ArtSpring brightens holiday weekend

The ArtSpring High Mountain Art Festival helped to attract thousands of visitors to the area for Memorial Day weekend by celebrating the arts and the creations of artists working in and around Tucker County.

ArtSpring activities were scattered across the county ranging from creative kite making at Canaan Valley Resort to a melodrama radio show performed in the newly renovated Cotrill Opera House in Thomas.

Despite the cold weather experienced for most of the weekend, thousands of people were out visiting the shops and restaurants while taking in ArtSpring.

“The anecdotal comments that I’ve heard about this year are that restaurants in both towns (Davis and Thomas) were running out of food right and left,” said Bruce Wilson, organizer of ArtSpring’s silent auction. “The influx of people was obviously beyond expectations.”

He added, “Everybody does terrific business on this weekend, it seems.”

Events for the third annual festival kicked off Friday. Highlights throughout the weekend included the unveiling of the Davis Mural Project located on the exterior of the Davis Shop N Save, the art of paper making taught by Jill Jarom in front of the WV Highlands Artisans Gallery in Davis, a farmers’ and artisans’ market in Davis as well as artisan cocktail demonstration and tasting at Tip Top cafe in Thomas.

The third annual silent auction took place in the renovated lobby of the Cotrill Opera House on Front Street in Thomas. To entice interest for the outstanding selection of art, goods, services and gift certificates being auctioned, a preview exhibition and reception was hosted Friday.

Bidding for the 99 items offered in the silent auction began Saturday with the auction ending at 4 p.m. Sunday. Auction winners walked away with a number of unique paintings, drawings, prints, collages, photography, ceramics, glass art, fiber art, sculptures, wood art and metal art created by artists living, working and selling in Tucker County.

All of the items in the silent auction were donated by local businesses and artists. The money raised through the auction will be used to help benefit the arts and culture of Tucker County through the STArt Project, a school-town arts education program; ArtSpring; and Alpine Heritage Preservation.

Wilson said ArtSpring culminates with the silent auction as it has “a two-prong purpose. First of all to build local pride in the arts scene and what it can do for the people and the economy of Tucker County. Second, to attract visitors to Tucker County as an arts destination.”

Throughout the weekend, passersby on the streets on Davis or Thomas could hear live music being performed. Musical acts included Aurora Celtic, Remington Lurch, Matt Lambert, Sugar Foot Stompers and many more.

To financially compensate all of the musicians who performed at the 2013 ArtSpring, a music benefit took place at the Purple Fiddle. Local musicians performed at the benefit, which raised $1,500 for the cause.

The Tucker Community Foundation also helped to financially support ArtSpring, as died a Marketing and Advertising Promotion Partnership grant from the state of West Virginia.

Residents can expect ArtSpring to be around long into the future. As Wilson and the many other volunteers were tearing down the silent auction space Monday, they already were making plans for next year.

Wilson said ArtSpring currently is a community effort that lacks a home. As the festival continues to grow, finding and affording an administrative home will be the next item on the group’s agenda.

Wilson said ArtSpring will continue to work throughout the county to generate pride and appreciation for the arts.

“I want people to really believe that the arts are necessary in this area, and I want to believe that ArtSpring is a primary motivator for that,” he said. “What we want is for people to put arts on par with athletics and scenery, and if that gives them an additional reason to consider Tucker County as a destination they won’t limit it to just that weekend.”