Artisans to display work at school

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Grayson Artisans are creating a one-stop location at Chestnut Creek School of the Arts to show off their skills this year, instead of hosting a studio tour.

By Staff Reports


For members of Grayson Artisans, having an annual studio tour was never just about selling their wares.
“We feel that it’s important to share what we’re doing with our neighbors and the local and regional audience,” said Terry Clark, a woodturner from Troutdale.
“We’d like to think we can introduce people to a craft or an art that inspires them. For some, an event like this may be the first time they’ve seen a bowl being turned from a log, or a piece of pottery being thrown on a wheel. Maybe seeing that will get them interested in being a producer, too.”
Bringing their skills and products to as many people as possible is one reason Grayson Artisans are changing their annual studio tour to a one-stop event this year.
Instead of opening each workshop to the public for special demonstrations and sales, members are setting up displays and demonstrations in the main lobby of the Chestnut Creek School during Old Fiddlers’ Convention week.
There is no admission charge to enter the building, see the work of these and other artists, and talk to the people who make the objects, teach the classes, and/or facilitate spreading the knowledge.
Of course, selling their work is another important goal for the artisans.
These two goals — to share their artistic works and to build a mini-economy around them, is what Chestnut Creek School is all about, too.
Said Chris Shackelford, director of the school, “To help people become aware of and participate in arts, crafts and the skills and processes that create them, and to support people who are already masters of their craft by setting them up to teach, and to infuse the downtown Galax area with the creative energy that experts tell us will be a vital part of any advancing economy, are the goals of this school.”
What better representation of what established the school, she said, than this group of artists and craftspeople showing, selling, and explaining their work.
“The more people understand the process of creating, the more likely they are to appreciate the end products, whether they learn to make them too, or just study them, or decide to purchase them,” said Karen Simpson, a fiber artist, teacher at Chestnut Creek and Grayson Artisan member. “That’s why showing our guests how we do our work has always been an important part of what we do.
“We work hard to produce things that are beautiful, well-made, sometimes functional and sometimes serving only the function of surrounding us with beauty in our daily lives.”
Other artisans who will set up displays include Mike Floyd and Jane Floyd, who work together to produce botanical lampshades, hand-turned lamps, and original botanical-themed art; Joyce Rouse, singer-songwriter and eco-environmentalist; Bill Simpson, who produces a new line of handcrafted folding chairs and accessories under the banner of “New River Chairs.com;" and Kathye Mendes, an artist who works in acrylics to produce landscapes, still lifes, and portraits.
Guest artists will be John Alexander, broommaker; artist and illustrator Ellie Kirby, and fine furniture-maker Richard Weigand.
There will be live musical performances throughout the event.

For information about the school, call 236-3500 or see www.chestnutcreekarts.org, or visit 100 N. Main St. in Galax. Contact the Grayson Artisan Tour at (276) 579-6061.