Boys Just Wanna Have Fun! OI Tumbling Class Builds a Lifetime Love of Fitness!

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By Laura Jackson Roberts

Andy and Ben laugh at the back of the line, poking each other. The giggles aren’t so much joyful and pure as they are distinctly ornery. Andy sticks a wet finger into his little brother’s ear; Ben squeals and shoves Andy as far as his short arms will allow. The line of boys ahead of them sways like a lizard as the rest of the group notices my children play-fighting. A chorus of burgeoning testosterone rises to bounce off the mirrored wall and high ceilings.

“Boys!” a voice calls. “Let’s focus! Andy and Ben: Show me your cartwheels!”

My children snap to attention and stand still. Unprecedented!

The voice belongs to Kimberlee Kafana, who is known as “Miss Kim” at Oglebay Institute’s School of Dance, and she’s teaching Boys Only Tumble, Stretch and Flex. It’s Friday afternoon, and she, along with her helpers, are here to take on a gaggle of whirling Tazmanian Devils that look an awful lot like elementary school boys. These kids love Miss Kim, and they love to tumble, and what’s more, they’re getting good at it.Boys Tumbling 2_2105

Miss Kim has been teaching boys-only classes for many years. And while the co-ed and female classes she instructs enjoy the same physical and emotional benefits, she stresses that “boys will be boys, and we need to let them be boys.” In her class, it’s okay to grunt, and beat your chest, and throw yourself as hard as you can onto the mat. Doing so beyond the watchful eyes of girls sets the boys free, Kim says. “When girls are in the class, [the boys] lose a lot more confidence in themselves than people realize. It’s an impressionable age, so it’s important to let them have that separation.”

Boys Tumbling_2015I’m in agreement. When nine-year-old Andy finds himself amidst a group of young ladies, the urge to bug them takes over, and he picks and pokes and smirks. Ben, who is five, regularly launches into a booty dance, as though he wrote the book on flirting. But sans ladies, my guys easily focus on the benefits of tumbling.

And they are many. Tumbling, Kim explains, helps them developmentally. They’re not just playing around; they’re building self-confidence, becoming better students, and learning to focus on their own skills. “There are natural-born athletes, where things just come so easy. Then there are children who might be a little weaker, or less flexible. They can find success and in that journey they are the ones who control their progress and their challenges and what the outcome is going to be.” She goes on to say that she and her assistants will tailor each child’s experience to his particular physical needs. “By the time you’re done and you’ve given him the tools to succeed, he might be the most flexible. The end result is fitness for a lifetime. They are the people who control their destiny.”Boys Tumbling 4_2015

Hard work. Self-discipline. They have to earn their own skills in Kim’s class, just as they do in life, whether they are natural athletes or not. She tells me she’s here to motivate and inspire them. And she does.

I wait downstairs for class to finish, listening to the thunder of feet as each child presents a skill to his peers. Kim calls, “Way to go, Andy!” and the boys clap for him as he nails a round-off. I sneak up the stairs to watch my second-born, who has never really gotten the hang of his cartwheel. He runs down the mat, flops over onto his side, and stands up, beaming.
The older boys put their arms around my little guy and ruffle his hair. “Nice cartwheel, Ben,” they say. At home, Ben will wear out my furniture showing me his tumbling skills. When I ask him where he learned to be such a great cart-wheeler, he’ll look up from the mangled couch cushions and tell me, “From Miss Kim. She says I’m totally awesome!”

Boys Only Tumble, Stretch and Flex is offered for boys K-5 at Oglebay Institute’s School of Dance on Fridays from 4-5pm.

Volunteers Contribute to the Growth and Vitality of Oglebay Institute

Museums Committee Celebrates 80 years of Service

For 85 years the non-profit Oglebay Institute has served as the cultural hub of Wheeling and its surrounding communities. By providing a diverse schedule of more than 350 cultural programs in art, dance, theater, nature and history each year, OI reaches a vast audience and makes a positive impact on the lives of Upper Ohio Valley residents.

Whether it was during one of our in-school programs, summer camps or dance classes as a youth or one of our art classes, plays or musical concerts an adult, almost everyone in the area has had some experience with what OI offers. You’ve hiked our trails, visited our galleries, danced in our studio, explored our archives and collections, acted on our stages, applauded in our theater and learned in our indoor and outdoor classrooms.

What you may not know is that OI provides all of these opportunities in our six facilities with a staff of only 24 fulltime employees. How do we offer so much with such a small staff? The answer is the same as it was in 1930 when OI was incorporated to offer cultural programming to a city that had just been gifted Oglebay Park – dedicated, passionate volunteers.

As a short history lesson and a story we love to tell, OI began when 110 families donated $100 each to kick-start an effort to offer quality cultural programming and educational opportunities to Wheeling in conjunction with the gifting of Waddington Farm by the Oglebay family to the city of Wheeling. (This is an incredible fact, considering our country was in the midst of a depression, unemployment was reaching 25% and the average family income was less than $1400 per year.)

Our founding members realized the important role cultural programs play in improving the quality of life of a community. Those seed families planted more than just their money. They planted a core value in an organization that would thrive for more than eight decades later – the importance of volunteerism in service of the arts.

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Sustaining members of the Committee of the Museums of Oglebay Institute pictured, left to right, are: Shirley Milton, Doretta Jacob, Karen Grisell, Diana Davis, Jane McCamic, Joan Stein, Gladys Van Horne and Honorary Member Bobbie Michael.

This past spring served as a shining example and reminder of the valuable role community volunteers play in leading the growth and continued vitality of OI as the Committee of the Museums of Oglebay Institute, whose members graciously volunteer their time and experience to support the Mansion and Glass Museums, celebrated 80 years of service.

There are only 779 museums in the United States accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, which sets the rigorous standards of what a top-notch museum should be. Of those 779, only four of them reside in the historically rich West Virginia. The Museums of Oglebay Institute have the prestigious honor of being among those four. (While the Mansion Museum and Glass Museum have separate physical locations, they are classified as one museum by the AAM.) The others are the Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences of West Virginia in Charleston, Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, National Park Service and the Huntington Museum of Art. Anyone who has traveled through West Virginia and enjoys learning about its rich cultural history will quickly recognize how many amazing museums are not listed above.

Keeping this accreditation is rigorous, costly and time intensive. How do we manage it at OI? It is only possible through the dedicated service of the volunteers that serve on Committee.

Museums director Christin Byrum said that without the volunteer committee, there is little chance of maintaining such a prestigious listing.

“We have been accredited by the American Alliance of Museums since 1972, which was the second year of the program. Achieving and maintaining accredited status means that our museums are operating in accordance with national standards and best practices in the field. We were the first museum in West Virginia to be accredited. That’s really pretty amazing. Having fewer than 800 museums in the United States accredited means that less than 2.5% of recognized museums are able to obtain and keep that recognition. Here we are, a small museum in Wheeling, West Virginia, which has literally been on that list from the very beginning.”

Perhaps the greatest hurdle that many museums face is the challenge of caring for collections housed in historic structures, while adhering to the AAM’s rigorous standards. Most of the buildings that house museums weren’t designed to maintain optimal conditions for preserving a collection of historical items. Whether it is the Museums or any one of the other five facilities OI operates, these types of ambitious initiatives are often the result of fundraising and hours of work put in by volunteers that see the importance of continuing the cultural legacy left by those who have come before.

Byrum added that, in the case of the Museums Committee, it is the willingness of members to raise those needed funds as well as their leadership and guidance that make everything continue to operate smoothly.

“Without the support of the Committee, many of the annual events and activities that take place could not happen. Children’s Day and the Antiques Show & Sale are just two examples. Children’s Day has been and continues to be a tradition enjoyed by generations of Wheeling citizens, and the Antiques Show & Sale, the largest and longest running in the state, just celebrated its 61st year.”

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Museums Committee chairman Donna Glass, vice chair Sherry Hearne and OI museums director Christin Byrum.

The funds raised through these events support key areas of operation that are critical to maintaining professional standards and practices:  collections acquisitions, collections care, continuing education and professional development for the staff, and internships.

Donna Glass, the current chairman of the Museum Committee, says that volunteerism is about finding the perfect fit.

“There are a lot of great organizations doing really wonderful things, but it’s about finding the right fit for you. If you look at the example of the Museums Committee, you will see a list of names you might never put together as individuals, but as a group, I truly believe we can take on any challenge that is presented to us. Our individual passions and beliefs for preserving the Museums and making them better is even stronger when experienced as a group.”

Arts organizations and non-profits in general rely on both individual volunteers and groups like the Museums Committee to protect the mission across generations. Glass says that the perfect marriage is not only about matching passion and mission but also working with the staff to guarantee that the mission is being fulfilled.

“The Museums Committee is there to protect, preserve and enhance the museums to ensure that they will always be here and to be able to lighten the load of the dedicated staff.”

Volunteers are essential to the operations of not only the Museums but also OI as a whole. They can be found sharing their time and expertise throughout the organization – art students assisting with classes and exhibits at OI’s Stifel Fine Arts Center; actors, ushers and stage hands at Towngate Theatre; moms and dads at the School of Dance who build sets, buy props and sew costumes; outdoor enthusiasts chipping trails and working in gardens at the Schrader Center. Our volunteers add a depth and richness that we would most certainly lack in their absence.

We just wanted to take a moment to say, “Thank You” to each and every one of you that give your time and talents to make OI the very best that it can be.80yrs_contributors copy

Oglebay Institute Woodworking Workshop at the Stifel Fine Arts Center with Guest Instructor Brad Fritz

by Renee Ann Pflughaupt

This post is for those of you who are constantly looking for new and exciting things to do in Wheeling.

A few weeks ago during a workshop at Oglebay Institute’s Stifel Fine Arts Center, I held something real in my hands.

Jammed into the chopping block laid a cool, fresh slice of pear wood. Methodically, I brought down the hatchet—red, with a rubber handle—into the fresh, green lumber. Bit by bit, not quite unlike Pygmalion shaping marble, I hacked at the log.

What wondrous thing was I trying to sculpt?

A spoon.

While seemingly trivial, hacking a spoon from a lump of wood isn’t particularly easy—the result in my hands is only vaguely spoon-shaped. But the sense of satisfaction, wrangling hard, dense wood to my own designs, is overwhelming.

Before this day, I couldn’t have told you what a froe even looked like, let alone split logs with one. Neither had I touched a hatchet, a shaving bench, or a carving knife. But through Oglebay Institute’s Spoon Carving Workshop at the Stifel Arts Center, I have experienced something truly remarkable.Wooden Spoon Workshop

Our fearless leader in wielding knives, hatchets and froes is a master craftsman: he was drawn to woodworking as a 3-year-old and has been shaping green wood for nearly 15 years. Upon first glance, you are immediately struck by his easy-going attitude: laid-back, friendly, encouraging, and patient.

Of course, unless you noticed the kilt first.

Brad Fritz (also known as the “Kilted Crafter”) of St. Clairsville, Ohio has led dozens of traditional woodworking workshops throughout the Ohio Valley. From his home workshop he constructs and restores wooden furniture and trinkets by hand, in addition to teaching his craft at local workshops and festivals.

He teaches toddlers as easily as adults in the basics of woodworking. In fact, he will be at the Wheeling Arts Festival on June 20, 2015, teaching young children how to build wooden chairs by hand.

That’s right: no power tools in these classes. Fritz, an off-gridder and traditional artisan, has built (and taught others how to build) entire houses with nothing but his hands and his handmade woodworking tools. The ease with which he wields his tools is nothing short of mesmerizing; every moment spent watching him teach is chock-full of information.

And who taught the teacher? Himself, of course.

“I learned from a lot of research,” Fritz said, “and a lot of practice.” His first spoon—after watching festival artisans charge $40-$60 per piece—took him at least an hour’s worth of knife work to fashion.

“And it was only good for kindling,” he said with a smile. The rest of us smiled with him, as we continued to chisel away at our lumpy spoons.

Offering workshops with guest artists like Fritz allows Oglebay Institute to further its mission to provide a wide variety of arts and cultural programs to residents of Wheeling and surrounding communities.

Rachel Shipley, an art educator at the Stifel Fine Arts Center, said that bringing in guest instructors helps keep things fresh and offers the Wheeling arts community access to new and interesting artists and their work.

Oglebay Institute's Stifel Fine Arts Center offers year-round workshops and classes in a variety of media. Above is a list of just a few of the topics available.

Oglebay Institute’s Stifel Fine Arts Center offers year-round workshops and classes in a variety of media. Above is a list of just a few of the topics available.

“Each of us here at Stifel has our own set of skills and particular mediums we love, but what we really love is art. That’s what binds us together. By providing diverse experiences in the arts we hope to inspire students to develop new skills, explore their creativity and learn a few things not just about the medium but also about themselves.”

If nothing else, Fritz convinced us that anyone can learn to work with wood and create durable, hardy, and lasting goods. While we lacked his experience in turning wood into spoons, we needed only look to see what a little grit and determination could do on the road to mastery.

And that was incredibly empowering.

Oglebay Institute’s Schrader Nature Center Launches #RecreateOglebay

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Who says you have to choose between being outside and using technology?

Oglebay Institute will offer Wheeling residents and visitors the chance to do something a little different this summer and fall.

Starting Friday, May 15, 2015, Oglebay Institute will post a picture each week that was hand selected from their archive of almost a century’s worth of catalogued photographs to be posted onto their Instagram and Facebook pages.

Everyone is encouraged to participate in Recreate Oglebay by getting their friends together and recapturing the look and feel of the photographs to the best of their ability and tagging them with the hashtag “#RecreateOglebay”. Each week, the best photo will be selected and featured both on the social media platforms as well as at Oglebay Institute’s Schrader Nature Center.

Alice Eastman, Director at the Schrader Environmental Education Center said it is time to begin showing people ways to integrate technology into their enjoyment of the outdoors.

“Oglebay Institute has always tried to be a bellwether of creative programming that encourages people to get out and explore the world around them using the most current and innovative tools at their disposal. I see this as just the latest way that we’re doing that.”

Wheeling has shown how much it loves to use Instagram and Facebook to create beautiful pictures of the city and the surrounding areas. There are groups like Wheeling Shooters who are organizing entire days around capturing Wheeling’s beauty and architecture. We want to offer both the community and park guests the opportunity to do the same for this amazing outdoor resource we have been gifted. By offering these really cool photos from the history of OI and the park, it adds just another really layer to the creative process – a little bit of adventure that will hopefully encourage everyone to get out and rediscover the park in its entirety.”

Here’s what you do:

  1. Log onto Instagram and follow “oinature” as well as the Facebook page for Oglebay Institute.
  2. Check back every Friday for the next photo to be released. Winners for the previous week will be chosen and posted on Friday as well.
  3. Search and follow the #RecreateOglebay and #whatsYOURnature hashtags to see all of the amazing photos that are posted each week.
  4. Challenge your friends and family to get out and enjoy their summer by helping to recreate and remember some of the moments captured throughout the history of the park and Oglebay Institute.

Prestige Over Pageantry: Oglebay Institute Teaches the Art of Dance

Dance isn’t about pageantry or pomposity. It’s not. Trust me. No matter what you’ve been told, dance, in its rightful place, is aligned with the great human pursuit: experiencing the world and finding a way to share your unique understanding with those around you.

Dance, used as that vehicle, lays waste to the glitz and sequins for which it has sadly become known. It becomes poetry lifted into the air by the subtle, trained bodies of dancers. Here at Oglebay Institute’s School of Dance, that is the focus, to train dancers that are artists and masters of their craft. We want to take our students from nervous initiates in their first introductory course to serious students in our pre-professional program.

Keep the pageantry. Keep the sequins. We want serious dancers.

Cheryl Pompeo, the director of dance at the school, says that the difference between the OI School of Dance and some of the other studios in the Ohio Valley isn’t about being a non-profit versus a for-profit school or even about course offerings. It all starts with the philosophy and focus.dance_line_2014

“We are different in that we focus completely on technique and the art of dance, not the completion of a class or the preparation of a routine for a recital. Those things don’t always effectively make the student a better dancer. It only trains them to do a repetitive series of motions. We want dancers that are serious about setting a strong foundation of technique and learning principles and practices that lead to a lifelong love and appreciation for the art of movement and the ability to carry it over to whatever they may be called upon to do.”

Prestige is not a word we would ever attribute to ourselves, but it is what we strive for every day. We want the best teachers. We want the most serious, passionate dancers. We want to bring in the biggest names to facilitate workshops. We want to be represented in the most notable camps, programs, and summer dance intensives.

We want these things not because they make us look good. We don’t really care about that. We want those things because it means we’re providing the very best experience, training, and resources for our dancers. We’re giving them the best opportunities to pursue dance as far as they want. We give them a chance at what started, for many of them, as a dream.

So, how do we do that?

As stated above, it starts with the overall direction and focus of Oglebay Institute’s School of Dance. We want to be one of the best dance schools in the Ohio Valley if not the best option. To do that, we begin by bringing in not only the very best instructors we can find but also ones that align themselves with our mission.

OI dance instructor Kimberlee Kafana said it’s that focus that drew her to the school as both an instructor and as a training ground for her own daughter.

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Guest instructor Allison DeBona of Salt Lake City’s Ballet West and a participant in the CW series, “Breaking Pointe,” center, is pictured with OI dance instructor Kim Kafana, right, and her daughter J’lyse, left. J’lyse is an OI student, a member of the OI dance company and pre-professional program and is also a year-round student at the prestigious Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School.

“You wouldn’t believe how hard it was to find a place that took teaching the technique of dance seriously while still putting it in its proper social perspective. Dance schools and programs can be vicious and focused on show. And for some people, that’s fine, but I love that those people rarely last long here at the school. It’s just something that is completely different. It’s a completely different and refreshing atmosphere.”

Arianne Wade, another instructor at the school, said she came to the school burnt out, but was completely rejuvenated to find a program that put the focus back on training dancers from beginning to pre-professional.

“First of all, the very fact that we have a pre-professional program that places dancers into nationally recognized summer dance intensives and college programs says something, and I think it’s one of the best kept secrets in the Ohio Valley dance world.

When I arrived at Oglebay Institute, I saw very little drama, a very welcoming staff, and a collection of students that were actively pursuing dance seriously and not as a way to boost their social status. They want to be the best, and sometimes, those people are the least flashy.”

Our pre-professional program at Oglebay Institute’s School of Dance was established by Pompeo in 2012 as a way to provide dancers who were considering a career in dance the opportunity to receive more individualized training.

“We love our classes, but within each of those classes, there is a wide range of skills and interest. Our pre-professional program is for the extremely focused student who aspires to be a professional dancer and is willing and excited about seeking out more intense, rigorous training. Selection to this program is something we take serious. Those who are able to be a part of it receive what I believe to be the best instruction, coaching, and access to resources available to serious dancers in Wheeling and the Ohio Valley. But then again, I’m biased.”

Along with the exclusive pre-professional program, The School of Dance also offers dance intensives and workshops for growth outside of normal class times for dancers of all skill and interest levels, independent of whether or not they are enrolled year-round in OI’s school.

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OI director of dance Cheryl Pompeo, left, is pictured with guest instructor Lorraine Graves, who is a guest faculty member at the Virginia School of the Arts and master teacher at the Dance Theatre of Harlem.

“We want to foster dance. That’s it. We don’t care where you attend or study. Just come and learn with us. Let’s just all take every opportunity we have to get better at what we do,” Pompeo said.

“The nice thing about our programs is that you don’t have to travel. Some of this is a reaction to our students missing out on opportunities because of the cost of travel and lodging. We asked ourselves, ‘Why can’t we bring that same level of experience to Wheeling?'”

These opportunities include both a Summer Intensive Dance Program as well as our Four Sunday Workshop Series and various specialty workshops throughout the year. Programs feature nationally recognized dancers and master teachers. The Summer Intensive Program is for one week each summer, and the Four Sundays program is a series of one-day workshops on, yeah, you guessed it, a series of four consecutive Sundays.

Past guests for these specialty workshops and intensives include, among many others:

  • Allison DeBona: a member of Salt Lake City’s Ballet West and a participant in the CW’s unscripted series, Breaking Pointe
  • Yoav Kaddar: associate professor of dance and director of the dance program at West Virginia University
  • Donald Laney: co-artistic director of the West Virginia Dance Company
  • Christopher Bandy: ballet master and resident choreographer at Terpsicorps Theatre of Dance in Ashville, NC; artistic director and choreographer for the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra’s production of The Nutcracker; and choreographer at the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre
  • Alexandra Kochis: artistic advisor at the Dance Theatre of Pennsylvania; principal dancer for the Pittsburgh Ballet Company
  • Lorraine Graves: guest faculty at the Virginia School of the Arts and master teacher at the Dance Theatre of Harlem
  • David Howard: “Teacher of the Stars”; guest teacher at the Royal Ballet, ABT, Joffrey Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, and the National Ballet of Canada
  • Luigi: “Father Jazz”; master teacher; and the creator of the Luigi Jazz Dance Technique, internationally recognized as the first formal jazz technique

I once asked Pompeo what her “pitch” was to prospective students and their families. She looked at me like I’d gone crazy.

“I don’t have a pitch. I’ve never even considered that question. We have always filled our classrooms to almost capacity simply by word of mouth and recommendations from the dancers we produce year-after-year. I feel like we’re just about to the point that if you know a serious dancer that wants to be a professional or a family that wants their child to learn proper technique without a lot of the pageantry and drama, they probably have some tie to our school. On top of that, we have the added benefit of being a part of Oglebay Institute. OI is everywhere in the arts, and our reputation as an organization speaks for itself.”

 

 

OI Exhibit and Workshops Offer Art Resources to Ohio Valley Students

In a world that is increasingly obsessed with being measurable, it is perhaps more important than ever that we purposefully present resources and opportunities to our young artists.

Oglebay Institute’s Stifel Fine Arts Center is known around the Ohio Valley arts scene for its community centered exhibitions, its summer camps, as well as providing art classes for all ages and skill levels. But, according to Brad Johnson, the director of exhibitions at the Stifel Fine Arts Center, it’s the resources that are provided to artists, particularly young artists, that might very well hold the greatest importance.

The Annual Regional Student Art Exhibit provides high school students the opportunity to display their work in a professional gallery, see what other students are doing in the world of art and collaborate and get feedback from art teachers, college professors and other students from throughout the region. Alone, that would be an amazing opportunity, but the real value is in the resources that are provided to the participants.Student Show_15_24

“It’s always great to see these kids display their work at this level for the first time. There is a real sense of achievement and a realization that, ‘Hey, I can do this,’ Johnson said. “But, at the same time, this exhibition is going to end. The skills they gain and the resources they have access to as they prepare for this exhibit will serve them well in the future.”

To impact the largest amount of budding artists possible, the exhibit is open to any student in grades 9-12 within a 50-mile radius of Wheeling. The 2015 student exhibit proudly showed a record 206 entries from 122 students.

Johnson said that all students have access to workshops, professional equipment and mentoring free of charge through the Stifel Center’s Art Prep Program, which is made possible by the Elizabeth Stifel Kline Foundation.

“Every participating student gets the opportunity to learn how to properly measure and cut mats and mount their work through our matting workshop. They also have access to our digital photography studio, backdrops and instruction in how to properly shoot and light 2-D and 3-D pieces to begin building a professional digital portfolio. Often, these kinds of things aren’t stressed enough in art programs because they aren’t actually art technique or art history. We do that as well, but what this type of instruction does is move a students from making art recreationally to presenting themselves professionally. We have found time and time again that these skills are invaluable when applying to schools or professional positions by giving them a leg-up on their peers in the same position.”

DSCN1217This attention to training and mentoring the youngest members of the Ohio Valley arts scene, as well as the exhibit itself, are key components of the Stifel Center’s mission to provide opportunities for aspiring artists to advance their talents.

Johnson said the Art Prep Program in not only available to schools participating in the Regional Student Art Show but also to any school that wants to make this opportunity available to its students.

“Essentially, we take the same expertise and attention we pay to those who are exhibiting in this show and make it available to an entire high school art program as part of their curriculum offering. The program is free, and we would love to see more schools take advantage of this program. We are proud to serve as a resource for schools, teachers and students.”

Georgia Tambasis, assistant professor of art at Wheeling Jesuit University, juried the 2015 student show and said providing opportunities and resources like the Stifel Fine Arts Center does is good for the future of Ohio Valley arts and culture.

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Raegan Ricer of Union Local and OI director of exhibitions Brad Johnson are pictured with Ricer’s Best of Show piece “Venerable Patina.”

“I was honored to be the judge of this year’s awards. In a time when the arts are underrepresented in schools, shows like this recognize student achievements in the arts in our community.”

The winners were selected from four categories – painting, photography, drawing, and 3-D.

Recognition of those artists wasn’t limited to ribbons and bragging rights. Winning artists also received cash prizes, and three universities were on hand to view the artwork and offer scholarships to the participants that they thought most deserved a chance to further pursue their passion.

At the end of the night, West Virginia University offered a four-year, full tuition scholarship to Katelyn Yalacki of Avella High School and a $1000 scholarship to Ellie Knox of Union Local High School. West Liberty University offered a $1,000 scholarship to Knox as well.

The winners were as follows:

Best of Show: Raegan Ricer of Union Local.

Painting: First place, Samantha Shipley of Wheeling Park High School; second place, Megan Lattocha of Union Local High School; third place, Madison Huffman of Wheeling Park.

Drawing: First place, Morgan Dubich of Avella High School; second place Ellie Knox of Union Local; third place, Allison Ognacak of Bridgeport High School.

Photography: First place, Holly Greene of Wheeling Park; second place, Logan Mackey of Cameron; third place, Mason Boni of Avella.

3-D: First place, Shelby Fluharty of Wheeling Park; second place, Chelsey Christmas of Wheeling Park; third place, Katelyn Yalacki of Avella High School.

Honorable mentions: Shelby Fluharty of Wheeling Park, Katelyn Yalacki of Avella, Leah Stem of Cameron and Victor Velanga of Bridgeport.

Oglebay Institute’s Holly McCluskey Discusses Wheeling’s “Downton Abbey”

Oglebay Institute’s Mansion Museum is perhaps one of the most recognizable landmarks in all of Wheeling. No local resident is without the image of the beautiful yellow mansion that breaks into view as you ascend Route 88 from Woodsdale – the manicured lawns and ornate fountains combine with the rolling hills that break scenically from between the buildings.

The summer home of Earl W. Oglebay, one of America’s foremost businessmen and philanthropists as well as one of Wheeling’s top benefactors, has become a hilltop icon pointing back to time past that whispers subtly of affluence and industrial power seated here along our river banks.

Oglebay Institute's Mansion Museum

But what is less known and rarely experienced is the depth of story and intrigue that is found within the walls of this beautiful monument to Wheeling’s past.

Holly McCluskey, perhaps the nation’s foremost expert on the Oglebay family and the curator at the Museums, said that the true allure of the Museum is not its one-of-a-kind collection. It’s the stories behind those items and the mansion itself.

“The Oglebay family and the history of this family in relation to Wheeling is our own local Downton Abbey, complete with intrigue, scandal, secret engagements, tragedy, elite social circles, family tension, and glimpses at what makes the extraordinarily wealthy so intriguingly different from most of us while, at the same time, reminding us that they’re not so different after all. They still love. They experience grief and loss. They suffer from illness. They feel loneliness, and they are willing to put it all on the line for love.”

Christin Byrum, director of the Museums of Oglebay Institute, said that a lot of the programming at the Museums centers on telling the story of the Oglebay family in such a way that the engaging storylines become tangible through the very personal artifacts that have been left to the Museum from the family itself.

“The Oglebay family has been so gracious and generous over the years by leaving very unique, intimate, and valuable pieces to our collection,” said Byrum. “We like to take every opportunity to introduce the public to a story that is a part of the fabric of not only the Oglebay family but also of Wheeling.”

As Wheeling works toward creating a future that is founded on 21st century economy and sensibilities, it is important to look back and realize that men like Earl Oglebay and his grandson Courtney Burton succeeded by looking around and capitalizing on the opportunities presented by their place and time in history. And within those opportunities and calculated risks, their story, our story, is written.

Earl W. Oglebay Portrait

“We are definitely seeing a resurgence in interest surrounding the Oglebay story and our programs offered here at the Museums. I think as Wheeling enters into a new chapter in its long and storied history, it is only natural to look back and have a knowledge about what its past looked like. And in Wheeling, it’s impossible to look back and not see the iconic faces and landmarks emblazoned by the Oglebay family,” said McCluskey.

To provide an example, McCluskey said that approximately 30 people took part in a lecture on the life of Mr. Oglebay in mid-January. The lecture focused on the personal and professional life of the man who in the span of one lifetime became the youngest bank president at the age of twenty-eight and parleyed that early fortune into a visionary investment of a fledgling iron ore industry.

“It’s really something special. We had thirty people come out on a Thursday evening to hear the story of a man who died in 1926 but left an indelible mark on Wheeling and the surrounding area and institutions,” continued McCluskey.

In continuation of the desire to tell the story of the Oglebay family to a new generation of patrons, McCluskey said the Mansion Museum offered a Valentine’s Day Champagne Tour on February 13.

“So much of the Oglebay story is rooted in romantic relationships. Over three generations, there were secret engagements, tragedy, young love, second chances, and so much more. It reads like a soap opera or romance novel. In this tour, participating couples had a rare opportunity to go into some of the period rooms as well as view some of the more valuable and fragile pieces in our collection like Sallie, his wife’s, wedding dress as well as some beautiful pieces of family jewelry while hearing some of the more intimate, intriguing, and sometimes scandalous stories that make up the family fabric.”

Oglebay Institute Curator Holly McCluskey

McCluskey said the program sold out, with several couples on the waiting list. Due to the interest and positive response from the public she is planning to offer additional tours during Valentine’s weekend next year

Each participant received a glass of sparkling wine, chocolates, a single rose, and a glass “kiss” made in the Oglebay Institute Studio at the Glass Museum, which honors, preserves and displays Wheeling’s impressive glass legacy through a world-class collection and working glass studio where visitors can experience the art of glass making though live demonstrations and workshops with glass artisans.

“We were very excited to see so many new faces in our Museum. It’s always great to watch as people hear the story for the first time.”

As Wheeling moves forward, perhaps it is more important than ever to take some time to look at the successes of our past, and there is perhaps no better place to do that than the Museums of Oglebay Institute.