Big Rocks and Deer Crossings

raising ken's stone

Setting one of the stones into place.

    Two of my friends, artists Priscilla Roggenkamp and Keith McMahon, recently completed an installation for Galion Community Hospital in Galion, Ohio. Priscilla and Keith worked with artist Ken Arthur to create a garden space titled Body, Mind and Spirit.  Each of the three artists played a part in the design of the work: Priscilla created body (cast bronze), Keith created mind (steel),  and Ken, spirit (copper).  This was a new venture for the three of them.  Though Keith and Priscilla have collaborated (without doing serious harm to each other), having Ken Arthur) as a collaborator brought a fresh perspective to the mix and lots of technical know-how.  

    The stone is sandstone from the Killbuck, Ohio area. Atop the three stones are the three individual works. The proposal was accepted in August of 2008, and they spent nearly a year designing and creating the work. Below are two of the artists standing proudly next to their work.

Priscilla with

Priscilla with her sculpture, Body.

Keith and piece

Keith and his piece, Mind.

Body Mind Spirit #001

The completed installation.

    I was excited to receive word from the West Virginia Division of Culture and History that my piece, Deer Crossing, was awarded a Governor’s Award in the 2009 West Virginia Juried Exhibition at the Huntington Museum of Art. The exhibit features art works in the areas of painting, sculpture, printmaking, drawing, photography, mixed media and crafts by 74 artists. The exhibition will remain on display through Jan. 17, 2010. 


Deer Crossing, by Robert Villamagna, printed metal, plastic, nails, MDF.

    The 89 pieces of art in the exhibit, including the award winners, were chosen by jurors Julie Taggart, professor, dean, fine arts and foundation studies at Columbus College of Art and Design, Columbus, Ohio, and Vince Torano, professor at Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Mich. They also selected six non-monetary Honorary Mention awards. Taggart and Torano viewed more than 375 submissions to select the show. The awards money is made available through the West Virginia Commission on the Arts (WVCA) of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History from funds appropriated by the West Virginia Legislature. The awards constitute one of the largest endowments for any single juried exhibition in the country.

There are three Governor’s Awards of $5,000, one of which is designated as the D. Gene Jordon Memorial Award, after the former chairman of the West Virginia Commission on the Arts who died in 1989. There also are seven Awards of Excellence of $2,000, all of which are purchase awards, as are the Governor’s Awards, and at the close of the exhibition these works will become part of the West Virginia State Museum contemporary art collection. In addition, there are eight Merit Awards of $500 which do not become part of the museum’s collection. 

     From its inception in 1979 until 2005, the West Virginia Juried Exhibition was presented at the Culture Center, State Capitol Complex, Charleston. In 2007, Randall Reid-Smith, commissioner of the WVDCH, decided to have the exhibition travel to Parkersburg, sharing the best in art with yet another community in the Mountain State. “One of my goals has been to touch every part of our state with outstanding cultural events. We are delighted to have the opportunity to expand our outreach to the community by placing the West Virginia Juried Exhibition 2009 in Huntington,” he said.

    “The Huntington Museum of Art has enjoyed working with the outstanding leadership at the Division of Culture and History to bring this exciting exhibit to the Huntington area,” added Layne.  The Huntington Museum of Art is open from 10 a.m. – 9 p.m., Tuesday; 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday; and noon to 5 p.m., Sunday. 

    The West Virginia Division of Culture and History, an agency of the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts, brings together the state’s past, present and future through programs and services in the areas of archives and history, the arts, historic preservation and museums. Its administrative offices are located at the Culture Center in the State Capitol Complex in Charleston, which also houses the state archives and state museum. The Culture Center is West Virginia’s official showcase for the arts. The agency also operates a network of museums and historic sites across the state.

    And since I am on the topic of deer crossings, I could not help but notice a graphic in today’s USA Today. It listed the five states with the highest chances of hitting a deer with an automobile. And they are:

#5….Montana….1 in 104

#4….Iowa….1 in 104

#3….Pennsylvania….1 in 94

#2….Michigan….1 in 78

and #1

(Drum roll please!)

West Virgina

1 in 39!

     Yes, ladies and gentlemen, West Virginia is once again “numero uno”! And honestly, based on the number of deer I see on my drive to and from the college each day, it is no surprise that we are leading the nation in deer strikes. I try to drive carefully, because it is so dangerous both for the driver and the deer. Sometimes you see them walking out onto the highway, but other times they seem to dart out from nowhere.                                                                                                                         . Watching deer from our back deck is a lot less stressful than viewing them through one’s windshield.   Each evening, and again in early morning, about a half dozen deer stroll through our back yard and I continue to be awe struck by their gracefulness and beauty.




2 Responses to “Big Rocks and Deer Crossings”

  1. 1 susan
    November 9, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    Wow!!!!!! Congratulations. You are so understated about winning that award and the big bucks (no pun intended) that come along with it. Congratulations!!!! (Do I get a share of that because I participated in the decision of which pice to submit????)

  2. 2 LInda
    December 21, 2009 at 12:36 am

    Thank you for posting my sister’s, and her friends, pieces. I am a proud sister. And, congratulations on your Governor’s Award. I really like the Deer Crossing piece.

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