American Craft Week events in and around WNC

VESSEL VISIONS: Asheville-based mixed-media artist Heather Allen Hietala shows 14 works in the group exhibition Outside Inspiration at Blue Spiral 1. “The vessel in all its many forms is [Hietala’s] muse,” says a press release for the show. “Seedpods, canoes, paddles, sailboats, weaving shuttles and kayaks are part of her personal history.”
VESSEL VISIONS: Asheville-based mixed-media artist Heather Allen Hietala shows 14 works in the group exhibition Outside Inspiration at Blue Spiral 1. “The vessel in all its many forms is [Hietala’s] muse,” says a press release for the show. “Seedpods, canoes, paddles, sailboats, weaving shuttles and kayaks are part of her personal history.” “On a Course” by Hietala, photo by Steve Mann

In Western North Carolina, craft — from heritage traditions to edge-pushing studio work — is more than just a pastime. It’s an observance of regional culture, a dedication to the integrity of handmade goods, a link between form and function, and, at the end of the day, a passion.

So it makes sense that the observance of such artistry — American Craft Week, now in its eighth year — is more than just a week. It is, in fact, a 10-day span, from Friday, Oct. 6, to Sunday, Oct. 15. It’s celebrated across the nation but met with special enthusiasm in WNC. Proof positive, one-fifth of the winners of this year’s American Craft Week contest, Second Acts, are based in this region.

“The purpose of the exhibit is to recognize the exceptional work of encore career craft artists and inspire others to pursue a creative career at any point in their lifetime,” explains a press release that honors Native American flute maker Lee Entrain of Old Fort, journeyman bladesmith Ken Hall of Waynesville and clay sculptor Christine Kosiba of Brevard as well as woodworker Ray Jones and bookbinder Mary Carol Koester, both of Asheville. Those artists and 20 others from around the U.S. are profiled and their work spotlighted in the Second Acts digital exhibit at acwshowcase.com.

But American Craft Week goes well beyond the virtual world, offering special exhibitions, gallery openings, demonstrations, workshops, sales, fairs and more:

• “Who is American Craft Week? We are,” says the exhibition page for Asheville Area Arts Council, 207 Coxe Ave. The AAAC hosts a craft artist invitational in the Thom Robinson and Ray Griffin Exhibition Space. Participating makers include Brian Monteleone and Tebbe Davis of Mountain Made, Maggie and Freeman Jones of Turtle Island Pottery, Mike Krupiarz and Leigh Graham of the North Carolina Glass Center, John Richards and Kathryn Lynch of Yummy Mud Puddle, and many others. The opening reception is Friday, Oct. 6, 5-8 p.m. ashevillearts.com

PAY IT FORWARD: Among other Craft Week events, The Village Potters collective holds a sale to raise funds for its scholarship and and advanced ceramics programs. “The Mighty Oak” by Sarah Wells Rolland, photo courtesy of the artist
PAY IT FORWARD: Among other American Craft Week events, The Village Potters collective holds a sale to raise funds for its scholarship and advanced ceramics programs. “The Mighty Oak” by Sarah Wells Rolland, photo courtesy of the artist

• Asheville Art in the Park is an open-air artist and crafter market held in Pack Square Park on Saturdays, Oct. 7, 14 and 21, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. ashevilleartinthepark.com

• “Echoing the color, movement and energy of the dramatic change of season in the Appalachian Mountains, six artists offer their unique representation of the cyclical natural world,” reads a description of Outside Inspiration at Blue Spiral 1, 38 Biltmore Ave. Contributors include Peter Alberice (abstract painting), Heather Allen Hietala (wood and mixed media), Patti Quinn Hill (basketry), Peggy Root (landscape painting), Akiko Sugiyama (paper and mixed media) and Jennifer Zurick (basketry). bluespiral1.com

• Throughout American Craft Week, Grovewood Gallery, 111 Grovewood Road, offers a number of events. On Friday, Oct. 6, Joe Bruneau demonstrates Appalachian basket making; on Saturday, Oct. 7, the resident artists at Grovewood Village take part in an open studios tour, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., and Elia Bizzarri demonstrates Windsor chair making, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.; on Saturday, Oct. 14, Susan Lenz demonstrates fiber vessels. grovewood.com

• “Local Cloth [207 Coxe Ave.] invites the public to create, experience, learn and shop for hand-felted, hand-dyed, hand-woven and hand-sewn textile art throughout the week,” says a press release. The studio, located inside The Refinery Creator Space, offers three felting classes — Needle-felted Critter, Create a Nuno-Felted Scarf and Felt Your Way into the Roaring ’20s, on Oct. 7, 8 and 14, respectively — along with an eco-print demo, spinning and hand-dyeing demos, pop-up shops and more. localcloth.wildapricot.org

• The Gallery at Flat Rock, 2702-A Greenville Highway, Flat Rock, presents Trial by Fire, an exhibition that looks at “artists’ personal reactions to challenges — either literal or symbolic — and how that challenge has shaped them and their artwork.” An opening reception for the show, which includes more than a dozen local and regional artists working in clay, is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 10, 5-7 p.m. The exhibition will be on view through Sunday, Oct. 15. galleryflatrock.com

• Mary Carol Koester of Azalea Bindery, 1 Brookgreen Place, will open her studio to the public “and demonstrate the many aspects of bookbinding, box making and other related techniques and equipment,” on Tuesday, Oct. 10. azaleabindery.com

SIT A SPELL: Elia Bizzarri demonstrates Windsor chair making at The Grovewood Gallery on Saturday, Oct. 7. The resident artists at Grovewood Village hold an open studios tour the same day. Photo by Josh Farnsworth
SIT A SPELL: Elia Bizzarri demonstrates Windsor chair-making at The Grovewood Gallery on Oct. 7. The resident artists at Grovewood Village hold an open studios tour the same day. Photo by Josh Farnsworth

• The Center for Craft, Creativity & Design, 67 Broadway, continues its exhibition, Crafted Strangers. The last of the CCCD’s 2017 curatorial fellows shows, the exhibit represents “a diverse and unique perspective of racial and ethnic identities within the Americas,” says the gallery’s website. “While craft has been a common means of expression historically across cultures, Crafted Strangers focuses on contemporary artists reinterpreting tradition.” craftcreativitydesign.org

• “Through designated scholarship fund sales on pottery and direct donations, The Village Potters [191 Lyman St., No. 180] has offered up to $12,000 in financial assistance to students and emerging potters,” reads a press release. During American Craft Week, the collective hosts a raku firing, multikiln opening and fundraiser sale for its scholarship and advanced ceramics programs. Shop for large and small works by Sarah Wells Rolland, Judi Harwood, Lori Theriault, Melanie Robertson and Karen Dubois on Saturday, Oct. 14, noon-5 p.m. thevillagepotters.com

• Mica, 37 N. Mitchell Ave., Bakersville, holds a customer appreciation week with refreshments and a door-prize drawing. micagallerync.com

• Celebrating its 43rd anniversary, the Folk School Fall Festival returns Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 7 and 8, to John C. Campbell Folk School, 1 Folk School Road, Brasstown. The weekendlong fete includes more than 250 craft exhibitions, more than 30 artist demonstrations, music, dance, pony rides, alpaca petting and more. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, $5 adults/$3 children ages 12-17/free for children younger than 12. folkschool.org

• Flow Gallery, 14 S. Main St., Marshall, opens Rock, Paper, Scissors: Playful Patterns, an exhibition of the cooperative’s artists. It will be on view through Tuesday, Oct. 31. flowmarshall.com

• Tyson Graham Pottery, 6148 Peniel Road, Tryon, hosts the annual Little Mountain Festival on Saturday, Oct. 14, with live mountain music, guest artists and Graham’s fall kiln opening at 11 a.m. tysongrahampottery.com

For more events, participating galleries and information about American Craft Week, visit americancraftweek.com/wnc

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About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall is the arts section editor at Mountain Xpress. She's lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. Alli is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

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