CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- On the football field, on the basketball court and in the hearts of many Mountain State residents, there's a rivalry that runs deep between the Thundering Herd of Marshall University and the West Virginia University Mountaineers. But in the art gallery?
The Clay Center will allow the two schools to go paintbrush to paintbrush with "Gallery Divided: A Head-to-Head Matchup between Marshall and WVU Art Faculty." The public is invited to wear team colors at a free kickoff party from 6 to 8 p.m. on opening night, Aug. 11.
A New Mexico native, curator Arif Khan had no knowledge of the rivalry when he came to the Clay Center a year ago. He created the exhibit following visits to both schools.
"I'm getting close to a year here in the job, and I wanted to get to know the regional artists. I visited both campuses' art departments.
"At first I thought it would be funny to do a show, with this rivalry and all. And then I realized, hey, that's not such a bad idea," Khan said. "A lot of the artists had never shown at the Clay Center, and the response from both schools was so great."
Not needing a legislative or gubernatorial mandate, and unlike in the sports arena, Khan said, "It all just came together."
So when the gold and blue meet the green and white on the football field this fall, will Khan be cheering for the Herd or the Mountaineers?
"You're really gonna put me on the spot," the cooperative curator exclaimed. "I really have no skin in the game! We're just neutral ground."
Appropriately, the show featuring the two schools will remain up through Nov. 18, "the whole first semester of the school year," Khan said.
The Clay Center is seeking financial support from the different fan bases. Sponsorships begin at $1,000 and if enough money is secured, the center will give away a scholarship to the school with the most support. Beth Fanning is the sponsorship manager coordinating the effort. She may be reached at 304-561-3536.
Also, patrons may vote for their favorite work when visiting the exhibit, to see which school has the most fans.
Artists participating in the exhibit include West Virginia's Dylan Collins, Alison Helm, Erika Osborne, Michael Sherwin and Naijun Zhang, and Marshall's Miyuki Akai Cook, Ian Hagarty, Daniel Kaufmann, Natalie Larsen and Brent Patterson.