Hi folks! We wanted to share a bit about our experience with ArtSpring a few weeks ago. Memorial Day weekend is a busy time for people in Parsons! From alumni events to mud racing, there is something for everyone. PRO added some art into the mix and draw some of the crowd drawn to Tucker County by ArtSpring, the county's high-mountain arts festival.
Lots of planning and coordinating went into making ArtSpring in Parsons happen. The biggest task taken on by PRO and our volunteers was prepping the train depot. Previously the site of Heritage House (an arts and crafts co-op), the depot had been unused for many years. There was a lot of dust to clean up. In addition, there were no utilities (electricity or water), and the space had never before been used as an art exhibit. Volunteers rearranged the set-up of the interior of the depot, arranging tables and shelves so that there would be lots of open space for viewing, and space on the walls to display pieces. After a few days of working with water, vinegar, hammers, brooms, garbage bags, and countless paper towels, the depot was ready to be filled with art.
The art that filled the depot was a woven and mixed media exhibit by artist Heather Togbetse that was open throughout the weekend. Heather's pieces were inspired by her grandmother's life in Parsons. Heather also drew inspiration from the history of slavery in Tucker County, and how her grandmother's life was influenced by the people and mountains around her. Heather's work was all hand crafted. Each piece of salvaged fabric was painstakingly cut and hand-stitched in place. The pieces ranged from a large quilt to several "pictures" with poems, and a family tree. Visitors were moved by Heather's ability to create scenes from fabric, as well as by the story she conveyed of struggle and triumph in her family's history.
While Heather's exhibit was up throughout the entire Memorial Day weekend, on Saturday it was accompanied by a woodworking fair. Three woodworkers from across the state, Richard Comer, Stan Jennings, and Greg Cartwright, showed off their craft and sold their wares. Richard displayed his handcrafted chests, sewing boxes, tables, and a beautiful porch swing. Greg's specialty was handmade pens created with wood from historic sites in the area. In Parsons, Greg gathered wood from the train depot, the old high school, the Tucker County Bank Building, and the old shoe factory. Our third woodworker, Stan Jennings from Allegheny Treenware, sold his wooden kitchen utensils. Stan also showed observers how to hand-whittle a spoon, even though most of his goods are now made by machine.
Between Heather's art and the goods made by Richard, Greg, and Stan, ArtSpring in Parsons brought over 85 visitors into the Train Depot. It was a huge success! We hope that we will be able to do even more next year!