Beckley arts festival reveals extraordinary line-up Sept. 20-25

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Beckley arts festival reveals extraordinary line-up Sept. 20-25
Girls pose for a vintage tintype, the process being explored in eight-hour workshops during the festival. (Gawain Weaver)

Beckley's second annual "BEX" arts festival, set for Sept. 20-25, will feature twelve extraordinary workshops and performances designed to bolster the growing arts community in southern West Virginia.

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Scaled down for its second year to permit covid-conscious interaction, the pandemic has allowed organizers time to design intensive programs as the region continues to attract more artists and patrons.

This year's schedule will include half-day and full-day labs and workshops more akin to arts courses, including a five-hour filmmaking workshop, two eight-hour photography workshops, and two three-and-a-half-hour painting and photography workshops.

Bob Ross sits for a portrait
The festival will include a Bob Ross Paint Pop-Up at Word Park, 4-7:30 p.m., that explores the alla prima or "wet-on-wet" method of painting popularized by Ross on PBS television. $15

Festival spokesperson Christine Kinder said the stars are aligning for arts in region, particularly considering the development of the new national park and the remote-work revolution.

"Artists and arts patrons are finding their ways to the Beckley area and for good reason—the region is highly accessible and ideal for creativity," Kinder said. "Residency here is affordable, it's not too far from major U.S. cities, and what could be better for inspiration than these forests and mountains?"

Masks will be required for attendance at this year's workshops and performances, many of which will be conducted outdoors.

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Kinder stressed that workshops that would normally cost students several hundreds of dollars to attend are being offered at a much-reduced cost, thanks to the presenters and the support of partners such as the City of Beckley, the Ambrosia Inn, the Beckley Arts Center, and the Beckley Area Foundation.

"Many of these programs provide access to specialized equipment and access to instructors who might not normally attend a typical community arts festival," she said

The following programs will be presented during the period.


Monday, September 20

Open Studio Time at the Beckley Art Center, 4-8 p.m.—including free use of the center's workshop space on Johnstown Road.

The OYB at the Raleigh Playhouse, 7:30-9 p.m.—the alternative rock group OYB performs spaced-themed compositions, such as those of David Bowie.


Tuesday, September 21

Up-and-Coming Musicians at Word Park, 6-8 p.m.—featuring 12 musical groups from the region populated by musicians 21 years old or younger.


Wednesday, September 22

Holga Photography Workshop at the Beckley Art Center, 4-7:30 p.m.—examining the process of the employment of rare Holga cameras in photography. $20

Bob Ross Paint Pop-Up at Word Park, 4-7:30 p.m.—exploring the alla prima or "wet-on-wet" method of painting popularized by Ross on PBS television. $15


Thursday, September 23

Human Library at Word Park, 5-8 p.m.—peruse ten or more diverse human "books," who are open to one-on-one discussions of their experiences with war, sexuality, addiction, and more.

Hungry for Humans Demo at The Chocolate Moose, 7-9 p.m.—game inventor Jared Kaplan demonstrates a new board game set in the West Virginia hills.


Friday, September 24

Filmmaking Workshop at the Raleigh Playhouse, 3-8 p.m.—professional filmakers from across West Virginia lead an intense five-hour workshop in the art. $25

Tintype Workshop No. 1 at Ambrosia Inn, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.—delve into the tintype photography technique in a master class led by visual artist Lisa Elmaleh. $30


Saturday, September 25

Tintype Workshop No. 2 at Ambrosia Inn, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.—delve into the tintype photography technique in a master class led by visual artist Lisa Elmaleh. $30

Yoga Pop-Up at Ambrosia Inn, 1-2 p.m.—heal mind and body during a time-out at the Ambrosia Inn near downtown Beckley.

Oddities & Curiosities Fair at Word Park, 5-9 p.m.—wander an open-air marketplace populated by mystics, fortune-tellers, and purveyors of the odd and extraordinary.

For more information on the festival and any associated costs, call 304-923-5820 or visit the BEXwv.com website or the BEX Facebook page.

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