Local Painters of the Past Article


ArtSpring is excited to announce the Local Painters of the Past exhibit, featuring the work of painters Ernest Hertig and Pauline Mullenax. The exhibit is from February 21 through April 27, with an opening reception on Saturday, February 29 from 3-7 p.m. featuring a lecture about the artists by curator and ArtSpring Board Member Linda Reeves at 4 o’clock. The exhibit will be at the ArtSpring Gallery at Cottrill’s Opera House, located at 264 East Ave (Front St.) in Thomas. Gallery hours are Wednesday-Sunday from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Paintings were graciously loaned from private collections throughout the region.

Ernest Hertig was a well-known figure in Tucker County, and lived many years at the Worden’s Hotel in Davis. He was noted for his presence at the entrance of Blackwater Falls State Park from the 1940’s to the late 1960’s. Early during his time there he painted on an easel and sold paintings from his car. Around 1945 he bought a small parcel of land near the park entrance and built a small kiosk/work space. There he painted in oils on masonite the different moods and seasons of Blackwater Falls and other regional landscapes, which he sold to the local tourist trade. He died in 1971 at the age of 68.

Pauline Mullenax was a self-taught artist born in Nitro, West Virginia in 1915. She moved to a farm near Silver Lake in Preston County in the 1960’s to be a housekeeper for John Mullenax and his daughter Reba, eventually marrying John. She signed her paintings with the initials DPM (Donnie Pauline Mullenax), although she always went by Pauline. As a young girl she contracted polio, which left her painting arm partially paralyzed. To compensate she did her paintings on flat surfaces while standing, using her good arm to help steady her weaker painting arm. Pauline was not a Sunday painter — she was prolific, usually painting landscapes from the local countryside or scenes from calendars. She died in 1991. Engraved on her tombstone is: “Great Artist, Donnie Pauline Mullenax”.

ArtSpring is a non-profit arts organization that cultivates and promotes the arts in Tucker County. Along with curating a gallery of rotating exhibits, ArtSpring also offers a retail space featuring the work of regional artists, including a partnership with the Tucker County High School Makers Space program, and hosts various events, workshops and fundraisers. ArtSpring’s efforts culminate in the annual ArtSpring Festival, a countywide celebration of the arts in Tucker County that takes place over Memorial Day weekend.