SPRUCE PINE — June 2018 marks the first of two 25th anniversary Toe River Studio Tours in the mountains of Western North Carolina.
What began with fewer than a couple dozen artists opening their studios in December 1993, has burgeoned into a studio tour of more 100 artists and 60-plus studios. And what has given the tour the longevity that it now enjoys? The artists themselves. Over the years they have come and gone. A few have participated in all, a few more have missed one or two and several are counting their participation years by five.
These artists and the 14 new artists are what make the Toe River Arts Studio Tour so successful and long lasting. Viewers come for a journey of art — to see how an artist has evolved from the previous years or to marvel at the new tour talent — all professional, all diverse, all welcoming June 1 to 3 in Mitchell and Yancey counties.
Of course, clay holds sway in the tour with a couple of out-of-town guests — Hailey Lail from Hickory in Scott Summerfield’s studio and Melissa Weiss from Asheville among the three other artists in Terry Gess’ studio. Burnsville resident Sarah Matesz guests at Bandana Pottery. Martin Stankus, currently working on getting his own studio up and running, teams up at High Country Ceramic Arts with Linda Powell. And Dennis McAvoy hangs his “shingle” just outside the west end of town; both Dennis and Martin are relative newcomers to Yancey County. Finally in the clay category, Joy Bennett, just around the corner from the Toe River Arts Gallery and long-time Burnsville resident and clay artist, participates for the first time.
Susan Garriques and Gaylene Petcu have joined together at Sandra Gates studio. They’re friends, all two-dimensional artists using different mediums, and all residents for several years. Kathy Steinsberger and Dana Moore converge on John Hartom’s studio off Arbuckle Road in Mitchell County with their handmade books open to visitors.
From Pennsylvania, Bakersville resident Nathan Favors shows off his wood-turned creations, while Rhonda DeMatteis and Marvin Howard, from Longwood Fla., display the results of combining the glisten of glass with the natural beauty of wood in their new studio in Spruce Pine. And escaping the still freezing streets of Madison, Wisc., Christina Boy warms up at John Geci’s studio with her wood furniture designs.
And with Summer of Glass 2018 on everyone’s tongue, Isaac Feuerman’s glass sculptures makes the Speckled Dog Pottery shimmer, and Emma enthusiastically wag her tail.
There is truly something for everyone from clay to glass, paper and paint, to fiber and metal plus a smattering of mixed media in this 25th Anniversary Studio Tour. It runs Friday through Sunday, June 1 to 3, across Mitchell and Yancey counties. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. And don’t miss the first Friday meet-the-artist reception from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on June 1, at the Spruce Pine Toe River Arts Gallery.
A participant exhibition begins on May 12 and continues through June 3 at the gallery located at 269 Oak Avenue in Spruce Pine. The 48-page guide is available online and at outlets around the region. For more information, click to www.toeriverarts.org/studio-tour or call (828) 682-7215.