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Swannanoa Valley Fine Arts League reopens public gallery, classes

Ty Roush
Black Mountain News
The Swannanoa Valley Fine Arts League reopened its doors to the public July 17.

BLACK MOUNTAIN - The Swannanoa Valley Fine Arts League, headquartered at Red House Studios on State Street, has reopened for its public galleries and classes.

After closing March 13, the studio had been closed for viewings while remaining open for its artists. It later reopened July 17.

League president Susan Hanning said that having the ability to connect with the public again has brought welcome relief.

“It was so great to hear voices and see people again,” said Hanning, who has held her position for three years. “It was strange not seeing people walk in and take a look around like they used to.”

The studio, previously an extension of the Monte Vista Hotel, provides classes in addition to its galleries and working spaces for artists. League membership, featuring artists from West Asheville to Morganton, Hanning said, varies between 208 and 196 members.

Ruth Duckworth, an artist currently stationed in one of the studio’s working spaces, said that the league’s reopening has provided an opportunity to return to creating.

“The last few months, I’ve just started getting back into it, since we were closed,” Duckworth said. “We were closed, and I was just totally isolated at home. … I made soap, I made tons of masks.”

Duckworth, who primarily works with fiber, said that isolation could present opportunities for artists to thrive.

“You’re either really taking advantage of the time, or it’s like an artist’s wall,” Duckworth said.

The league was formed in 1967 as a union among local artists. Prior to moving to its current location in 2011, the league was previously located by the Black Mountain Neuro-Medical Center.

Hanning says that the league is the largest in Western North Carolina.

“We’ve been able to offer opportunities to local artists for a long time,” Hanning said. “Now, we’re just starting to get back on the right path.”