By BRENDA PINNELL
West Virginia Press Association
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — If you’ve shopped at Tamarack, or one of West Virginia’s many art fairs and festivals, or been to an area Civil War reenactment, you’ve likely been touched by Steve Cassle.
A celebration of his life and retrospective of his art will be held at Tamarack: The Best of West Virginia in Beckley, from 2 to 5 p.m., Sunday, July 30.
Cassle, a working artist and craftsman of 43 years, died in June following a brief illness. The prolific artist’s legacy includes a long list of accomplishments and, more importantly, his love of helping artists across the state.
At the time of his death, he was he Director of Artisan Services for Tamarack, involved with the planning, coordination, and implementation of jury sessions for Tamarack.
“Tamarack was more than just a job to Steve. He dedicated his life to promoting, encouraging, and mentoring artists across the Mountain State. He took great pride in his work at Tamarack and was a friend and mentor to all artists. Steve was a true asset to our Tamarack team, a friend to many, and a diligent advocate to the arts. He will be sorely missed by all,” said Jim Browder, Executive Director of Tamarack: The Best of WV.
In addition to helping artists through Tamarack, he was instrumental in mentoring and promoting artists all around the state through his work with Tamarack Foundation, Mountain State Art and Craft Fair, FestivALL’s Capitol Street Art Fair and Beckley Art Center.
“Steve was the person who discovered my art and helped me get it ready to be juried at Tamarack, a large gallery and retail space that shares ‘the best of West Virginia’ with the world. He did the same for scores of artists over the years and seemed to have boundless energy for helping others.” wrote West Virginia artist Linda Gribko in a recent blog post.
The lifelong Dunbar resident’s work can be found in private collections around the world, including a former United States President and West Virginia Governor. He was honored twice at receptions at the White House, where he met First Lady Laura Bush; and was commissioned to illustrate the cookbook of West Virginia First Lady Joanne Jaeger Tomblin.
Cassle was the Tamarack Artist of the Year in 2004 and won the West Virginia Juried Exhibition Award of Merit in 1987. His work has been in numerous juried exhibitions including three West Virginia Juried Exhibitions at the Cultural Center in Charleston, the Crosscurrents 1989 exhibition at Oglebay Institute, Stifel Fine Arts Center in Wheeling, and the 1987 Exhibition 280 “Works Off Walls” at the Huntington Galleries in Huntington.
Cassle was an avid history buff and embodied Civil War General Stonewall Jackson for History Alive!, lecturing on the life of Stonewall Jackson at reenactments throughout West Virginia and Virginia.
In addition to his family, he left behind four black Labrador Retrievers, Maggie, Comet, Carmen and Lucy, and, in lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Kanawha Charleston Animal Shelter.
For more info: www.tamarackwv.com