The Toe River Studio Tour has become a tradition to kick off my summer season in the mountains. The twice-a-year event (first weekend in June & December), features the work of artists and craftspeople in what is thought to be the longest running studio tour in the country. The tour traverses Mitchell and Yancey Counties in Western NC, and with more than 90 featured artists and galleries, offering something for every taste and pocketbook.
Start at the TRAC Gallery in Spruce Pine to pick up a Tour Program/Map. It never ceases to amaze me the talent that has found a home in this area. Artistic people attract like-minded folks, and the Penland School of Crafts has long been the center of this talent-pool.
We headed directly to Jenny Lou Sherburne and her whimsical clay art that is a personal favorite. This year’s stops ranged from the One of a Kind Art Gallery in the quaint Micaville Country Store, to the glass-blowing studio and showroom of John Geci Glass.
I love meeting the artists in their studio settings, it really rounds out the meaning and inspiration, as well as attention to planning and detail, behind their work.
A new find was spotted off the tour at the Fine Arts Gallery at The Crossnore School. The incredibly lovely combination of pottery and pewter seen in the work by artist Ann Melton was stunning. The Crossnore School and Gallery have quite a story and will have to be another post all their own.
Most of the local galleries show work by many of the local artisans and can fill you in on studios to visit throughout the year. Some are always open, others by appointment.
Jenny Lou Sherburne: www.jennylouclayart.com
John Geci Glass: www.jgeciglass.com
One of a Kind Art Gallery: www.ooakartgallery.com
TRAC & Gallery: www.toeriverarts.org
Crossnore School: www.crossnoreschool.org
Penland School of Crafts: www.penland.org