Sometimes referred to as “The Van Gough of Bedford County,” Tom McGauhuey, a local artist who has been creating paintings and ceramics for over 30 years, finally brings his “hobby” to the public eye.

The “Words Have Failed Us” collection featuring McGauhuey’s works is now on display at the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art (SAMA) in Bedford.

“He’s one of the unfound artists in Bedford County,” said Sarah Henrich, SAMA’s director and senior curator, who also made the connection of the style of his work to the world-renowned artist, Vincent Van Gough.

“His work is so unique and strong,” said Morgan Young, site coordinator at SAMA-Bedford.

This display is his first-ever public exhibit. He’s never had his work on display before, even though he’s been teaching and creating art for more than three decades.

Young said some of his friends didn’t even know he was so involved with his art until this exhibit.

The display consists of 68 of McGauhuey’s paintings and 29 of his ceramics, and Young said that’s not even the tip of the iceberg of his entire collection.

“It’s been a pleasure to put this show together,” Young said.

And she even has a personal connection with McGaughey.

“He was actually my high school art teacher at Chestnut Ridge,” she said with a reminiscing smile.

She said they are still in touch constantly, even working on art together at times. When Young became the site coordinator at SAMA-Bedford a few years ago, she said one of her first moves was to try and put this exhibit together.

“It just all kind of happened,” she said, mentioning that McGaughey was a bit reluctant to do the exhibit, and it could be the only time his art is on display.

As for what McGaughey wants visitors to get out of the exhibit?

“He said, ‘Just relax and have fun. Take a timeout,’” Young said.

“With all the craziness in the world, this is a great place to decompress and relax,” she added. “Let Tom take you to all these places.”

McGaughey’s ceramics are on sale, with the proceeds being donated to SAMA, but his paintings are not, although Young said the question has been asked.

“His paintings are his legacy,” she said, explaining that his paintings will be going to his kids. “It’s his signature, his presence.”

“It’s a visual representation of his thoughts,” Young said. “We’re lucky to have this exhibit. We’re very blessed.”

The “Words Have Failed Us” exhibit will be on display until Oct. 31. SAMA-Bedford is open Tuesday through Saturday from noon to 4:30.

Contact Christopher Detwiler at cdetwiler@bedfordgazette.com, 623-1151, ext. 105.

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