Tamarack highlights West Virginia artisans

BECKLEY – Tamarack: The Best of West Virginia is the state’s premier arts and crafts shop in Beckley.

It features products made by artists, craftsmen and artisans from the Mountain State who are selected by a judging process for their creative ability and quality and highlights the culture and heritage of West Virginia.

Customers can browse through products, watch artists create their work, view pieces from West Virginia’s finest artists in the David L. Dickirson Fine Arts Gallery or eat a meal offered through The Greenbrier.

Tamarack is located in Beckley. From Parkersburg and points north, take Interstate 77 south to Interstate 64 in Charleston, then 64 to exit 45 where Tamarack’s red pointed roof is at the end of the exit ramp.

Tamarack was created under the administration of Gov. Gaston Caperton. After several years of planning and organization, a groundbreaking was held on Aug. 8, 1994.

The artist selection process continued during construction and planning with more than 900 artisans taking orders from the center by June 1995. At the end of 1996, more than 1,300 artists from West Virginia were selling products at Tamarack.

Today, more than 2,800 artisans from the 55 counties in West Virginia exhibit and sell at Tamarack. Gross revenue has exceeded $78 million.

Among the studio artists are: Doug Coleman of Fayetteville, a glass carver; Tish and Greg Westman, who make and play the bowed psaltery, a Celtic instrument; John DesMeules, a glass artist from Eleanor; Lester and Tammie Marks of the Heavenly Sunlight Alpaca Farm in Freeport who weave products from yarn made from the fur of the alpacas they raise.

Admission and parking are free.

Hours are 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Jan. 5-March 1 and 8 a.m.-8 p.m. March 2 to Jan. 4. In the food court, breakfast is served 8-10:45 a.m. and lunch and dinner are served from 11 a.m. to closing.

Tamarack is closed on Christmas and closes at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.

Demonstrations by artisans and events also are held.

The schedule is:

* 10 a.m. Aug. 26-6 p.m. Aug. 28, demonstrations, carved wood by Nate Parr and stone carving by Earl Gray.

* 6 p.m. Aug. 26, Bloomery SweetShine Pairing Dinner.

* 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Aug. 27, food tasting, Woodbine Jellies

* 10 a.m. Sept. 2-6 p.m. Sept. 4, demonstrations, wood carver David Bragg and jewelry maker Barbara Myles.

* 10 a.m. Sept. 9-6 p.m. Sept. 11, demonstrations, jewelry and stained glass by Stephanie Danz and carved wood by Delbert Pitchford.

* 10 a.m. Sept. 23-6 p.m. Sept. 25, jewelry by Mary Redman and bath and body by Wild Mountain Soaps.

* 10 a.m. Sept. 23-6 p.m. Sept. 25, demonstrations, painting by Ruth Wilt and Barbara Dellagatti.

* 10 a.m. Oct. 7-6 p.m. Oct. 9, demonstrations, West Virginia coal jewelry by Carol Dameron and tie dye textiles by Spiral Light Productions.

Live entertainment is featured in the Gov. Hulett C. Smith Theater and includes various musical genres including classical, jazz, country and bluegrass and plays, poetry readings and movies.

The Sunday@Two series in the theater is sponsored by Tamarack and involves a free performance 2 p.m. every Sunday.

“A Christmas Carol,” Charles Dickens’ story of the miserly Scrooge who changes his ways, is a yuletide classic at the theater.

The Wildly Wonderful exhibition is underway through Sept. 25 in the David L. Dickirson Fine Arts Gallery. The exhibition features alternative views of West Virginia.

The gallery highlights the work of more than 500 juried artists from West Virginia with exhibitions changing every six to eight weeks.

More information about Tamarack is available at tamarackwv.com.