Feature Articles

June 2013

Toe River Arts Council in Mitchell and Yancey Counties, NC, Offer Spring Tour

“If you build it, they will come.” The Toe River Arts Council in Spruce Pine, NC, has been cultivating and building the bi-annual Toe River Studio Tours since 1993. And they are coming - visitors from all across the country. This year’s event runs Friday through Sunday, June 7-9, 2013, with 67 studios, 12 galleries, and 114 artists opening their doors to welcome the public.

What began 20 years ago with five studios on one weekend has grown to a three-day event, twice a year. Folks come to spend a weekend meandering the beautiful countryside in search of the “best of the best” in artistry, purchase something distinctively handmade, and to perhaps make a connection with an artist or two.

The Toe River Arts Council offers the Toe River Spring Studio Tour as a way to glimpse into the innovative and productive world of the working artist. For those who appreciate and collect art, this is an opportunity to meet our regional artists in their own environment and observe the inside operations of the artist studio. The variety and quality of the art and craft put forward on the Tour is unparalleled. Artists in almost every concentration offer a broad selection and price range.

Featured are: clay in all forms; glass in all colors; hooked and braided rugs; jewelry from metals, stones, gems, clays, woods, and polymers; wood boxes, bowls, ornaments, furniture, and lamps - for inside the home or out, to catch water or your eye from across the room. And this year’s tour is larger than ever with nine new participants, including a dulcimer maker and “working farm” that offers not only unique Native American arts and clay work, but also goat cheese, jellies, and handmade soaps.

But the touring experience is more than art and craft collecting. Artists demonstrate. They explain the processes involved. Some make collectible items only for that weekend and not available outside their studios. Friendships are formed. And there is always the thrill of discovering a new talent about to take wing and fly. Bright red signs and a 48-page guide point the way from studio to studio, taking visitors into some of the most scenic and unusual parts of the mountains. Nothing awakens the senses more than driving our mountain roads, flanked by fields of lavender and rye; cows grazing on sloping grasses; cardinals and crows dotting a clean, cobalt sky; and emerald trees swaying seemingly just a foot away and up high on the ridgelines.

For those who want to get a head start on their weekend plans, participant work is on display at the Spruce Pine TRAC Gallery, 269 Oak Avenue, through the final day of the tour. A meet-the-artist reception is held from 5 to 7pm on June 7, the tour’s first day with a sampling of participant/gallery pieces geographically displayed - a perfect opportunity to meet the artists, view their work, and make plans and routes for the remainder of the weekend. A map to the studios and local business support is available online at (www.toeriverarts.org).

The Studio Tour closes the gap between artists and the public. It’s taken years to develop and grow to become known as the premier studio tour in the country. Visit studios, galleries; take the time to talk to the artists. Discover their history and evolution with their art. Share their vision and reflections of what art means to each of them. Come to the mountains for a weekend in June and experience what TRAC, with the help of a vibrant arts and local community, have built.

TRAC is a non-profit organization founded in 1976 to promote the arts in Mitchell and Yancey Counties.

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

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