WEST JEFFERSON — Artists from across the region gathered in front of the Ashe Arts Center Saturday, Sept. 28, to showcase and sell their pottery, paintings, woodworking and quilting for the Ashe County Art Council’s annual Art on the Mountain event.
More than 30 artisans participated in this year’s event, and executive drector Jeff Fissel said the event went flawlessly. From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., artists greeted guests, providing the stories behind their creations and, in some cases, offering a demonstration.
Judith Reese, a painter based in West Jefferson, said she has been in the area for 19 years. Her unique style requires her to paint outside during the warm summer months, she said, drawing inspiration from Ashe County’s natural surroundings.
Her paintings represent native North Carolina wildlife, melding together a combination of acrylics and watercolors with an epoxy coating, giving her artwork a unique, eye-catching sheen and texture. Her artwork also incorporates wood-stain and pieces of twigs and other nature beneath the epoxy surface.
“Today’s been excellent,” Reese said, adding that she has attended Art on the Mountain for the past several years. Since the start of the event on Saturday, she said she had already sold seven or eight paintings.
“I have repeat customers that were here last year and the year before that,” Reese said, adding that one of her regular customers traveled from Colorado to return for Art on the Mountain.
Returning for his second year was Bob Piastuch from Ferguson. Piastuch is a woodworker whose creations represent trees, crosses and nativity scenes. He said he has always been involved with wood through construction, but started woodworking a few years ago.
“Everything’s been good,” Piastuch said, adding that the crowd really started to come flowing in late-morning.
Teresa McGrath, a regular for Art on the Mountain, returned for her eighth year to showcase her pottery and jewelry. Based just west of Boone, McGrath said her pottery is practically a full-time job. Out of the several Art on the Mountain events she has attended over the years, she said this year’s was definitely on par with the others.
The Sheets Family Band performed for a live broadcast inside of the Arts Center, and Fissel said around 40 to 50 people packed inside of the building to listen on during the performance.
Also attending this year’s event was Jane Lonon — this year as a guest rather than the Art Council’s executive director. She said Art on the Mountain started 23 years ago as an outgrowth from an early version of the Art Council’s Studio Tour, initially named the Studio Hop.
For artists who didn’t have an appropriate home studio to take part in the early Studio Tour, Lonon said Art on the Mountain was formed as a way to showcase those artists.
“It’s a long-standing tradition,” Lonon said. “A good way to attract people to West Jefferson, and a good way to support our local artists.”