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Art’s Beauty Shines Through Nature’s Gloom At Eastern’s Annual Show


A dreary day of rain did not deter some 50 devotees from dropping by the 2014 Annual Art Show at Eastern WV Community and Technical College, April 25, to discover and drink in the 50 works of art on display. Oil paintings, ink drawings, sketches, collages, sculptures, installations and more draped the College’s resource center from wall to wall, and did not disappoint.

“This art show was probably the most successful one we've had so far,” said Curtis Hakala, faculty advisor to the Arts Society of Eastern Students, who organized the event. A dozen artists from among Eastern’s students, staff and the local community delighted the audience with their eyes for beauty and wonder, and their talent.

“We were wowed with so much professional caliber, awesome work displayed,” acknowledged Hakala, the college’s fulltime English instructor and coordinator for developmental education. He pointed to Eastern students Ryan Zirk and Chris Windley as the main show organizers.

Morgwyn Pennypacker's art on the display table with copies of "Eagles Nest" literary review

Artists displaying at the show included tattoo artist Morgwn Pennypacker, Zirk, Dystiny Kern, Dreama Kelly, Jillian Taylor, Cameron Mallow, Charles Terrell and Hakala.

Eagles Nest Published

The Arts Society also used the occasion, as is Eastern tradition, to release the latest issue of Eagles Nest, the college’s literary magazine of poetry, prose and photography. “Chris worked on editing and formatting the Eagles Nest, which was a pretty difficult task,” Hakala noted.

Eastern printed 500 copies of this third annual edition, and plans to post the magazine digitally on the college website.

The event featured music by the Next Exit band, and a mini-poetry reading by several of the writers whose work appears in Eagles Nest, including Zirk, Windley, Hakala and Mathias poet Nicole Yurcaba, author of Backwoods and Back Words, who also teaches English at the college.

Ryan Zirk's art: portrait of "John Steinbeck", left; and "The Radiant Child", rightChoosing from among numerous excellent works, judges voted Zirk’s “The Radiant Child” as best visual art; Kern’s "Before Autumn Comes" best photography; Windley’s "Bursting with Firsts" best prose; and Zirk’s "The Park Bench" best verse. All of this year’s prizewinners live in Moorefield.

As a special attraction, the show displayed an 8 by 16 foot, multi-colored mural of a replicated Vincent Van Gogh self-portrait. Constructed by Martinsburg artist David Heatwole in 2009, and newly restored this spring by Eastern’s Arts Society, the mural consists of hundreds of plastic bottle caps and lids, glued originally to four pieces of particle board.

Pointillism Portrait

 “A viewer standing close to the mural will probably see only a cluttered heap of scrapped bottle tops,” said Hakala, who also worked on the restoration.

 “But as you move farther away, the eye begins to give form to the arrangement of colors as recognizable shapes, and Van Gogh’s face, puffing on his pipe, sharply appears in a beautiful, pointillist portrait,” he explained. In this kind of picture, hundreds of small, colored dots, patterned in carefully designed clusters, give rise to the image.

Created as part of "Put A Lid On It," a four-state, multi-work project that sought to recycle garbage as art, the mural came to life through Heatwole’s vision and artistry, assisted by a dozen young children as helpers over a two-week period. Once completed, it hung for 30 weeks outside Martinsburg’s Redbrick gallery.

By Thanksgiving of 2011, the weather had so faded the bottletops and warped the undergirding boards that Heatwole decided to dismantle the mural and haul it to the landfill. But Paul Yandura, a collector who admired the artwork, and co-owner of the Lost River Trading Post, rescued the mural and stored it in his barn.

Polished & Remounted

There it lay, damaged and decaying for two years, until an idea hatched between Yandura and Terrell, Eastern’s president: the students’ Arts Society might wish to adopt it as a restoration project.

David Heatwole's restored bottletop "Van Gogh" mural hangs in Eastern's Resource Center at the art show

Zirk, Windley and Amanda Thompson notably contributed time and effort to the restoration, Hakala said, “and several other students pitched in the work” as well.

“We remounted the four old panels on new pieces of plexiglass, and reglued bottle caps onto the mural using silicone glue,” he explained. “Also, we polished all the bottle caps with tire cleaner, and replaced many broken ones.”

Eastern staffers Terry Wimer, Scott LeCrone and Paul Harman, along with Ward Malcolm, Dean of career, technical and workforce education, and President Terrell, “were all very instrumental in mounting the mural on Eastern's wall,” Hakala noted, a feat accomplished with the assistance of rented scaffolding.

For more information about Eastern’s financial aid opportunities, programs of study, workforce training and community education and events, call toll free: 877-982-2322; or check the College’s website: “”.

Eastern West Virginia Community and Technical College is a comprehensive and equal opportunity community and technical college that makes educational resources accessible to the families, communities, and employers of Grant, Hampshire, Hardy, Mineral, Pendleton and Tucker counties. Eastern is fully accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.