Press release from Toe River Arts Council:
It’s not too early to start thinking about summer and being out and about in the mountains of Western North Carolina, wandering the many narrow roads, crossing over and following the Toe River. And it’s never too early for kids to start helping out moms and dads with their work, especially if they’re artists and participating in the studio tour. The two early starts come together during the TRAC Studio Tour this June 2-4 in Mitchell and Yancey counties when some of these kids take part…with their parents.
Last tour, Grae Geci (age 5) decided to participate in the studio tour—to help out the local animal shelter, make a few dollars, and have fun with her mom in the studio. Her “mom” is Courtney Martin, well-known ceramist in Bakersville.
At the same time, about 5 miles away, Roby Summerfield (age 10), veteran tour artist, worked in her mom’s studio. And her mom is Liz Summerfield, educator, ceramist, and long-time tour participant.
During tour weekend last December, both Grae and Roby set up their tables, made signs, and stood and smiled at everyone who came by. Both of them sold out! Roby also works in fiber, giving buyers an even bigger choice. Those were gone also!
John Geci and Courtney are Grae’s parents. He’s a glass blower, she builds functional pottery. Their studios are separated by their solar heated house, about 10 minutes from Penland School of Crafts. Liz and Scott Summerfield, also a glass blower, work at different ends of one large outbuilding with a showroom in between.
Grae and Roby are growing up in the mountains of North Carolina, both have attended arts related events since before they could crawl and both have an appreciation of craft and the amount of fun they have working along side their parents in their studios.
Continued studies show the benefit of experiencing art at a young age. Perhaps now more than ever—as the country becomes increasingly diverse, the world more interconnected, and the workplace more oriented around technology and creativity—arts education is key to such a system and to ensuring students’ success in school, work, and life. And what better way to get that interaction than to experience it with a parent.
The arts council has always put arts in education top on their community agenda, and the tour has always welcomed generations of artists. Any artist under 18 can participate in the tour for free provided they show their work in their participating parent’s studio. And it seems these entrepreneurial, creative children are getting younger and younger. We can’t promise Grae or Roby will continue to “do” the tour, but the outlook is promising. Perhaps, they’ll inspire other young artists to breach that studio door. Both will be 3 months older in June, and we hope they haven’t outgrown their desire to funnel their creativity into a way to learn, help others, spend time with mom and dad, and have fun.
The Toe River Studio Tour runs from Friday, June 2 through Sunday, June 4 with a free “meet-the-artist” reception that first night from 5:30 to 7:30pm at the Spruce Pine TRAC Gallery (269 Oak Avenue). Hours of the tour are 10am to 5pm each day. An exhibition will begin May 13 at the gallery with a showcase of participant work arranged geographically. For more information, please check the website, toeriverarts.org or call 828-682-7215.