Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Princeton Times

July 3, 2008

Artists the key to open opportunity


“It’s sort of along the idea, ‘Blossom in the corner where you are,’” she said. “There’s a lot, really, going on in Mercer County and in Princeton, and I think that people are going to be looking for entertainment and vacationing much, much closer because of the cost of gasoline. We do have an awful lot to celebrate in our community.”

That optimism can go a long way toward meeting environmental, economic and community goals, she said.

“We have to look at the glass half full,” Meehan said.

Expanding the


One of the primary goals is getting past barriers, whether they are cultural, economic or geographic. Locally, the high school and business feud between Princeton and Bluefield has been well-documented and long-lamented, but folks in the creative class gathered last Thursday believed there have been great strides to move past the imaginary line separating Mercer County’s two cities.

“Those of us who believe in cooperation and good will do not even entertain the thought of separatism. The whole ‘high school jacket syndrome’ is an invented barrier between people that is really quite silly,” McKinney said. “... We need each other. We need to cooperate to thrive.”

While RiffRaff, along with other artistic endeavors at places such as The Bronze Look, the Princeton Railroad Museum, the upcoming Chuck Mathena Center and more, have been broadening creative horizons in Princeton, a growing group of artists have also set up shop in Bluefield at Gary Bowling’s House of Art. Conventional wisdom may lead people to believe the Princeton and Bluefield artists could be in competition, but McKinney said that is not true.

“We support the Bluefield arts scene by attending their events when our schedule allows, by wishing them very well, and by spreading the word about all the awesome things they are doing over in Bluefield,” she said. “We communicate with artists there too and have developed some great friendships with creative people who share our vision for the region. And, of course, our doors are always wide open for anyone who would like to participate or collaborate.”

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