The new City Hall building located at 1 Wall Street is working out nicely for the city. It’s not just those who work there that get to enjoy the new space, but also citizens who stop in to pay their water bill, speak with the mayor, or sit in on a City Council meeting in the new Council Chambers on the third floor.
With plans for the second floor to house the Ravenswood City Police Department, other areas of the building are being utilized for multiple purposes.
Katrena Ramsey, superintendent for the Ravenswood Board of Parks and Recreation, came up with the idea to use the main lobby as an art gallery to showcase the talent of local artists.
Charles Westerman was the first artist who came to mind. He was a resident of Ravenswood in the 1970’s who created beautiful works of art using the scratchboard technique, an illustrative technique using sharp knives and tools for engraving into a thin layer of white China clay that is coated with dark ink.
Ramsey’s grandmother had contacted Westerman at one time regarding the creation of a piece of art depicting her dog. The piece remained in her grandmother’s home for years, before being handed down to Ramsey.
“I just remember this art being around and I was curious about who did this and what their story was,” Ramsey recalls.
With Westerman having passed away in 1986, Ramsey felt that displaying his art would be a wonderful way to preserve his memory and celebrate his one-of-a-kind pieces.
She decided to put a request on social media to see if she could locate anyone else who may have a piece of his work that they would be willing to share for the gallery display.
In response to her request, Ramsey was able to collect 20 pieces of Westerman’s artwork, including several from Shannon Westerman, Charles Westerman’s son.
Lois Coberly, also a Ravenswood resident, was an asset to Ramsey when it came to bringing the show together. She had lived next to Shannon when she was young.
“Their families have kept in contact over the years; she had five pieces,” Ramsey said. “That’s how I found Shannon Westerman; she was able to get in contact with him.”
Ramsey said that she and Coberly had previously discussed doing a display of Charles Westerman’s work, but they had no clear space to host the exhibits at the time.
“When they bought the new building, it was evident that the lobby was big enough to accommodate shows like this,” Ramsey said. “We want people to see that this building can be used in different ways. It’s not just going to be an office building for the city.”
Westerman’s artwork will be on display from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at City Hall through the end of March.
Anyone with additional pieces by Westerman is encouraged to lend their pieces to the exhibit.
“Even after somebody is no longer with us, their art lives on,” Ramsey said. “Art transcends time and that’s why it’s important.”
Ramsey is hoping to change out the artwork every couple of months. With each change, new artwork from local artists or students will be on display.
People interested in displaying their art for an exhibit can contact Katrena Ramsey at 304-532-5268 or email her at email@example.com.