Feature Articles

April 2014

Toe River Arts Council in Spruce Pine, NC, Features Works by Blacksmiths

The Toe River Arts Council in Spruce Pine, NC, is presenting works by blacksmiths participating in downtown Spruce Pine’s Fire on the Mountain Festival, on view in the Spruce Pine TRAC Gallery, through Apr. 26, 2014. A reception recognizing the talents of these blacksmiths and open to the public will be held at the gallery on the eve of the Festival on Friday, Apr. 25, from 5-7pm.

Held in conjunction with “Fire”, the exhibition will give visitors an opportunity to view iron arts and crafts in a gallery setting and to learn more about the nationally acclaimed smiths and their work processes. The floor will be weighted down with large forged work while smaller, intricate hand-wrought pieces will adorn pedestals, with even more on the walls.

TRAC’s history of displaying the acme of historical craftsmanship in iron remains at the top for the 2014 exhibition. This year’s recognized Master Blacksmith is Scott Lankton from Ann Arbor, MI. Lankton, who has been a studio artist for 31 years, began falling in love with metal while working at a jewelry store in his teens. He went on to earn a BFA in jewelry and metalsmithing from Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, MI. Later, he traveled to Germany to hone his metal working skills. Now, he focuses more on “house jewelry.” He says, “I’m making big jewelry. A railing is like a big necklace for a house.” And this year, his house will be the TRAC Gallery with his piece inside.

Blacksmiths in the exhibition include Jeff McDowell from Green Mountain, NC, and Jim Moore from Morganton, NC. Also on the floor will be Avery County’s Bill Brown, a “sculptor” of metal since 1978 and bladesmith Shelby Mihalevich whose Damascus steel keyhole kiridashi (knife) will slice through the exhibit. Zack Smith-Johnson from Boone, NC, offers a bit of whimsy with his metal sculptures - pieces that evoke contemplation and a smile. And Laurel Eris makes the wind sing through her beated copper chimes. Throughout the month, more artists will contribute pieces, so the gallery display is always a “work in progress.”

Special this year is the Finial Design Contest. Starli McDowell of Spruce Pine Main Street selected twenty blacksmiths to submit a finial that will be displayed at the TRAC Spruce Pine Gallery during the blacksmith exhibition. Ten will be chosen to top the new Spruce Pine wayfinding signs honoring North Carolina Living Treasures; the other ten will be on display in other downtown venues.

The Toe River Arts Council is a not for profit organization promoting the arts in Mitchell and Yancey Counties and supported by donations, memberships, local government, grants (including the North Carolina Arts Council, a state agency), and supporters who understand the benefit of art in our community.

For further information check our NC Institutional Gallery listings, call TRAC at 828/682-7215, or visit (www.toeriverarts.org).

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