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

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