ART showcases non-traditional artwork

Joseph Pratt

[email protected]

The main branch of the Portsmouth Public Library (PPL) is showcasing outstanding local artwork that is within the realm of non-traditional art. The gallery is a part of the library’s monthly art competition, Appalachia Regional Talent (ART), and will run the remainder of September.

ART runs a gallery each month, following a theme of oil/acrylic, pencil/pen/charcoal/pastel, photography/digital art, and watercolor/non-traditional. The gallery runs in a cycle and each medium is rotated in and out.

Residents of Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia can submit work to the gallery each month. The only requirements are that the contributing artist be at least 12-years of age and the piece be either framed or matted, with an attached wire for hanging. The library also asks that work not exceed 16 by 20 inches, since they have limited space. The average submissions per month typically range from five to 10 pieces.

First Place was awarded to Anita Stewart for “Santa as an Old Gentleman,” Second Place was awarded to Shirley Martin for “Crazy Quilt Sampler: Jenny’s Silks,” and Third Place was awarded to Anita Stewart for “Mountain Man.”

The People’s Choice Award for August’s show of photography and digital art was also awarded this month, which went to Nikki Taylor’s “Hardworking Hands.”

The show also gives the public an opportunity to witness unique work, as seen with contributor Carole Estepp, who submitted needle punching art, a form she has worked on since retiring from education.

“I took up needle punching and hooking as a hobby after I retired from teaching,” Estepp said. “I create my own designs, dye my wool, and hook rugs on Scottish linen.”

A picture of Appalachian history is often formed when these artists create with their own unique expressions and trades they’ve known for many years. This is heavily witnessed with the work of Shirley Martin, who is now over 70 and looks back at her life, having been born a Depression-era baby.

“As a young girl, I was blessed with one pair of blue jeans per year of school and an optimism which allowed me to see beauty in the possibility of imagining and re-imagining. My sisters and I embellished clothes with bit and pieces long before the 1970s Bedazzler was sold in stores nationwide,” Martin said. “I think that I’ve continued to piece quilts using re-purposed silks, satins, velvets and wools from thrifted items, such as coats, skirts, and neck ties, as a way celebrate the optimism of my youth and to help me continue to imagine.”

The library is currently accepting submissions until September 21 for October’s oil/acrylic show. Submission forms can be completed in the library or online, but artwork requires approval through the Portsmouth Public Library director.

The artwork can also be viewed online at

The Portsmouth Public Library is at 1220 Gallia Street, Portsmouth. Hours of operation are Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Tuesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Reach Joseph Pratt at 740-353-3101, EXT 1932, or by Twitter @JosephPratt03.