10 Ways of Looking at West Virginia

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This succession of photos has no theme other than what interested my eye from glancing through a digital folder just now of “West Virginia” photographs I’ve taken in recent years. With so many of us mostly house-bound, my restless spirits may have been grunting about for some space and spaciousness.


1.

Here’s a sighting of Big Foot I captured (at last) at Hoeft Marsh, an amazing place up WV Route 2, a stone’s throw from the Ohio River in what I think is Cabell County.

PHOTO BY TheStoryIsTheThing.com

No, really, it’s not Big Foot. It’s my brother David. But I had you there for a moment, yes?


2.

The impressive 68-foot-tall statue out front of the Clay Center in Charleston, WV, manages the equally impressive feat—at least for me—of never being boring for such a monumental work.

It helps that Albert Paley’s “Hallelujah” always recalls for me a wrecked rocket ship, harkening back to a sci-fi-addled youth. I like to believe this might be the remains of the rocket I rode in on. (‘My people! Why have you forsaken me?! I wait for rescue as there is no intelligent life on this planet…‘)

PS: No, but, really, I like you and think you’re intelligent. But those other humanoids … ?

PSS: This statue has long entranced me. Here’s a video meditation I did about it a decade or so ago.


3.

Was getting out of my car to visit a friend in downtown Charleston, West Virginia. And there before me was a trio of flouncily-dressed women. (‘Flouncily‘ is likely not a word, but it should be.) Some kind of wedding party? A prom thingie? I will never know. Like Quickdraw McGraw, I fired off two quick shots on my smartphone. And here you have it: an Urban Appalachian portrait of The Power of Taffeta.

Walk This Way. Charleston, WV. | PHOTO BY TheStoryIsTheThing.com

Quickdraw McGraw lives—on Wikipedia.

PS: Wikipedia has gotten grief through the years as a sort of John Cougar Mellencamp to the Encyclopedia Brittanica’s Bruce Springsteen. But you have to be impressed that you just know there’d be a Wikipedia entry for “Quickdraw McGraw.” And, of course, there is. Which is why I donate about once a year to the Wikipedia Foundation.

You can be sure the EB is too snooty to have a Quickdraw entry. (Let’s check. A search returns: ‘There are currently no results related to your search. Please check to see that you spelled your query correctly. Or, try a different or more general query term.‘ I don’t think so, EB. I’ll donate to Wikipedia the next time they ask, thank you very much.


4.

Solarfest 2017, Fayetteville WV | PHOTO BY TheStoryIsTheThing.com

I shot this photo while departing for the night from the (I think it was) 2017 Solar Fest music and educational festival outside Fayetteville, WV, on the grounds of Cantrell Ultimate Rafting. Solar Fest is a solar-powered event put on by some friends with the Keeper of the Mountains Foundation which for decades has been doing the work of the angels. Their mission statement is worth quoting at length and their work worth supporting:

The Keeper of the Mountains Foundation’s mission to educate and inspire people to work for healthier, more sustainable communities and an end to dependency on fossil fuels. We believe a better future requires everyday people to come together and recognize their power to make long-term, lasting change.

https://www.keeperofthemountains.org/

5.

Another hill, another festival. Here are two versions of one view. I’m looking up the hill from in front of the main stage at the 2019 Culturefest world music festival, held in September at the Appalachian South Folklife Center near Pipestem WV. One of the coolest family-friendly festivals in the Appalachian hills

PS: I’ve been doing a lot of photo-editing with BeFunky, an app I discovered for my smartphone. But the app’s subscription web service has a bunch of extra features. I sorta-kinda love the “graphic novel” photo filter, seen above in the first version.


6.

Outstanding in his field. | PHOTO BY TheStoryIsTheThing.com

Find the horse. A vintage West Virginia scene along a vintage-ly named byway in the West Virginia outback: Back Creek Road.


7.

Lillies of the field. | PHOTO BY TheStoryIsTheThing.com

Sometimes, the shot is waiting outside your front door soon after dawn. You just have to get low-down enough to get it.


8.

Red House, Green Hills. | PHOTO BY TheStoryIsTheThing.com

My nominee —from among many attempts—at a somewhat definitive capture of the high lonesome quality to life in the hills of West Virginia. The state is so long and wide, its roads so curlicue for so many hours, I forget where I shot this. A Tucker County ovelook, maybe. You can travel for hours in the state’s outback and never have a web signal. (Google, get on that please. Web zeppelins—’weppelins‘?)


9.

Intersections. | PHOTO BY TheStoryIsTheThing.com

Inspired by Nancy Belmont’s 2016 creation “Unity” in Alexandria, VA, a West Virginia minister and artist friend birthed a community-created yarnwork in Barboursville WV, in September 2019. For the Barboursville Unity Project, visitors created the work as they experienced it, weaving colorful threads of yarn led by prompts on 32 ten-foot poles framing the work.

“It’s important to be connected to something that is bigger than I am,” said Kerry Bart, pastor at Barboursville United Methodist Church, in remarks from last September that presciently speak to the quarantined moments we’re living through in March 2020.

“My yarn traces out a certain pattern—but it’s not the only pattern. Other people have different patterns. And we compare those patterns and overlay them. And see how we’re part of a community.”

Local artist Larry K. Brumfield noted: “Each strand propagates, weaves and combines with other strands in forming a web of humanity.”

Below is a WVStrong.org video by my buddy Bobby Lee Messer of Huntington-based MesserMedia.com that’ll give you a full sense of this cool project.


10.

My name is Douglas John Imbrogno. And I am an “odd fellow.” Thank you for letting me share.

One Comment

  • Joel Preston Smith

    My West Coast friends sometimes ask me about how many ‘social opportunities’ there are in West Virginia. The Red House photo is a good graphic illustration of how I often feel here—extremely isolated. I don’t live precisely THIS isolated from anyone, but it’s 200 yards to the nearest house to the east, 350 to the house to the west, and about half a mile to 3/4 of a mile to houses on the north and south. And ironically, I don’t live far from Red House, W.Va. I’ve never seen a photo that better represents that sense of loneliness.

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