Jefferson County draws artists

December 21, 1997

by Ric Dugan / staff photographer

Jefferson County draws artists


Staff Writer, Charles Town

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Patrick Cordelli is a long way from New York City, where he normally exhibits his unusual art pieces.

His work, including a shadow box involving a cigar and a medical illustration of a human throat and a lamp made out of a leather boot, seems out of place in a Charles Town storefront.


"I just wanted to introduce my quirkiness to the area just to see how it goes," said Cordelli, 30. His work is being exhibited in a newly opened gallery called Object D'Art.

"This is like what you'd see in the Village area. New York City comes to Charles Town," said former Connecticut resident Deborah Rose Longo, who now lives in Charles Town, as she looked at Cordelli's work.

Across the street on Charles Town's main thoroughfare is the Gidley Art Gallery, opened in November by Don Gidley, a contemporary artist from Santa Fe, N.M.

The Charles Town businesses follow a string of art gallery openings in recent years in Shepherdstown, W.Va., making Jefferson County an arts center in the Tri-State area, local artists said.

"The more galleries you have and the more synergy you can create, the better it is for everyone," said Gidley, 48.

The Shepherdstown Art Gallery Alliance was formed recently by gallery owners to help promote their own businesses and others in town.

"The more galleries there are, the more people see it as a destination," said Mary Ann Zimmerman, co-owner of Gallery 105 in Shepherdstown.

"Certain businesses, if they're close together, help each other," said Wayne Skinner, owner of A II A, just outside of Shepherdstown.

While one art gallery may not draw people from Baltimore or Washington, D.C., five galleries will because the visitors know that if they do not find something they like at one shop, they might at another, Zimmerman said.

Art is sold not just at the half- dozen galleries in Shepherdstown, but also at local restaurants and a coffee shop, she said.

The restaurants have art on their walls so the artists have another chance for someone to see their work and decide to buy it, she said.

Gidley said he heard about the growth of the arts in the area from a relative and when he decided he wanted to open his own gallery, he moved here. Santa Fe, which has a reputation as the arts mecca of the southwest, already has about 200 galleries, he said.

Gidley said he intended to open the shop in Shepherdstown, but could not find a suitable storefront.

Pam Parziale, a board member of the Arts and Humanities Alliance of Jefferson County, said one of the reasons so many galleries have sprung up in the area is because there are so many artists around, including sculptors, potters and painters.

She said the scenic beauty of Jefferson County draws artists to the area and also inspires them.

"It's an area that attracts a lot of creative people. Creativity attracts more creativity," said Parziale, a professional potter.

Parziale said the artistic talent of area residents also comes out in local theater such as the Old Opera House and the Contemporary American Theater Festival, a local poetry club, and the Millbrook Orchestra.

"For a small community to support so much art, it's just fantastic," Parziale said.

The Herald-Mail Articles