Artist Profile: Sharon Lyn Stackpole by Ashley DeNardo, Morgantown Underground, March 2016
Interview With Global Art Agency, April 27, 2015
“Sharon Stackpole’s ‘Symmetries’ Pleases Viewers‘”, by Ally Litten, Daily Athenaeum, Morgantown, WV, March 2015
“Sharon Stackpole Paints the World“, by Ryan Banta, Tyler Star News, January 28, 2015
“Tyler County Artist Making A Splash Worldwide,” by Zack Harold, Charleston Daily Mail, December 10, 2014
Interview with Global Art Agency, November 26, 2014
Interview with WV Public Radio, Monday, April 28, 2014
Artist Overcomes Fear to Return to Her Craft
March 26, 2009
by Bill Lynch
“Lots of coffeehouses are art galleries du jour — and it’s certain that more people at least glimpse the stuff on cafe walls than do so in your average gallery. The South Side’s Beehive has long exemplified the practice, and tonight’s reception for a former newspaper columnist from Middlebourne, W. Va., shows why. Fictionaries is Sharon Stackpole’s collection of mixed-media paintings, words and images, glowing with color and tinged with mystery. “My art is not about creating the world in which you live,” says Stackpole. “It’s meant to create the world I can’t live without.” –Bill O’Driscoll, Pittsburgh City Paper
Speaking about the arts with WV Dept. of Culture and History Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith
Artist makes her mark from Tyler County
By KRIS WISE MARAMBA
Published: Sep 20, 2008
MIDDLEBOURNE, W.Va. (AP) — About 13 years ago, Sharon Stackpole was living in San Francisco, raising a baby with her artist husband, reading poetry at open mike nights and trying to plant roots in the big city.
The former reporter and mother of three, Stackpole spent time in the arts community of San Francisco, but found her inspiration only after moving back to West Virginia. She now also works as town recorder in Middlebourne, where she grew up.
“Today, she’s finally a successful artist and writer.
She’s also a stay-at-home mom and a popular Web logger, or blogger, with a part-time gig in small town government.
But she’s far from California.
Stackpole finally found the life she was looking for in Middlebourne, the Tyler County town with a population of 870, and the place she grew up.
“I remember coming back from California with my son for a visit,” Stackpole said. “We were at my mother’s house and he didn’t have any shoes on and he ventured off the sidewalk and started crying because his feet were in the grass, and he couldn’t figure out what it was. I really thought he should know about these things.”
Stackpole, 39, has three boys now. She’s the town recorder in Middlebourne, but is probably better known for her blog — s.m.Art — and her art work, displayed at the Hitching Post on her town’s Main Street and in galleries as far flung as Pittsburgh and New Mexico.
Her blog, which she started before blogs got big, is a treasure chest of thoughtful nuggets — her musings on daily life, photographs and her artwork. Among them is the technique that’s probably among her most popular: what she calls “fictionaries.” They’re mixed-media works that combine original drawings or paintings with overlays of text. Often they’re bits from the dictionary, but they take on new meaning when combined with Stackpole’s ethereal images.
The Pittsburgh City Paper recently mentioned her show at the Beehive Coffee shop in its “Short List” section, calling it “glowing with color and tinged with mystery.”
One piece features a little boy with a ball, definitions of words like “squander,” ”square,” ”squash” and “squat” superimposed on his chubby cheeks and hands.
Another shows a little girl — reminiscent of a charcoal-drawn character from a nursery rhyme — holding her hat in a windstorm. She peeks out around words like “spook, “spoon” and “sporting.”
It’s almost as if Stackpole is illustrating pages of a dictionary.
She knows a thing or two about words.
Growing up in Tyler County, Stackpole was a smarty-pants in school. She had the chance to skip several grades, but declined.
After graduating from the old Tyler County High School, Stackpole majored in graphic design for a year at Fairmont State, got bored and spent five years studying art at West Virginia University. “I would open up the course schedule and just say, ‘Oh, that looks interesting,’ and I’d sign up for Butter Sculpting 101 or whatever.”
She cut her college career short when she got married, had a baby and moved with her then-husband to the West Coast, where he taught at San Francisco’s Academy of Art.
After a divorce, she and her son wound up back in West Virginia, wondering what to do next.
A chance perusing of the Star News, the Tyler County paper, landed her an occasional gig as a columnist.
“I got $10 a column, which sounds like nothing,” she said. “But it was something. It was a start.”
That led to a full-time job offer from the Wheeling Intelligencer, where she worked for about five years as a reporter, covering local politics and writing feature stories.
But the time came for a change, and she quit and moved back to Middlebourne.
“I like being part of a small town,” she said. “One of the things about San Francisco that attracted me initially but later wore off — nobody had any idea who I am and I’m really . But as I started raising my son, I missed those connections.”
She connected to the Middlebourne community in a way she never dreamed.
Not long after moving back after her stint in Wheeling in 2001, the town council was desperate to fill the recorder’s post — a part-time job that pays less than $100 a month and requires someone to take minutes at meetings and keep track of the town’s public records.
Stackpole reluctantly agreed, after being assured the job wouldn’t involve that much responsibility.
“They told me, the only thing you have to remember is, if anything happens to the mayor, you’re the mayor. But they said that almost never happens,” Stackpole recalls. “About a month later I got a call from a reporter from Wheeling, asking me how I felt about being the new mayor. The mayor had resigned and no one from City Hall had told me yet.
“My first act as mayor was to appoint someone else to do it.”
But she’s stayed in the recorder’s post since then. She said she likes working to get fellow citizens to care about what’s going on in their town and with their local government.
She’s also gone back to making art.
“I’d always had a conflict with writing and art,” Stackpole said. “I tell people I like to combine it in the same way a peanut butter and jelly sandwich was invented. Just smush it together and see what happens.”
She hadn’t done much painting or drawing since college. There were multiple reasons: lack of inspiration, fear of rejection, and an intense dislike of the competition among artists.
“When I started getting back into the art, my oldest son had never seen me paint or stretch a canvas or anything. He’d seen his father do it, and he said, ‘Mom, I didn’t know you knew how to do that.’ I had just sort of compartmentalized that part of my life.”