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Mall to host teen art show as part of FestivALL

By Caitlin Cook, Staff writer

The Charleston Town Center is teaming up with FestivALL to find out who the next generation of creative Mountain State artists is, mall officials announced Thursday.

The 2014 Teen Art Search: FestivALL’s Quest for Xtreme Teen Artists welcomes middle school, high school and college artists ages 13 to 23 to submit their work to the art exhibit that will be displayed at the mall June 19 to June 23.

“There is this whole energy that is alive now and it’s not the same old conservative life as it used to be,” said Lisa McCracken, marketing director for the mall. “We want these teenage artists to realize [art] doesn’t have to be standard but it can be some cutting edge piece of work.”

McCracken said that with cutbacks in music and art programs in schools, she isn’t sure if young artists have enough opportunities to show their work.

The contest is open to artists in Kanawha, Clay and Putnam counties. The contest area will expand next year if participation and feedback are good, McCracken said.

There is no fee to enter. Participants must contact the mall by May 26 to confirm an entry.

“The area of Kanawha and Putnam [counties] is just infused with a huge amount of over-50 artists,” McCracken said. “It seems logical there is also potential for new artists in those same counties.”

A few of the artists McCracken referred to as West Virginia’s most creative resource will serve as contest judges.

Steve Payne, Sharon Harms and Mack Miles will judge the art entries June 19.

“These three have stepped up to help their generation find the next creative class for the state of West Virginia,” McCracken said.

Harms grew up in Chicago and was always encouraged to pursue her passion in the arts. She said despite its small size Charleston has a vibrant arts community alluding to activities like Art Walk and the many public art pieces on display.

“We think by bumping it up age wise we are going to have a significant impact on people that are of an age that they are getting ready to choose a career path,” Harm said. “What we’re saying here today is, ‘hey, creativity can be a viable career choice if you have talent and heart.’”

There are a few restrictions for entries. Artwork may be no taller than 3 feet, wider than 3 feet or weigh more than six pounds. Five major prices will be awarded, including one $500 gift certificate to the Charleston Town Center.

McCracken said hosting a youth art show is a natural fit for the mall. She added it’s important for the community to provide frequent opportunities and venues for young people to display their work.

Payne said sometimes all a young artist needs is an extra push or exposure of their work.

“A lot of people discourage young people from going into the arts. I myself was discouraged as a profession,” Payne said. “And I think it’s exciting just to encourage someone that you see a spark of talent in.”

He recalls being one of the first employees at the Culture Center. The Culture Center along with the library, Sunrise Museum and a few other places were the only ones showing art in the area.

“One of the great things about this opposed to the Culture Center or an art gallery, there’s more people that come through [the mall] than come through any of the other outlets,” Payne said. “The potential of your work having exposure is greater here than any of those other places.”

For more information on the event, contact Olivia Smolder at OliviaSmolder@forestcity.net or at 304-345.9526. Entry forms are available at Guest Services at the mall, as well as www.charlestontowncenter.com.

Reach Caitlin Cook at caitlin.cook@wvgazette.com. or 304-348-5113 or


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