PARKERSBURG — Artsbridge’s annual Arts Encounter Day welcomed Mid-Ohio Valley students to downtown Parkersburg this week for hands-on art experiences.
Sixty students from Wood County’s six middle schools visited the Artsbridge offices, the Parkersburg Art Center and the Wood County Society headquarters on Tuesday for workshops on pottery, drawing, acting, choreography, costumes and wigs.
Sixth- through eighth-graders from Belpre City Schools did the same on Thursday, also stopping by the Actors Guild of Parkersburg.
“I’ve always liked drawing and doodling around,” sixth-grader Shawn Tucker said Thursday as he and fellow students sketched in the basement of the Art Center.
He also appreciated a tour of exhibits at the Art Center, including work by West Virginia artist Barrie Kaufman in a variety of media and Wood County students from kindergarten through high school.
“It’s amazing seeing how people are so talented,” Tucker said.
Artsbridge Executive Director Megan Newbanks said the goal is to introduce students to the area’s artistic and cultural offerings and actively engage them in the arts in a relaxed atmosphere.
“I think it opens the door for them to come back on their own,” she said.
Only a handful of the 30-plus Belpre students said they’d been to the Art Center before, said Margie Orcutt, K-6 art teacher at Belpre Elementary.
Arts Encounter Day was back downtown after a two-year absence due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“They brought them to us last year in our cafeteria, and it was wonderful, but it just wasn’t the same,” Orcutt said. “There’s just nothing like being in the space.”
Even walking downtown and seeing the recent murals and other art pieces adds to the experience, she said.
Funding for Arts Encounter Day was provided by Artsbridge, with support from the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture, and History and the National Endowment for the Arts, with approval from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts; the Ohio Arts Council; the Bernard McDonough Foundation; and the Fenton Foundation.
Evan Bevins can be reached at [email protected].