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Artist overcomes fear to return to her craft

Mar 26, 2009 By Bill Lynch
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- For Sharon Lyn Stackpole, the decision to make art again, after a long absence away from sculptor's clay and paintbrushes, had nothing to do with being inspired. She was already inspired. Stackpole had to overcome fear.

Stackpole is showing a collection at The Purple Moon on Quarrier Street, featured tonight as part of Charleston's monthly ArtWalk. She's also participating in the Arts Day at the state Capitol on Tuesday.

Sharon Lyn Stackpole was once an art student at WVU, but she took a long break from the art world before coming back to it about six years ago. Her work is on display at The Purple Moon, which is open from 5 to 8 p.m. tonight for the monthly ArtWalk. Chip Ellis
The 40-year-old Tyler County artist says she loves coming back to Charleston to do shows because the crowds are friendly and the local art community has always been very encouraging, even when she was only an art student at WVU.

"I was part of a juried exhibition at WVU one year," she explained. "The piece I did had a painting of a naked woman standing on a stool."

Stackpole says that while there was no graphic depiction of female genitalia, it did partially show a woman's rear. The jury committee initially balked at including the painting in the show, for fear of giving offense. Charleston mainstay artist, Charly Hamilton, was on the committee.

"He told them, either they included my painting or he wouldn't jury any of the others."

The committee at WVU changed its mind.

Stackpole said one of the high points of getting to bring her art to Charleston is that she got the chance to see Hamilton again. She got the chance to say thanks.

She never finished her art degree at WVU. Her senior year, real life intervened. She got married and had a baby. Balancing the pregnancy, the birth and the marriage with classes became too much. It didn't help that she was married to another artist.

"I'd say there wasn't room in the marriage for both of us to be artists," she said.

After that, she sort of lost her way. She left school, moved to California, then divorced and came home to West Virginia. She remarried, raised a family and gravitated toward jobs in writing and journalism.

"There was this pressure to either be a writer or an artist," she said. "It was like I couldn't do both."

She was frustrated and unfulfilled creatively. Then, several years ago, she started having serious health problems. Doctors traced it to her heart. In 2004, Stackpole underwent surgery to install a pacemaker. She was 34.

"After that," she said, "I really decided to stop wasting time."

Stackpole remembers trying to get her art in stores, trying to get it shown. She'd never actually done that before, and didn't know where to start. So she started small - painted cards - and took them around to coffeehouses and bookstores.

"I had no idea how to get into a gallery," she said. "It always seemed to me you needed to be in a gallery to get in a gallery. So I went everywhere."

Not every place was glad to see her, and a few wished she'd stayed away. She took a batch of cards to a candle store. While she was talking to the owner, she laid the cards down. One of them got a little too close to an open flame and caught fire.

"They didn't buy any."

Starting out in small steps and with persistence, though, she's found her way. Her work is being shown and sold. Not only that, but Stackpole volunteers at an elementary school in Tyler County to help teach art. She says her sons complain when other kids refer to her as "the art lady."

"They could call me much worse things," she laughed.

It never gets said enough, she said. Art education is important.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- For Sharon Lyn Stackpole, the decision to make art again, after a long absence away from sculptor's clay and paintbrushes, had nothing to do with being inspired. She was already inspired. Stackpole had to overcome fear.

Stackpole is showing a collection at The Purple Moon on Quarrier Street, featured tonight as part of Charleston's monthly ArtWalk. She's also participating in the Arts Day at the state Capitol on Tuesday.

The 40-year-old Tyler County artist says she loves coming back to Charleston to do shows because the crowds are friendly and the local art community has always been very encouraging, even when she was only an art student at WVU.

"I was part of a juried exhibition at WVU one year," she explained. "The piece I did had a painting of a naked woman standing on a stool."

Stackpole says that while there was no graphic depiction of female genitalia, it did partially show a woman's rear. The jury committee initially balked at including the painting in the show, for fear of giving offense. Charleston mainstay artist, Charly Hamilton, was on the committee.

"He told them, either they included my painting or he wouldn't jury any of the others."

The committee at WVU changed its mind.

Stackpole said one of the high points of getting to bring her art to Charleston is that she got the chance to see Hamilton again. She got the chance to say thanks.

She never finished her art degree at WVU. Her senior year, real life intervened. She got married and had a baby. Balancing the pregnancy, the birth and the marriage with classes became too much. It didn't help that she was married to another artist.

"I'd say there wasn't room in the marriage for both of us to be artists," she said.

After that, she sort of lost her way. She left school, moved to California, then divorced and came home to West Virginia. She remarried, raised a family and gravitated toward jobs in writing and journalism.

"There was this pressure to either be a writer or an artist," she said. "It was like I couldn't do both."

She was frustrated and unfulfilled creatively. Then, several years ago, she started having serious health problems. Doctors traced it to her heart. In 2004, Stackpole underwent surgery to install a pacemaker. She was 34.

"After that," she said, "I really decided to stop wasting time."

Stackpole remembers trying to get her art in stores, trying to get it shown. She'd never actually done that before, and didn't know where to start. So she started small - painted cards - and took them around to coffeehouses and bookstores.

"I had no idea how to get into a gallery," she said. "It always seemed to me you needed to be in a gallery to get in a gallery. So I went everywhere."

Not every place was glad to see her, and a few wished she'd stayed away. She took a batch of cards to a candle store. While she was talking to the owner, she laid the cards down. One of them got a little too close to an open flame and caught fire.

"They didn't buy any."

Starting out in small steps and with persistence, though, she's found her way. Her work is being shown and sold. Not only that, but Stackpole volunteers at an elementary school in Tyler County to help teach art. She says her sons complain when other kids refer to her as "the art lady."

"They could call me much worse things," she laughed.

It never gets said enough, she said. Art education is important.

"I want to encourage art," she said. "Just let go of the fear."

For more about artist Sharon Lyn Stackpole, visit her blog "s.m.Art" at http://www.sharonlyn.wordpress.com/.

ArtWalk

Artist Sharon Lyn Stackpole's work is on display at The Purple Moon, 906 Quarrier St., during tonight's ArtWalk. She'll also participate in Arts Day at the State Capitol on Tuesday.

March ArtWalk

The monthly ArtWalk in downtown Charleston takes place from 5 to 8 p.m. tonight in various galleries. Here is a lineup of participating galleries:

The Art Emporium Gallery: 823 Quarrier St., 304-345-2787.

Callen McJunkin Gallery: "Cabin Fever: A Passion for Still Life and Interiors" with works by 13 contemporary artists. The Loft at 219 Hale St., 304-342-5647.

Gallery Eleven: Jean Pennington's "Gallery Eleven Goes Bananas" and new and vintage work from gallery members. 1033 Quarrier St., 304-342-0083.

Good News Mountaineer Garage Art Gallery: Hand-carved totem poles by Steve Thompson. 221 Hale St., 304-344-8445. www.unclestevetotempoles.com.

The Purple Moon: Sharon Lyn Stackpole's "Filters of color, word & light." 906 Quarrier St., 304-345-0123.

Stray Dog Antiques: 219 Hale St., 304-346-1534.

Taylor Books Annex Gallery: New paintings by Jamie Miller, also new paintings by Sharon Harms and David Berry. 226 Capitol St., 304-342-1461.

Visions Day Spa: "Artistic Stimulus" featuring works by Joe Bolyard, Rebecca Burch, Mary Sanders, Amy Williams, Mark Wolfe and more. 238 Capitol St., 304-345-5620.

(Works featured on this week's gazz cover come from [counterclockwise from top] Rebecca Burch, Visions; Anne Shreve, Callen McJunkin; Sharon Lyn Stackpole.)

Arts Day at the Capitol

This year's Arts Day at the state Capitol will take place at the Cultural Center from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday. The event celebrates the vitality of the arts in West Virginia and shows the impact the arts have on cultural growth, economic development and education.

Participants include CreateWV, Tamarack and the Huntington Museum of Art. Live performances include Lady D, the West Virginia Youth Symphony and St. Albans High School Jazz Band. Visitors can participate in a hands-on painting and book project.

There will be a reception at 5:30 p.m. followed by the Greenbrier Valley Theatre's production of "Souvenir: A Fantasia on the Life of Florence Foster Jenkins" at 6:30 p.m.

[From wvgazette.com]
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