Art. Experience a destination in art at Toe River Arts Council in Burnsville, NC

Art. Experience a destination in art at Toe River Arts Council in Burnsville, NC
Yareah Magazine


Take a rural Western North Carolina community in December, add the Toe River Studio Tour, and what would the holiday season be like? Ah, meandering drives along the Toe River, steaming in the morning light; crisp air and warm studios; shelves, table tops, walls filled with beautiful art for viewing and purchase; and an abundance of smiles and sweet treats from the artists who participate in the tour. A destination to ignite the holiday spirit and to see the best art in the country. This year’s event, now in its 21st year, runs Friday through Sunday, December 5-7, with over 100 artists (10 new to the tour) and nine galleries opening their doors to welcome the public. What began decades ago with five studios on one weekend has grown to a three-day event that happens twice a year. Folks come to spend a weekend in search of the “best of the best” in artistry, to leave with something distinctively handmade, and to perhaps make a connection with an artist or two.

Art. Experience a destination in art at Toe River Arts Council in Burnsville, NC

Ben Elliott (glass)

The Toe River Arts Council offers the Toe River Holiday Studio Tour as a way to glimpse into the innovative and productive world of the working artist. For those who appreciate and collect art, this is a rare opportunity to meet our local artists in their own environment and observe the inside operations of the artist studio. The variety and quality of the art and craft put forward on the Tour is unparalleled. Artists in almost every concentration offer a broad selection and price range.

Clay in all forms, glass in all colors. Hooked wall pieces and quilts. Jewelry from metals, stones, gems, clays, woods, and polymers. Wood boxes, bowls, furniture, and lamps. Photographs and paintings. Even soap. And ornaments, ornaments, ornaments. For inside the home or out, to catch water or your eye from across the room.

But the touring experience is more than art and craft collecting. Mitchell and Yancey Counties are a destination for the original and exciting. Artists demonstrate. They explain how they do what they do. Some make collectible items only for that weekend and only from their studios. Friendships are formed. And there is always the thrill of discovering a new talent about to blossom through the snow. The Tour Guide provides direction; bright red signs point the way from studio to studio.

Art. Experience a destination in art at Toe River Arts Council in Burnsville, NC

Kat Turczyn (painting)

For those who want to get a head start on their weekend plans, participant work is on display at the Spruce Pine TRAC Gallery, 269 Oak Avenue, from November 22 through the end of the year. A meet-the-artist reception is held from 5 to 7PM on December 5, the tour’s first day, with a sampling of participant/gallery pieces geographically displayed —
a perfect opportunity to meet the artists, view their work, and make plans and routes for the remainder of the weekend. A map to the studios and local business support is available online at

This year, the Burnsville TRAC Gallery is showcasing some of the artists who participated in that first TRAC tour back in 1993. Of the 40 original artists, 18 are still a part of the TRAC Studio Tour. Many haven’t missed a year.

Art. Experience a destination in art at Toe River Arts Council in Burnsville, NC

Ronan Kyle Peterson (clay)

The Studio Tour closes the gap between artists and the public. It’s taken years to develop and grow to become known as the premier studio tour in the country. Visit studios, galleries; take the time to talk to the artists. Discover their history and evolution with their art. Share their vision and reflections of what art means to each of them. Come to the mountains the first weekend in December and experience what TRAC, with the help of a vibrant arts and local community, has built.

TRAC is a non-profit organization founded in 1976 to promote the arts in Mitchell and Yancey Counties. For more information about the Arts Council’s programs and to get more information about the Holiday Studio tour, visit the website, or call 828.682.7215.

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