The western North Carolina Artists Count Project is hosting a series of exhibitions to highlight the rich visual contributions made by area artists. The first exhibition, Smoky Mountains Sampler, is now on view at the North Carolina Welcome Center north of Asheville on Interstate 26.
Eighteen artists from Jackson and Swain counties are included in the visually stunning exhibition along with six illustrated panels that direct visitors to places where they can see and buy artwork. Sites include artisan studios, galleries, museums, shops, and community organizations in Bryson City, Cherokee, Dillsboro, and Sylva.
The Artists Count Project was inspired the large number of artists working and living in western North Carolina, which is celebrated for its rich heritage arts and crafts. The goal is to expose the work of artists to a wider audiences. Hosting the exhibition at a North Carolina Welcome Center seemed the appropriate venue since data suggests that 60 percent of surveyed craft consumers came from outside our state.
The project strives for authenticity and promotes “homegrown” entrepreneurs. The six display panels connect visitors to the arts and encourages visits to galleries and buy local art during their stay.
Artists in the exhibition include potters Susan Coe, Ed and Kari McIlvaine and painter Barbara Robinson, all from Bryson City. Artworks from Cherokee include a corn husk doll by Polly Rattler, a “Seven Clans” bowl by Dean Reed, a mask by Judson Bradley, and a basket by Ramona Lossie.
Sylva artist Sharon Bunting is showing a series of colored pencil drawings, while Isabella R. Jacovino is exhibiting a digital print. Blown glass by Judy McManus and digital photography by Teri Leigh Teed are also on view.
Cullowhee artists Neal Howard is exhibiting woven silk, metalsmith William Rogers is displaying a set of forged candlesticks, painter Susan Lingg has a watercolor on view, and Lee Budahl is showing a trompe l’oeil painting. Glenville is represented by Beth Bowser who has displayed a fused and slumped glass piece and Ken Bowser who is showing an oil painting.
Smoky Mountains Sampler is supported by the North Carolina Arts Council, Jackson County Arts Council, and the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area. The exhibition will remain on view until July. The Artist Count Project is supported by the N.C. Arts Council and the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area.