San Rafael Valley, AZ ~~ Photo by Bill Haas

Saturday, September 19, 2009


I was definitely behind the door when the art and craft genes were dispensed. And that's OK because artists need art appreciators too; that's where I come in. My appreciation of those with the crafty gene is limitless, and I do my best to support the arts by being a frequent buyer! Visiting Southern Appalachia presented many, many opportunities to appreciate the distinctive creative expressions of the region. Second to none (well, maybe to New Mexico's art communities), we're not talking church raffle projects or crocheted hanger covers here!

The Blue Ridge Parkway is more than just a lovely scenic byway. In addition to its grand, breathtaking vistas, campgrounds, parks, visitor centers, historic, restored buildings and museums can be found along its length. It also has a music center with weekly concerts and daily "porch music," and it has two folk art centers displaying and selling works by regional artists.

During this year's adventure, I've had one minor setback: a camera memory card, containing art center photographs, that "died" and whose contents could not be recovered. Here, however, are a few examples of Southern Appalachia artistry from one of the five Southern Highland Craft Guilds. Visiting these centers was like visiting museums, and many pieces were unfortunately encased in distorting glass.
Notice the bump in this snake puzzle? There's a tiny carved mouse inside!

52nd Annual Mt. Mitchell Craft Fair
The Mt. Mitchell Craft Fair is traditionally held on a Friday and Saturday in Burnsville, Yancey County, the last remaining dry county in North Carolina. I asked a half dozen denizens of Burnsville why it wasn't held over an entire weekend. Finally, the answer that made sense: Because it's held in the town square; there's a church at each end of the square; the square is closed to traffic during the fair; if it was held on Sunday, no one could get to church! Ah-HAH!

The artist's name is Fisher! First he paints the fish (or crustacean), then presses the fabric or paper onto the fish ... wallah!
Eye of the beholder and all that, but it sure looked to me like these could be self portraits. Except for the hair color. Yes?
These sculptures were amazingly detailed -- and amusing, as was their creator.
Exquisite Appalachian hardwoods are a woodworker's dream. I couldn't resist one of this local artist's pieces -- just jumped right into my hand!
And another -- different woods, style
Every single little detail on these bird houses is hand crafted; the flowers are made of that plastic clay stuff -- name escapes me!
He was so proud of his bovine creations, and they all had names!
These whimsical girly skirts were a big hit among young and old alike.
The Mt. Mitchell Fair had plenty of demonstrations and opportunities for hands-on learning.
The "Butterfly Fry" maker
Painted Quilt reproductions were hung on buildings throughout the town.