The art scene in Wheeling just got a whole lot bigger. A group of local artists are planning a night of art, auction, and philanthropy.
Deck the Halls! On December 15th in East Wheeling a group of local artists will be auctioning off 24 uniquely designed skateboards to help the homeless at Wheeling’s new venue – Clientele.
Artists include some of Wheeling’s greatest like Logan Schmitt, Daniel Finsely, Mindi Yarbrough Langford and more.
Property owner and Wheeling resident Will Wallace, purchased the space in East Wheeling in 2015 and wasn’t sure what to do with it. He could’ve decided to rehab the space for some law-firm or use it for storage – instead he decided to let community artists use it!
“It wasn’t a eureka moment, it naturally progressed out of having a space that I knew had potential, and trying to fill a need. It started with my band and never having a spot to play. I stepped back one day and I realized so many great artists and performers have moved away because they didn’t have place to play. So I thought why wait on someone when I can do it? My ultimate goal is to create a space where artists and creators feel comfortable displaying their work and meeting other cool people in the Valley.”
Wallace has been working for the past year to enhance the garage space to hold a variety of events including art exhibits and bands.
I used to believe there was nothing to do here, but I realized this isn’t a city where everything is handed to you on a platter, you have to be creative and get stuff done if you want to see it come to life.
Artist Chad Fullerton, who will be contributing pieces to the showing on the 15th, believes that this new space will provide a fresh scene for local creators.
“Years ago, I would walk around town or go to an artworks event and be the youngest person there. I know there are young people around Wheeling we just need to show them there is something fun and relevant to do here.”
According the U.S census the average age of the West Virginia resident is 61.3 years of age – one of the oldest in the country.
Fullerton reminds us that if we truly wish to revitalize our communities, we must create content and build spaces for everyone young and old.
Creating a space for artists in Wheeling wasn’t the only thing on their minds. In addition to providing a free space for creators to display their work, 100% of the proceeds collected from the auction will go to the
Greater Wheeling Coalition for the Homeless
Contributing artist Tony Provenzano, first thought of the idea for donating the events proceeds.
“We were just going to something just for artists but when I realized we could help the coalition, I knew that’s what we had to do. I thought how powerful it would be if we could have fun, display art, and help our community in a big way”
The past 40 years have not been so kind to West Virginia. With closing factories, shuttered downtown storefronts, and the gradual migration of much of our population to the tri-state area, things have been bad for a while. However, even though West Virginia as a whole continues to struggle, the winds of change are starting to blow through the friendly city.
Local artist, Clientele collaborator, and consummate party-thrower Danny Padden says –
I know a lot of people who leave Wheeling and only come back to visit family and friends. When they return they can’t wait to shit on the city, but when they see it today they are shocked by some of the changes we have made – they see things are changing for the better and that makes me happy. If they are willing to acknowledge it, something real must be happening here.
This group of artists sees the importance of connection, knowing that parties are more than just parties, serving as opportunities for people to find that there is indeed life in a place that, for some, hasn’t felt alive for years.
Regardless of the past, these are the people who will make the future different. They are showing us that collaboration is key and culture is critical in building better, more diverse communities.
Many local businesses have joined forces for this event including Later Alligator, Whisk, The Vagabond Kitchen, Avenue Eats, and the Cheese Melt which will be parked outside the venue.
Wallace gives us some lasting advice –
“Don’t accept what is just because it isn’t what you want, you have to take the time and find the energy to change it. Get your hands dirty and find other people with the same passion. That’s how you make real things happen.”
Deck the Halls will be held on December 15th at 43 15th St, Wheeling, WV from 8-12 and is open to all. The skateboard auction will begin at around 10ish.
There will be up to 24 pieces displayed by 12 artists for purchase. Find more information about Clientele here