Whether you’re interested in the arts as a career or a hobby, you can pursue your passion at art schools and centers across our state. Some art schools have kept traditional skills alive for a century; others are associated with local arts councils or community centers. Here are a few of the facilities offering classes this spring.
The Bascom art center, a nonprofit visual arts facility in Highlands, began in 1983 as an exhibition space in the local Hudson Library for works created by regional artists. In May, 2009 the Bascom art center opened a new six-acre campus drawing 30,000 students in its first six months of operation.
Starting this spring, The Bascom will offer 250 classes and feature exhibitions from North Carolina artists including oil and acrylic artist Jane Filer (Chapel Hill), fiber artist Barbara Zaretsky (Asheville), ceramic artists Matt Kelleher and Shoko Teruyama (Marshall) and many others.
Linda Steigleder, Executive Director, The Bascom, described what makes the facility special and how its programming addresses community interests.
|“Our focus is on providing high quality educational experiences, studio classes and workshops for adults and children in all fine arts and craft,” Steigleder says. “Highlands is a resort town and a destination. Some people might have a family history of coming up here for decades, and we’re trying to provide a cultural enrichment and visual arts alternative to traditional vacation activities, such as golf.”
“Intergenerational classes have been very successful,” Steigleder adds. “We have lots of grandparents in the community, and some of them are very young — people in their fifties might have two or three generations of family members visiting them. They want to do something with their children or grandchildren. It’s touching to see a mother with two young kids and their grandmother doing a ceramic activity together. Or we might have a group of businesswomen from Atlanta who decide they’re going to come here to do an activity they would never do on their own because they’re all so busy.”
Students come from the community and the region and from as far away as Chicago, New York and Austin. Since 90 percent of classes are for non-artists or beginners, the expertise of the instructors is crucial. The Bascom art center employs 60 faculty members including Patrick Taylor, a full-time artist in residence who operates Taylor Pottery in Highlands and lent his expertise to the creation of the center’s ceramics facility. Other instructors also teach at Penland School of Crafts or the John C. Campbell Folk School.
From May through December, The Bascom displays work in a variety of media, including a juried show of American Craft Today. Throughout the year, its shop displays the work of about 45 fine arts and craft artists.
The facility — a former horse stable — is also a popular draw. The entrance to the arts campus is a reconstructed covered bridge, which had been dismantled and out of commission for 40 years.
“In terms of overall feeling, what really distinguishes our campus is the vintage wood,” Steigleder says. “Reclaimed barn buildings form the infrastructure of our main building, and the outside weatherboard is old barn wood. The floors in the main building come from the parts of barns where grain was threshed, and these irregular boards have a sheen to them that’s beautiful. I’ve found that the public is really drawn to the vintage wood, mixed with the steel and glass which allows a lot of light in the non-exhibition spaces. We’re trying to create a different feeling from any other community gathering place. We’re trying to feel like a campus that was influenced by the hills around us.”
Admission to The Bascom is free, and its exhibitions and shop are open May through December, Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Classes are held year-round, and although the facility does not provide on-campus housing it makes discount arrangements with local hotels. Camping is also available at local campgrounds. For more information or to register, visit www.thebascom.org.
Two of our state’s internationally recognized craft schools offer a universe of classes for participants across a range of skills. Penland School of Crafts, founded in 1929, welcomes about 1,200 students each year from beginners to working craftspeople whose goals range from personal enrichment to professional development. In the summer it features 98 one- or two-week classes, the first running May 30 through June 11 and the last running August 29 through Sept. 4. They cover a wide range of media, including books and paper, clay, drawing and painting, glass, iron, metals, photography, print and letterpress, textiles, wood and a variety of specials including Moving Faces: Puppetry and Portraiture, Polymer Chain Reactions (plastics) and From Nature: Textiles/Sculpture. In the spring and fall, Penland also offers seven classes that run for eight-week sessions called concentrations, as well as a few one-week classes. Penland provides lodging on and near its campus.
For more information or to register, visit penland.org.
Founded in 1925 with the motto “I sing behind the plow,” the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown offers learning opportunities around traditional crafts that not only teach skills but also enrich students’ lives. Its classes are held year-round with more than 860 one-week or weekend classes in 48 categories including basketry, blacksmithing, calligraphy, dyeing, enameling, lace, leather, metalwork, music, quilting, spinning, woodcarving and unique offerings like cold-cast bronze, Crowns & Brims: A Survey of Millinery Skills and chainsaw carving. John C. Campbell Folk School offers on-campus lodging as well as space for campers and RVs.
For more information or to register, visit www.folkschool.org/index.php.
The Rutherford County Visual Artists Guild operates a visual arts center, gallery, gift shop and studio in downtown Rutherfordton, providing art education while raising awareness of visual arts in the community. The guild has three Arts in April weekends slated, each beginning with a Friday evening dinner and presentation and continuing on Saturday.
Days of Clay Friday, April 9, and Saturday, April 10, begins with dinner and a presentation by visiting potter Ken Sedberry. The program continues Saturday with Sedberry explaining his sculpture pot process and Rutherford County potter Dan Bair demonstrating his techniques for making tall pots. On Friday, April 16, and Saturday, April 17, the Visual Arts Guild celebrates Earth Day with a program of Art & Nature Printing taking advantage of the spring wildflowers in bloom along the trails of the 90-acre riverfront West Point Farms Pavilion. Instructor Lori Loftus works in stained glass, watercolor, pastel, collage and ink on silk as well as nature printing. The Historic Rutherford Paint Out takes place Friday, April 23, and Saturday, April 24. This plein air workshop sends artists outdoors to capture the historic buildings in Rutherford County — old churches, ornate homes and front porches. Participants will enjoy a catered dinner, program and walking tour on Friday night followed by a Saturday of on-location painting under the guidance of three instructors, Linda McGregor (watercolor and oils), Evelyn Roberson (acrylics) and Nikki Hicks (pastel and oils). For more information or to register, visit http://rcvag.com/ or call (828) 288-5009.
Local arts councils also program classes and workshops during the year. Find a link to your arts council by visiting ncarts.org/lacdirectory.cfm.