For 23 years, the TRAC Studio Tours have encouraged involvement of local artists who open their studios and of those from outside the area who show in participating studios. Each tour features over 100 artists and galleries. This year’s event is just getting bigger and better—many studios and many artists. And five of those artists are first time tour participants; two returning after several years.
Rona Kritzer will be showing her clay work at the High Country Ceramics (#80). A transplant from the Miami area, where she was an art teacher in the schools, Rona now makes her home in Yancey County where she is continually awed by the beauty of these mountains and the welcoming handshakes of other artists. Vena Grebenshikov (#94) is returning after a hiatus of several years. He is a classically trained painter, originally from Russia and maintains a gallery in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Using his knowledge of the history of art and techniques of the masters, Vena innovated his own technique imbuing his works with their distinct style and texture.
In and around Bakersville, discover the work of Andy Palmer (#96). Andy was the ceramics program coordinator at Cornell University. He moved to the area as gallery manager at the Crimson Laurel Gallery and now operates his own studio just north of downtown Bakersville on NC261. For Victoria Hicks, showing in John Britt’s studio (#11) is something of a homecoming: John taught her to throw nearly 20 years ago, long before either of them called Western North Carolina home. Ron Slagle (#97) returns to his studio off NC226 just past Loafer’s Glory for this year’s tour. He includes his drawings, paintings, and his wood-fired sculptural work in the gallery and visitors should find it an interesting stop on the tour.
Tara Underwood opens her doors in Celo this year (#98). Most recently from Asheville, Tara is a studio potter who has been working in clay since the age of six and after study and determination, hasn’t outgrown the desire to play in the mud. And one new glass artist—Colin O’Reilly will be showing with Kenny Pieper (#46) in Celo. A new TRAC gift shop artist, Colin moved from his studies in New Mexico to Penland and creates his blown and cast glass elements in creative narrative sculptures.
Whether you are looking for something to look through, serve on or serve to, or just to set on the porch for viewing on those warm summer evenings, you’ll find these new artists worth the extra curve in the road. The TRAC Studio Tours, always the first weekend in June and December, hits in 2016 this June 3-5. The tour runs from Friday through Sunday from 10am to 5pm. Hours have been expanded on Friday to give visitors more time to meander and visit studios. The first night of the tour ends with a reception at the Spruce Pine TRAC Gallery at 269 Oak Avenue, from 5:30 to 7:30pm. The tour is free—all you need is the Tour Guide (available at all participating venues, including both TRAC Galleries); then follow the red arrowed tour signs.
An exhibition of participant work is currently on display at the Spruce Pine Gallery through the last day of the tour, June 5. Participating artists and galleries have representative work displayed geographically. Make plans for the weekend. You can purchase that can’t-wait-item or just view the work of artists who call this region home. Gallery hours are 10:30am to 5pm, Monday through Saturday. For more information, please call 828-682-7215 or 828-765-0520 and visit the website, www.toeriverarts.org where you can download the guide, maps, and get information about our sponsors. The bi-annual Studio Tour—truly a journey of the arts.