Artistically Speaking: Gloria Dean - Warming Up in Style
Last Updated on Aug 5, 2016 at 10:20am | Arts & Culture
If one were to travel to Rowlesburg, WV, they may come across The Curiosity Shoppe owned and operated by artist Gloria Dean and husband Darrell. Gloria has a second business venture called Scarves by BABKA, featuring personally designed, hand-knitted and crocheted fashion scarves. The name Babka is Polish for Grandmother and comes from the endearing title her four grandchildren call her.
Until Gloria married her husband and began a family in the late 1960s, she worked as a nurse’s aide at the former Saint Vincent Pallotti Hospital in Morgantown, WV. After having two children, Darrell III and Amy Elizabeth, Gloria became a full-time homemaker. It was during this time that her mother-in-law taught her how to knit. She also taught herself how to crochet.
In 1984, when her children were in their teenage years, Gloria and her family moved to her current home in Etam, WV. A year later they opened The Curiosity Shoppe. Four weeks after opening, tragedy struck when their store was flooded by three feet of water. Gloria went right to work and got her store reopened. Since then, the store has remained open, selling one- of-a-kind items, including Gloria’s scarves.
Her fiber art can also be found at various fairs, festivals, and businesses throughout the region. Some of those businesses include Garrett County Arts Council’s The Gallery Shop, Appalachian Gallery in Morgantown, WV, Tamarack in Beckley, WV, and The Szilagyi Center for the Arts in Rowlesburg, WV. The many craft shows she takes part in include Mountaineer Craft Week, Heritage Craft Fest, Buckwheat Festival, Festival of Trees, and the Christmas Market at the Szilagyi Center.
Gloria describes her work as wearable art fashions. When asked if she does any other kind of artwork, she answered, “I do cross-stitch, crewel embroidery, and Swedish weaving, and fisherman crocheted afghans.” She describes fisherman crocheted afghans as a crocheted piece with the texture formed on the right side, leaving the wrong side with the appearance of a solid single crochet. Her other interests include landscaping with rocks, plants and various ornamentations.
Gloria also enjoys volunteer work. In the early 1970s, she was a member of the Junior Women’s Club while still living in Glenville, WV. The club was looking for a volunteer to help with fundraising and Gloria enthusiastically took on the position. She rode her bicycle around town, her son in the child seat on the back, as she went about to raise funds. In 1971, she was selected to appear in Outstanding Young Women in America in recognition of her volunteer work. Her passion for volunteering still lives on today. At the turn of the century, Gloria became a member and helped form a volunteer group called Greater Downtown Rowlesburg (GDR), a downtown beautification committee.
She played her part in the organization by using her artistic eye in landscape design paired with hard work and leadership, to help make Rowlesburg beautiful once more. She worked to install plantings and raise funds for many gardens around the town. Working alongside her friend Joann Sisler and various volunteers, a total of 200 trees were planted throughout Rowlesburg. Since then, many other people have joined in on the rejuvenation of the town to bring it back to its original beauty. She also lends her time to many other organizations and projects in the area.
She has received many other awards while living in Rowlesburg. In 2011, she was awarded “Volunteer of the Year” by the Rowlesburg Revitalization Committee. In 2012, she received the Board of Directors Award from the Preston County Chamber of Commerce. In 2013, she was given the honor of being Mrs. Chestnut during the 6th Annual West Virginia Chestnut Festival.
Gloria Dean, a business woman with a passion for the arts, nature, and volunteer work has been an artist and member of Garrett County Arts Council for many years. She began selling her knitted artwork at the Oakland Train Station on a year-round basis. When that shop closed, an employee encouraged her to make her work available for her established Oakland customers by displaying it at The Gallery Shop.
Several of Gloria’s original hand-knit designs are currently on display at the Pop-Up Gallery Shop located at 25227 Garrett Highway in McHenry, MD. A project of Garrett County Arts Council, hours of operation are Monday-Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Sunday, 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Funding is provided by Garrett County Government, Maryland State Arts Council, and through membership support. For more information or to become a member, contact GCAC at (301) 334-6580 or visit www.garrettarts.org