Founded in the 1980s by mystery author David A. Stelzig, the Appalachian Gallery early on became a site for showing and promoting art created by West Virginians. When Laurie Nugent and Penelyn Van Orange took the reins in 2004, they expanded the offerings with handblown glassware by Blenko and Ron Hinkle Glass. Together with unique stoneware pottery, wooden bowls and ironwork, and a host of typical Appalachian gift objects, handmade jewelry, and printed staples that reflect the soul and spirit of West Virginia.
As the business grew, the owners, thanks to an art-loving community and the enduring support from many local artists like Frank Ceravalo, Jeff Greenham, T. Anne Hawkins, Tom Milne, Robert Riffe, and Steve Pavlovic, expanded their displays and offerings greatly. The colorful, bold, and unique stained-glass creations of Penelyn Van Orange and her finely framed prints and cards quickly became a hallmark of the Appalachian Gallery.
In 2011, the Appalachian Gallery moved to its current location, the "Sandcastle" building on Walnut Street. The elegant and unique structure with hand-carved oak features and stained-glass windows provides an exquisite showcase for the many treasures visitors can find on the two spacious floors of the gallery.
The owners' hard work paid off: Today, the Appalachian Gallery is the leading commercial art gallery in Monongalia County, providing an eclectic mixture of drawings, painted and stained-glass art, and vintage glass objects on display. And their professional framing services preserve the customers' art, memorabilia, and achievements with impeccable style and function.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the gallery continued to be a staple to its customers, friends, and supporters in downtown Morgantown, opening six days a week with a strict mask and social distancing policy. Nevertheless, the community suffered a loss with Laurie Nugent's passing in the Spring of 2022. Appalachian Gallery held a memorial to honor her legacy, which will always be part of the organization's DNA.
As the sole owner and operator of the Appalachian Gallery, Penelyn VanOrange now stays on the course she and her partner set: To grow the local artists' reach and exposure and familiarize visitors to the gallery with creations, techniques, and means of expression of the creative minds of the Mountain State.
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