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Promoting art and artists from our home state is not only our passion, it’s in our business plan. Each year we dedicate a portion of our vacation rental income to the purchase of West Virginia art to add to our collection at Lafayette Flats.
For this year’s art purchase, we decided to commission a watercolor illustration from 2019 Artist-in-Residence, Rosalie Haizlett, who lived and worked in Flat No. 1, Nuttall this past winter. As a student of nature, Rosalie spent most of her time in the New River Gorge exploring the forest and capturing its wonders in her illustrations.
The painting we commissioned from Rosalie will soon be displayed in her upcoming show, “Learning to See” at Wheeling Heritage. After the solo show comes down on May 30, our watercolor illustration will hang in Nuttall where our guests can enjoy it for years to come.
During the process of developing a theme for the commissioned painting, Rosalie asked us to list five things we love about the New River Gorge. This was no easy task. We could write a book about our love for this magical place – the Gorge and surrounding mountains are full of inspiration – but we finally narrowed it down.
The Five Characteristics that Make this Place Special
Diamond Point on the Endless Wall Trail
The jaw-dropping view from the sandstone cliff called Diamond Point along the Endless Wall Trail is hard to describe in words. Look right to see the iconic bridge. Look left to see untouched nature. Look down to understand the depth of this place. Watching the early-morning fog roll through the gorge from this vantage point is awe-inspiring and something everyone should see.
Eastern Hemlock Tree
Walking through a stand of hemlock trees as the light gently filters through the canopy is as peaceful as it is engaging. The Eastern Hemlock is a keystone species for this part of the world, meaning that its existence dictates what else can grow here. Like many of you, we grew up under hemlock trees and have enjoyed the symbiotic relationship our whole lives.
Waterfall on Butcher Branch
Waterfalls are abundant in the New River Gorge and chasing them is an adventure. Listening for the distant sound of rushing water and following it to its roaring origin brings out the explorer in all of us, and each new waterfall draws us into deeper communion with nature. It was Butcher’s Branch falls that captured Rosalie for this illustration, but every waterfall has a unique and primal beauty.
Rhododendron and Fern
Passing through a tunnel of rhododendron always brings us childlike delight and finding a fiddlehead in the spring brings us hope and happiness for what’s to come. Thick and plentiful, rhododendron and ferns are like garland surrounding the many trails and streams of the New River Gorge just as they frame this painting.
You know we love these fascinating little works of art, and as the hardest-working creatures in the forest, they deserve to be represented. The diversity and abundance of mushrooms in the New River Gorge is indicative of a healthy ecosystem and demonstrates the recuperative power of the earth. As the wounds of industrialization from the early 20th century heal, we have – in large part- mushrooms to thank.
We know that many of you share our love of this land, so this year we are expanding our program even further by offering our friends and guests the opportunity to own part of this very special creation.
|2019 New River Gorge Artist-in-Residence, Rosalie Haizlett|
Rosalie Haizlett: The Talented Traveling Illustrator
Rosalie grew up in the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia surrounded by the natural beauty of her family’s farm. She was also surrounded by art; both her father and grandfather were artists. Rosalie credits her dad’s encouragement for inspiring the confidence she needed to enter the world of a professional artist after obtaining a degree in Graphic Design from West Liberty University.
From late 2016 through early 2017, Rosalie toured West Virginia as a Tamarack Foundation for the Arts Emerging Artist Fellow.
Next, for five weeks during of summer of 2018, we watched on Instagram as Rosalie lived and worked as an artist-in-residence in the Great Smoking Mountains National Park. There she created illustrations inspired by her surrounding and the visitors she encountered through activities and workshops she conducted.
More recently, in late 2018, we were mesmerized by Rosalie’s illustrated travels through the country of Jordan. As we swiped through photos of her sketches, Rosalie’s skill became even more apparent. Capturing vibrancy in watercolor is hard. Capturing vibrancy in watercolor paintings of sand dunes would seem downright impossible if we had not seen her work with my own eyes.
Through it all, Rosalie has stayed true to her interests and love by working with companies and organization that share and/or support her lifestyle. For example, Rosalie served as KEEN Footwear’s adventure guide in 2018 documenting her travels through the country of Jordan. Early the same year, Rosalie was a featured artist on the She Explores Podcast where she shared the practices that keep her with “a clear head and a pure purpose.”
Rosalie’s skill and talent for illustration are apparent in her work, but its Rosalie’s sense of wonder that is contagious.