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August Issue 2008

Transylvania Community Arts Council in Brevard, NC, Features Exhibition of Works Inspired by Nature

The Transylvania Community Arts Council in Brevard, NC, is proud to bring together an exhibit of works by local artists for their current show, Natural Inspirations ­ Art Inspired by Nature. The featured artists for this show are Kate Thayer with pastel paintings and five local basket makers including Joe Bruneau, Martha Towler, Bonne Jean Bertlshofer, Jane Hoerrner, and May Thorson. Their artwork will be on view through Aug. 22, 2008, at the TC Arts Council Gallery.

Kate Thayer says about her pastel work, "I am by temperament and by intention a 'colorist'. I prefer untrammeled small-frame landscapes ­ the ordinary but enchanting scenes that we are usually too hurried to see. To be an artist of nature is to collaborate with nature's sorcery. My aim is to capture the scenes that seduce my senses. Each has a soul-enriching story to tell. My intent is to call forth in my paintings the colors and the shapes and the stories that captured my heart and imagination, and to make of them an offering to the viewer."

Thayer continues, "My muse is nature itself ­ its ways revealed and hidden, its ever-changing light and dark, its saturated and muted colorings, its self-sufficiency, its capacity to delight and to provoke at the same time, and its transcendence of our lives. I think of myself as standing on the shoulders of the impressionists, but always in search of inspiration from new methods and new techniques, just as every serious artist before me has done."

Joining Thayer in this exhibit are five local Transylvania County basket weavers. One of the featured basket weavers is Joe Bruneau, manager of Number 7 Fine Arts and Crafts Cooperative in Brevard. For over 20 years, he has enjoyed playing with color, texture, and shape with his baskets. Materials typically used for the frames are native wood products, including grapevine, honeysuckle, and kudzu, to name a few, and hand-dyed rattan. His two favorite types of baskets to weave are the melon basket and the potato basket.

Bruneau currently teaches workshops at the Kanuga Conference Center in Hendersonville, NC, and the Transylvania Community Arts Council in Brevard, as well as private lessons.

Bruneau's baskets can be found at the Gallery of the Mountains in the Grove Park Inn, Asheville, NC, and at Number 7 Fine Arts & Crafts Cooperative.

Two other basket weavers from Number 7 Arts that are featured in this exhibit include: Martha Towler and Bonne Jean Bertlshofer.

Towler says, "For over 800 generations baskets have enriched and defined the status of human life. From cave man to tech man, owning a basket has provided art and utility to its owners. It is because of this fascination with baskets that I decided over 5 years ago to devote myself to the craft of basket weaving." She continues, "I am basically self taught but have studied the works of many famous and talented basket makers as well as visiting them in their studios. My baskets are usually creations of my own imagination and design. I see a basket in my mind, occasionally sketch it and then weave it from my own hand-dyed reed. The result is a one-of-a-kind basket, as no two are ever alike."

Bonne Jean Bertlshofer has been a basketmaker since 1984. She is an instructor and patternmaker for workshops, including Brevard College, Brevard, NC, and John C. Campbell Folk Art School, Brasstown, NC. Her work is featured in Basket - A Book for Makers and Collectors, by Billie Ruth Sudduth. She says, "What started as a hobby has blossomed into a passion. Various natural resources and different embellishments spur my interest and imagination. How to capture different elements and combine them into a 'Woven Vessel to hold one's interest' is a satisfying challenge."

Bertlshofer's memberships include: Southern Highland Handicraft Guild, Charter Member of North Carolina Basketmakers Association, Transylvania Community Arts Council and Number 7 Fine Arts and Crafts Cooperative.

Anyone who has visited the Cradle of Forestry Historic Site in the Pisgah National Forest has probably met and watched Jane Hoerrner weaving and demonstrating basket making. She talks with visitors about the life of early settlers over 100 years ago. She makes traditional baskets and variations of traditional baskets. Hoerrner has been weaving baskets for more than 40 years. She says, "Most of my baskets are functional, serving a purpose as was the case with the early settlers. I continue my fascination with basketry each time I make one; each basket is unique to me."
May Thorson has been creating baskets since 1984. She says, "I took a basket weaving class in 1984 and made my first 8 inch egg basket. I have been weaving ever since!" She has taught many basket weaving classes since then for children and adults and continues to teach in Sapphire, NC. In 1987 Thorson helped organize the Transylvania County Handcrafters Guild and is only one of three founding members left.

For further information check our NC Institutional Gallery listings, call the Council at 828/884-2787 or visit (www.tcarts.org).

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