Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Tamarack Artist!

The jury for Tamarack was yesterday -- a long 10-hour trip down and back to Beckley, but it turned out to be worth the trip: I was accepted into the Tamarack artists' gallery! That's been a goal for the last several years, and I am very happy (and relieved) to have made it.

Tamarack is a large art and craft gallery located on the W.Va. turnpike (Interstate 77) outside of Beckley, W.Va. It opened in May 1996 after about seven years of work devoted to developing the concept, working with artisans, contractors, designers and local officials.

Its goals, according to the Tamarack Web site, are: "to boost the state’s economy by fostering a market-driven approach to selling indigenous products. As a world-class facility, Tamarack is destined to become a major tourist attraction, expand job opportunities and draw more than 500,000 visitors a year. The Tamarack facility is the focal point of the Tamarack distribution system, which markets West Virginia-made products throughout the state."

The facility is supported by the state of West Virginia. Its operation is currently under the umbrella of the state Parkways Authority administration. Gov. Joe Manchin is talking about moving the facility under the direction of the state Department of Commerce, but no moves have been made yet.

A conference center was added to the facility in 2003.

The shape of the facility is similar to a doughnut or a wheel, with a central, open courtyard for sculpture. The interior circles back onto itself with displays divided among fiber, jewelry, pottery, glass, furniture, books and music, etc. The triangular spires on the bright, orange roof, which resemble a quilt pattern if viewed from above, are the most striking part of the building's design. The design is also used in Tamarack's logo.

Most of the work in Tamarack is artisan- and craft-oriented, and Tamarack buys much of its craft and fine craft inventory through wholesale sales, but there is an art gallery, the David L. Dickirson Gallery, that usually puts on six or seven shows a year. Artists are paid by commission in the gallery.

The shows at the Dickirson are usually thematic. Animals, for example, are the focus of a show going in later this month.

As a member artist for the Dickirson gallery, I am to stay in contact with gallery staffers and let them know what kind of works I'm completing. The staff then uses the information coming in from the artists to compile ideas for shows, which are planned about a year in advance.

I am eligible for a show next January for the newly juried artists, called "Emerging Artists."

For more information on Tamarack, visit their Web site and E-store at

Friday, April 10, 2009

Taking the plunge

I've decided to take the plunge, so to speak, and attempt to jury into Tamarack, a large, state-supported artisan gallery in Beckley, W.Va.

I was approved through a pre-screening process at the start of this month, and have been debating whether to take the next step. I've been hesitating because I worry whether the few pieces I have on hand to submit to the process are worthy. (Now I really regret selling some of my best works).

I'll have to take a day from work to make the attempt, but I guess now is as good a time as any -- I hope.

Jury is April 21. I hope I make it.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

New project hits close to home

I'm beginning a new project that I expect will require many weeks to complete. It's also a painting that I've been putting off for years.

My father wants me to paint the home in which he and his siblings grew up. The house burned back in 70s, so I all I have are old photos of the place. His siblings and their spouses have also expressed an interest in the project, and have been searching for more photos. So now I have the formidable expectations of my father to meet, and more still.

Here's an example of the challenge I face. This photo includes one of my great uncles, a cousin, and a neighbor. I think the image was made in the 1950s. And this photo is about the clearest image I have of the house. The structure appears in random photographs, but always as a cropped background element as photos were taken of my dad and his siblings, other family members, a pony, farm equipment, etc.

From these fragments, I can create rough line drawings, but I need better information on the structure as sunlight passes over it -- the key element I look for as I create realistic paintings.

To counter the limited information I've gleaned from the photographs, I am taking the experimental step of building a rough model of the house from foamcore and shining a light on it to simulate the effect. I'll update that project as it moves along.