Artists invited to preserve Weirton’s history
WEIRTON — For decades, the basic oxygen plant, blast furnaces and other facilities used as part of the steel-making process in Weirton lined the city’s skies, providing a place of employment for thousands of residents who manufactured a product used throughout the world.
Through bankruptcy, changes of ownership and downsizing, much of the mill has stood unused for the last several years. Earlier this year, though, the bulk of the former Weirton Steel property was sold to the Frontier Group, scheduled for demolition to make way for future redevelopment opportunities.
Inspired by the change in the skyline and the community expected from this work, the Hancock County Arts Council is launching the “Weirton — The City Forged by Steel” art competition, and is calling for artists to capture these landmark structures before they are gone.
“So many residents of this city have never seen the downtown without the hulking BOP and blast furnaces in the background,” said Alecia Ford, HCAC chair. “These next few months are the last chance to capture it live, and we are interested to see what the artists bring to their work as they interpret the impact steel has had — and still has — on our community.”
Online registration for the competition opens today, and will run through Oct. 31. Artists will have through the end of the year to complete works in one of six categories: oil; acrylic; watercolor; pastel; drawing (such as charcoal or colored pencil); and mixed media/collage and printmaking.
A $500 Best in Show prize will be awarded at the opening reception on Jan. 20.
First and second-place prizes in each category of $200 and $100, respectively, also will be awarded.
Any artist over age 18 is eligible. Photography will not be accepted. Works will be juried and will be displayed at Summit Art Gallery in Weirton through March 2018.
Mayor Harold Miller, who retired from the Weirton Steel sales department, along with a representative from the Frontier Group of Companies, which is serving as the competition’s sponsor, will announce the winners.
“I am sure that due to the talents of the Hancock County Arts Council, this singular event will have a huge impact in our community,” Miller said. “It’s exciting to think how the creative expression prompted by this project will positively influence our region, and I thank the HCAC for this idea.”
The HCAC created the competition to honor the employees and the legacy of Weirton Steel and ArcelorMittal, Ford said. In addition, the event marks a first step in looking forward to the new development and business that the Frontier Group of Companies will bring to Weirton.
“We are proud to be a part of this event to honor Weirton’s industrial heritage through art,” said David Franjoine, CEO of the Frontier Group of Companies. “The removal of the BOP and blast furnaces are going to have a great impact, not only on the skyline, but also on the economy and the city’s future. Frontier is excited to be a part of making this new chapter a reality.”
The subject matter of “Weirton – The City Forged by Steel” is the former Weirton Steel mill in general and the impact on the skyline of the BOP and blast furnaces in particular, but artists are encouraged to interpret the subject through the frame of the mill’s impact on the city, region and nation. Interested artists can be based anywhere in the state or region, the call to artists is not limited to residents of Weirton.
A full prospectus is available to artists once they have registered for the competition. A registration fee of $25 for up to two submissions can paid by credit card online at www.Eventbrite.com, search for “Weirton,” or by check during on-site registration Oct. 6, and Oct. 7, at Summit Art Gallery in Weirton. These two dates will be the only opportunities for registration on-site payment by check.
Summit Art Gallery and the “Weirton — The City Forged by Steel” art competition are managed by the all-volunteer HCAC, which is a committee of the Top of West Virginia Convention and Visitors Bureau. The Top of WV is also a partner in the competition.
“The volunteers on the HCAC continue to impress me and all of our partners with their ideas, commitment, and desire to make the arts more visible in our community,” said Danny Greathouse, Top of West Virginia executive director. “They are an important part of the CVB, which is why we are proud to support this event.”
All artwork submitted to the competition must be original and created during the contest period, Sept. 10 – Jan. 11. Registration ends Oct. 31. The Weirton Area Museum will be hosting a display of historic artwork and artwork created prior to the contest period. For more information, contact Dennis Jones at the museum.
A link to the registration page can be found on the Summit Art Gallery Facebook page. For more information about the competition, email Ford at firstname.lastname@example.org