Tamarack is a crafts showcase for the Mountain State

September 19, 2004|by KATE COLEMAN

BECKLEY, W.Va. - Tamarack, the arts, crafts and cultural center near Beckley, is just off Interstate 77's junction with Interstate 64, about four hours from Hagerstown.

The 81,000-square-foot Caperton Center is named for former West Virginia Governor Gaston Caperton, who conceived of Tamarack as a way to create jobs, expand tourism and take advantage of crafts, art and food made in the Mountain State.

In its ninth year, Tamarack is a retail showcase of juried crafts - all handmade or "enhanced" in West Virginia. Artists can work with materials - wood or glass, for example - that comes from outside the state, but the craftsmanship is done in West Virginia.


Tamarack represents 2,500 West Virginia artisans, said Beth DeMaria, marketing assistant. Six artists - potter, blacksmith, woodworkers, jeweler and textile and glass artists - are in residence, and others demonstrate their crafts throughout the year.

The center, named for the tamarack tree, or American larch, the only native conifer in West Virginia, offers an inventory of 20,000 items ranging from 5-cent marbles to bronze and glass tables priced at $17,000. Because each item is handcrafted and unique, there is no catalog or online ordering. But staffers will work with callers - even sending digital photos to help customers with purchases, DeMaria said.

Tamarack, which counted 3.8 million visitors through its front door only in its first eight years, is a destination for meetings and conferences. The food court is managed by The Greenbrier resort. The 178-seat Gov. Hulett C. Smith Theater is the site of musical performances, winter dinner theater and summer dessert theater, and the David L. Dickirson Gallery has four shows featuring juried West Virginia artists each year. The work of painters, sculptors, printmakers and photographers is displayed.

Upcoming attractions

· Demonstrations: Kim Cavender works with polymer clay; Andy Sheetz works with wooden toys, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, Sept. 24, Saturday, Sept. 25, Sunday, Sept. 26.

· Tamarack Renaissance Faire will be from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 2, Sunday, Oct. 3.

· Charlie Brown demonstrates wood turning from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, Oct. 8, Saturday, Oct. 9, Sunday, Oct. 10.

· Kum Kum Majumdar demonstrates batik; Carol Nichols demonstrates jewelry making, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, Oct. 15, Saturday, Oct. 16, Sunday, Oct. 17.

· Enrica Holfer McMillon demonstrates felted sculpture; Marty Shaerer-Bartarla demonstrates jewelry making, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, Oct. 22, Saturday, Oct. 23, Sunday, Oct. 24.

· Amabile Milano demonstrates mask making from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 23, Sunday, Oct. 24.

· Teddy Shae demonstrates mask making from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, Oct. 29, Saturday, Oct. 30, Sunday, Oct. 31.

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