Local artist sees beauty all around in West Virginia

Last updated: August 30, 2021

For Princeton artist Rita Montrosse, her love for art began with her first memories as a child. Her grandfather was a master carpenter and Rita had her own tools in his workshop to work by his side. Her father was a building contractor who taught Rita how to draw floor plans and read blueprints. Her mother studied art and always had art materials around the house for Rita to experiment, so art has always been part of her everyday life and play.

Montrosse is a former art teacher at Princeton Senior High School, a graduate of Radford University with art emphasis of jewelry and metalsmithing, and an adjunct professor at Concord University in Athens, WV. Her artwork is displayed at art houses across West Virginia. 

Her two favorite mediums are watercolor painting and metal jewelry. She produces 60 to 80 pieces each year. Montrosse sees art as always growing and changing. “I constantly see new art mediums developing. The more you experience it, the more you see new things happening.”  

Her love for West Virginia is prominent in her work. “I love to go for hikes and mountain climb in the area and those experiences show up in the realistic beginnings of my abstract art. When you look at mountain formations and rock formations or river streams cutting through the mountains, you have a great break up of space and a natural beginning of an abstract interpretation. It doesn’t take a lot to see how the natural textures can be reinterpreted into abstract art,”  said Montrosse.

She loves the open spaces and lack of congestion in West Virginia that allows for relaxing days and the ability to include our natural beauty in ordinary, daily activities. As an artist, she sees the beauty around us every day and uses it to inspire her work.

Montrosse is excited about the resurgence of the art scene in Princeton. “There is a real interest in art in our community and many artists live here and others are coming to Princeton to be part of the art scene,” said Montrosse.  The mural projects throughout the city have generated a great deal of interest in the arts by locals and visitors. Eccentric and colorful, these murals fill entire blocks throughout the city.

Montrosse attributes much of her success to the exposure she receives by having her work displayed at Tamarack. She has strong support locally, but Tamarack exposes her work to travelers from all over the country.

She balances her time between her passion for teaching and creating. A majority of her creative time is spent on watercolors, but she teaches both watercolor and metal jewelry at Concord University.

Montrosse stays in contact with her former students and follows their work and lives on Facebook. She notes that an on-line sale of her work always happens after someone has seen the piece in person. “Most people who see something for the first time on-line, they call to set up a time to see the piece in person. I have never sold anything that the buyer has not seen in person,” said Montrosse.