Mountain Xpress: Celebrating art and each other

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Spring is blooming, and that means event season is kicking off. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the smaller-town art events that offer further incentive to explore the region’s art communities.

Black Mountain and parts East: Blue to Black Art Weekend

May 2-5 (also Oct. 11-13)
Thursday night opens a weekend combining a walking tour of downtown Black Mountain art venues with a self-guided tour of studios located east of the Blue Ridge Parkway, from the Swannanoa Valley to Old Fort. According to event organizer Cappi Macsherry, “What’s excited me, as first-time director this year, has been the enthusiasm of our overall arts community around this event, how many new art studios and galleries have popped up in our area over the past six months that weren’t commonly known before the sign-up for this May’s event began.” Visit

Saluda Arts Festival

May 18, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Celebrating its 10th year, the festival will showcase over 90 exhibitors, crafts for children, art demonstrations, and live music by Sol Driven Train and Clay Ross. “We are excited about all the artists that come from N.C. and S.C.,” says Cathy Jackson of the Saluda Business Association. “Notable are some who have come back year after year like Jeff Pittman from Asheville and Bill Gramley from Lewisville, N.C.” Visit

Waynesville: Art After Dark

May 3, June 7, July 5, Aug. 2, Sept. 6, Oct. 4, Nov. 1, Dec. 6
Downtown Waynesville hosts an evening gallery crawl the first Friday of each month, from 6-9 p.m. with receptions and live music. “The quaint feel of a small town allows one to have personal space to reflect on the subject matter of a piece, as well as the intimacy to get to know the artist on a personal level,” says organizer Jeannie Shuckstes. Visit

Downtown Marshall: French Broad Fridays

In its fifth year, French Broad Fridays are themed monthly celebrations where galleries and artist studios stay open late. Visitors can also enjoy parades, carriage rides and live music. According to event co-organizer, Anne Schneider, these events are about “pulling our community together while celebrating art and each other.” Themes have been announced: May 10 is Momma Mia! (Celebrating Mother’s Day), June 7 is the popular Mermaids Marshall, July 12 is Bike-a-licious, Aug. 9 is Dog Daze and Sept. 6 isDrover’s Rest (Madison County’s Barns & Farms). Visit

Penland School of Crafts Scholarship Auctions

May 2, June 6, June 20, July 4, July 18, Aug. 5, Aug. 22, Nov. 14
Penland Scholarship Auctions are the capstone events to each session of classes, with all proceeds benefiting the work-study scholarship program. In true auction style, some pieces will go for a song, while others will inspire competitive bidding wars resulting in a purchase price that far exceeds the artist’s expectations. As it was introduced to me before my first auction, these events can be a great way to build a collection. Visit

— Stephanie Guinan works at Penland, helps cover crafts for Xpress and can be reached at

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