The mountains of Mitchell and Yancey Counties of Western North Carolina are home to some of the top artists and craftspeople in America. Whether you want contemporary or traditional, two- or three-dimensional, to look at or to use, you'll find a wide selection to select from as, map in hand, you follow the crafts trail set out for the Toe River Studio Tour on December 2, 3, and 4, 2011.
This annual event, sponsored by the Toe River Arts Council (TRAC), is held twice a year: on the second weekend in June and the first weekend in December. The times for studio visits in December are Friday, December 2 from 12:00 to 4:00 pm with the Spruce Pine TRAC Gallery reception still being held at the usual Friday time of 5 to 7 pm. On both Saturday and Sunday the studio visiting hours in December will run from 10 am to 5 pm on December 3 and 4, 2011. These self-guided free tours offer the visitor an opportunity to search out the professional artists and craftspeople working in the coves and hollows of the two rural mountain counties. Many stops on the map will showcase more than one artist.
Art lovers create their own tours, travel at their own pace, and stop for lunch on their own schedule. A TRAC Studio Map-Guide shows the locations of the studios and galleries on the tour along with pictures of artwork from each participant, five maps, and a special advertisers’ section that lists a few local lodging places, restaurants, special events in the area, and other local business tour supporters. The Studio Map-Guide, along with arrowed Tour signs aid travelers in finding their destinations.
Over 100 artisans open their studio doors and welcome the public to see their workplaces. It is a rare opportunity to visit many of these studios. From world-class to emerging . . . glass blowers, potters of every description, wood turners, basket makers, printers, painters, fiber artists, photographers, sculptors, jewelers, metal workers, and more can be found. No wonder it is known as the “Premier Open Studio Tour” in the Country.
You will find blown glass that comes in all colors, sizes, hues – from functional vases, bowls and goblets to unique, one-of-a-kind sculptures. Many studios will be demonstrating and offering an opportunity to see how items are made. Stained glass is represented as well – from large-scale commission type pieces, sun catchers and unique sculptural pieces.
The potters may offer their wares from orderly racks or from homemade rustic benches and tables, but they have much to choose from: trays, jugs, mugs, tiles, baking pans, fountains, bird houses, sculptured forms, ceremonial pieces, sets of dishes, even bathroom sinks. They come in stoneware, raku, wood-fired, earthenware, Majolica, or porcelain.
Look for functional and sculptural work from basketmakers who work in traditional gathered materials or in the modern Asian reeds. If wood makes your nerve ends tingle, then you can select from carvings, furniture, turned wood combined with blown glass, or art made with materials gathered from the woods. People who look for 2-D art can chose from photographs, watercolors, oil, acrylics, silkscreen, prints, and paintings on handmade paper. Textiles are well represented with handspun yarns, hand-woven flat goods, art quilts, knitwear, and garments pieced, painted, and quilted. Look for handmade books, jewelry, soap and scents, stationery, and ornaments. If the studios don't have what you're looking for, step into any of numerous galleries on the tour, where you'll find a wide range of handcrafted articles.
The Spruce Pine TRAC Gallery at 269 Oak Avenue will be open during the tour and will have Studio Map-Guides, additional directions and information, and an exhibition of participants’ work that is displayed in a geographical fashion. The staff and volunteers there are eager to help visitors decide where to go or to find their way. The exhibition of participants’ work is on display at the Spruce Pine TRAC Gallery from November 19 through the Tour weekend, and then continuing past the Tour to December 31. The Burnsville TRAC Gallery, at 102 West Main Street, will also have Studio Map-Guides and information on area artists. Both galleries are open Mondays through Saturdays from 10 am to 5 pm, and expanded hours for the Tour weekend.
An interactive Tour map can be viewed at www.toeriverarts.org or picked up at any of the participating studios, galleries, and local businesses. For more information contact the Toe River Arts Council al 828-682-7215 or 765-0520 or firstname.lastname@example.org