Friday, August 16, 2013

Our Art Benefactors

Last month we promised an update on the local artist and art collector's offer to help us cover the walls of Lafayette Flats with original, local art, and here it is:


Mark Tobin Moore
Mark Tobin Moore and his wife Donna Whitten have become friends of the highest order to Lafayette Flats, and by extension to all of our guests and to the town of Fayetteville. They have given us an amazing array of breathtaking pieces from their extensive art collection that will soon adorn the walls of Lafayette Flats.
Mark is an art professor at the Erma Byrd Center for Higher Education on Concord University's Beckley campus. Before that he was a professor of art at West Virginia State University and the University of Charleston, and he spent 6 years as Director of Exhibitions and Curator of Art for the West Virginia State Museum. Mark is a well known artist in his own right and his work has been shown in many places including the Clay Center for Arts and Sciences in Charleston, the Huntington Museum of Art and galleries in New York City and Paris, France. Over the years he has collected pieces by many local artists who have been his students and/or colleagues.

Donna Whitten (& Sweetie)

Donna has deep roots in the New River Gorge. Her father, Tom Whitten, lived in Quinnimont and began his working life there with the C&O Railroad. After serving his country in the South Pacific he came home to Quinnimont and returned to work for the railroad. He met and married his wife, Jean, and they continued to live in Quinnimont until shortly after Donna was born. He served as the ticket agent and loaded freight and mail at the Prince Station, and later worked as a clerk for the C&O in Thurmond, Hinton, Beckley, and Raleigh. Donna grew up in the Beckley area.

Some of the pieces that Mark and Donna have given us are by well-known local artists, and some are by people whose names are not so recognizable but are of no less quality. Some are by Mark himself. There are several very apropos works that have strong connections to The New River Gorge that will resonate with Lafayette Flat visitors. One of Mark's pieces - titled "Quinnimont Sign Post" - includes an assemblage of artifacts he found when he first visited the site of that former town. This piece will hold a special place in Lafayette Flats that we will be telling you more about in another post soon.

We are absolutely blown away by Mark and Donna's generosity and look forward to proudly displaying these works in Lafayette Flats where people can enjoy them.

Thank you, Mark and Donna!

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