March Art Outings

• Wednesday, March 21, 2012 •

Pattern, Detail, Design – Potter Jeff Oestreich

Acclaimed potter Jeff Oestreich, visiting artist at Western Carolina University, gave a day of public demonstrations and programs, Thursday, last week.  I was able to attend the afternoon demonstration. Jeff had lots of stories to keep all of us engaged and amused. His stories ranged from people and places he has studied with or worked at - around the world - to tales of his life in Minnesota. As he carved patterns out of his recently formed pots, creating intriguing designs on a series of tea bowls, he discussed the ideas that drive his work. Greatly influenced by art deco, Jeff owns that he has a love affair with pattern and design. His work clearly shows this, and is marked by attention to detail. Students and public alike were all riveted as we watched Jeff masterfully put his distinct marks on his work. A small exhibit of  his work was displayed in the arts center atrium at Western Carolina University’s Fine Art Museum. 

A thriving arts center hidden in a quiet valley

My friend Phyllis Jarvinen took a little trip last Friday to Stecoah Valley. Once leaving the main highway (19/74W) onto 28, our journey wound through a lovely area that led us to a picturesque valley with a babbling brook running along the side of the road. On the side of a barn is the sign directing visitors to the Stecoah Cultural Arts Center, once a schoolhouse built of native stone. We met Program Director Kate Parkerson who showed us around this building of large windows, mellowed wood floors and an auditorium with beautiful wooden theater chairs, recently restored. New lighting and sound were being installed on the stage. This will further enhance the 2012 season of Appalachian Music, June 30 – August 25. There is a coffee house, gallery and classrooms for regional artists to teach classes and workshops. This arts center may be one of the best-kept secrets in the region. 

Visit them – Stecoah Valley Cultural Arts Center, Stecoah (Robbinsville), NC.


New York Artist Exhibitions in Western North Carolina

• Tuesday, January 31, 2012 •

I attended two exhibition receptions last week – one at the Western Carolina University’s Fine Art Museum, Cullowhee, the other at The Black Mountain College Museum and Art Center, Asheville. The exhibit, “Pat Passlof: Selections 1948-2011,” focuses on the work of painter Pat Passlof, an accomplished Black Mountain College alumna, member of the New York School and figure in the development of Abstract Expressionism. It is always gratifying to experience an artists’ work in a solo exhibit uninterrupted by juxtaposed works of other artists, but these exhibits are also very poignant. Passlof died this past November at the age of 83 before these long-planned exhibits were hung. Between the two venues one can view the journey of over 60 year’s of Passlof’s career, spanning from her time at Black Mountain College to her most contemporary work. It’s a privilege to experience this slice of American Art history here in Western North Carolina. The exhibit runs through May 25, 2012 in Cullowhee in May 27, 2012 in Asheville

New Beginnings

• Friday, January 06, 2012 •

 On January 1, 2012, the website for Cullowhee Mountain ARTS was launched. Though this was completely serendipitous, I like it. A new year and a new beginning. Cullowhee Mountain ARTS is about serving artists, the arts and the community. After the past several years of feeling the pain of the severe slashing of budgets for the arts, isn't it nice to imagine a new initiative that will support and grow the arts in this community? Stay tuned for additional programs that will emerge throughout 2012, especially art programs for youth and public programs of lectures, demonstrations, studio talks and open portfolios.
There are countless people for whom this organization owes its genesis. First and foremost, Dr. Frank Lockwood, WCU Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, who gave the idea optimism and direction. Dr. Newton Smith, WCU professor emeritus donated his genius at web structure and writing. Dr. Robert Kehrberg, WCU, Dean of the College of Fine and Performing Arts, and Richard Tichich, Director of the School of Art and Design, who have both enthusiastically supported the idea from the start. CMA is also indebted to all the good folks at Jackson County Arts Council and Greg Boyer, who has leant us sound legal advice. Thanks to all who will be energizing our programs with their gifts and talents, support and ideas! Happy 2012!