It was a summer day in the early 1990s, and young Robby Moore’s excitement grew with every step as he walked from his Hager Street home to Johnstown Road.
He can’t remember exactly how old he was, maybe 10 or 12, but he remembers the reason behind his excitement during that half-mile trek — his first ever art class at Beckley Art Center.
“I can’t remember a time I wasn’t interested in art,” he shares, roughly 30 years later, sitting inside the same building.
As he walked into the downstairs of the center, he remembers immediately feeling intimidated. He was surrounded by older women who were prepared with all their art supplies — watercolor paints, brushes, and special paper.
Moore had come only with his class fee in hand.
But the women welcomed him and shared their supplies. One woman gave him some paint. Another gave him a brush. And another some paper.
“I just sat and painted with them,” he says with a smile. “I had that painting — a mailbox — for a long time.”
Not only did he keep that painting with him over the years, but also the memory of feeling welcome by the artists at the center.
Now, as the newly named executive director of Beckley Art Group, Moore wants to recreate that feeling for everyone who walks in.
In his new position, Moore wants to focus on three elements — arts, education and community.
As for the arts, the Beckley Art Center has a gallery located upstairs and art classes available downstairs. With the recent acquisition of the Academy of Creative Arts on Neville Street, the group will also have a focus on music, and a theater program is planned for next spring.
“We may be adding dance, too. There’s so much potential growth.”
Moore says these classes and programs tie directly into education.
He has seen firsthand how education can shape the future of a child — one of the…