Artists at Work celebrates 20 years

Shop for locally made gifts. Watch live artists demonstrations. Celebrate Artists at Work’s 20th anniversary, all while enjoying live music and delicious snacks from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday.

This holiday season, shop locally at Artists at Work as this small cooperative celebrates its 20th year of operating in downtown Elkins. On Friday, members of the co-op will be offering an array of artists demonstrations throughout the day focused on painting, working with polymer clay and much more.

In the afternoon, the store will be filled with the sounds of solo singer-songwriter Jay McClung. Dubbing his style of music “front porch Americana,” McClung’s songs tend to be centered around family, trees, the mountains of West Virginia and other things he loves. His music will be the perfect complement to this special event.

Artists at Work was founded in 1993 when six artists began displaying their work in the vacated storefronts of downtown Elkins. Now, 20 years later, it has become a thriving community and business opportunity for more than 20 local artists.

The co-op has maintained an eclectic mix of traditional handmade crafts which includes jewelry, quilted and hand sewn items, candles, basketry, weaving, pottery, wood working, knitting and fiber arts, as well as fine arts such as printmaking, oils, watercolor and photography.

“Our purpose over the past 20 years has been to provide maximum exposure of ideas and artwork by West Virginia artists to boost their sales potential, to enhance the cultural environment of Elkins, and to increase the awareness and participation in the arts,” said Kate Harward, a member of AAW.

The gallery started with the mantra that by sharing the workload and the expenses, artists could develop a successful business that would enhance the Elkins area. Individual artists keep 100 percent of the proceeds from the sale of their work. Instead of charging a commission, the co-op asks that all members pay modest monthly dues to cover the expense of the shop. Members are also asked to work at least 1.5 days each month to keep the gallery open. This provides a unique opportunity for visitors to meet and talk to the artists.

Artists at Work has been successful because the artists are committed to sharing their talents and ideas to improve the gallery and to enrich the community. With a goal of giving back, AAW members provide donations each year for a variety of auctions and fund raisers.These efforts have included local schools and arts bank programs, the Humane Society, joint projects with the Randolph County Community Arts Center, and much more.

“We hope everyone will stop in and join our celebration,” Harward said. “We know that Elkins residents value creativity and quality, both of which abound at Artists at Work.”

Artists at Work is located at 329 Davis Avenue right next to the Old Brick Theatre.