The Artists of Huntington, West Virginia
In 2021 The Huntington Museum of Art published “Eclectic Rhythms: The Artists of Huntington, West Virginia 1871-Present,” a new art reference book that contains nearly 600 biographies of artists of every type who made their home in the city at some point during their careers. The book is dedicated to noted art historian Chris Petteys (1927-2006), who authored the groundbreaking work titled “Dictionary of Women Artists: An International Dictionary of Women Artists Born Before 1900.”
As is the case with any biographical dictionary, there are always individuals whose bio contained an error, who were overlooked, inadvertently omitted, or unknown at the time of the publication. This page will be updated regularly to include biographical information on additional artists as they are brought to light. Please check back regularly to see if there have been any updates. Do you want to submit a biography? If so, please send an email to [email protected].
Richard Bruce (b. ?) was a student and artist at Marshall University who created illustrations for the Chief Justice, Marshall’s yearbook during the late 1970s. SOURCE: Chief Justice (1977).
A.K.A. “Zulu Painter”
Artist, Painter, Muralist, Scenic Artist
Carlos Culbertson (b. 1976), known professionally as Zulu Painter, is an African-American artist who was born in West Virginia and attended Huntington High School and West Virginia State College in Institute, West Virginia. He was one of the winners of the 2003 Verizon Historically Black Colleges and Universities Student Art Competition. He resided in Huntington between 1995 and 2004 and then moved to South Carolina and has since relocated to Florida. Culbertson is a member of SHIM, “which is a network that fills the gaps in the art world, providing digital and analog opportunities and support to artists, curators, collectives, galleries, universities, and other organizations and affiliations.” His mural work has been installed all over the state of Florida (including several in St. Petersburg and the Tampa area), and in Louisiana (New Orleans), Tennessee (Memphis), Nevada (Las Vegas) and West Virginia (Charleston). He has also been part of the Art Basel Miami Beach “Mural Wars,” a period of thirty-six hours of creating murals in the Wynwood section of Miami Beach, creating “one of the largest open-air street art installations in the world.” Among the firms he has created scenic works for are Disney on Ice, Home Shopping Network, The Science Channel and Sea World Parks & Entertainment. He also designed the official button for the 2019 St. Petersburg New Year’s Eve festival, “First Night 2020.” Culbertson was the 2022 Visual Arts Award Honoree at the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance Eighth Annual MUSE Awards. His works have been exhibited at the following institutions: Bloom Art Center, St. Petersburg, Florida; Carmada Art Show at the Gasparilla Festival of the Arts, Tampa, Florida; Gallerie 909, St. Petersburg Florida (2015); Morean Arts Center, St. Petersburg, Florida.
SOURCES: www.absolutearts.com; www.artsy.net; blog.spcollege.edu; www.charlestonwv.gov; www.cltampa.com; www.cultureowl.com; www.southarts.org; stpeteartsalliance.org; www.wescover.com; www.wmnf.org; www.zulupainter.com.
Artist and painter Michael A. Fiffe (b. 1973) is known locally as the “Dot Man” for the intricate work he creates using Sharpies. He had his first sale show in 2006 at Java Joint, and has had his work selected for inclusion in the miniature exhibitions organized at the Renaissance Gallery (2009) and in a solo display at the Cabell County Public Library (2009) in Huntington. SOURCE: Huntington Herald-Dispatch (November 23, 2009).
A.K.A. “Robin Howell”
Artist, Painter, Watercolorist
Linda Howell (1946 – 2022), known professionally as Robin Howell, was born in La Jolla, California, the daughter of Jean Reston and Charles Darby. Howell was a landscape painter who worked both in acrylic and watercolor, though her focus was on the latter. She died in Huntington on December 20, 2022.
SOURCES: www.echovita.com; www.wvgazettemail.com; www.hensonandkitchen.com;
Charles P. Kilgore (1889 – 1979) was born in Huntington, West Virginia, and attended both Marshall College (now University) and The Art Institute of Chicago. He served in the camouflage corps during World War I, where he was in the same unit as the famous regionalist painter, Grant Wood. Following his service, he joined the staff of the Chicago Tribune, where he worked as a “color consultant” and commercial artist. He traveled extensively in the American southwest, becoming known for his landscape paintings that documented the Spanish colonial architecture of the region. He exhibited his works in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1933 (along with Grant Wood and Orrin A. White) and in other regional exhibitions.
Artist, Ceramicist, Educator
Kathleen M. Kneafsey (b. 1966), a noted ceramicist who has been the artist-in-residence at the Huntington Museum of Art since 2000 and who has overseen the ceramic artist invitations for the Museum’s Walter Gropius Master Artist Program, had one of her degrees incorrectly reported. Kneafsey received an MFA (not an MA) in ceramics from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, in 2000. We apologize for the error.
Artist, Sculptor, Frame Dealer
Larry Mayne (b. 1951) attended Russell High School in Russell, Kentucky, graduating in 1969 and received a B.A. from Georgetown College in Georgetown, Kentucky, in 1974. He did additional graduate work in art at both Marshall University in Huntington and the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky. Mayne was primarily a sculptor working in stone, and regularly submitted his works to exhibition. Among his largest commissions was an eight-ton sculpture created in 1976 for the grounds of Ashland Oil in Bellefonte, Kentucky. He began his framing career with the Frame House in Georgetown followed by a stint as a partner in Accents Gallery in Lexington before founding Mayne Framing Supply, a picture frame wholesale distributor, which was organized in 1984 in Huntington. Following his retirement, the business was sold to International Moulding. In the past, Mayne has served as a board member of the Ashland Area Art Gallery and as chairman of the Cardinal Valley Art Show.
SOURCES: Huntington Herald-Dispatch (February 2, 2020); CYNTHIAMAYNE.
A.K.A. “Don Daniel McMillian,” “Donnie McMillian”
Artist, Painter, Interior Decorator, Author
Donald McMillian (1947 – 2010) was born in Huntington, the son of Eleanor Ferguson and Harry McMillian. He worked as an interior decorator with Burdines in Boca Raton, Florida, and Holtsenheimer’s Interior Design in Palm Beach, Florida. He was employed for several years by the noted Woolworth family in Palm Beach before he returned to Huntington. In addition to his interior decorating work, he was an accomplished painter and author, writing a number of articles and important books on local and regional history. These included Images of America: Huntington (2003); Huntington: The Edwardian Age’s Modern Movement (2005); On The Threshold of Splendor: Historic Homes and Families (2007); The House of Woolworth, Their Stunning Financial Windfalls, Their Riveting Emotional Pitfalls (2007); The Underground Railroad: Lawrence County, Ohio and Cabell County, Virginia (2008) and The Very Best: West Virginia’s 55 Counties and several others (2009); The History and Rebirth of Downtown Huntington, West Virginia. Huntington, WV (2009, with J. Touma). McMillian was instrumental in the process to retore the original tower dome of the Cabell County Courthouse in downtown Huntington. At one time the Huntington Museum of Art owned one of his paintings.
SOURCES: cabellcountydoorstothepast.com; muse.jhu.edu; theclio.com; www.timeswv.com.
Artist, Glass Designer
David Wulfman (b. 1962) was born in West Virginia, the son of Jeanne Goodman and Robert Wulfman. He attended Huntington High School and trained as a glass blowing artist. In 2013 he was one of a group of artists selected to help celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, through the design of a mini golf course where each hole was designed by a different team of regional artists. Wulfman currently serves on the board of the Foci Minnesota Center for Glass Arts in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Wulfman family donated a large collection of glass by the noted American artist, Joel Philip Myers, to the Huntington Museum of Art in 2021 (where a work by David Wulfman also resides in the collection). His works have been exhibited at the following institutions: Mano Gallery, St. Louis, MO, 1992; Huntington Museum of Art, Huntington, WV, 2021.
SOURCES: HMA RESEARCH FILES; projects.propublica.org; s3.amazonaws.com; U.S., Public Records Index, 1950-1993, Volume 1 (Ancestry.com); U.S., School Yearbooks, 1900-2016 (Ancestry.com).