Appalachian Imaginations

ArtSunday, September 9

Few people outside of Appalachia shared West Virginia native Ramona Lampell's regard for the region and she often encountered negative stereotypes that it was backward and impoverished. In an attempt to amend this negative notion and bring the wealth of Appalachian culture into the spotlight, Lampell — a longtime collector of art — turned her focus to self-taught Appalachian artists. In 1979, she opened a gallery dedicated solely to Appalachian art in the upscale community of East Hampton, N.Y., and shortly after, she unveiled another in Los Angeles. Despite having to close her galleries due to illness in 1984, she continued to promote Appalachian art and kicked off "O, Appalachia" in the late 1980s, a new project in which she gathered the stories and artwork of southern Appalachian artists into a large format coffee-table book and traveling museum exhibit. Millard remains committed to exposing the beauty of her birthplace and has amassed a huge personal collection of Appalachian art. A special exhibition she personally developed from her collection for Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art, O, Appalachia: Artists of the Southern Mountains, consists of more than 96 folk art creations by 34 self-taught artists from the mountain regions of Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama, which were produced from the 1920's through early 2007. Ramona Lampell gives a personal one-hour tour of the exhibit at 1:30 p.m. today. West Virginia author Belinda Anderson reads selections from her new book about Appalachia, The Bingo Cheaters, afterwards ($5 donation for both Sunday events). On display through Nov. 4, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tues.-Sat. (open until 9 p.m. Thurs.), 1-5 p.m. Sun., LRMA at St. Petersburg College-Tarpon Springs Campus, 600 Klosterman Road, Palm Harbor, $5 adults/$4 seniors (free admission to children and students with I.D.), 727-712-5762.

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