Art blooms again at Old Depot reopening

Myra Schoen
Special to The Black Mountain News

The Old Depot Gallery in Black Mountain reopens Friday, April 1 after its annual winter hibernation.

Gallery manager Yvonne Hale has been presiding over the restocking as crafters and volunteers line the shelves and deck the walls with new, original arts and craft works.

The Old Depot, in defiance of its name, brings new art to downtown made by more than 80 artists.

“Our gallery is unique, run as a nonprofit organization with juried crafters and artists of many different specialties,” Hale said. Among them are potters, painters, jewelry makers, woodworkers, knitters and weavers, quilters, metal shapers, soap and essence creators, gemologists and others who experiment with mixed media of many varieties.

Just in time for the spring season and holidays celebrated at home, Hale said, the gallery will feature freshly scented handmade soaps and fragrant, blossomy hand-crafted candles among other gift items.

In other news, long-time board member James Griffin said the Old Depot plans its annual juried spring arts show for June 4-5. The board has selected potter and crafter Sarah Vekasi as this year’s coordinator.

“We’ve changed the festival name to ‘The Black Mountain Old Depot Art-by-the-Tracks Show,’ in deference to our gallery location in the town’s former train depot,” Griffin said. “Plus, in conjunction with Sarah, we’re adding a brand-new fall Art-by-the-Tracks Show on Oct. 29.”

The gallery is governed by The Old Depot Association, a nonprofit and volunteer organization, started in 1976 to protect and maintain the century-old Black Mountain train depot and to support the teaching and preservation of mountain and heritage crafts in the local Swannanoa Valley schools. All crafters must be association members and reside within Western North Carolina.

These major Old Depot events are also fundraisers for local school arts programs.

“In addition to being a showplace for Western North Carolina artists and Appalachian craft traditions, the Old Depot’s commitment to arts education is carried out by awarding grants to local teachers and schools for special arts projects,” board member Russ Keeney said.

In 2015, the Old Depot awarded $10,346 in grants to the following teachers for their special arts projects:

  • Rachel McMahan, W.D. Williams Elementary, $1,250
  • Patricia Bersinki, Black Mountain Primary, $2,046
  • Adrienne Hollifield, Owen High, $950
  • Arts Integration Team, ArtSpace Charter, $1,100
  • Heidi Van Dohlen, Owen Middle, $3,000
  • Norm Bossert, Black Mountain Elementary, $2,000

“We depend on the annual art show to raise funds and awareness for children’s art education,” Vekasi said. “But as a crafter myself, this community event is all-important for artists whose work is judged by a panel of peers. We encourage artists to apply for the remaining available spaces, since it’s a great opportunity to reach a large audience. We’re also interviewing food vendors who can provide food, snacks and beverages.”

“Traditionally,” Keeney said, “the June Old Depot art show brings thousands of new and returning visitors to Black Mountain. There’s enjoyment and discovery for everyone, young families, retirees, students, tourists and locals alike. The cultural richness of the community lines the street.”

Spread across Sutton Avenue, the art show is one of Black Mountain’s most colorful and well-attended events. Visitors return year after year to see their favorite crafters and to discover new exhibitors.

“This year we anticipate the participation of about 75 artists, a variety of food vendors, and musical and other entertainment for families,” Keeney said. “We expect thousands of locals and tourists to visit over the two-day event.”

Artists and crafters are invited to apply by visiting linking online to the Old Depot website at For more about the show, contact Vekasi at or 669-6583.

Old Depot Gallery, 207 Sutton Ave., is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Sundays. It welcomes volunteers to serve in the gallery. For more, contact Hale at 669-6583 or