Growing Up in Black and White

Postcard image showing Robert Peterson and myself.

    The Wheeling Artisan Center in Wheeling, WV recently opened the exhibition Growing up in Black and White, featuring artists Robert Peterson and myself, Robert Villamagna. The exhibit, which is in the 3rd Floor Loft Gallery and runs through October 26, 2012. Here is some of the news release for this exhibit:

Robert P. Peterson Sr. was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, but grew up in Wheeling. Peterson graduated from Wheeling High School in 1967. He attended a number of colleges and universities, finally graduating from West Liberty University in 2012 with a RBA degree.

Peterson worked for Wheeling Pittsburgh Steel and Severstal for 40 years as a production manager. “I started out as a custodian while attending school. Worked my way up through the ranks from custodian, production control turn foreman, slab yard production turn foreman, general turn foreman, and production superintendent,” said Peterson, who retired in 2009.

“Art was always a passion of mine ever since I was a kid. Oil painting was my love, and when I went back to West Liberty my eyes were opened up to other possibilities and media,” said Peterson. “Some of my favorite topics, relevant to painting, are old buildings of Wheeling and outdoor scenery. Most of my paintings are done on canvas in oil or acrylic.”

“I am excited about this exhibition,” Peterson stated, “because it is outside of what I normally work with, giving me a chance to express how I grew up as an African American, verses the outlook view of the white American in the same time period.”

Robert Villamagna was born in Oakland, California and grew up in Toronto, Ohio. “As a kid, television artist Jon Gnagy and the Saturday Evening Post covers of Norman Rockwell had a big impact on me,” says Villamagna. Villamagna graduated from Toronto High School in 1966. He worked as a map draftsman before going going into the US Air Force where worked as an illustrator for four years. Villamagna worked at Weirton Steel Company for 13 years. It was during that period that he started college, receiving a BS from Franciscan University and an MAT from Wright State University. Villamagna worked as an art therapist for the US Air Force Medical Center, The State of Maryliand, and Fox Run Hospital in St. Clairsville, OH. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Art at West Liberty University, and has lived in Wheeling since 1995.

“The idea for this exhibit came about last spring,” said Villamagna. “Robert (Peterson) was taking a painting class, and one day the two of us were having this discussion about growing up. That lead to more talking about how racial issues of the time intertwined with our childhood.”

“I look at this exhibition as a visual diary of two kids growing up in the Ohio Valley in the 1950’s, “ says Villamagna. “Obviously, those pre-Civil Rights years were dramatically different for two kids of different skin color,  and yet some of our childhood experiences are very similar, experiences that were not limited to one particular race.”

Her are my 12 pieces from the exhibition. They are oil pen and acrylics on cradled panel. Thanks for your interest.  (I will post some of Robert Peterson’s works in the near future.)

Memorial Park Swimming Pool, Toronto, Ohio

The Colored Day Newspaper

Distributing our paper

At the Kennywood Park swimming pool, Pittsburgh, PA

At the Weir Cove Post Office, Weirton, WV

Stopping at Jeddo

No Snow Sledding

A Surprise in the Newspaper

Collecting Papers

At the Paper Mill, Toronto, OH

The War Souvenir

Soul or Righteous?


1 Response to “Growing Up in Black and White”

  1. September 19, 2012 at 12:20 am

    I remember growing up next door to you in Toronto and the good times we had, great paintings Bob!

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