Top 15 Tamarack Artists
In commemoration of Tamarack's 15th anniversary, we celebrate the talents of some of its top artists.
Tamarack’s striking, peaked red roof and attractively landscaped grounds draw half a million visitors annually into a welcome respite of visual beauty, Appalachian sounds, and distinctive aromas. In August 2009, Tamarack welcomed its six millionth guest and anticipates its seven millionth guest in late 2011. And that’s not all.
In just 15 years, Tamarack has worked with more than 3,000 West Virginian artists and craftspeople. They have helped retain, expand, and create jobs for West Virginians through the retail artisan shop in Beckley and have linked artists to other wholesale and retail opportunities, from travel information centers to the Mountain State Art & Craft Fair. Tamarack’s retail center benefits all 55 counties in West Virginia, and its economic impact is almost $19 million annually.
“I don’t often brag about Tamarack’s staff, but this milestone is an opportunity to acknowledge how important the people are who work both in the public eye and behind the scenes,” says Cheryl Harley, Tamarack general manager. “The people here are the heart of Tamarack. It is their commitment that has made it all happen 364 days a year, for 15 years.”
To honor one of the most important groups of people involved in Tamarack’s flourishing success—the artists—WV LIVING magazine and Tamarack partnered in a public callout for the people of West Virginia and beyond to vote for their Top 15 favorite Tamarack artists. The Top 15 artists have qualified for and been accepted through a system in which master craftsmen and craftswomen judge the artist’s work based on a variety of criteria, a process that has evolved over the years into a well-oiled machine. At the most basic level, Tamarack staff members pre-screen each artist, reviewing their product for quality, workmanship, originality, and appropriateness, and if the artist’s work meets those criteria, they are then invited to jury.
“Although Tamarack has evolved in so many ways over the past 15 years, we still believe in the original vision of former Governor Gaston Caperton: Tamarack is a place where visitors experience all that is West Virginia, and West Virginian artisans make a living preserving their heritage by creating original handcrafted works of art,” says Cindy Whitlock, Tamarack marketing director. “To me, it’s more than a place. Tamarack encapsulates the spirit of our Mountain State with wondrous architecture and art, with memorable sights and sounds, and with a sense of both pride and purpose not found in any of the other 49 states.”
Vittoria & Banks
In 2003, after the loss of five friends under the age of 40 in the span of a mere two months, Vicki Angotti took a moment to examine her life. At the time, she was working with her husband in his medical practice, but she was not fulfilled. When a trusted acquaintance advised her to turn to something creative to help her relax, Vicki turned to wire and beads. One day, within hours of sitting down with her new project, she had designed and created five sets of necklaces with earrings. Today, Vicki is a Precious Metal Clay Certified artist. “Most of my designs are not planned ahead of time. They just ‘become’ what they are meant to be.” She is a juried artist at Tamarack and sells her jewelry across the Mountain State. Her work has been accepted for shows at the Tamarack Gallery, Monongalia Arts Center, and the WV Arts Guild show in Parkersburg.
“I love the concept of jewelry and adornment,” Vicki says. “We decorate ourselves with things we love, that tell a story of a moment in our lives, even if that moment is only to find just the right earrings to match a new dress.” Vicki operated a jewelry business—Vittoria & Banks, Art For Your Soul—in downtown Fairmont that featured the work of about 30 artists, before moving her studio to downtown Bridgeport, where she now enjoys taking every opportunity to teach and advise fellow artists about the business and marketing side of art.
Vicki loves making every piece of jewelry personal. “I look forward to continuing to experiment with different techniques and materials as I enjoy my journey,” she says. “How can you get bored or burned out when you play every day with sterling silver, gemstones, electrical fuses, cut up credit cards, and wood? Not to mention hammers, fire, acid, and big tools!”
Vittoria & Banks, 130 West Main Street, Bridgeport, WV 26330; 304.641.4247
PAINTER & PHOTOGRAPHER
“I have been creating images my entire life,” painter Chuck Ball says. With the support of his parents and paternal grandmother, who always made sure he had the best in professional quality art supplies, Chuck was able to establish himself in the arts. It was his sixth grade teacher who encouraged him to apprentice with local watercolorist Jack Scott, an experience that revealed what it was really like working in a studio. Chuck focused on oils in high school and then studied sumi-e, the practice of making and using ink, at Kansai Gaidai University in Osaka, Japan.
In 2010, he was juried into Tamarack. “Tamarack is the perfect arena to display the diverse culture and skilled crafts of West Virginia’s natives,” he says. Working in West Virginia was a “non-issue” for Chuck, but working as a West Virginian in a traditional Japanese format has proved difficult because people don’t always understand that he’s not copying a style but was trained in the tradition of sumi-e.
The best advice he can share with fellow and young artists just exploring their craft is this: “Believe. Focus. Accept that you are doing what you are intended to do and your success comes to you. The main product artists create is joy and it is our job to distribute it as thoroughly as possible.”
Ruckman Mill Farm
Susan Feller has been an artist all of her life, working with her hands learning a variety of surface design techniques. She started rug hooking in 1994 at the age of 40 because it enabled her to pull all of her skills together. “My grandmother taught me crocheting and knitting and my mother taught me hand sewing, and as a Girl Scout, I learned about traditions. Then, in college, I majored in history and art. When I saw my first hooked rug, I was determined to learn how to pull the loops, and my fiber journey continues today,” Susan says.
“I love rug hooking because it is tactile. I love the variety of visual textures and colors and being able to manipulate dyes to create my own surface. Rug hooking is a forgiving technique—hook, change your mind, pull out, hook again.” Susan also likes rug hooking’s element of recycling, something that first attracted her because she could reuse and repurpose clothing. She was attracted to the utilitarian yet decorative nature of hooked rugs, as well as the heritage of generations that could be interpreted as part of contemporary designs.
For Susan, working as an artist in the Mountain State is an “affirming, powerful, sustaining, and supportive” experience. She enjoys being part of a community of generous, sharing, and talented artisans and takes advantage of the abundant networking opportunities across the state by serving as a board member for the Hampshire County Arts Council, among other things. “The Best of West Virginia is an asset to the arts community within our state and is known worldwide,” she says. “The mentoring programs, the support systems online and within different art mediums, and the residents’ encouragement statewide all validate what it means to be an artist in the Tamarack collection and in West Virginia.”
Studio open by appointment.
Susan L. Feller, Ruckman Mill Farm, Augusta, WV 26704; 304.496.8073
Since her earliest pursuits in pastel painting, artist Tonie Garrett has had the support of local teachers, friends, and family. Her passion for pastels has been ever-present since her first workshop with Terri Smith in 2006 in Lewisburg. “The immediacy and the pure and brilliant colors of pastel have produced many rewarding experiences for me,” Tonie says. “Fine artists such as Bill Hosner, Bob Burridge, and Bob Rohm inspire me to keep reaching for expression and expansion through my paintings.”
As a Tamarack artist since 2009, Tonie says, “Tamarack has especially offered new opportunities for West Virginia artists. Residents of the Mountain State—and our visitors—are blessed to have such a wonderful center and foundation located right here in our state that is so widely recognized in the art world.” Tonie has also been with Allied Artists since 2008 and was most recently accepted as a member of the Pastel Society of America.
Studio visits available by appointment.
Designs by Shelley
A Tamarack artist since 2005, Shelley Goodman says she would not be where she is today if it weren’t for the love and support of her husband, parents, and sister. But Shelley’s own talent and faith have helped, too. “If you want something badly enough and if you work hard enough, then it’s yours for the taking and it will happen,” she says.
Shelley’s journey began 20 years ago when she decided to make her own outdoor Christmas decorations, with a little help from her dad, a jigsaw, and some paint. After that, Shelley was hooked on painting—she bought a book and started mastering her craft by painting hummingbirds, roses, and other designs on wooden chairs her dad made. In 2002, after the loss of her father, Shelley enveloped herself in painting and discovered enamel paints. “I was drawn to painting on glass surfaces because I love the functionality of a candy bowl decorated with roses or a vase decorated with irises and butterflies or an ornament decorated with a cardinal or a snowman,” Shelley says. “I love taking an ordinary piece of glass and then with paint turning it into something extraordinary.”
KATHY M. HANBY
“I have been doing crafty things since I was very young,” Kathy M. Hanby says. “When I discovered stained glass, I fell in love with every aspect of the craft and have since made a name for myself in galleries and homes all along the east coast.”
Kathy has been working with glass for about 15 years and designs and creates all of her own work rather than using patterns. She uses a decorative soldering technique to give her glass the look of jewelry. “I can create anything from metal wall sculptures using fused glass to fused glass jewelry to flat glass panels. The variety keeps working with glass fresh and new for me.” Lately, Kathy’s work has been moving more into three-dimensional creations. “In the future, I hope to see my ‘beveled glass conservatories’ adding beauty to homes, offices, and companies throughout the state. They are truly one of kind,” she says.
As a juried Tamarack artist for more than eight years, Kathy believes that: “Tamarack is the most important business for me and West Virginia artists. They have pulled from the hills and valleys some of the state’s best artists who would never have been discovered otherwise.”
Amalea Jewelry at
The Little Studio
Amy Johns makes sure to follow her own advice to artists by “learning as much as you can about your chosen medium.” She says, “I plan to keep taking classes, learning from others, and teaching myself new skills. I’m excited about what’s next!” She encourages other artists to “always try to push your art to the next level; don’t settle. Do it for the love of the art, and if you’re lucky, the money will follow.”
About 10 years ago, Amy wandered into a local bead store, remembering she had some broken jewelry around the house. She bought new stones to go with the old ones, and she started making fun, new pieces. When she started wearing her handmade jewelry to work, friends and co-workers asked her to make pieces for them. After that, she got into doing crafts shows and festivals.
But what really drew her to her work, she says, was “working with my hands and using cool tools to create something that makes people say, ‘Wow.’ I still get a thrill every time I light my torch and see the solder glow and flow.”
Setting up shop as an artist in West Virginia has been a rewarding experience for Amy. “The state has a rich culture and tradition that truly embraces handcrafted work. I have met so many wonderful people who have followed my progress as an artist and supported me.”
As a juried Tamarack artist, Amy says, “Tamarack has done more for my life as an artist than anything else. The opportunities I’ve had through Tamarack have brought added value to my work and given me credibility as an artist. People recognize the prestige of Tamarack, and it’s an honor to be able to call myself a Tamarack artist.”
Amy Johns, Amalea Jewelry at The Little Studio, 709 Beechurst Avenue, Morgantown, WV 26505
Paul Latos has been making pottery for 42 years. He started in high school with the encouragement of a favorite teacher, but some of his earliest efforts started in the woods near his home in Windsor Heights. There, he would dig for the crude, unprocessed clay and make pinch pots and other simple vessels from materials that contained roots and pebbles. “It was hardly the refined clay I now have learned to use,” he says.
“Clay has a special feel shared by no other medium. It responds immediately to pressure and emotion that is expressed during the shaping of each creation. The tactile quality of clay varies with its composition and allows me to create a visual and physical mood that is portrayed in the patterns of the product.”
Paul has been involved with Tamarack even before its name was selected, and he participated in early advisory panels. Prior to Tamarack, Paul spent many weeks a year traveling to trade shows across the country. “Since I lived in rural, central West Virginia, it was essential that I establish business ventures in more populated areas outside the state,” he says. “My relationship with Tamarack has minimized my inefficient, costly, and time-consuming participation in trade shows and craft fairs, and has enabled me to devote more time to the creation of limited edition, artistic works.” Paul was surprised to learn he was selected as one of Tamarack’s Top 15 artists. “It is humbling to learn that so many people have confidence in my work.”
The Linn Pottery Studio and Gallery, 1035 Chapline Street, Wheeling, WV 26003; 304.905.8957
Donna Lohr dabbled in crochet, embroidery, photography, watercolor, pottery, and paper crafts before she settled into her Whimsical Woolies four years ago. “I love being part of creating a Whimsical Woolie because the adventure is always new. There is always the moment when I see who the Woolie wants to be and I love the welcome surprise of co-creating a little Woolie personality—me and the Whimsy,” Donna says.
For her, working with wool and wool felt is rewarding because the material feels good, comes in many colors and designs, and is a forgiving medium. She also loves the portability of wool because she can take her supplies anywhere. She became a juried artist at Tamarack in 2008. “Tamarack believed in me from the day I juried in as a timid, new, ‘official artist,’ which gave me the necessary confidence to continue exploring and expanding my craft. I believe Tamarack has given that same confidence to a lot of its artists.”
Acorn Ridge Woodworks
In his small shop on a wooded hilltop in Lincoln County, David MacCallum handcrafts children’s rocking and slat back “sittin’” chairs. “Although I have been a part-time carpenter and woodworker all of my adult life, only recently have I pursued woodworking as more of a full-time vocation,” David says. His chairs are made of red oak, black walnut, or cherry, much of which is locally grown. These woods are used because of their strength, workability, and beauty and represent one of the Mountain State’s greatest renewable local resources.
“I made my first rocking chair for my granddaughter, and as a woodworker, I was fascinated with the complexity of what seemed like a simple project. I realized why so few woodworkers become chair makers,” David says. His chairs are not your typical mass-produced kind, as he uses the traditional methods incorporated by chair makers for hundreds of years.
“After teaching elementary and middle school for the last 35 years I am now spending most of my days doing the thing I love to do most,” he says. “You can usually find me at my shop in the woods of Acorn Ridge. It is a lucky man indeed that has a passion to work with wood and the good fortune to be born within and still live in the great forests of the Appalachian Mountains.”
Acorn Ridge Woodworks, 18 Acorn Ridge, Alum Creek, WV 25003; 304.756.3996
Handbags by Tennile
Tennile Martin grew up surrounded by creative people. She dreamed of having her own business and began that endeavor 10 years ago when she taught herself how to sew and quilt. When she couldn’t find the kind of handbag she was looking for in retail stores, she decided to design her own. Several compliments later, Tennile had made her first few sales.
“You represent your work and your work represents you. I am proud to be a West Virginian artist, and I’ve actually made tags that I sew into each of my bags that read: ‘Made in WV, USA.’” Tennile became a Tamarack artist two years ago. “I feel that it is such an accomplishment to be juried into Tamarack. It has opened many doors for me.”
Tennile has plans for the future, including a line of little girls’ bags called the Little Miss Collection, a Bucket Bag that is great for book bags and traveling bags, and a cosmetic bag she hopes to introduce this summer. “I would love to have my bags available in shops all around our state,” she says. “I love working with fabric and creating new designs. There are so many options with fabric—clothes, curtains, pillows, handbags—and it’s fun to play with color and pattern and then add detail to your creation with hardware, ribbon, and so on. I get so excited when I see people’s reaction to the finished project.”
Handbags by Tennile; 304.872.6271
Robby Moore has been making art for 31 years. “I have always made art,” he says. “As a child, I loved to draw and paint, so I was always crafting and making things, and my parents encouraged these instincts. By the time I got to high school, I had decided making art would be my profession.”
Robby works with every medium. He started with simple media like oils and acrylics, but eventually his work shifted to mixed media. After college, he began incorporating found objects into his paintings and has since continued to use many nontraditional media, including found objects, paper, fabric, and wood. “I use materials that most people consider useless,” he says. “I love giving found objects purpose and uncovering the beauty in unwanted and wasted materials.”
Robby recently decided to devote himself solely to his art and its promotion. “I am very pleased that people like my art enough to have selected me for Tamarack’s Top 15 artists,” he says. “I am happy to be a part of such a distinguished list of artists.”
Zack Orcutt lives by the words: “Keep your head in the clouds, a smile on your face, and your feet on the ground.” The sculptor and potter moved to Parkersburg in 2007 and soon thereafter took a job at WVU-Parkersburg. He dove into school and community life—rebuilding and renovating the art program and studio at WVU-Parkersburg and immersing himself in the community arts, contributing his talents to the Parkersburg Actors Guild and WVU-Parkersburg Theatre program and donating thousands of dollars worth of ceramic work to charities.
“I was born an artist, raised among a community of artists, writers, and performers, as well as some of the world’s leading scientists and researchers, and my early interest in the arts was supported by my parents,” Zack says. He fell in love with sculpture in college. “I love the physicality of the creation and the permanence of works when they are complete,” he says. He has been perfecting his technique as part of his job at WVU-Parkersburg.
As a teacher, Zack shares these words of wisdom for new artists: “It takes practice, practice, and more practice to get it right! It takes patience and persistence. Do not go into art for the money—be resourceful. Remember this motto: Get it right, get it fast, and get it out there!”
Although he is not a native of West Virginia, Zack is doing everything he can to find art a stable home in the Mountain State. “Tamarack is a beacon of light,” he says. “Tamarack means that there is support for artists here in the state. There is a great set of people committed to helping artists improve, promote, and sell their wares.”
LETTERING & MIXED
The Letter Lady
“I believe that art and creativity are in all of us,” Terry Quentrill says. “My encouragement to young or new artists is to create every day. Join a group that will support your endeavors. Learn from others and emulate their techniques. Sometimes my art is readily accepted and other times not, but that doesn’t stop me from creating what is within me.”
Terry learned her first lettering forms as a young woman under the tutelage of Yvette Rutledge, an engraver and lettering artist. The two women, with about eight other people, started The Charleston Calligrapher’s Guild, and Terry remains active in that group today. She continues to promote the art of lettering across the state, but she also strives to continue her own studies. “I love the written word and the power to create art that visually and spiritually speaks to someone,” Terry says. “When I first began calligraphy, I did the typical black ink on white paper, but over the years, I have taken a plethora of mixed media workshops and lettering classes with so very many talented artists and have advanced to my own interpretation of mixed media calligraphic art.”
Terry has been a juried artist at Tamarack for about a year. “Tamarack is not just a venue for me to show my art. It also serves as a means of validation from the artists that juried me in. I am very honored to be juried into Tamarack.”
BASKETS & PRIMITIVE CRAFTS
For about three years, Elaine Sinclair has been working with Tamarack selling her goods, from baskets and penny rugs to primitive crafts and hand-painted items. “Tamarack has provided an opportunity for my artwork to reach a broader clientele,” she says. “The buyers for Tamarack have always been very supportive and encouraging and continue to show enthusiasm when I make my deliveries or bring new ideas.”
Elaine started crafting as a young woman. She wasn’t always able to buy the crafts she enjoyed, so she started to make them for herself. “I enjoy the creativity and excitement of making new things,” she says. In 1989, she took her first basket class from the extension homemakers club, and after that, Elaine couldn’t get enough. Now she teaches classes all over the country. “I love the teaching part and seeing a student’s reaction to a completed project,” she says.
Elaine Sinclair; 304.783.5316