Creative Focus

Art: Alive and Well in the High Country

By Tamara S. Randolph and Steve York

Fine arts and crafts abound in our area, and every year, the High Country’s diverse art settings attract many thousands of enthusiasts from all over the region. 2020 will be no different, even though we “stayed at home” through most of the spring.

From our small artist-owned creative spaces, to cooperative art galleries, to our larger outdoor art festivals, patrons continue to be drawn to the many options for enjoying and purchasing a variety of art here in the High Country. As you plan your summer art outings, we encourage you to add some of the following destinations to your itinerary, being sure to check each venue for updates to their operations and summer schedules.

Outdoor Art Exhibits

Our annual art festivals and outdoor art venues are well attended during the summer, so plan your weekend “art getaway” in advance, then take your time exploring our quaint mountain towns.

Blowing Rock Art in the Park | June 13, July 18, August 15, September 12, October 3 | Blowing Rock, NC

Art in the Park was created in 1962 by a handful of area artists and craftspeople to showcase local talent. Today, Art in the Park hosts 90+ fine art and craft vendors at each show. Some of the best local and regional artists and craftspeople showcase their handcrafted jewelry, pottery, fiber, glass, photography, painting and more. There is truly something for everyone, with pieces ranging from $5 to $5,000. 

Art in the Park’s high standards and professional jury attract artisans from all over the Southeast to exhibit in a series of shows, May through October. The quality of work exhibited draws thousands to the area each month.

Planned and administered by the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce, Art in the Park makes for an ideal day trip—shop the beautiful handmade crafts and stroll through the picturesque Village of Blowing Rock. https://blowingrock.com/artinthepark/

Art on the Greene | July 4-5, Aug. 1-2, Sept. 5-6 | Downtown Banner Elk, NC

Art on the Greene transforms the grounds of the Historic Banner Elk School into an art gallery multiple times each summer. These popular shows take place July Fourth weekend, the first weekend in August and Labor Day weekend.

Each show highlights works from up to 60 local and regional artists, and allows shoppers to add to their art collections while supporting historic preservation at the same time. Booth rental proceeds are donated to the Town of Banner Elk for ongoing efforts to transform the historic school into a center for visual and performing arts.

“I hope attendees find our town to be a place they want to return and tell other people about,” says Kimberly Tufts, show director. “I also hope they leave with something tangible, that they find a new piece of artwork and build a relationship with an artist that enriches their life.”

Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Food vendors are on hand, complementing the offerings at downtown restaurants within easy walking distance. http://www.townofbannerelk.org/beshows

Avery Fine Art & Master Crafts Festival | July 17-19, August 14-16 | Sugar Mountain, NC

In 2020, the Avery Fine Art & Master Crafts Festival relocates to Sugar Mountain Resort, where festival goers can shop for fine art AND experience a day of adventure! The three-day juried festival, enjoyable for all ages, welcomes visitors at no charge and brings an eclectic gathering of unique fine artists and master crafters to the foot of beautiful Sugar Mountain.

Fine art and craft examples include photography, paintings, jewelry, sculpture, pottery, weaving, glass art, wood crafts, wood furniture, specialty candles, body care & soaps and many more. After a day of shopping, mix in some adventure by taking a chair lift ride up the mountain or participating in extreme biking.

The Avery Fine Art & Master Crafts Festival benefits the Avery County Chamber of Commerce. Times are Friday, 1-5 p.m., Saturday, 10-5 p.m. and Sunday, 10-4 p.m. www.averycounty.com, www.skisugar.com.

Anvil Arts Sculpture Garden & Gallery | Gallery Hours Thur.-Sat. 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sun. Noon-5 p.m. | Linville Falls, NC 

Summer is a great time to be in the garden!Anvil Artsis a unique arts destination to explore sculpture by renowned sculptor and gallery owner Bill Brown, as well as works from a variety of artists represented by Anvil Arts Sculpture Garden & Gallery.

Visitors and collectors have the opportunity to experience a wide range of outdoor sculpture as well as sculpture for interiors. Currently the garden and gallery represent artists working in metal, glass, clay, and stone. All the works displayed indoors and outdoors are available for purchase.

Visit studiosculpture.com for up-to-date special event listings and view an online gallery of current works on display. Anvil Arts is located on Hwy 221 in Linville falls. “WE look great in our masks & know you will too.” Studiosculpture.com

Indoor Museums, Galleries and Virtual Visits

Many galleries in the High Country are open for business with new visitor guidelines in place. And as summer steams on and the higher numbered “Phases” kick in, we will likely see the remainder of our local High Country galleries and museums safely welcoming patrons once again. Here we list a sampling of some of the terrific indoor art venues. Once again, please be sure to visit each gallery’s website before scheduling your visit.

Blowing Rock Art & History Museum (BRAHM) | 159 Ginny Stevens Lane (Formerly 159 Chestnut St.), Blowing Rock, NC

BRAHM provides cultural enrichment to the High Country communities by promoting the Arts and Southern Appalachian heritage & history through educational programs, exhibitions, activities, and permanent collections. BRAHM offset its temporary public closing by offering a virtual outreach, engagement and promotional strategy of its visual arts and history exhibits online to help bring BRAHM into the home. For example, their “Young at Art Student Spectacular” exhibition created by kindergarten through third grade students from Blowing Rock School was converted into a completely digital experience. In addition, one of their newest exhibitions, Terra Ludis: Play Ground, features an online component in addition to stunning photography by local photographers. www.blowingrockmuseum.org

The Turchin Center for the Visual Arts | 423 West King St., Boone, NC

The Turchin Center for the Visual Arts (TCVA) at Appalachian State University, in the heart of downtown Boone, features seven galleries of contemporary art, with changing exhibitions. TCVA has offered virtual visitations and exhibition tours during its temporary closure. Those tours, along with art and artist information, can be explored via their website at tcva.appstate.edu. To enhance the digital experience, each gallery has been videoed so that digital visitors can partake in the gallery experience. Workshop prompts are also offered digitally through the website and Facebook so that community members can be creative outside the Turchin Center. https://tcva.appstate.edu/

Mica | 37 N. Mitchell Avenue, Bakersville, NC 

Mica is a cooperative gallery of fine contemporary art whose members’ commitment to working together for nine years has helped to sustain a group of excellent artists dedicated not only to their artwork but to their community. Mica was about to open the door for its 9th year of operation when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The gallery responded to the “stay-at-home” order by establishing Shop Mica Online with members pitching in to develop a “shop from your home” internet presence at www.micagallerync.com/shop. Throughout the season, Mica Gallery typically hosts a number of events that showcase its members and visiting artists.  Pease follow Mica Gallery on Facebook and Instagram for updates on events and reopening plans. www.micagallerync.com

Alta Vista Gallery | 2839 Broadstone, Valle Crucis, NC 

Maria Hyde’s beautiful collection is housed in a National Register of Historic Properties farmhouse. Hyde shows over 100 artists in all media and specializes in local mountain landscapes. (828-963-5247), altavistagallery.com

Carlton Gallery | 10360 Hwy 105 South, Banner Elk, NC (located between Boone and Banner Elk)

Toni Carlton has been opened 38 years, which makes her gallery one of the most established fine art galleries in the High Country of Western North Carolina. Carlton Gallery features a spirited collection of artwork in all mediums with over 200 local, regional, and national artists. (828-963-4288), carltongallery.com

BE Artists Gallery | 185 Azalea Circle, Banner Elk, NC

Inside the renovated Historic Banner Elk School, built in 1939, is a cooperative of 30+ local artists. Enjoy over 800 square feet showcasing fine art and crafts. art@beartistsgallery.com, BEartistsgallery.com

Mountain Blue Gallery | 151 Shawneehaw Ave. Banner Elk, NC

The gallery offers a diverse selection of original encaustics, oils, acrylics, mixed media, kiln-formed glass, stoneware, pottery, silk, fabrics, jewelry and more. (828-898-4477), https://www.mountainbluegallery.com

Art Cellar | 920 Shawneehaw Ave., Banner Elk, NC

The Art Cellar Gallery & Framemakers offers museum-quality framing services, in-house professional art consultation and creative design solutions for homeowners and businesses. The gallery specializes in fine art, sculpture and other three-dimensional works in glass, clay, wood and stone. http://www.artcellaronline.com

Sally Nooney’s Gallery | 7137 Highway 194, Banner Elk, NC 

Located halfway between Banner Elk and Valle Crucis, look for the building with the big American flag painted on it. This multi-media artist does everything from functional art glass to original paintings in oil, watercolor and acrylic. (828-963-7347), www.sallynooney.com

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This summer, whether inside, outside, or online, you can appreciate and celebrate some of the High Country’s best art and artists!

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