Art by the Tracks carries tradition
A festival of the arts will fill the streets of historic downtown Black Mountain on Saturday and Sunday, June 4-5 when The Old Depot Gallery presents Art by the Tracks, its annual juried arts and crafts show.
“This is the festival’s 19th year, and it’s a grander event than ever,” said Sarah Vekasi, a well-known potter and event organizer. The Art by the Tracks festival, formerly known as the Black Mountain Arts & Crafts Show, is a major fundraiser for art education projects awarded to Swannanoa-area public schools. In 2015, the Old Depot awarded $10,346 in grants for special arts projects.
The sprawling street show has been renamed Art by the Tracks this year in honor of its starting location at the historic railroad station on Sutton Avenue. The two-day event will feature more than 60 arts and crafts booths, as well as some new food vendors and a lineup of prominent Western North Carolina musicians performing every hour both days.
“We’re pleased that many popular crafters who’ve been involved with this show year after year will return, and we welcome new juried artists joining us for the first time,” Vekasi said. Traditionally, she added, “the Black Mountain spring arts and crafts show attracts more than 8,000 visitors. And this year we anticipate an even greater turnout.”
Among the returning crafters is Will Byers, a Black Mountain potter.
“This is my second year in the show,” he said. “It’s fun and has a nice hometown vibe that makes it special.”
An East Tennessee native, Byers has lived in WNC for the past dozen years. He was a jazz and folk music performer in Knoxville, and continues to play string bass and Irish fiddle in local Black Mountain and Asheville sessions. His high-fired stoneware pottery is functional and durable and dishwasher- and oven-safe. He creates dinnerware collections, mugs, bowls, pitchers and other items with colors inspired by nature. The glazes reflect soft hues of earth, mountain, sky and lake.
Other returning crafters include Lindy and Anna Cannon, chair-caning experts from Montreat. The couple’s caning work, in the traditional Appalachian fashion, has become highly sought after. Their interest in the process began when they moved into their family’s former home in Montreat, where they discovered old cane-seated chairs in disrepair in the attic.
“We decided to repair them,” Anna said, “and took classes to learn how.” When people heard about their skills, the couple began teaching others.
“But a lot of students who started to do repair work in our classes abandoned their projects and left them behind, unfinished. Unintentionally, we found ourselves in the business of repairing cane chairs.”
Their materials include cane from the rattan vine in Indonesia, which yields a solid flexible product; rush and reeds, from strong grasses; and splint, part of trees such as ash or oak.
One of the show’s new crafters is Fred Feldman. A former Fulbright scholar who studied art in Belgium, the Netherlands, and Denmark, Feldman has made his home in Black Mountain since 2007 with his wife Lynda, a former English teacher now a weaver and quilter.
Feldman works with wood, clay, paper and found objects to create whimsical and off-beat 3-D collages. He deconstructs unused and discarded objects such as radios, telephones, computers, metal tools and stereo equipment, and mixes them with sculpted wood faces, compressed beer cans, buttons, glass and mirror fragments and reassembles them into things that are entirely new. Recently, he’s invented hinged wood greeting cards, and he shapes odd and playful personality-driven clay pots and mugs. A music-lover, he has been building unique, artful speaker systems for stereos since he was a child.
Both days also include free music. Here’s the lineup:
- 10 a.m. Jackson Emmer: Tender ballads to crispy barn burners.
- Noon: David Dribbon: Down-home roots sounds with original modern edge.
- 1 p.m. Ben Phan: A cross between Django Reinhardt and Ray Lamontagne.
- 3 p.m. Kurk Phillips and Mya Lynn: Young country and pop country musicians.
- 4 p.m. Laura Locke: Singer, ukulele, banjo, old-school folk and originals.
- 10 a.m. James Kamp & Alex London: Classic folk and uppity country songs.
- 11 a.m. Tony Mozz: Live looped synthpop/elektrojazz.
- 1:30 p.m. Hannah Kaminer: Award-winning folk singer-songwriter.
- 3 p.m. Jimmy Landry & Jim Boyer: Just a couple of local boys.
Art by the Tracks
When: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. June 4, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. June 5
Where: Around Old Depot Gallery, 207 Sutton Ave.