public art

Art and History Spark Interest in Downtown Elkins W.Va.

Quilts have always kept us warm, reminded us of our past, and brought families and friends together. These same ideals are used to create the Elkins Main Street’s Heritage Quilt Trail. A community supported effort to bring art, history and warmth to downtown Elkins. With guidance from Elkins Main Street and their Promotion Committee, small groups of community volunteers, such as Emma Scott Garden Club, Davis & Elkins College ladies lacrosse team, Youth Build North Central and Appalachian Forest Heritage Area AmeriCorps members, are creating more quilt blocks for instillation on several downtown Elkins buildings this fall.

YMCA Wall with Maple Leave“Maple Leaf” quilt block mounted at the YMCA building in downtown Elkins

The Heritage Quilt Trail began in 2015 with members of the Main Street Promotion Committee discussing how the brightly colored panels could spark a grass roots beautification effort. With information gathered from the Pocahontas County and Monroe County W.Va. quilt trails the committee set out to make their own quit trail. Quilt panels like the one above are created with grant funds and project proceeds received by the Elkins Main Street office.  The funds are used to purchase the construction materials and paint needed to make the 4, 8’ X 8’ft panels. Money gained from the sale of the quilt block panels in turn pays for the creation of more panels in smaller sizes. The current plan includes making 12 panels of three different sizes.

GE DIGITAL CAMERAMembers of Emma Scott Garden Club paint “Bear Paw” quilt block panel

The images used to create the quilt block panels are copied from traditional Appalachian quilts. They represent things that a family from the mountains would see or use every day. The patterns are often designed after nature. Leaves, animals and trees are the most often found subjects in West Virginia quilts, but other patterns like baskets, houses, and stars are also popular. Often families would use remnant materials from old clothing and sewing projects to make the quilts. Mixing materials and colors made each quilt unique and cherished by the owner.

A single quilt block panel will often take over a month to make, from design ideas, to painting, to an installed product. The Heritage Quilt Trail panels have approximately  15 different volunteers’ handy work as part of their finished product and installation. This part of the process is also reminiscent of the traditional creation of fabric quilts. In days past, friends and family would gather for quilting bees, but  today  Elkins Main Street  hosts painting parties, where people from the community come together to get to know one another and take part in community  art.

AmeriCrops working on Hertiage Quilt Block Panels   AmeriCorps Members Molly Greenhouse, Dominic Piacentini , JoLynn Powers (project coordinator) and Katie Marie Simmons add tape pattern to the 8 x 8 ft. panel.

 instillation of Quilt block at YMCA 2017
Volunteers help install the “Log Cabin” Heritage Quilt Block at the YMCA in Elkins

It takes a diverse group of volunteers to make the Heritage Quilt trail possible, and it brings a community together to enjoy them. With the future creation and installation of all 12 panels, the Main Street Promotion Committee hopes to publish a Heritage Quilt Trail Map.  The map/ brochure will give the location of the quilt block panels, a description of the images used and information about the history of quilting in Appalachia. Elkins Main Street hopes to give visitors another interesting reason to linger in the downtown and take time to enjoy the beauty of Elkins.

closeup of West Virginia Star.jpg“West Virginia Star” installed at the Davis Trust Company Bank, Elkins W.Va.

 

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Categories: AmeriCorps, Appalachian Mountains, Art, Elkins Main Street, Elkins West Virginia, public art, West Virginia | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

#Heart of WV Rocks, Painted Rocks Become hidden Treasures.

I have never seen anything like it… West Virginians, young and old, fat and thin, boys and girls, men and women have discovered the joy of the treasure hunt with colorful painted stones. The painted rock treasures are found outdoors often in parks,around walking paths or businesses. Their bright colors pop and glow, hidden in trees, on benches, in window sills, in playhouses, even in flower boxes. Once found and enjoyed the game calls for them to be photographed and hidden again for others to find.

Buckhannon rocks Melinda Wells

With little or no money involved everyone can join in the fun. #HeartofWVRocks  is a Facebook group started in Dec of 2017 to share in a crazy idea of painted rocks that would be hidden and found by total strangers and then hash tagged and posted on Facebook to show off the stones and who has found them. The idea was taken from a woman buy the name Kathy Cobb who started Western WV rocks and set up rules/ guidelines for making the rocks and how to post the images. The instructions explain how each stone should include a message with the Heart of WV Rocks Facebook page name and the info about how to play ( find, pic, hide) and a hashtag of the maker so they want to try to keep track of the stones. IMG_0015

The rules of the game can be found at the above link, and cover a large portion of the questions that hiders and finders may have. Each stone is unique and the makers hash tags of makers are just as interesting as the rocks sometimes. The below stone was made by #mommawrocks and  she made several rocks that she posted photos of. Christopher and I found one the same day as she hid it…. actually within hours. The chances of finding one of her 6 rocks in the whole county within hours of placement on a random chance that we would play and re-post a photo of the rock so she could see it is mind-boggling.

Christopher and I found our first rock by accident. I needed to stop at the local library to drop off a book and Christopher wanted to play for a minute under a large tree in the library yard. So when we returned to the yard he squealed with excitement that he had found a lovely watermelon painted rock in the crotch of an old tree. The back of the rock had the instructions to, Enjoy the find, Take Picture, Post to FB, Then hide. So we did, as you can see the rock found a new home under the leaves of a flower. This lead us to looking for more stones with the thought that if we found 2 or 3, it would be wonderful.

watermelon

Re-hidden water mellon rock .

We found 4 more at the Libaray and felt  pretty good about that amount. We had plans to play at the park and found 5 more while Christopher ran all through the park. Then off to an ice cream shop where Christopher with the an ice cream cone in hand found another. So, the day continued all around Lewis county with 13 stones found in just 3 hours, ending with this last stone found at a retail store.

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Tree man stone found at Tractor Supply in Weston West Virginia June 30 2017

The artistry and creativity of each stone makes this project a living work of art. Each stone is an individual and was created with love. Finding the stones is exciting not only to children but for people of all ages. I found myself smiling big, as I found my own stones along  a path near a creek. I chose to hide my stones miles from where we found them because they needed to travel and see more of my mountain community. For those few minutes I was a child again, playing with my son, feeling the same excitement and adventure that you only have when it is the hot summer of elementary school and you are always on the look out for some thing new. I loved that we bought nothing, sold nothing and left everything except the memory of the Heart of WV Rocks.

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#Roys Rock 13 Don’t Stop Rock

As student of the arts and a board member of a regional arts organisation, I am thrilled at this grassroots art experience. This is the reason we all love the arts, from the lovely creative expression in making the rocks, to the thrill of hiding them, to the joy of being surprised at each new pattern found on the rocks. The HeartofWVRocks project brings  us all together to see the joy of just a painted rock.

This free game is so much better for all of us then those designed on our phones. We spend time outside, we met others who are also looking for the rocks, we found beauty, received blessings from total strangers and felt the joy of finding a hidden treasure. It is this Joy that is magic. In a world full of turmoil, confusion and hatred, I am thankful to be looking for hidden treasure in one of our countries hardest hit states. North Central West Virginia strives to continue to bring people together because Mountaineers never really lose hope. We never forget to share what we value the most, families, friends and our neighbors. Even when it looks like there is no light at the end our states tunnel, We find joy, friendship, creativity in the very smallest of things like a little painted stone. Thank you to everyone who took time to paint a rock for my son and I to find. You made my day full of beauty, friendship, and excitement.IMG_0011

Categories: Art, Christopher, collections, DIY projects, family fun, Lewis County, nostalgic, public art, trends, West Virginia artists, Weston | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Elkins Main Street Creates a Heritage Quilt Block Trail

Following in the same tradition as Barn Quilt Trails of other rural counties, Elkins Main Street begins the process of creating their own Heritage Quilt Block Trail. Located within the downtown historic district of Elkins, West Virginia, community groups come together to support public art and beautification.

With guidance from the Pocahontas County Arts Counsel, The Pen2Paper.org web site “How to Make a Barn Quilt” and many local artist and supporters, we have gathered the best information possible on how to build our own quilt block murals. The four large 8X8 foot painted panels represent 4 traditional quilt patterns used in Appalachian quilts of the area. The large panels will be mounted on the outside of downtown buildings, have an interpretive  map made up of other quilt blocks locations and tell the story of the historical significance of each pattern when all four are completed.

The patterns painted on the blocks represent things that are commonly found in West Virginia and bring to mind the beauty and tradition of quilt making in our local history. The first pattern that is now finished is the “Maple Leaf” pattern.  This brightly colored quilt block will be the first to be installed in the downtown. It will be proudly displayed on the brickwork of the Elkins YMCA. Working on these panels we have members of the local Generation Randolph business development group, service members from AmeriCorps,  Mountain Arts District members and a team from Youthbuild who all work together to prepare and paint the 8 foot X 8 foot panels.AmeriCrops working on Hertiage Quilt Block Panels

Service Members of AmeriCorps: Dominic Piacentini, Molly Greenhouse, Kate Sammons and JoLynn Powers

The second pattern is the traditional pattern of the “Log Cabin”, with the center being bright red to symbolize the heart of every home. It is the most common pattern of all the ones we are making for the trail.

The Third pattern is the Pine Tree that students at Youth Build, a local technical school, are taking on a large portion of the painting as part of their training.

The fourth and final pattern is the “West Virginia Star” with bold Blue and Gold Coloring.

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Mountain Arts District members Anne Beardslee, Josie Cuda, Frank Cuda and Dominic Piacentini

The Heritage Quilt Block Trail of Elkins will add a warm, friendly feel to downtown that will encourage people to spend more time in the area.The trail is also a way for the public to get involved in making the town more beautiful, remind the public of our unique history and enjoy art in a public setting.

As the project finishes up and the murals are mounted on buildings around downtown, I hope to document their final placement.I hope to do a presentation with photos and Powerpoint about what we have learned, what we did right and wrong, and how it affects the people of Elkins. Maybe making a small statement about the power of art and how it can bring a community together.

Categories: AmeriCorps, Art, community service, DIY projects, Elkins Main Street, Elkins West Virginia, public art, quilts | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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