BLUEFIELD — World-renowned artist Patch Whisky returned to his roots this week to lend his art to the newest location of Gary Bowling’s House of Art — the old Ramsey School building.
The building is the non-profit’s fourth location, according to Vicki Queen, Director of Gary Bowling’s House of Art.
“In December of 2016 Tony Szabo donated the building to the house of art,” Queen said. “This is our fourth building but this is the first building that has ever had our name on the bottom line.”
Whisky grew up in Bluefield and has been displaying his work with the House of Art since the beginning. “This is my family and I just wanted to be a part of it anyway I could,” Whisky said. “They gave me free reign to come and paint it up.”
“When he knew we were getting ready to open again…these are his roots,” Queen said. “He has been with The House of Art since it started and he was excited to come back and we are honored that he would want to come and paint and it is heartwarming because we don’t get to see him much anymore.”
The house of art has been busy remaking the space with renovations, additions and of course, art.
“This whole building is a life force on its own so we are just trying to bring it to life right now,” Whisky said. “We have this space and it is already looking good because this is my first week here and the last time I was here it was abandoned so coming in here and seeing all the work they have already put into it is really inspiring.”
Whisky is lending his art of spray-painted “candy-coated monsters” and murals to the space and a graffiti gallery. “There are not any graffiti galleries anywhere near here so we are excited about that,” Queen said.
“I do these monsters that wander around the earth and they are in Bluefield, W.Va. this week,” Whisky said, describing his work. “It is just kind of an Alice in Wonderland, going down the rabbit hole, psychedelic fun land. I have had some signature guys and they kind of run around and enjoy life.”
Queen and the whole House of Art “family” was ecstatic to have Whisky working in their space. “It is kind of like local boy makes good and it is just amazing,” Queen said. “He is doing what he loves.”
Members of the House of Art are not the only ones excited to have Whisky back for the week. Mercer County Commissioner, Greg Puckett reached out to Whisky when he heard Whisky would be working in Bluefield this week. “He said, ‘Man, when you come up I have something I would love for you to do’ and Patch is going to paint Greg Puckett’s car,” Queen said.
The House of Art’s main objective is to provide resources for Appalachian artists and to bring arts experiences to the community, according to Queen. “For the past ten years, we have been that place,” she said.
“The art on the walls right now is the House of Art family,” Queen said. “The key group of artists that we have and in September, once we get this a little more filled in, we will be putting out a call for artists and they will be juried in.”
Whisky is the House of Art’s featured artist this month. An event will be held on Friday, Aug. 17 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. to introduce the space to the community.
“I think it is going to be fun,” Whisky said. “I do not know if one person is going to show up or 500 and it really doesn’t matter. The family is here and we are going to have a good time regardless.”
Of the event, renovations and re-opening, Queen said, “This is the beginning and it is good to be back.”
— Contact Emily Rice at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on twitter @BDTrice