The Blue Ridge ArtSpace, a community arts hub filled with four galleries, classrooms and a Gift Shop, is the home of the Watauga County Arts Council. On Saturday, Nov. 10, the Arts Council will launch its fourth annual Holiday Originals with special music by The Mountain Laurels and a book signing by well-known local artists and authors Noyes Long and Joe Miller.
Holiday Originals, which began experimentally in 2014 in a single gallery of the Blue Ridge ArtSpace, has continued to grow each year and now fills all four galleries with an array of locally created, beautifully crafted items suitable for gifts or holiday décor. Among the many offerings offered for sale this season will be:
- Handmade jewelry
- Holiday gift cards created by local artists
- An assortment of beautiful holiday tree ornaments and other holiday-themed decor
- Books written and signed by local authors
- Knitted, crocheted and other fiber items
- Collectible works of art, both large and small, with a holiday theme
- Fused glass decorative items
- Functional and decorative pottery and much more
Not only does the sale give holiday shoppers a jump start on purchasing unique, one-of-a-kind gifts, but it also gives local artists an opportunity to make some extra holiday sales.
Even though Holiday Originals occupies the art galleries, unlike most gallery exhibits, purchasers may take their new treasures with them immediately instead of having to wait until the end of the exhibit. Artists are already on standby to bring in additional inventory periodically so that the selection remains plentiful. The sale will continue through Dec. 22 during regular gallery hours of 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday. Arts Council Director, Cherry Johnson is fond of saying that this gives you a chance to purchase all your very special holiday gifts and décor prior to Thanksgiving, and then you can REALLY be thankful because all the hard work is done and you can sit back and enjoy the rest of the season!
The Mountain Laurels
The Mountain Laurels are a Celti-lachian band from the High Country of North Carolina. The group performs a blend of Americana, Celtic and folk music typical to the roots culture of Western North Carolina. Featured performers at the second Saturday Celebration of the Arts will include violinist Rhonda Lorence, guitarist Elaine Gray and flutist Maggie Sparks. Lorence is the violin/viola teacher for the Watauga County Arts Council. Her students, ranging from the age of 3 to senior adults, frequently fill the halls of the Blue Ridge ArtSpace with their impressive music. More information on the members of The Mountain Laurels along with samples of their music and performing schedule are available at www.themountainlaurels.com.
Joe Miller is a true local icon, known for his quirky sense of humor, his entrepreneurial talents and his artistic talents among other things. Miller’s life has certainly been out of the ordinary, beginning with his birth in the back seat of the family car outside the Boone Drug Store, where he not only spent he first few days of his life, but eventually became an owner of the company. Trained as a pharmacist—after originally studying taxidermy—he admired the art he saw while traveling for business. Deciding to learn how to create his own works of art, he discovered that it wasn’t quite as easy as he’d expected and sought out the assistance of App State Art Professor Noyes Long. The two became fast friends. As Miller sought to purchase the quality supplies and tools necessary, he realized that the Boone area had no reasonable source for supplies, particularly affordable ones. From that realization came the birth of Cheap Joe’s Art Stuff, which now supplies artists around the world with an assortment of tools and materials from its headquarters and warehouse on Industrial Park Drive in Boone, NC. With his success as a watercolor artist, Miller not only has become one of the best known painters in the region, but also conducts and hosts a variety of workshops and seminars.
Long trained as an artist and became a professor, moving to teach at App State in 1969. In addition to a very successful career as an artist, Long also became deeply involved in writing, producing numerous short stories, four novels and a novella. Two years ago he decided to chronicle the life of his long-time friend and has recently published Cheap Joe. Both Long and Miller will be present to autograph copies of this and their many other publications, since Miller, too, has published a collection of books and journals and even a children’s book.
The second Saturday Celebration of the Arts is a free, family friendly event. Refreshments will be served. Participants are welcomed from 5:30 to 7:30 pm and the Gift Shop is also open during the event. There will also be additional artist demonstrations in the Blue and Orange Classrooms of the Blue Ridge ArtSpace.
For more information, sign up on the Watauga County Arts Council’s website to receive monthly updates, visit their website at www.watauga-arts.org, watch their Facebook page or come by the Blue Ridge ArtSpace at 377 Shadowline Drive in Boone. You may also call them at 828-264-1789.