Throughout his prolific career, visual artist Robert Hutton has made an impression in his field - and in the Tri-State.

Hutton and his wife Robin, of South Point, Ohio, have devoted the majority of their partnership to enriching the lives of others through art and expression.

The couple, who have been inseparable since they met on Marshall University's campus in the early 1970s, put down their roots on a patch of land in Lawrence County shortly after, on which they married, raised their children, Rachael and Emily, constructed Hutton's art studio in 1989 and opened the Hutton Wayfarer Gallery in late 2018.

In 1999, Hutton retired after nearly 30 years as an instructor at Marshall University, where he taught courses in basic and figure drawing, sculpture, painting and multi-dimensional designs to students "of all levels and dispositions." With retirement came more opportunities to focus on creating, and, eventually, the Hutton Wayfarer Gallery - a name that pays homage to one of his most prized paintings, "The Wayfarer."

Now, their focus is giving back.

Each month, the Hutton Wayfarer Gallery gives local artists a chance to exhibit their own works, which "allows for an exchange of ideas and a sense of artistic camaraderie in an Appalachian area of the United States," Hutton says.

The Huttons say they select artists based on familiarity and diversity in style. Currently, the works of Katherine Cox, the former art director of the Huntington Museum of Art, are on display. The "Lost in Pencil Town" exhibit can be viewed through June 25.

Future exhibits are scheduled to include Laure Williamson, Homire Ahmed, Mary Grassell and Mark Moore.

"Providing more artists the opportunity to give their work extra public exposure for viewing and sales builds a sense of community for us," Robin says. "At our special events and artists' opening receptions, we have welcomed everyone, renewed old friendships, reunited with former Marshall University students and faculty, and have met new friends in educational and creative fields."

Over time, Hutton has varied his expressive mediums, devoting years to working with lithographs, painting, drawing and sculpting. Style, he says, is "inevitable through experience," and should be "fluid" as it evolves over time.

"As a visual artist, I explore my own private world, and in the process, I discover personal meaning and truth," Hutton says. "However, the final phase of the creative cycle is for others to share in my vision. Most artists have the natural human desire to communicate and touch people's lives. I want others to experience whatever expression and beauty may be found in my art -hopefully reaching a wider audience."

If Hutton had a chance to start anew, he says he's certain he'd be exactly where he is today.

Visitors are encouraged to contact Hutton via rhutton@zoominternet.net to schedule gallery viewing appointments and for directions.

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