Art in the NC Mountains
The mountains of North Carolina hide many surprises, and one of the best is the multitude of important artists who are tucked away off grass and gravel lanes. Surrounded by beautiful views, wooded yards and eclectic home sites, you can find some of the best artisans in the U.S. It makes for a very special kind of treasure hunt.
There are hundreds of artists in the western region of the state, with more than 100 in Mitchell and Yancey Counties. Many were drawn here initially by the Penland School of Crafts, a national center for craft education. Operating since the 1920s, the school has attracted Master Teachers and students in the fields of pottery, metal, glass, wood, printmaking, textiles, photography, drawing and more. Once at Penland, many decided to stay, and the area is now home to a wonderful colony of artists. Penland is located between Spruce Pine and Bakersville in Mitchell County.
A good way to learn about the local art community is to participate in a studio tour. The Toe River Studio Tour is scheduled twice a year in June and December, with the final day for the June tour set for tomorrow, June 9. The Toe River Arts Council (TRAC) has a lovely gallery and lots of information about studios and galleries in the area. TRAC hosts the Potters of the Roan exhibition August through September, and the second weekend in October (12th and 13th in 2013) is the popular annual Spruce Pine Potters Market.
Studio tours and visits by appointment make for an incredibly personal experience. The artists are very accessible and engaging, making it really enjoyable to chat about their techniques and the evolution of their art. When tours or exhibitions are not scheduled, you can often call and set a time to stop by and visit.
In addition to studios, the area is also home to many fine galleries, so be sure to stop and check them out. When you need a break, the knife & fork in Spruce Pine features delicious lunch and dinner options with a local farm-to-table menu inspired by mountain traditions. 828-765-1511