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Exhibit A: Lawyer introduces his art collection at U.S. courthouse

By Judy Hamilton

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Nitro lawyer Harvey Peyton has been collecting and sharing his art collection for many years.

This tradition continues with an art show at the Robert C. Byrd United States Courthouse, where he is showing 42 works from a variety of 20th-century American art, including New Deal art, contemporary art, African-American art and art by West Virginians.

"Harvey Peyton is a true art collector and a true art educator. He has a passion for art," said Terry Deppner, clerk of the U.S. district court. "He shares his knowledge about art and helps people love art by giving us perspective and understanding. He makes you feel you are there with the artist. He and Jennifer have been so generous with sharing their collection."

Peyton said his interest in art is longstanding. "I was always interested in art. My grandmother was an artist ... My father was musical. My mother liked art and when I finally got some money, I started buying art. I've made some good friends through art."

As he walked through the show, Peyton said collecting art has been an interesting pastime for him and his wife. "She has a good eye. We've built a gallery in the house for our collection."

He divided his collection on display at the courthouse in to various categories, including "The Art of Social Conscience" and "Art and the Federal Government."

Peyton will guide a walkthrough of the art collection from 6 to 7 p.m. Sept. 19. He and the Clay Center Collectors Club will host a reception from 5:15 to 6 p.m. Sept. 19 for members and prospective members at the federal courthouse.

"The goal of the reception is to create enthusiasm for the Collectors Club. It's fun. You can do a lot of activities in the club," Peyton said, describing trips to New York City and visits to various art galleries and museums.

"Art can be affordable. There's a lot you can do if you decide to collect art. Find an artist you really like and buy a lot of their work," Peyton recommended.

He continued, "Intrinsic value is way more valuable than monetary value. You never lie awake at night over something you bought. You lie awake at night over what you didn't buy."

Peyton has donated 30 works of art to WVU, including several pieces by West Virginia artist Blanche Lazzell. His contributions enabled the WVU art museum to be the holder of the largest public collection of her art.

For Thursday's events, contemporary Philadelphia artists Cavin Jones and Leroy Johnson will attend. Examples of their artwork are included in the collection, as is art by David C. Driskell and Jacob Lawrence, among the best-known 20th-century black American painters.

Peyton's courthouse show includes works by West Virginia artists Paula Clendenin, Barry Vance, George Snyder, Charles Jupiter Hamilton, Barrie Kaufman, June Kilgore, Susan Poffenbarger and Grace Martin Taylor.

Deppner explained that the Judiciary Fine Arts Program is an outreach effort for the community.

"It was started by Judge [Charles] Haden and continued by Judge [Joseph Robert] Goodwin. They didn't want people to be intimidated by the building and wanted people to feel welcome. They wanted to draw people into the building and felt art was a good way to do that. Art develops meaningful conversations with people. They wanted the artists to have a West Virginia connection," Deppner said.

The public may view the Peyton art collection at the federal building from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday through Sept. 30. Photo identification is required for admission to the courthouse.

Reach Judy E. Hamilton at judy.hamilton@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1230.


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