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Watauga Arts Council to Hold Grand Opening Celebration for Blue Ridge ArtSpace on Saturday, June 8

June 6, 2013. On Saturday, June 8, starting at 5:30 p.m., the Watauga County Arts Council will hold the Grand Opening Celebration for the Blue Ridge ArtSpace. Located at 377 Shadowline Drive, Blue Ridge ArtSpace is a community arts center soon to be filled to the brim with beautiful art and the lively sounds of classes, lessons, and workshops in music, arts, crafts, and more.  The Arts Council is partnering with the Craft Enrichment Program and the Community Music School to offer a wide array of activities and learning opportunities for all ages.

The grand opening celebration will begin with music, food, and a special time dedicated to thanking the many people who have made the Blue Ridge ArtSpace a reality.   

DownloadedFileA variety of old time, classical and jazz music will be presented throughout the evening for guests to enjoy.  Beginning on the front porch, which is the perfect space for picking, concerts, and even outdoor art classes, there will be an informal gathering to play old time music at 5:00, and musicians are welcome to join in.  After the official opening events, there will be music of a classical vein inside featuring noted local flautist Akal Dev Sharonne.

At 7:00 p.m. the porch will be claimed by local band, High Standards.  As their name indicates, this group performs popular American standards and will end the evening on a high note.  Led by saxophonist Steve Frank, the band incorporates contemporary music, crooner tunes and more into their repertoire.   While none of the groups are giving a formal concert, you are welcome to bring your lawn chair along so you can find a spot to relax and enjoy the music after you’ve finished exploring the building.

While you’re enjoying all of the music, you can also explore the newly relocated gift shop which features the creations of local artisans and craftsmen, books, CDs, and much more.   The Arts Council began offering the gift shop while in its prior loaned location on West King Street and has brought the same high quality work along to its new location at the Blue Ridge ArtSpace.  Staffed by volunteers, the gift shop will begin its hours in its new homes by being open from noon until 6 each Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.  These hours will be expanded as the volunteer staffing grows. 

The gift shop and the Porch are both opportunities for area businesses to provide support for the Blue Ridge ArtSpace through the Space Sponsorship program. The “Hall of Fame” is an area which will house signs and eventually plaques listing members of the 100 for $100 Club, which is a group of supporters who are helping to support the relocation expenses of the Arts Council, the many businesses who have made in-kind donations of services or merchandise to help the Blue Ridge ArtSpace, and volunteers who have worked tirelessly in recent weeks and months to bring it to fruition. 

As you begin to explore the rest of the Blue Ridge ArtSpace, you’ll have four new galleries to explore. 

In the Main Gallery, the Arts Council is hosting the beautiful wildlife paintings of Pat Grant.  Pat’s landscapes, wildlife, still-lifes, and murals reflect his love of the natural world around him.  Pat strives to give the viewer a chance to pause and take a break from the fast-paced world and enjoy the beauty around him.  Living in the mountain community of Todd, NC, Pat has been painting for the past sixteen years.  Local wildlife and landscapes of the western North Carolina mountains and rivers are often found on his easel.

Pat enjoys teaching and working with other artists and feels that he learns as he teaches, thus, enhancing the artistic journey.  He is a charter member of the North Carolina Wildlife Artists Society and the High Country Watermedia Society.  Pat has exhibited in many shows including the Cape Fear Wildlife Expo, The Bascom Cultural Arts Center, Art in the Chambers, and the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum, “Visions of the Wild.”  Pat’s talents as a painter extend beyond the canvas…as a professional painter, he was one of the primary painters of the walls of the Blue Ridge ArtSpace! 

In the Open Door Gallery the Arts Council is featuring the photography of Elizabeth Wegmann.  Elizabeth has always had a love of horses and ponies.  In fact, “horse” was her first word!  She was born and raised in Louisiana, but for a few summers her family vacationed here in Watauga County and in the Smokies  to escape the summer heat.  Thus her love of the Appalachian Mountains was born.  She moved up here in 1990 and discovered the Appalachian Trail and the Ponies while honing her backpacking  and photography skills  fell in love with the WIld Ponies of the Virginia Highlands.  Armed with a newly acquired Nikon Digital camera, and some new Hiking boots; she began to follow and photograph the different pony herds in 2010 . There are about 100 ponies that range free in both parks and  Elizabeth spends many long days hiking all over Grayson Highlands and Mount Rogers Highlands to find and photograph them.

The Serendipity Gallery showcases the works created by art students in the classes taught by Marcia Holmes at the Lois Harrell Senior Center and the Cove Creek Community Center.  For the month of June, the Serendipity Gallery will be featuring the works of one of these students, Jean Stillwell.  Jean has been living in the High Country for over 40 years raising a family of two daughters with husband, Dan.  She enjoyed creating two retail stores here in Boone.  But it wasn’t until after retirement that Jean decided to try her hand at watercolor painting.  On the spur of the moment Jean decided to go to Cheap Joe’s Art Stuff to get some watercolor supplies because she thought painting in watercolor looked like fun and rather easy to do.  Of course, she quickly learned it is one of the most difficult of mediums.  But with determination and thanks to Cheap Joe’s workshops, the High Country Watermedia Society and Marsha Holmes’ classes at the Lois Harrill Senior Center she has been able to learn from some of the best instructor/artists. In working with watercolors she learned her drawing abilities needed attention too.  That created a fondness for charcoal.  Then she wanted to try acrylics so she could apply the whites last.  But learning to observe is the greatest lesson to learn.  Jean keeps several kinds of journals going mostly in pen and ink and watercolor for every day sketching and for her travels with Dan.  

In the Tarheel Footprints Children’s Gallery we are proud to feature the work of the Kids of ArtMart.  John Bond, a member of the WCAC Advisory Council and a former board member, is showcasing the work of his young students at the Art Mart Academy in Boone.  John teaches children’s, teens and adult art classes.  The work that will be exhibited will be from among the wonderful creations his younger students have created in his classes.   Each month the Tarheel Footprints Children’s Gallery will be featuring the work of child artists from around Watauga County.  Each school in the county is being contacted and offered a month in which they can feature the work of their students.  We are looking forward to many exciting creative displays! 

The Blue Ridge ArtSpace also features six colorful classroom spaces which will soon be filled with a variety of learning opportunities but which will each showcase the talents of one of our local artists.  For this first evening, the Arts Council is proud to present its first smorgasbord of artful demonstrations featuring:

In one classroom Kyle Keeter will be drawing and painting with watercolors. Kyle’s paintings and drawings reflect his upbringing in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.  As a child Kyle explored art through drawing, painting, directing super-8 movies with special effects, and creating Halloween costumes.  By his senior year at Watauga High School, his talent was recognized with numerous art awards.  At Ringling School of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida, Kyle’s instructors noted his distinctive style.  Kyle developed his watercolor technique at Ringling and at Parsons School of Art and Design in New York City where he studied with Beverly Brodsky, an award-winning children’s author and illustrator.  Kyle continued his studies at Appalachian State University where he received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in studio art.  He is now a regional artist inspired by a reverential feeling for Southern Appalachia, and his work is defined by creativity and attention to detail.   Kyle has participated in the Appalachian Summer Festival auction at ASU donating ink drawings and/or prints. Kyle’s pen and ink drawings of the Southern icon Elvis were recognized with two awards at the annual International Art Contest in Memphis.  Kyle worked as an instructor at Caldwell Community College for eight years.  Currently, Kyle is a full time artist and he is working with the Arts Council to develop workshops and classes which he will present at the Blue Ridge ArtSpace. 

In another classroom (which is currently referred to as the yellow room) local author William F. (Bill) Kaiser will be sharing his two historical novels, “Bloodroot” and “Hellebore”.  After a successful career as a reporter and publisher, Bill retired and relocated to Boone. He writes a weekly Community News column for The Watauga Democrat and serves as a Volunteer Firefighter and Emergency Medical First Responder. Bill has served as an officer, including a term as President, of High Country Writers.   “Bloodroot”  is the first of a Southern Appalachian family saga from the time of the Civil War to the present. While a work of fiction it presents realistically the upheaval in southern Appalachian society by the events of that war … Events that still echo today in the towns, villages and “hollars” in these mountains. Events of the Civil War still effect our national psyche. “Hellebore” is the story of the feud’n, fight’n and fuss’n that tore up the people of Appalachia after the American Civil War. The events in this novel, including the incursion of the Ku Klux Klan into western North Carolina are real, as are some of the historic characters. Other characters, protagonists and antagonists, including Billy Jack and Elvira May are based upon real people of the times.

The classroom currently designated the “green messy craft room” (but also soon to be named for its sponsoring business) will feature a stained glass demonstration by artist Marianne Rooks.  Marianne Rooks been fascinated with color all her life.  Her mother studied the interpretation of stained glass church windows, and took her daughter with her on visits to various cathedrals.  While she studied the symbolism in the stained glass windows, Marianne was captivated by the color and light transmission.  As an adult, she began making stained glass pieces, and learning a great deal over the years.  Today, she has a small stained glass studio in Watauga County.  She loves teaching and will soon be teaching classes and workshops at the Blue Ridge ArtSpace. 

Another classroom which is currently called the “orange messy craft room” will showcase the talents of the Cove Creek Rug Hookers.  Rugs are frequently hooked from wool fabric strips which the artists dye themselves using a variety of dyeing techniques, some of which have been passed down for many generations.   This group meets every Monday at the Cove Creek Community Center from 10 a.m.-1 p.m.  Their teacher, Kathleen Moore, has been hooking since she was twelve.  Class members say, “She will get you started hooking, but we all learn from each other and help each other learn different techniques.  Please join our class!”   In April, the Arts Council featured a brief exhibition of their work consisting of an assortment of hooked items ranging from wall hangings to pillows to a purse.  The creations of the Cove Creek Rug Hookers will again be featured by the Arts Council in a gallery exhibit in the Blue Ridge ArtSpace later this year. 

A back corner classroom which is currently called the “noisy music room” and which will later feature such instruments as piano and drums will start off on a quieter note with a demonstration by guitarist David Gabriel Smith.  David is an alumnus of Appalachian State University’s Hayes School of Music and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.  He holds degrees from UNC Charlotte in Music and Traditional Philosophy and a Master of Music Performance in Classical Guitar from Appalachian State.  Currently, David  is a freelance musician in the Boone area and an adjunct music teacher at Emory & Henry College in Emory, VA.  He has played in a Jazz duo, a Rock cover band, and helps with the music performances on Sundays at the Watauga County High School.  Primarily, David focuses his attention on Classical guitar music from various time periods and to travel the world playing music is one of his dreams. While he already teaches classical, jazz, and popular guitar at his studio called “Near and Far”, he will also be offering lessons at the Blue Ridge ArtSpace this summer. 

And in a classroom which is currently called the “calm” music and instruction room, local author Nancy Kaiser will be sharing her book, “Tales of an Animal Communicator ~ Master Teachers”.  Her book chronicles the tales of the remarkable animals that taught an animal-loving pharmacist that she was destined to be an animal communicator and healer. These amazing tales began after her marriage to an equine veterinarian in 1977. Having left pharmacy to manage their equine hospital and breeding farm in central New Jersey, she found that astonishing animals and events began entering her life. From her life on Fair Chance Farm, through her move to the mountains of North Carolina, and subsequent divorce, the lessons and unconditional love of the extraordinary animals that surround this gifted woman will simply astound you. Join her on a journey of growth and discovery. You will never look at your own animals the same way again!

With all the busy preparations necessary to complete renovations and move the Arts Council into its new home, one last piece of the Second Saturday Studio and Gallery Hop has been postponed until July.  Beginning around the first of July, you’ll want to watch the Arts Council’s website for a downloadable map or come by the Blue Ridge ArtSpace for a printed map which will be listing the participating galleries and studios scattered across Watauga County who will be open and welcoming you to their studio or gallery on the 2nd Saturday of each month.  Directions to each participating studio or gallery will be provided and you are encouraged to visit them at your own pace.  You’ll want to get a stamp or signature showing that you’ve been there and then bring your map back to the Blue Ridge ArtSpace at 5:30 p.m. for the opening of four brand new gallery exhibitions and experience the variety of art activities, demonstrations which will be showcased in the six classrooms of the Blue Ridge ArtSpace.  You will be invited to put your map into a drawing for a door prize donated by one of the participating studios or galleries.  The Arts Council is welcoming interested studios and galleries to contact them at wcac@watauga-arts.org .  There will be a meeting of the interested studios and galleries to further develop this exciting new program on Tuesday, June 25, at 5 p.m.