Pocahontas Artisans Co-op shop marks first year in Marlinton
Marlinton, W.Va. –
The Pocahontas County Artisans Coop gallery relocated from Green Bank to Marlinton a year ago. Metal craftsman Woody Harmon says a more urban environment has helped sales.
“We’re in a town environment here,” he said. “This is like a final destination. You can come here for dinner or something, so there’s things you can see – where our other destination was more people traveling through and would see us and stop in. We did real well there, just not quite the volume as what we’re doing down here.”
Harmon says new artists have added to the Coop’s diversity.
“We started off with 17 artists,” he said. “We’re now up to about 25 and we have three new people jurying in, so we are still growing. We have such a diversity of crafts and art here that anybody that comes through the door will find something that they like. Whether it’s jewelry, furniture, usable things, wall art – whatever you want, you can find it here.”
Beth Curtis is one of the Coop’s newer members.
“It’s been amazing,” she said. “I absolutely love it here. All of the people are friendly. We all get along well together. We all come up with great ideas and it’s just a super place to be.
“I do what’s called precious metal clay. It’s a clay that I mold and form and, once it dries, I finish it off and fire it and it burns off all the water and the non-toxic binders and it creates a one-of-a-kind piece of 0.99 fine silver. So, it goes from being clay to fine silver.”
Curtis reports strong sales.
“It’s been wonderful,” she said. I’m surprised every month when I get a check.”
Tom Clevenger introduced photographic art to the Coop’s offerings.
“I’ve been taking photos for probably about 15 years,” he said. “I went to Wesleyan. I’ve been interested in macro-photography. I’ve done some close-ups of local and some English flora. As well, I do some graphically altered photography, as well.”
Clevenger expects downtown rebuilding to increase sales volume.
“I definitely think so, for sure,” he said. “Especially once the Depot next door is finished – which you can hear the construction on now. I think that we’ll do well. It’s sort of a one-stop shop for tourism. It’s nice and centrally located for the people in Pocahontas County and it will do well, I think, during the fairs and festivals that happen here in Marlinton.”
Coop member Ron Radcliff’s paintings adorn permanent collections in the Midwest, including the Oklahoma State Capitol. A former college art instructor, Radcliff would give his fellow Coop members good grades.
“It really is quality work,” he said. “If I were in Oklahoma, I would definitely tell you, in the galleries I’ve been in there, there are artists and craftsmen in this gallery that could do really well in a big city, as well.”
Appalachian broom maker Brenda Harmon says good business has allowed the Coop to establish a scholarship for members.
“We just started the scholarship,” she said. “We set aside a certain amount of money and one of the big things – the Coop – one of its main goals is to help our members grow their small business. So, the scholarship will help the members, maybe, take a class, whether it’s in their artistic field or it could be like a small business class, maybe doing bookwork or how to market their artwork or anything like that.”
For more information on the Fourth Avenue Gallery, call 304-799-2550.