can be purchased by calling the symphony office at 304-232-6191 or at the door Saturday.

Article Photos

The nine artists who have contributed violin creations this year are Greg Basil, Bobbi Priebe, Sharon Harkness, Robert Sako, Susan Tracy Maness, Jeri DeLong, Michelle Gorby, Judith D. Minder and Barbara Bonenberger.

The Violins

Titled "A dedication to the symphony men who served in the war," Basil's violin resembles an American eagle with feathery white "wings" and a stars-and-stripes body.

Priebe's violin, "Study in Gold," is an elegant creation with an intricately patterned design in a gold leaf style.

"Vivaldi's Spring" is the theme for Harkness' violin, decorated in three dimensions with blossoms and leaves, along with snippets of a musical score. She commented, "Painting the violin was great fun. I used my three-dimensional background and incorporated watercolor and jewelry-making techniques to bring out the theme of 'Vivaldi's Spring' for which it is titled."

Sako transformed a violin into an avian creature called "Ruby Breasted Song Bird." The whimsical "bird" is covered in bright yellow, blue and red feathers, with googly eyes added for a comic touch.

Maness calls her violin "Spring String March." Against a spring green background, she painted the body of a snail; from the snail's neck sprout the strings on the violin's actual neck.

"Iridescence Aloft," DeLong's work, features a painted scene of a colorful peacock perched on a berry-bearing branch.

Gorby's violin, "Wheeling Symphony: The Beginning," recalls the orchestra's history, with a portrait of symphony founder Eleanor Caldwell and a view of the orchestra's current home, the 1928 Beaux Arts-design Capitol Theatre.

"I Love Paris" declares Minder's violin, adorned with tassels and scenes of the Eiffel Tower and other Parisian landmarks.

Bonenberger's violin, "Peridot Melody," utilizes peacock feathers as "eyes" and ornamentation, set against a bright green satin body.

The Artists

Basil, who began creating art in grade school, studied oil painting, ceramics and airbrushing at Brooke High School. Later, he opened an airbrush T-shirt shop at the Ohio Valley Mall, St. Clairsville. For 13 years, he has owned and operated Greg's Tattooing in Wheeling, drawing on 18 years of experience as a tattoo artist.

Priebe, who studied oil painting in school, has expanded her repertoire to watercolors and acrylics. A member of Artworks Around Town, she received an honorable mention in the "Crosscurrents" exhibit at Oglebay Institute's Stifel Fine Arts Center in Wheeling.

Harkness said that artistic expression has always been one of her top priorities and has taken many forms, including sculpture, jewelry making, photography, interior design and watercolor painting.

She did watercolor paintings in college, but started taking formal lessons five years ago with Kathy Thompson. Presently, Harkness is studying with Bill Rettig in Wheeling.

Harkness' work has been shown at Artworks Around Town and the Wheeling Artisan Center. She has won awards at Stifel Center and the Steubenville Art Association show.

Sako has been an artist and art instructor for most of his adult life. He has taught art for kindergarten through middle school in Martins Ferry since 1980 and is an adjunct instructor at West Virginia Northern Community College, where he has taught photography, drawing, design and creative expression.

Sako has given solo shows and participated in group exhibits at Ohio University Eastern Campus, Delf Norona Museum at Grave Creek Mound Archaelogical Complex in Moundsville, Wheeling Artisan Center, WVNCC, Stifel Center and Artworks Around Town. Named the Ohio Art Education Association's regional outstanding art teacher for 2009, he has won awards for drawing, painting, photography and digital imagery.

Maness has 20-plus years of experience painting functional furniture pieces with a style that uses whimsy, color and design sense, evoking an emotional response to the artwork. Maness explained that she achieves this look by combining acrylic paints and markers with recycled furniture and sealing wood pieces with protective clear acrylic top coat. She also has worked with painted canvas upholstery.

DeLong said she discovered her love for art in a high school art class. After rearing children and teaching, she picked up her brushes again and moved from oils on canvas to acrylics on various objects. Later, she discovered her "true artistic love," gourd art. She has taught herself to carve, woodburn and bead gourds. Since becoming a member of Artworks Around Town, her interest in gourd art has grown. She aims to retire soon and become a full-time gourd artist.

Gorby, who has worked at a comic book company and a glass factory, owns a business, Custom Painting by Shell, and works in several media. Her projects include glass engraving and painting, vinyl for windows and cars and hand-painted Christmas ornaments. She is best known for painting houses and other buildings on large Christmas ornaments.

Minder, an art teacher for over 30 years and winner of a number of art prizes, is the founder and curator of the Student Art Show of Excellence for children, ages 10-14. She also curates "We'll Show Them, Those That Teach CAN," an art teachers' show at Artworks Around Town, where she is a board member. Minder also is a member of the Independent Artists Group that draws together at Stifel Center.

Bonenberger has been painting seriously for nearly seven years, mostly in watercolor. She has studied under Thompson, Rettig and the late Karl Jacobson.

Bonenberger had works accepted for "Crosscurrents" shows in 2008 and 2010 and the Steubenville Art Association's 2009 show. Her works also have been shown at Artworks Around Town and the Wheeling Artisan Center, where she paints every week with a group of women known as "The Broad Spectrum."

 
 

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