Pocahontas County has a thriving arts community, evidenced by several successful galleries and shops. The county’s newest art gallery opened this spring in Durbin. On Saturday, women in the local arts community celebrated and showcased their work during an afternoon art show.
The inaugural Celebration of Women and The Arts was held at Locust Hill Inn in Marlinton. The Pocahontas County Artisan Co-op and the Pocahontas County Convention and Visitors Bureau sponsored the event to “introduce the women of Pocahontas and surrounding counties to the dynamic arts community we have here and inspire them to become involved as customers, patrons, and perhaps as artists themselves.”
Organizer Bet Curtis said female independent artists, as well as members of local arts organizations, were invited to showcase their creations.
“We decided to invite women from all over the county, who are artists or artisans, to participate,” she said. “We have a lot of women entrepreneurs here. Tolly Peleuche is from the farmers market. Dorothy Sutton came from the Green Bank Gallery. Regina Hall came on her own. Tracy Walker came on her own. Debbie Walker came on her own. The Art Guild is here too, with representation of all their different arts.”
“It’s to empower women,” she said. “You see the dynamic art community that we have here in Pocahontas County. It’s awesome and it’s been an incredible day.”
Alison Flegel is a ceramic artist from Cass.
“I’m originally from Cass,” she said. “I have not been around for about 13 years and then I moved back a year ago. I have a ceramic studio near Cass. I’m part of the Pocahontas County Artisans Co-op and also the Green Bank Gallery.”
“I think people come to Pocahontas County because they want to be here,” she said. “They enjoy the environment and the outdoors. It takes a special person to live here because we don’t have a Walmart right down the street or all the night life. We don’t really have a lot of that. I think the type of person that lives here and can be happy here is a creative, open-minded type of person.”
Curtis said help came from various corners.
“Paula and Dave Zorn have been the most unbelievable hosts for this event,” she said. “They were so agreeable to everything we wanted to do. They’re just very, very special. I would
also like to say it would not have happened without the help of Dave Peacock, from the Denmar Correctional Center, who put up the tent. A big thanks to Joe Smith, our mayor – he went out of his way to get a truck from Sam Mitchell to get all the tables over here, and he drove them over himself. He and Sam were my saviors yesterday, getting everything over here.”
Flegel said meeting other artists had been a nice part of her day.
“What is really cool about it – not that it has to be just women – but for artists in the community to get together,” she said. “Because there are artists here I have never met, who I am in the Co-op with, or heard about in the community, but never met them. So it’s a good way to meet and trade and buy each others’ works and network.”
Under a large, white tent, provided by Parks and Recreation, artists set up mobile store fronts with a dazzling array of artistic creations.
“Everybody has their own little niche,” said Flegel. “I don’t think there’s anybody here doing anything the same, which is weird at an art show – and I’ve done a lot of art shows. Even the potters – I think there’s three or four potters and they’re all different.”
Dawn Baldwin Barrett said organizers want to make Women and Art an annual event.
“We’re hoping we can move this around the county and team up with a bed and breakfast or another business, perhaps, in all the different areas of the county and hold this once a year,” she said.
Barrett said the event provided an opportunity for art groups to work together.
“We’re really blessed in Pocahontas County to have so many different groups and so many different talented people,” she said. “We have the Artisan Co-op; we have the Pocahontas County Arts Council; we have the Art Guild, and we have two other galleries in the county. We’re all interested in collaborating more, so that we’re not duplicating each others’ efforts, but we’re getting some economies of scale. So, this was a way to get everybody together in a casual setting. There’s been a lot of talk amongst all of the vendors and artists here today about how we can work together.”
Barrett said Pocahontas County seems to be an art haven.
“I don’t have any statistics, but my sense is that the per capita number of artists is pretty high, because we have a very low population and yet, we have so many talented people,” she said. “All anybody has to do is go to the Christmas Crafts Show at the Opera House, for example, and you just say, ‘wow, look at the kind of talent that we have here.’”
Many local artists moved here from other areas.
“We have people who have moved here in middle age,” said Baldwin. “We have people who grew up here. I think it’s really a mixture. If you want to see the “been heres” and the “came heres” and everybody collaborating together, it’s in the art community.”
Rush Run Philharmonic, consisting of Bob Must, Ginger Must, Patrick Gabbert and Phil Rolleston, provided musical entertainment throughout the afternoon. Attendees enjoyed hors d’ourve and refreshments from Locust Hill Inn.
Baldwin considered the day a success.
“It’s going well, considering the weather was not exactly ideal this morning,” she said. “It’s a little breezy but we’ve had a nice turnout for a first-time event and we’re excited to continue it.”
“It’s been a really fun afternoon with a lot of interesting women,” she said.