BUCKHANNON — The Colonial Theatre’s Art Gallery is finally open to the public and celebrated its first attraction with a grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony for the Upshur County Youth Art Exhibition on Friday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
The county-wide gallery is located at the space right beside the Colonial Theatre and open for all to enjoy. This was the first time the entire county’s school district has had the opportunity to present their artwork together, as individual schools have previously held their own showcases. Approximately 180 pieces of local art from Pre-K to Grade 12 students is currently on display in the Main Street gallery.
“We’re excited that we are the first people in the Colonial Theater Art Gallery. It’s not only helping Upshur County Schools get their student artwork out in the community, but also bringing people downtown into the space and allowing them to see what’s happening with the theater and what’s been done,” explained Virginia Hicks, Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School Art Teacher.
“The analogy ‘the tip of the iceberg’ works well here. This little room is just a piece of this whole building… Give us another 12 months and this place is really going to be full of wonderful things that our kids are making and doing. Today’s opening, just think of it as a piece of a whole lot more to come,” said Bryson VanNostrand, City Architect. “It’s the inaugural Upshur County Youth Arts Exhibit, which is a county-wide effort and we hope that can continue year after year.”
Superintendent Dr. Sara Stankus also shared her excitement at the celebration. “The Board of Education and the Upshur County Schools understand the importance of art education and what art can do for children. It gives them, not only the creative sense, but it teaches them about risk taking in a safe place, critical thinking... There’s all kinds of research to back the importance of arts education and the integration of arts into education, so today’s a great day. We plan to do more here in Upshur County with the Colonial Theater,” Stankus said.
“I’m really thankful for the community support, of not only the mayor and City of Buckhannon, but also Art26201 and Dr. Stankus, Superintendent of Upshur County Schools. It’s been a collaborative effort for all of us to work together to make this happen,” stated Heidi Thompson, Buckhannon-Upshur High School Art Teacher.
Students came to the opening with their families to display impressive artworks they have created over the past year. “I think that this is a really great opportunity for the whole community to broadcast what all our county has to offer,” expressed graduating senior and AP Art student, Emily Fox.
The exhibit was originally scheduled to open March 14 during Youth Art Month, but it was forced to postpone due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The youth art exhibit will be on display in the gallery until June 27. The Colonial Theatre Gallery will be open every Friday and Saturday in June from 5 to 7 p.m. For those unable to visit the gallery in person, photos of the artwork can be found online at https://www.bu-student-art.mountaineer.news/.