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West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History presents a new exhibition featuring Barry Vance


The West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History has unveiled a new exhibit, Dwelling in the Backcountry: Paintings by Barry Vance, in the Art Gallery of the Cultural Center, State Capitol Complex, Charleston. An artist’s talk and reception will be held on Sunday, March 5, at 2 p.m. The exhibition and reception are free and open to the public. The show will remain on display through April 21.

The exhibition features 24 works of oil on panel which are accompanied by passages selected by the artist from literature, poetry, music and historical journals in order to present a vivid sense of place. According to Vance, “The paintings and the passages are intended, each in their own way, to provide an insight into life in the backcountry.” The script includes poems by Louise McNeill, Ann Pancake, minutes of the Winchester Conference with the Indians in 1753, notes on the State of Virginia by Thomas Jefferson and journal remarks by George Washington, to name a few, and Vance considers the writers’ sentiments and expressions to be an integral part of the exhibit.

The region referred to as the backcountry encompasses the area of the colony of Virginia west of the Blue Ridge Mountains. In the 18th century, it was a remote frontier stretching from Harpers Ferry at the north to the Cumberland Gap at the south and extending westward into the Allegheny Mountains and beyond.

Vance is a native West Virginian. His Ulster-Scot ancestors settled in the Shenandoah Valley in 1735, where they remained until 1817 when they moved to Hampshire County, now West Virginia. His rich family heritage and his connection to this land continue to provide an underlying foundation for his paintings.

Vance begins his paintings from drawings and sketches as well as memories accumulated from more than 30 years working throughout the Potomac highlands of West Virginia and Virginia. His artistic vision of the cultural and natural landscape, combined with sentiments and observations expressed by others over time, presents a sampling of the ongoing rich heritage of the arts nurtured by the backcountry of the southern Appalachians.

Vance received his bachelor of fine arts degree from the Pratt Institute and his master of fine arts from Brooklyn College, both in New York City. He did additional study at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore and at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture and the Art Students League of New York. His work has been shown in exhibitions at major museums including the Corcoran Gallery of Art and the National Museum of American Art in Washington, D.C., and the Huntington Museum of Art, the University of North Carolina, New York University and the Swain School of Design among others.

Vance’s paintings are in numerous private and corporate collections and are part of the permanent collections of the Huntington Museum of Art, the University of Kentucky Art Museum, the Mitchell Museum, the Parkersburg Art Center, the Avampato Museum and the West Virginia State Museum. Last year, he received a merit award for one of his paintings at the annual exhibition at the Butler Institute of American Art.

Currently, Vance lives in Winchester, Va., and he maintains studios there and in Pendleton County.

For more information about Dwelling in the Backcountry: Paintings by Barry Vance, contact Richard Ressmeyer, director of arts for the Division, at (304) 558-0240, ext. 721.

The West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History, an agency of the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History, brings together the state’s past, present and future through programs and services in the areas of archives and history, the arts, historic preservation and museums. The Cultural Center is West Virginia’s official showcase for the arts. Visit the Division’s website at for more information about programs of the Division. The Department of Arts, Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.



Ginny Painter
Director of Public Information
West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History
The Cultural Center
1900 Kanawha Boulevard, East
Charleston, WV 25305-0300
Phone (304) 558-0220
Fax (304) 558-2779
[email protected]