Art for all

Jessica Patterson Special to The Register

June 19, 2014

POINT PLEASANT — Point Pleasant residents will get the chance to see how one Huntington woman is making the most out of retirement.

Marilyn Thompson became an artist after retiring from her management career, and this Saturday, some of her work will be displayed in Gallery 409 in Point Pleasant.

Thompson said she has been interested in art for a long time, but has never had the chance to pursue her dream.

“I’ve always wanted to do art, and I have done art in other forms. In the past I was a seamstress and did needlework, but when I lived in California and Florida I had just started taking classes, then I had to move,” Thompson said. “I came back to Huntington and had to work, which didn’t leave me time to paint. After I retired, I took figure drawing classes to make sure I had drawing skills, and then got into watercolor and charcoal.”

Thompson said she first heard about Gallery 409 because she took a class by one of the gallery’s in-studio artists.

“I took a charcoal class from Jerry Enrico who teaches at Gallery 409 as well as his pastel class,” Thompson said. “He introduced me to another artist, Larry Bragg, and the owner, Ruth Finley, and I became close with them.”

Thompson has had her work on display in the past alongside other artists, but this is her first solo display.

“I displayed for a couple years at a gallery in Ashland, Kentucky, and I have had other displays at 409 and the Renaissance Gallery in Huntington with other artists, but this is my first one-man show,” Thompson said. “I chose to do it at Gallery 409 because Ruth does a really nice job of having guest artists I have even taken several of the workshops some of them teach. It’s a very attractive gallery. Point Pleasant is very lucky to have a facility that encourages art. The first time I walked in, I was going to the Sunday painting classes and I couldn’t believe how nice it was for a small town – very impressive.”

Owner Ruth Finley says Gallery 409 first opened in 2008. She and her family also own the Lowe Hotel connected to the gallery and decided to use the extra space to create a place where Mason County residents could learn about art in their own area.

“This is something I’ve always thought every town needs,” Finley said. “It’s a place for people to explore art. We’ve had exhibits here for all ages. We network with other areas to bring in artists. Our mission is ‘Art for All.’ We want people in the community to feel like they can have a part in picking up a brush and coming in to take a class or just come in to browse.”

Finley said by “All” the gallery is including helping out the artists in getting their work ready for the public viewing.

“It’s for the artists as well as the town,” Finley said. “We give them a venue for their collections. Most people who come here have a basis displaying in small towns such as this one. It gets their work out there for the public. If anyone is interested in an exhibit, our board looks at their art to see if that artist is ready for a show. They’re responsibility is to get the art here and make sure it is ready to hang. We do the hanging and help them take down the display after the exhibit. We also give them a reception with refreshments and local music and work very hard to put that together for the artists.”

Thompson will display a variety of mediums including charcoal, watercolor, pastel and acrylic. She said each style is tailored to the painting and what inspired it.

“Three of initial watercolors were of photographs I took over 20 years ago in the West Virginia Mountains. I loved those photographs and decided to paint them in watercolor. I’m not stuck on one subject. I’ll see a beautiful flower and paint that in the medium I think will look best.”

“I’m very excited,” Thompson said. “It’s pleasing to see that people think that your art is worthy to put on their wall.”

Thompson lives in Huntington, but is also an established artist in Austin, Texas. Her exhibit opens Saturday at 10 a.m. with the gallery’s public hours with a showing and reception with Thompson Saturday evening from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. The gallery’s hours are Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4p.m. and Sundays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. or by appointment at 304-675-6950. The exhibit will remain at Gallery 409 for one month.

Thompson says it is never too late for someone to pursue his or her dream.