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West Virginia Juried Exhibition


The West Virginia Juried Exhibition, a joint biennial exhibit of the West Virginia Commission on the Arts and the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture & History, was first held at the Culture Center in Charleston in 1979. Since then, it has become one of the state’s most influential art shows. Its purpose is to encourage West Virginia artists and craftspeople and to offer the public a current view of the state of the arts and crafts as practiced in West Virginia.

The Commission on the Arts has provided $33,000 award money for the Juried Exhibition biennially since 1979. Since its inception, the awards of the exhibition include the cost of an artist’s work if it is a purchase prize; these pieces also become a part of the State Museum’s permanent collection at the Culture Center.

The award structure changed over the years to accommodate larger craft works such as furniture, to allow the State Museum to purchase major artists’ work, and to allow the exhibition to feature the breadth of work being done by artists and craftspeople in the state. In practice, this has meant fewer prizes of a larger average size. The Juried Exhibition now features three top Governor’s Purchase Awards at $5,000 each, one of which is named the D. Gene Jordon Memorial Award in honor of the former chairman of the Commission on the Arts. In addition, there are seven $2,000 Purchase Awards and eight $500 Merit Awards.

Beginning in 1995, the Juried Exhibition expanded the statewide reach of the program through the compilation of a touring exhibit made up of the award-winning pieces to travel to smaller museums and art centers in communities across West Virginia. In 2007, the exhibition was staged at the Parkersburg Art Center, the first time the exhibit was held outside Charleston. The exhibit has also been presented in Beckley, Martinsburg, Wheeling, Huntington, and Morgantown, returning to Charleston for 2019, 2021, and 2023.

Written by Lakin Ray Cook