West Virginia has produced a plethora of athletes and actors – from Jack Dempsey and Mary Lou Retton to Don Knotts and Jennifer Garner. But the Mountaineer state doesn’t make a whole bunch of blips on the radar of the art world, yet. That may change with West Virginia University planned opening of an Art Museum before 2014. As smaller liberal arts colleges like Brandeis are forced to sell work or shut their museum doors, the effort behind WVU’s small but stately gallery space (5300 sq. ft) is a gallant one. The museum (with outdoor sculpture garden) will be connected to a Museum Education Center, a building originally designed for an alumni organization by one of “The New York Five” architects, Michael Graves.
WVU holds the largest public collection of art by American Modernist Blanche Lazzell. Later known for her white-line woodcuts, Lazzell was born on a farm near Maidsville, WV, and studied fine art with Eva E. Hubbard at WVU from 1901-1905. On campus, Lazzell learned ceramics, gold etching, and china decoration. (Sales of her hand-painted china were her means of living for years.) In August 2012, exemplifying the recent resurging interest in white-line woodcut prints in the art world, Lazzell’s print “Sail Boat” fetched $106,200 at auction.