Feature Articles

June 2013

Haywood County Arts Council in Waynesville, NC, Offers Exhibition Focused on Appalachian Region

The Haywood County Arts Council in Waynesville, NC, is presenting Appalachia, which celebrates the many forms and techniques of art in the Appalachian region of North Carolina, on view in Gallery 86 through June 29, 2013. A reception will be held on June 7, from 6-9pm.

The North Carolina Mountains have become a melting pot of Appalachian arts and crafts of the Appalachian region. The arts and crafts of the Appalachian region of North Carolina included many forms such as pottery, basketry, woodturning, and music. This culture is how the people of this region thrived. Haywood County Arts Council’s exhibit, Appalachia, commemorates the many these forms and techniques.

The featured artists of this exhibition includes: Doc Welty, Patti Best, Sandra Brugh Moore, James Smythe, Crystal Allen, Mike McKinney, Matt Tommey, Caryl Brt, Susan Balentine and Kaaren Stoner.

Doc Welty is currently a potter and proprietor of Leicester Valley Clay. He has been in the pottery field in various capacities for over 30 years. After a chance introduction to ceramics, while pursuing a career in graphic arts at John Herron Art Institute in Indianapolis, the spark that became his desire to work in clay grew over the years becoming his passion to express his creativity as a studio potter.

In 1978, he opened Woodsman Pottery in Whitestown, IN, and began to work in functional pottery, creating stoneware fired in an oil kiln. In 2003, Welty moved to “the pottery state” of North Carolina, where he set up his rural studio in Leicester, NC, in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Today, Welty creates stoneware kitchen and dinnerware along with garden pottery and tilework from his tile-clad studio.

Patti Best has stated: “I’m a late bloomer! I have enjoyed painting and sketching from the time I was a small child, but I didn’t consider the idea of a career in the arts until just a few years ago. The gift of painting the mountains, waterfalls, streams, woodlands, and wildflowers of Western North Carolina is a blessing I am daily thankful for! I’m self-taught. My style is somewhat traditional, but I seek to keep the painting soft while staying true to the scene I’m painting. I call my style soft realism. I paint from photos, so the fun of ‘locating’ my subject is a joy in and of itself! A day of hiking in our beautiful mountains provides not only the photographs I work from, but the hike refreshes my spirit as well! I wish everyone could experience the indescribable beauty of this area. When I create a painting, it is with the realization that I’m sharing a moment in time that I have personally experienced. If my artwork brings serenity to the soul of the viewer, I am blessed! I believe a life is well lived if it adds richness to the lives of others along the way…”

The remarkable variety of light provides this landscape artist with a lifetime of subject matter. Moving to North Carolina, Sandra Brugh Moore came with the goal of learning to capture the moods of the mountains. Western North Carolina provides her with a never ending source of painting materials as the seasons come and go. Many of her subjects are found in her own backyard. The sun filtering through the woods, the early morning fog creeping into the cove, sunsets, sunrises, each day brings opportunity for a painting…if you are looking. Attempting to capture the constantly changing light in the landscape is a challenge. Moore meets this challenge by exploring new painting techniques in her attempt to capture the peace and spirit of the landscape.

James Smythe is a retired art professor who now enjoys painting full-time. This also means he has significant training in art at the university level, as well as several workshops taught by nationally recognized artists. Smythe has lived in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina for almost half of a century. He maintains a studio in Sylva, NC.

Crystal Allen, a native of Western North Carolina, received an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Commercial Art and Advertising Design. She has worked as an assistant and Senior Art Directors at advertising agencies and various printing houses in Western North Carolina. Since then, Allen has enjoyed teaching classes in calligraphy, painting in watercolors, and learning to felt and spin natural fibers. Clay, however, is her current medium of choice and her “final love”. Allen works in mid-range stoneware clay, which she says does equally well for wheel thrown or hand built work, and oxidation fires at 2190 degrees F. The main body of her works is produced in her private studio, adjacent to her home in Canton, NC. Allen’s pieces are primarily functional, with altered or hand built additions.

Mike McKinney is a third generation woodworker following in the steps of his hero, his granddaddy, a carpenter, furniture maker, and his father a carpenter, furniture maker, and wood turner. Both men loved fine woodworking and wood art, and loved for McKinney to be in the shop with them. He was absent from the shop for many years, starting a career as a banker, however in the early 90s, his father invited him along to an open house at Lissi Olands’ studio, wife of famous Knud Oland, in Brasstown, NC. This visit sparked a renewed interest in woodworking, and more specifically woodturning. McKinney believes that every block of wood has a form within, and that his task is to bring out the best in. “One should let the wood guide your efforts and strive to uncover the best visual appearance possible.” After taking a few years off from actively turning due to relocating to Waynesville, NC., McKinney has now completed his new workshop where he has begun to enjoy the satisfaction of making shavings once again.

Matt Tommey’s interest in fine craft and handmade baskets began as a teenager, growing up in southern Georgia. His passion for using natural materials began to center around creeping southern vine, kudzu while in school in the North Georgia Mountains at Young Harris College and the University of Georgia. Now an Asheville, NC, resident, Tommey’s handcrafted baskets are a whimsical collaboration of traditional Appalachian forms and wild, rustic, natural materials including natural vines (kudzu, honeysuckle, bittersweet, wisteria, and grapevine) and bark (poplar, hickory, mimosa and others). His interpretation of rib baskets and other traditional shapes offer a heartfelt nod to his roots in Appalachian basketry while offering a contemporary expression that is all his own. Tommey’s most recent work focuses on sculptural basket art vessels using a combination of bark and vines.

With a resumé that includes car mechanic, landscaper, itinerant apple picker, railroad brakeman, carpenter and back-to-the-lander, it makes sense that Caryl Brt builds furniture. “I design and make items in a broad range of styles and types of wood in my studio in the Smoky Mountains. I sometimes use recycled objects and like to dabble in metal-working, polymer clay and hand-made paper. Sometimes these sideline interests find their way to my work as adornments.” When Brt is not in her studio, she works as a studio assistant and part-time instructor at the Professional Crafts Department at Haywood Community College just west of Asheville, NC, where she graduated in 1993.

Susan Balentine enjoys creating with her hands which was instilled at an early age by her artistic mother, from whom she learned the value and love that goes into handmade items. Her functional individually thrown pottery is hand-painted with a wax resist in nature inspired designs.

Kaaren Stoner’s relationship with clay began in 1963 at a folk high school in rural Sweden, where she was spending a year abroad as part of her Antioch College education. As it turned out, her year in Sweden had a profound effect on her life. “The strong aesthetic of Swedish design shaped how I viewed everyday household items. I knew that I wanted to be a studio craftsperson.” Stoner received her BA in Art from Antioch and a MFA from the University of Puget Sound where she studied ceramics with F. Carlton Ball.

“My source of inspiration through 35 years of working with clay is my endless fascination with the beauty of leaves, grasses, flowers, rocks and landscapes. The pieces I form (and which often seem to form themselves) are a spiritual, meditative act for me. What I’m really doing is trying to show that beauty is all around us. All we have to do is look and see,” says Stoner.

Appalachian art in Western North Carolina has been a long-standing heritage throughout many generations. Haywood County Arts Council’s Gallery 86 exhibition, Appalachia, celebrates the many forms and techniques used in this glorious form of art.

The mission of the Haywood County Arts Council is to build partnerships that promote art and artists, explore new cultural opportunities, and preserve mountain artistic heritage. This project was supported by the NC Arts Council, a division of the Department of Cultural Resources.

For further information check our NC Institutional Gallery listings, call the Council at 828/452-0593 or visit (www.haywoodarts.org).

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