At the corner of Eight and Market Streets in downtown Parkersburg, the Parkersburg Art Center (PAC) stands as the oldest continuous cultural agency in West Virginia. Chartered in 1938, the PAC supports local and regional artists, provides educational experiences, and showcases the work of talented artists in its skillfully curated galleries. Last month the agency added another level of artful offerings, with its newly expanded gift shop. The PAC 713 Market, adjacent to the Art Center, recently opened after extensive renovations and already features nearly seventy artists. Some of the rapid growth is due to the influx of artists from the Riverside Artists Gallery in Marietta, which closed at the end of last year.

The Riverside Artists Gallery was a mainstay in downtown Marietta for 23 years, operating as a cooperative business that allowed artists to become members. There were various factors contributing to the closure of the Gallery, leaving the active members without a home for their art. With the PAC 713 Market opening, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to welcome some of the Riverside Artists, an opportunity that has proven mutually beneficial.

Jennifer Carpenter, Shop Manager at 713 Market (Michelle Waters)

Jennifer Carpenter, the gift shop manager, explained that the move has been a positive one. “We were grateful that the Riverside artists chose to join us at PAC 713 Market, and that we had the space to accommodate them,” she said. The work of potential new artists is juried for selection, and Carpenter said they will continue to accept applications as long as there is space available. “It’s important to promote and support our local and regional artists,” said Carpenter, a sentiment that is reinforced by Jessie Siefert, Managing Director of the Parkersburg Art Center. Siefert is excited about the growth of the gift shop and the quality of art being offered. “We are a community art organization, and the new space allows us to meet our mission of supporting working artists and helping them grow.”

Not only do I have the opportunity to continue sharing my art with the community, but I also have the opportunity to collaborate with new artists.

Betsy Cook

Virginia Killian, Siefert’s mother, is a founding member of the Riverside Artists Gallery and creates pieces in various styles and mediums. She joined the artists who made the move across the river and her work is now available in the renovated space. The makeover resulted in a spacious venue with generous lighting and curated displays. Original paintings and prints adorn the walls, and glass cases feature hand-crafted jewelry and accessories. Racks and shelves offer a smorgasbord of items from note cards to pottery, textiles to art tiles and so much more.

Artist-designed greeting cards (Michelle Waters)

One of the larger displays features the work of Betsy Cook, who creates home and garden décor using iron that she often embellishes with glass or wood. Cook was a member of the Riverside Artists Gallery for 18 years and is happy to have a new home for her art. She shared her optimism about the future and the prospect of new relationships. “Not only do I have the opportunity to continue sharing my art with the community, but I also have the opportunity to collaborate with new artists,” she said. Other Riverside artists who have made the transition from Marietta to PAC 713 Market include origami artist and painter Akemi Matsumoto, fiber artist Tracy Leibaugh, watercolor artist Lynda Rhodes and jewelry artist Scott Bookman.

The gift shop will occasionally host unique exhibits within the space, beginning with the Garden Party show on May 6th. The event will highlight new artwork and crafts reflecting the spirit of the season, and many of the PAC 713 Market artists will be on hand to meet visitors. Live music will be provided by Dan Canterbury and from 5:00 to 7:00 PM the shop will be blooming with color and creativity.  Refreshments will be available and the event is free and open to the community.

Hours of operation for the PAC 713 Market coincide with the Parkersburg Art Center hours, which are 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM Tuesday through Saturday. The gift shop space is separated from the gallery space by the framing workshop, allowing visitors to enjoy the exhibits of the PAC, shop for unique art, and even make arrangements for framing, all under one roof. The Parkersburg Art Center is a bustling hub of the MOV art community, offering outstanding exhibits, educational field trips, and classes and workshops for all ages and skill levels. Their website provides detailed information about upcoming events, featured artists, and class schedules.

When Riverside Artists Gallery closed its doors in Marietta, the local art community grieved the loss and patrons missed the bright spot of unique creativity on Second Street. But thanks to the welcoming staff and resident artists of the PAC 713 Market, a group of talented artists has found a new home to showcase their work. Although the gift shop just opened last month, it’s already earned praise for the diverse offerings representing so many local and regional artists. The addition of new artists and continued growth will ensure the Parkersburg Art Center and PAC 713 Market will remain an important cultural hub for years to come.