The world has changed, but artists still face the challenge of creativity | may8.2020

Pre-quarantine, Braiden Maddox captures TFA 2020 Emerging Artist Fellow Jaci Rice at work in her home studio in Weirton WV. | photo


From Renee Margocee, Executive Director, Tamarack Foundation for the Arts:

The year 2020 started off strong for TFA. After finding a sunny office in the heart of downtown Charleston WV—with added space for art-making!—a new beginning was around the corner. Thanks to supporters and friends, the task of packing boxes of art, history, and hard drives, happened at warp speed. We welcomed a new staffer, Domenica Zara Queen. With a background in marketing and all-things-tech, she hit the ground running with plans to share her expertise through in-person trainings with artists where they call home.

Excitement around our newest program, the Emerging Artist Fellowships, allowed us to expand and announce this year’s 2020 class. The newly formed TFA design team busily planned a year-long story-telling project, to showcase the fellows’ artistry via podcasts, videos, newsletters, and stories.

Exploring the people and places that inspire the five fellows gave shape to the Spring’s activities. Reducing the isolation that is so often a feature of an artist’s creative practice though community gatherings was on the calendar.

Then, in the blink of an eye, our best laid plans simply evaporated. ‘Moving day’ and ‘quarantine day’ became one. Once the big white truck deposited our belongings in the new space, we said our goodbyes and retreated to the safety of our homes.

Since then, shared struggle has become the new normal. Despite it all, artists continue to create. Spending more time inside equals spending more time with ourselves and our thoughts, desires, and concerns. Inspiration may be hard to come by when our eyes have only four walls to view. Yet we persist, sometimes hampered by a lethargy that may keep us in bed. Then, there are those times heralded by muses, who may speak to us through our dreams.

Inevitably, history repeats itself and artists are once again called upon to expand their role, becoming the official recorder of this surreal landscape. Through our creative efforts, we capture the sorrow, the joy, the fear, the dread, and the re-emergence of optimism. All of that is happening in real-time.

The arts remain a shelter in times of hardship and a place where delight still exists. Let’s take this time to recognize the immense value of creativity. Artists—take heart in knowing you play a vital role in our collective healing. Without you, the path to recovery would be dull and monochromatic.

E-mail me at or call 304.926.3770. Be well, stay safe. |  Renee

‘How I Do What I Do’

Here’s how Emerging Artist Fellow Jaci Rice does what she does in her studio in Weirton, WV.

We’re re-jiggering plans to profile our Emerging Artist fellows. Pre-quarantine, our artful videographer Braiden Maddox had finished the first two video sketches of TFA’s cohort of five fellows—profiles of Jes Reger in Wheeling and Jaci Rice in Weirton. We had a trip planned to North Carolina, to document Jessica McClanahan firing up a kiln as part of a pottery internship. We had journeys lined up to visit Nevada Tribble in Shepherdstown, and Psychoflauge, at his mysterious collage-works citadel in Webster County. Just like you perhaps, our plans got all shot to ….

Well, heck.

Also maybe like you, we’re making it up as we go along. We awake daily to this terrible pandemic, as it tragically ends tens of thousands of lives and transforms global society. At such an unnerving time, we’d love to hear from you. What would you like to hear from us and our small, but devoted TFA staff? Do profiles of artists at work while sheltering-in-place interest you? What about trying to sell art during a pandemic? Are you hungry for inspiration and camaraderie, wrestling with how to survive, not only financially but creatively and emotionally?

Send us your thoughts and journal entries. Send your creative or frustrated attempts to understand what is going on—in your life, your community, your world. E-mail text or .jpg or .png images to: If you do video work, send larger files to that e-mail by way of:

Meanwhile, in this issue we share a photo and a video about EA fellow Jaci Rice (shown above) and what she can create in one minute and some change, even holding one of her kids. Well, at least for part of the time in this time-lapse video. This is the first in an occasional series of “How I Do What I Do” work process videos. Jaci and her husband concocted this cool piece.


Separation Anxiety

Above is Renee Magritte’s 1928 painting “The Lovers II.” Here’s what the website observes about the famous work:

“Magritte presented two figures with their faces covered by a white cloth, locked in an ambiguous setting, and unable to truly communicate or touch, many wonder if this is a kiss of denied love. The deathlike cloth keeps the two figures forever apart and as such create an atmosphere of mystery…”

Below is a pandemic riff on the work, posted recently to the “Renee Magritte” Facebook Group. Oddly, interestingly, the pandemic version sorta-kinda underscores our quarantine quandary of being “unable to truly communicate or touch…”

Online WV Gallery Profile: The Gallery at 105

Artists and galleries have been forced out of the public eye, at least, physically. But The Gallery at 105 in Shepherdstown WV is making the best of the situation. The gallery’s physical space is shutdown because of Covid-19, but its resident artists keep on creating. Plus, by taking the gallery’s focus fully online, they are able to show a much larger body of work, some of which has never been seen before.

“Dove of Peace” by Joe Mayer. See a retrospective of his work at The Gallery at 105.

The gallery is now featuring a wide variety of work by Diana Suttenfield, Jared Sheerer, Danny Conant, Scott Cawood, Bruce Fransen, Ann Sharp, and Joe Mayer. Mayer, a founding member of the Gallery, passed away in late January 2020. You can view a growing retrospective of his collected works at the Gallery’s site.

The Art of masks

Who is that masked man and woman? Someone forwarded to us this cool and clever animation that pulls some familiar artists into sheltering-in-place with us. (Send offbeat, intriguing pandemic-themed work to the contact numbers below).

Spread the Word

Share comments below, call us at 304.926.3770 or e-mail me directly at For media inquires about stories on TFA Fellows or other topics, contact TFA team member Douglas John Imbrogno at or call 304.638.9784.

If you were forwarded this newsletter, subscribe at this link: | Be well. Stay Safe. Wear masks. Make art,

Renee Margocee | Executive Director | Tamarack for the Arts