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'Mountain Stage' anniversary commemorated in art

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- "Mountain Stage" assistant producer Vasilia Scouras said it's hard not to notice that 2013 is a big year for anniversaries. It's the 150th birthday for West Virginia, and "Mountain Stage" is marking 30 years on the air.

The producers of "Mountain Stage" started bouncing around ideas in December for ways to commemorate the occasion.

"It's kind of funny," Scouras said. "I'm part of this new group of 'Mountain Stage' that sort of came after the show. I mean, I was a year old when the show began, and the way I look at it is different than how some of the people who've been with the show for years and years might see it."

Perspective is part of what led her to think about reaching out to local artists to help "Mountain Stage" put together a special art show during FestivALL.

"The arts community has always been very supportive of us," Scouras said. "They come to our shows, and we wanted to see how they see 'Mountain Stage.'"

So, the radio program commissioned artists in towns where they most often perform to produce works. The special show will be exhibited June 20-30 at Good News Mountaineer Garage's offices on Hale Street.

Among the artists showing work are Charleston-based artists Ian Bode and Jamie Miller, as well as Glen Brogan, of Huntington, and Brian Pickens, of Morgantown.

"Everybody was super-willing to do the work," Scouras said. "Everyone thought it was just a nice thing to be involved and they worked really hard."

Bode, who was busy working on his third Peer to Pier mural for FestivALL, said it was honor to be asked. "I guess they're fans of my work. I included 'Mountain Stage' in my Pier to Pier piece I did on the history of music."

Bode said he is also a fan of the show. In addition to both going to and listening to shows, Bode has featured the radio program in his art since the Peer to Pier work.

"I did a big 'Mountain Stage' painting that Bob and Suzanne Coffield bought," he said. "It's part of a solo show I'm doing at Carnegie Hall [in Lewisburg] and has some of my favorite bands in it."

Scouras said the artists received commissions. "It was really important to me that we assigned some value to this. We're a state agency, we don't have a lot, but we thought it was important that the artists got paid."

The amount was small, she said, but payment included tickets to the show.

Members of the "Mountain Stage" crew will be contributing pieces to the exhibit as well.

"We've got artists who work on the show," Scouras said. "Joey Ansel is an artist and Lance Shrader is doing something made from Legos."

Scouras, a visual artist and printmaker herself, said she considered putting something of her own art in the show but thought she just wasn't ready.

"I wasn't brave enough," she laughed.

She said the show also features some of the photography of longtime "Mountain Stage" photographer Brian Blauser, plus cellphone pictures taken by Christopher Morris and plenty of memorabilia.

"We've got some really good pictures that showcase the kids of 'Mountain Stage,'" she said. "These are the kids who grew up around the show."

During the 10-day exhibit, Scouras said personnel from the show will pop in and out daily to talk about the show. Some of them, like Woogie Jarrell, have a million stories.

There is a lot of nostalgia with the art show, but it's also meant to show off the individual perspectives and impressions about "Mountain Stage."

Scouras' own perspective is relatively fresh. She came to the radio show through her work with FestivALL, starting in 2005.

Scouras laughed and said the thing she remembered most about that year was hanging catfish, but through FestivALL she met Larry Groce and Adam Harris, who later offered her a job in the "Mountain Stage" office.

She said she's glad to be a part of the show and grateful to get the chance to share a little bit of the past, present and world backstage with "Mountain Stage."

"Being around for 30 years is a pretty big accomplishment," she said. "Trust me, I did it not too long ago myself."

Reach Bill Lynch at lynch@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5195.


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