The Times West Virginian

August 4, 2013

Art-centered culture aim at Mountain Creative

By Jessica Borders
Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT — Mountain Creative is trying to change the culture in Fairmont.

Miles and Jessie Holbert opened their new business at 1200 Speedway Ave., on the corner of King Street and Speedway Avenue, on July 16. The shop just celebrated its grand opening on Aug. 2 and 3 with giveaways and live music.

Mountain Creative offers paint-your-own pottery, with a selection of more than 100 pieces available for people to paint. Customers can choose from 50 paint/glaze colors, displayed on the wall on West Virginia-shaped ceramics, to customize their items.

The pieces range in price from 50 cents to $80, depending on what the customer wants to do. After going through the firing process, the pottery cools for eight to 10 hours, and the artist can pick up his or her creation in seven days.

“We really wanted to cater to all age groups,” Jessie said. “So this is a way of drawing families and creating a family environment.”

Since its opening, Mountain Creative has had many families stop by. Jessie said its great to watch moms, dads and kids interact with each other and enjoy themselves.

The venue provides group classes in hand-building pottery, where the hands are the primary tools in forming the pieces, and one-on-one lessons on how to make pottery using an electric, motorized wheel.

“There’s a learning curve for it,” said Miles, who has a ceramics background and studied sculpture. “Some people pick it right up. Everybody’s different, but everybody can learn it.”

Mountain Creative can host parties for birthdays and other special occasions.

Miles and Jessie also want to showcase local artists at their business. Within the shop, visitors will see ceramics, wood bowls and paintings made by people who live in the Fairmont area.

The store will hold some gallery openings in the future, including one on Nov. 2. On Sept. 14, Da Vinci & Dessert owner and artist Denise McGinty will come to the venue for a session, where she teaches people to paint on canvas with acrylics and participants also get to enjoy dessert.

If someone has an idea for a class related to the arts that they’d like to teach at Mountain Creative, Miles and Jessie are all for it. They’d like for their space to become the location for lessons in stained-glass, one-stroke painting, water colors and more.

“We’d like to really work with the people around here, the community, and do what we can,” Miles said.

He and Jessie, who are both teachers, grew up in Fairmont and went to East Fairmont High School. The Friendly City is still the couple’s home today.

Jessie, a West Virginia University graduate, works at Westwood Middle School in Morgantown, where she teaches English. Miles, who graduated from Fairmont State University, was previously an instructor at Morgantown High School and currently teaches an elementary art education class at FSU.

Miles said he had wanted to open a regular studio teaching pottery lessons, but his pottery teacher steered him toward starting a business like Mountain Creative that could sustain itself more easily.

“This is kind of a natural progression for me,” Miles said.

“I think we saw the need and had the capabilities of delivering, so it just fit,” Jessie said.

The building at 1200 Speedway Ave. has been the home of many different businesses over the years. Miles and Jessie, with the help of a friend, put about three years worth of blood, sweat and tears into gutting and redoing the space, which is now full of homemade features.

“It kind of took a long time because everything’s custom in here,” Miles said. “We wanted it to have a certain theme to it, something different, something unique, and something just to showcase arts and crafts of the Appalachian area. We wanted to have a lasting kind of appeal.”

He and Jessie are pleased with the response they’ve been getting from the public so far.

 “It’s pretty amazing, the support from the community and people reaching out,” Jessie said. “We’ve even had repeat customers already.”

“I think people are ready for it — that’s why they’re so supportive,” Miles said. “Hopefully it can grow from this into more of an arts-centered culture around here.”

Mountain Creative’s summer hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday. For more information, call 304-612-6425 or visit Mountain Creative on Facebook.

Email Jessica Borders at jborders@timeswv.com or follow her on Twitter @JBordersTWV.