Off season is a great time to explore a region. March in the New River Gorge National Park invites outdoor enthusiasts to hike the trails through tunnels of rhododendron or along the top of the gorge for views of the rushing New River below. You could ride above in a bi-plane; through the gorge along the river on an Amtrack train; by car across in seconds on a bridge considered an architectural wonder or slowly along the roads with the locals. All of these scenes draw (pun intended) artists to interpret the natural beauty and man made impact.
For the past eight years Lafayette Flats Boutique Vacation Rentals in Fayetteville, WV has offered the New River Creative Residency program. By providing an extended time to live in the hotel and work creatives develop unique projects. This March with support from a Tamarack Foundation for the Arts and National Endowment for the Arts grant all the suites are dedicated to three West Virginia artists. This creates an added element of conversation and collaboration to the work. Follow on social media @lafayetteflats
Hannah Watters, from Charleston, applied for this residency to create momentum for an art practice based on her own Appalachia experiences. Textures within the landscape, sketches from hiking and observing the rusty angular features of the Nuttalburg mine will color her multi-disciplinary work. The time conversing at length with fellow artists is unique, deepening relationships for the future. Follow @Watters.Hannah
Brian Michael Reed is from Ivydale. Artist residencies are not new to Brian. He uses the time away from daily routines to absorb new elements in geography, language, food and arts. Reed’s work advocates “universal commonalities” to foster global understanding and unity. This residency in his home state with the other artists is sure to result in motifs and colors of spring and new relations. Follow along @brianmreed
Charleston resident Nichole Westfall applied for an opportunity to create her own work rather than the many commissions on her schedule. As a muralist the pieces this month will be smaller and perhaps influenced by Brian and Hannah, seem to be going in an abstract direction. A walk early on took her to the Huse cemetery on a blustery day. Sketching shadows and wind tossed folds on fabric a piece evolved without thought. As a “defender of the decorative arts” Nichole’s bright colorful murals add community elements on many buildings within the states and well beyond. Follow @cocoispainting
Love Hope Center for the Arts in Fayetteville also received a grant for support from Tamarack Foundation for the Arts and National Endowment for the Arts. Only open a year and a half, their exhibition schedule is filled with music, exhibits, classes and pop-up events. The community participates in all of these sessions. There are two exhibit spaces for group and solo shows. Jamie Lester’s sculptures in clay and metal is up through April 16. The New River Creative Residency cohorts exhibit opens March 31 – May 14. Opening day will include another ‘Art to Art’ in the afternoon sponsored by TFA Creative Network. Check out @lovehopearts for announcements.